7.7.58 Left fuel tank passes test and fuselage ordered

Yesterday I brought the left fuel tank indoors and inflated it with 1 PSI of air. The workshop temperatures are just to volatile this time of year to get a solid reading. I left it overnight and checked it this morning. It now has 1.12 PSI of air in it! The increase is due to temperature and atmospheric pressure increases, but no leaks, yay! Finally, it has passed the test. Hoorah!

During the tank test I was browsing the Van’s website over the weekend (as you do!) and realised there is an 8 to 12 week lead time on the fuselage! Add on to that the sea freight shipping time and UK customs time and it’ll be nearly Easter before it arrives! Yikes, I better get it ordered or there’ll be nothing to do in the new year! First though, there are some choices that need to be made before the order is placed.

1. Tail or nose wheel.

This is a big and highly controversial issue. I’ve only ever flown nose wheels but the Van’s is a better aircraft as a tailwheel. I’ve literally spent months deliberating what to go for. On Sunday night I finally decided. It will be a tailwheel to begin with. If I really struggle, or simply don’t like it, I can fairly easily change it to a nose wheel if need be.

2. Tip up or slider

A much easier choice on the form was the canopy. I’d already decided a long time ago that I want a tip up canopy. Yes, the downside is it can get very warm in there without ventilation but the unobstructed view is what flying is all about for me.

3. Wheels & brakes

The wheels and brakes in the kit are ok but there is a lovely upgrade offered by Beringer with better, smoother, bearings, a hand brake and anti locking regulator. Very nice. So I will purchase these later on instead of using the Van’s stuff. For now I asked Van’s to remove the brake master cylinders from the kit. I did ask for right brake pedals though so I can share the flying with other pilots.

4. Air vents

The standard air vents provided by Van’s are plastic, fragile and leak profusely. I asked Van’s to remove those too and chose to go with Steinair’s AV1625B much nicer aluminium ball vents. Again I’ll get a pair of those later in the project.

5. Aileron trim

Although not required it is possible to add either an electric or manual aileron trim. Although I’ve flown several planes with aileron trim, I’ve never used it. I think it will be very rare that I need it but it was pennies so I decided to go with manual trim and have the option if I need it.

6. Fuel selector

The standard Van’s fuel selector is literally a lever that selects left or right fuel tank. It looks circa Victorian industrial era! Looks aside though there is an ‘off’ zone between the left and right setting where the fuel flow is interrupted during tank selection. I’ve chosen to leave that lever off the kit order and will purchase an Andair fuel selector instead as that has no off zone between left & right selection. Oh and it looks much nicer too!

7. Steps

I chose not to add a step to enter the plane. Being a tail wheel plane the step up onto the wing isn’t that high so I don’t think it’s worth it. Again, it’s easy to add in the future if I change my mind.

I think that’s it! A culmination of many, many months of deliberation, pontification and debate. But finally the order has been placed.

Ask other Van’s builders and owners and you’ll get a 1,000 reasons why my choices are right/wrong. At the end of the day it’s my plane and this, I think, is exactly how I want it.

I’m so excited I won’t be able to sleep between now and Easter!

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