7.7.47 – 54 Closing the left fuel tank

Well the big day has arrived. I’ve put it off long enough and I think I’ve prepped all I can. One of things I did to prepare was read as many blogs as possible and read the Van’s instructions repeatedly.

Once I think I understood it all sufficiently I made a step by step list that was easy to read during the work.


My Dad came to help so I ran through all the steps one by one with him just so we were both clear. It also helped make sure I had everything lined up and ready. After that I mixed a Semco cartridge of sealant by hand as per their YouTube video. It took 60 strokes to get it all mixed! Once mixed I fitted the nozzle and trimmed the nozzle until I got it to match my 3/16 lines drawn on the pad.

Once my gun and eye were calibrated it was time to run sealant just in front the rivet holes.

I did the same on the end ribs and dabbed sealant around each of the rivet holes of the inner ribs.

After triple checking the sealant it was time to drop the baffle straight down onto the bed of sealant.

Then we immediately fitted the clecos in every hole of the tank skin as per the instructions. We also clecod the centre three rivet holes in the ribs to help square everything up.

Once everything was clecod in place we riveted every skin hole using the hand squeezer.

Next we blind riveted the inner ribs top and bottom holes with AD-41H rivets twirled in tank sealant.

Next we put some sealant on the face side of the z-brackets. The plans say to dab only the rivet holes but I decided to do the entire face for corrosion protection mainly. It was a very thin smear.

Once all the z-brackets were clecod we used the modified pop rivet tool to set all the blind rivets with AD-42H blind rivets. Once they were done we then had to rivet the outboard brackets. The outer 4 AN470AD4-4 rivets on each bracket could be done with the hand squeezer. Unfortunately the inner 4-5 rivets has to be set with the rivet gun which meant quickly firing up the compressor and rivet gun tools. It’s ok I just wasn’t prepared for that.

Once they were bucked I cleaned up the sealant in the outside corners and dabbed sealant on top of each blind rivet head. That was it, after a big cleanup the left fuel tank is finally closed. Looking inside and the sealant seems to have behaved as expected. Not such a bad bead there.

While the sealant cures I decided to leave the tank stood on its brackets. I don’t know if this will help the sealant leach into the joints better or not but it can’t hurt to try!

That’s it for the left tank! It’s pretty much ready to leak test. Yes, I know the access panel is off. I won’t seal that on until I’ve tested the tank. Just in case!

And the best bit? We get to do this all over again on the right tank! 😂

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