The later half of October we got moving on the fuel tanks. There aren't many stages of this project that I somewhat dread, but the fuel tanks were definitely one of them. In following the videos from Sling (youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQcGDbAAIZb00QsNn6om0xTirTiVaLn3h) put out through Evan Brunye who finished his sling earlier this year. His hints, tips and suggestions make a lot of the prep work and assembly go so much smoother. Quite often I just sit down, watch and re-watch the given task video I'm working on so I know the steps well. Then leveraging the documentation in the build kit and then the online updated PDF's from the Sling Factory.
The assembly of the fuel tanks is a big messy project - or at least it can be. I didn't find it too bad as it was an "all hands on deck" day with myself, Laurie, her dad Harold and then recently joined by my nephew Nathan for the second tank.
We could only go as far as assembling the lower section of the tank as I'm going to go with a non-stock fuel sender. For those of you who aren't familiar with what a fuel sender is (which I can't say I was until a few years ago), it effectively is the device which sits in your fuel tank with a float and tells you how much gas is in the tank. So why go with a non-stock (and thus added extra cost) fuel sender? Well, when I was a partner in the T210 we put in a whole new modern panel which required upgrades to the fuel senders as well. Cies makes a fuel sender which is very modern and provides accuracy to within 1/10th of a gallon of gas in the tank. To read more about the differences, check out their site at ciescorp.net/documentation/comparative-fuel-sensor-technology/.
This is the nice part about building an experimental kit in that I can upgrade where it makes sense in the process. I have a few other upgrades planned, but this is the first one where I am deviating from the basic plans - and it makes sense. I think it's rather important to know how much gas is in the tank. Although I have to say, my general rule/habit of flying is to always land with an hour of fuel left in the tank. Given the SlingTsi burns around 8gph, that's not a lot of fuel to be sensed.
The other part of the build that I'm kind of amazed by is how fast it's going together. Granted building an airplane is an exercise in you're 90% of the way done with 90% more to go, but the timeline in my head didn't fit it was going to be at this stage by now. I'm waiting on some parts for the wings still and have been assured by TAF in Torrence and Sling proper in South Africa that the parts have been shipped. They aren't coming by boat, but by air. By air doesn't mean a direct flight from SA to CA, but it does go cargo. So it may make a few stops in-between. I probably have about a months worth of work to do on the wings to get them wrapped up. The next few days are going to be spent finishing up the other control surfaces I have left to work on and the ones I can work on. If we don't have any new parts before then, it'll be time to crack open the main fuselage box and get working on that.
The other news that has evolved the later half of October is the finishing kit has shipped as well. Now I'm nowhere near ready for that to arrive yet, but it's good to know it's "expected" arrival is the first week in December. Given they have a bunch of cargo ships sitting off the coast of LA waiting to be unloaded, even if it takes an extra month I'll still be in fine shape.
Before the end of the year I expect to pull the trigger on getting the engine and avionics ordered. Timing is definitely the bigger challenge on this project as with the upset delivery schedules around the globe and manufacturing bottlenecks it's tough to gage when things may arrive. Sadly, engine and avionics warranties start when they are bought, not when they go into service. So even though I may have an expected tight timeline on this project, it could be six months before either the engine or avionics get turned on after they are received - and that is even i I take them out of the box and install them on the day they arrive. That wouldn't be the case. It's more likely the materials would arrive and they get worked into the build cycle somewhere. Possibly a few weeks or months. The idea is to just minimize the exposure to the warranty slowly drifting away.
Anyway - the next video likely will be a few minor parts being tidied up and the fuselage start to take shape. let me know if you have any questions.