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Header Tank Sight Gauge

PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2015 10:58 am
by barry767
Something I saw the other day that I thought I'd share with everyone. After an extended flight I knew I was low on fuel but was comforted by the fact that I could still see some gas visible in each wing tank. Much to my surprise, however, when I looked back at the header tank's sight gage, I could see it was decreasing, down to about 2/3rds full and dropping. After I did some steep pull ups and wing rocks, I was able to completely refill the header tank. Two things 1) In a wings level attitude, I was surprised how much wing full will not make it to the aft pickup point in the tank and 2) How critically important it is to have a sight gage installed on the header tank. (I changed my 1 gallon header tank to the 3 gallon model, and now I'm really glad I did) I was over a congested area and an engine failure due to fuel starvation would not have ended well.

Re: Header Tank Sight Gauge

PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2015 12:53 pm
by jjacky
Thanks for the heads up. Did you get your 3 gal thanks from "Just Air' and did they come with a sight glass?

Re: Header Tank Sight Gauge

PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2015 10:15 am
by barry767
Yes, I got my 3 gallon tank from Just. It came with the necessary hardware for the sight gauge (fittings and plastic tube) but I had to install it myself. I added a vertical strip of aluminum behind the tube so I could see fuel in the tube better and to protect it from being damaged by cargo. This issue only now came up because I'm flying with less fuel in my wing tanks. I'm folding my wings after each flight.

Re: Header Tank Sight Gauge

PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2015 11:15 am
by Gil T
Barry

You will notice that on a long easy let down from high altitude even with 7 or 8 gallons you can get the header tank to show decreasing fuel quantity. All it takes is to level off to start the flow again. When I want to get the fuel completely out of my wing tanks for whatever reason I just circle around the field and when the fuel level starts down in the header tank I pick a wing up and opposite rudder and it fills it up again. After doing this for both sides for maybe thirty minutes and the header tank no longer starts to fill all you have to do is drain the header tank sump when you park it and you should be pretty close to dry tanks. This should take care of the two gallons unusable. Probably not the recommended method for that distance record you might have thought about.

I have the original wedge shaped plastic(?) header tank which you can see through with a little squinting, which my old eyes are doing more of lately, and have thought of putting in a sight gauge but I just hate the idea of drilling a hole in the side of it and dealing with cleanup involved. It shouldn't be that big of a deal so maybe some day.

Gil T

Re: Header Tank Sight Gauge

PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2015 11:54 am
by Tralika
Anyone have a photo of the Just 3 gallon header tank? I don't see it on the Just website. I was planning on having a 2 gallon tank made from thin wall aluminum tube but I'd like to see what is available from Just. No need to re-invent the wheel.

Re: Header Tank Sight Gauge

PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2015 1:12 pm
by danerazz
I have a picture of A 3 gallon header from just, it is a 6" diameter cylinder about 2' tall. I will try to post it when I get home tonight. I'm not sure if this is the same thing they will sell you if you ask, as it didn't seem to be a "standard" item when I asked them about it a couple years ago.

As I recall it was a couple hundred bucks.

Re: Header Tank Sight Gauge

PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2015 7:12 pm
by barry767
Here's a pic of my 3 gallon header from Just. It's hard to see but behind the plastic tube is an aluminum piece, on which I put about 12 inches of straight 1/8 inch black tape. When there's fuel in the tube the black line appears bigger and wavey (distorted). In the picture it's so distorted that you can only see the top couple of inches. When there's no fuel present the black line appears straight and thin (normal appearance). I did this so as to make it more obvious when the header's fuel quantity is starting to decrease. As I mentioned, the aluminum piece also serves to protect the plastic tube from inadvertant damage from cargo, which would be a bad thing to have happen in flight.

Re: Header Tank Sight Gauge

PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2015 7:25 pm
by barry767
Looking at my picture after I posted it I realized that my "aluminum piece" is a bit more elaborate than I just described. It's actually a couple of feet long and secured to the header with 2 large hose clamps from Home Depot. Gill, thanks for the post. I'll keep that technique in mind!

Re: Header Tank Sight Gauge

PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2015 11:55 pm
by Tralika
Thanks for posting the photo of the Just header tank. I was planning on having one built for my plane but I'll call Just on Tuesday on ask about availability and price. Have you thought about putting a pea or floatee in the fuel sight gauge to make it easier to see the fuel level? Here's one I found on a powered parachute website. 6 bucks, hard to beat.

http://www.bearperkins.com/images/fuel_floatee_a.jpg

Re: Header Tank Sight Gauge

PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 8:26 am
by alan
Hey John.

What is the diameter of that floatee?

Alan

Re: Header Tank Sight Gauge

PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 8:54 am
by danerazz
My tank is a lot taller than yours

Re: Header Tank Sight Gauge

PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 10:25 am
by SheepdogRD
alan wrote:What is the diameter of that floatee?

It looks like the "floatees" are intended for the 1/4" fuel/sight tube line they sell.

They're about 3/4 of the way down on this page: http://www.bearperkins.com/accessories.htm

Re: Header Tank Sight Gauge

PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 10:55 am
by barry767
Danerraz, Could your tank be more than 3 gallons?

Re: Header Tank Sight Gauge

PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 11:30 am
by Tralika
Here's another float ball from Univair. No diameter listed, it looks like 1/4".

http://www.univair.com/piper/piper-pa-1 ... loat-ball/

Re: Header Tank Sight Gauge

PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 12:01 pm
by danerazz
It is 6" diameter and 24" long, pi*r^2*H= volume

3.14*9*24=678.5

231cui/gallon it is about 2.9 gallons