Fuel Tank Illumination

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Fuel Tank Illumination

Postby BucF16 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 1:23 pm

Hi All, My Highlander 393 has the 13 gallon fiber glass fuel tanks. I have heard of a few that put white LEB illumination lights behind the tanks so that they can see the fuel in the tank. I you have done this, would you please let me know how well this worked, and if it is worth it. I bought 2 waterproof, white, 400 lum. spot led lights. So before I cut wire chases, Id like to know if this worth it.

Thanks in advance

Bruce
Bruce Johnson Highlander # 393
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Re: Fuel Tank Illumination

Postby moving2time » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:00 pm

Bruce, I don't have an answer to your question but I do have a different question for you. How long ago did you purchase your Highlander kit because I thought that Just replaced the fiberglass tanks with welded aluminum tanks? The fiberglass tanks have issues with the gas decomposing them, contaminating the fuel, and damaging the engines. Perhaps I have misunderstood posts regarding the metal tanks. I know they went to a metal tank on the SS. I guess I am just wondering if you have an older kit. Joe B
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Re: Fuel Tank (This Post is a Safety of Flight comment)

Postby AV8R Paul » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:18 pm

My Kitfox SLSA had a sight gage, two fitting connected with Clear Tubing for a sight gauge. You might consider glassing in some ALUMINUM WELDING FLANGES available at Aircraft Spruce to the sides of your tank, along with some brass NPT to Hose fittings, with some clear Tygon Tubing. Note Make sure you use fuel impervious fiberglass resin, if you decide to do this.

Looking at the bottom picture you can easily tell I have just shy of a full tank of fuel.

Before you put them in Slosh them with a half a gallon mixture of 50%Acetone/50%Gas mixture 3 or 4 times to remove any mold release, and to test the epoxy resin. I had a Kitfox SLSA that had fiberglass wing tanks I ran 3 tanks of Unleaded Auto Fuel through the tanks, and it ended up stripping either the mold release compound or some fiberglass resin from the tanks and ran it through the carbs. It cause the slider mechanisms in the Rotax 912 Carbs to stick at the cruise throttle opening. When I came in for landing I had to kill the engine and do a dead stick landing, because it would not reduce throttle. I was told that it was the mold release, by McBean at Kitfox. However, upon inspection of the tanks with a color borescope, I suspect it was the tank epoxy from the fuel tank baffles. The tank was built from a dark brown epoxy, the baffles were built with a light yellowish brown epoxy, and you could see bare fiberglass. I quit using Unleaded fuel, because of that and used 100 LL AvGas from then on.
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Re: Fuel Tank Illumination

Postby FlyerChief » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:38 pm

Hi Bruce,
I experimented with tank lighting when built my Highlander and found that I got the best results by illuminating the tank from the cabin side with the light mounted high so that it illuminates the inside of the tank through the air space rather than trying to shine it through the fuel. Since the fuel absorbs so much light, it's quite easy to see the fuel level using this method. Here are a couple of photos from the construction phase a few years ago. I will look for a more recent one with fuel in the tank, but trust me that it works very well. I just used a little aluminum to build a small reflector/shield that also holds the LED in place. I suspect the LEDs are only about 50 Lumens. One of the nice things about this method is that it can be retrofit into almost any Highlander. (except the ones with covered butt ribs and fuel gauge tubes like the SuperSTOL shown in the previous post)
As for the fiberglass tanks, the dissolving resin issue was solved many years ago, so yours should be fine.

Dan

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When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. ~Henry Ford
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Re: Fuel Tank Illumination

Postby BucF16 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:31 pm

Thank you all very much for the replies! I'll start with M2T; I ordered my kit in June of 2014 and picked it up on 30 Oct 14. I had read the issues as well of the bad fiberglass tanks, and brought it up to Harry. He assured me that they had changed venders and that there had been no problems with the new tanks. Now my guess as to switching to metal tanks; since the SuperStol was using them, Just switched the Highlander over for logistics reasons. Just a guess.

Paul, Thanks, I see these setups a lot. I have purchased Steve Henry's header tank. It has an hour of fuel in it, and has a sight gauge. So I decided not to drill into my fiberglass tanks.


Dan, you have the perfect setup for what I'm looking for. This keeps the LED on the cabin side and eliminates the need to drill the tail rib web for chases.

Love this forum!

Cheers,
Bruce
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Re: Fuel Tank Illumination

Postby AV8R Paul » Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:41 pm

I was told my tanks were safe for auto fuel as well. I put auto fuel I need it because I was told it was fuel resistant tanks. I would still test them before putting them in. I got the exact same story about a new vendor. If they are good, put them in, if not then you can go to the aluminum.
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Re: Fuel Tank Illumination

Postby BucF16 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:08 pm

Thanks Paul! They were installed at the factory, and without much effort, cannot be removed. I am also utilizing steve Henry's Yamaha Apex firewall forward solution. So I'll consult with him as to what to do.

Thank you again for your reply!

Bruce
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Re: Fuel Tank Illumination

Postby danerazz » Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:24 pm

Just out of curiosity, when were the tanks “updated” to the newer vendor? My kit is late 2011.

I thought the problem was if you were a fast builder, and put fuel into a relatively new tank, the resin was not fully cured and caused problems. If you are (ahem...) a more “methodical” builder, by the time you put fuel in it just wasn’t a problem.

Please correct me if I am wrong!
Dane

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Re: Fuel Tank Illumination

Postby BucF16 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:32 pm

Hey Dane, I'll call down to Just Tomorrow and get an answer. We need to hammer this dow, for those of us that have Fiberglas tanks. I'll post here what I find.

Cheers bros!
Bruce
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Re: Fuel Tank Illumination

Postby FlyerChief » Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:41 pm

I believe the tank vendor was changed in 2009 or so. Dane, my Highlander is #241 and it's okay, so your #242 should be fine too.

Here's a link to a thread from 2013 that may be of some assistance... http://www.wingsforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=218&t=22529&p=41021&hilit=resin#p41023
Dan
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Re: Fuel Tank Illumination

Postby moving2time » Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:25 pm

Sorry for digging this up again. I know its an old topic but it has been hashed around again and again. Am I wrong though that Just does have metal tanks for the Highlander. I thought they started making those shortly after Steve Henry made his first metal tank for one of his Highlanders. I thought they followed suit. The tank for the SS would not work. The structure of the wing is different and the airfoil is deeper. I was just curious because if Bruce's Highlander was recently purchased I thought all of the new tanks would be metal in the newer kits. I also remember discussions about uncured resin and changing vendors but I still thought they went to metal and that is what I am expecting to see when I purchase mine. Joe B
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Re: Fuel Tank Illumination

Postby danerazz » Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:31 pm

BucF16 wrote:Hey Dane, I'll call down to Just Tomorrow and get an answer. We need to hammer this dow, for those of us that have Fiberglas tanks. I'll post here what I find.

Cheers bros!
Bruce



Thanks!
Dane

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Re: Fuel Tank Illumination

Postby danerazz » Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:32 pm

FlyerChief wrote:I believe the tank vendor was changed in 2009 or so. Dane, my Highlander is #241 and it's okay, so your #242 should be fine too.

Here's a link to a thread from 2013 that may be of some assistance... http://www.wingsforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=218&t=22529&p=41021&hilit=resin#p41023
Dan


Thanks also!
Dane

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Re: Fuel Tank Illumination

Postby AV8R Paul » Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:10 pm

danerazz wrote:
FlyerChief wrote:I believe the tank vendor was changed in 2009 or so. Dane, my Highlander is #241 and it's okay, so your #242 should be fine too.

Here's a link to a thread from 2013 that may be of some assistance... http://www.wingsforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=218&t=22529&p=41021&hilit=resin#p41023
Dan


Thanks also!


Even that post recommends doing something to test the tanks. They should be Greenish epoxy, and scratch test the inside of the tank. I’d slosh to verify the expo XY stays where it is suppose to be inside the tank not stripped out and suspended in the fuel.. It’s your plane and your life, do what you want, it was just a friendly safety check recommendation.
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Re: Fuel Tank Illumination

Postby gkremers » Fri Mar 02, 2018 8:38 am

My kit is #249. 3.5 years and 300 hours, so far no issues. I run 93 octane auto fuel. The only time I run 100LL is when I’m on a longer cross country trip.
That said if aluminum tanks were an option I would have gone in that direction. Even after 300 hours I still get small fiberglass shavings from when the tank was build. The 100 micron filters on each tank catch everything.

Gary
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