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Thread: PA-20 Fuel Tank question

  1. #1

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    Default PA-20 Fuel Tank question

    Iím restoring a 1950 PA-20 Pacer. It uses cork floats with a drop tube extending from the bottom of the tank and into a sight glass.
    Unfortunately the floats were lose in the tanks and I am not seeing an obvious way to reinstall them.

    any tips?

  2. #2
    mmoyle's Avatar
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    Default PA-20 Fuel Tank question

    Youíll need to remove the sight glass assembly. Fish out the cork...Reassemble the cork and rod assembly...probably with a new cork...ask somebody smarter than me what to coat/seal the cork with? The cork and rod gets inserted through the gas cap with the site glass removed.


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  3. #3

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    Default Re: PA-20 Fuel Tank question

    Quote Originally Posted by mmoyle View Post
    Youíll need to remove the sight glass assembly. Fish out the cork...Reassemble the cork and rod assembly...probably with a new cork...ask somebody smarter than me what to coat/seal the cork with? The cork and rod gets inserted through the gas cap with the site glass removed.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
    I can see from your photo that you are familiar with the system. I have been sleeping on this problem but have yet to get it done. The problem is, how in the hell do you direct that float assembly into that small hole you can not even see. Wish I were friends with a Raccoon who has small enough hands to hold the rod through the fill hole. But then again his arms would probably be too short.

    If you did manage to get it assembled Iíd be curious just how it got back into the home location.

    The float appears to be glued to the rod, and the rod is actually a tube.
    Since the floats were both found inside the tanks intact and attached to their rods tells me the float can be inserted and of course removed from the inside, but at close to 1í from the fill hole is going to be pretty tough to manipulate.
    In referring to the parts manual, the Float assembly 10686-00 is shown assembled as one unit. At first glance it appears to show an access hole at the bottom of the tank, but it is actually a detail of the sight glass protruding down through the wings fabric coating. The bung for the sight glass is of course welded.

    Hopefully today I will be able to attempt a method that came with a bit of sleep and head scratching. I am going to take a thread and needle and insert from the bottom of the tank through the sight glass hole.
    I will then take my extendable magnet, fish in the needle from the aluminum tank and retrieve the needle out of the fill hole making sure to leave the tail out of the sight glass port.
    I will then thread the needle and thread through the tube and tie a stopper knot at the cork leaving a tail also out of the fill hole. Then with the tank upside down, I will try and retrieve and hopefully get the tube lined up and back out the sight glass hole.

    I appreciate your feedback and am curious, weíre you able to get your system assembled, and if so, can you recall the method used. Did it include a friend with very small hands? There must be more than one way to skin that cat, but this is a very thin cat that needs to be directed into a less than convenient location.

    if I manage to get it back into the sight glass port I will hopefully remember to never turn the tank over again.

    With this 1950 PA-20 Basket Case, I am feeling like the Dog that caught the car. Iím hoping with a little A-1 sauce and a lot of patience, I will eventually be able to eat it one bite at a time.

    And as Iíve said before, this Forum is the most important tool in my tool box! A Big Thank You to all of the contributors who take the time to guide those of us with mouths full of aged aluminum.

    Thanks,

    Doug

  4. #4
    mmoyle's Avatar
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    Default Re: PA-20 Fuel Tank question

    First get the airplane flight level with some nose down.. use a 55 gallon drum and what ever to get the tail up. The float rod is aluminum. Use the thread and vacuum trick using a small diameter vacuum hose and your vacuum cleaner. The thread can be polyester on the gold spool, is good stuff. Maybe lacing tape? Fish thread into the bottom fitting for the float valve. Using say a 1Ē diameter vacuum hose, fish it through the fuel fill neck towards the sight glass bung hole...thatíll suck the tread into the hose.. feed enough thread so that when you pull the vacuum hose the thread comes with it. Now you can tie that thread onto the end of the float rod. Pull the end of the float rod to the bung, use a special something with a notch to act as a fulcrum to stand up the float rod while you pull down on the thread...you may want to use two lengths of thread just incase, one through the bung, the other is tied onto the bottom of the float rod...maybe add a drop of super glue to keep both threads on the bottom end.. the second thread goes through the gas fill neck....so that if you do break the thread trying to get the float rod through the bung hole...youíll be able to pull the rod from the tank and try again....once you get close itíll fall into the hole.. I ground a radius in the end of a skinny flat blade screw driver...


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  5. #5
    Gilbert Pierce's Avatar
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    Default Re: PA-20 Fuel Tank question

    If the float and rod are out of the bung. Lift the tail until the bottom of tank is level. The float and rod will be rolling around in there. Finesse it under the filler neck with a stick and grab the rod with a pair of long nose forceps. Mine use to pop out when refueling so I had to do this several times. I put a taller float on and solved the problem.

  6. #6

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    Default Re: PA-20 Fuel Tank question

    [QUOTE=mmoyle;132558]First get the airplane flight level with some nose down.. use a 55 gallon drum and what ever to get the tail up. The float rod is aluminum. Use the thread and vacuum trick using a small diameter vacuum hose and your vacuum cleaner. The thread can be polyester on the gold spool, is good stuff. Maybe lacing tape? Fish thread into the bottom fitting for the float valve. Using say a 1Ē diameter vacuum hose, fish it through the fuel fill neck towards the sight glass bung hole...thatíll suck the tread into the hose.. feed enough thread so that when you pull the vacuum hose the thread comes with it. Now you can tie that thread onto the end of the float rod. Pull the end of the float rod to the bung, use a special something with a notch to act as a fulcrum to stand up the float rod while you pull down on the thread...you may want to use two lengths of thread just incase, one through the bung, the other is tied onto the bottom of the float rod...maybe add a drop of super glue to keep both threads on the bottom end.. the second thread goes through the gas fill neck....so that if you do break the thread trying to get the float rod through the bung hole...youíll be able to pull the rod from the tank and try again....once you get close itíll fall into the hole.. I ground a radius in the end of a skinny flat blade screw driver...

    Thank you for taking the time to respond. It sounds like you and I are picturing this process identically. Im Afraid I didnít make my situation as clear as I should have. This is a totally disassembled Basket Case, and I Do Mean Totally! Since my tanks are out of the wings this process should be much simpler.
    I plan on pressuring the tanks with a vacuum exhaust to soap test all seams before I wrestle the floats and install into the wings. As I think about his however, I donít think I will be able to have the float assembly installed prior to fitting into the wings, I understand it can be a bitch to get them in there and Iím sure now it will not be possible to do with the sight glass jutting out of the bottoms of the tanks.
    Im learning as I go and the assistance offered on this site is invaluable, thank you all for the assistance, more to come.

  7. #7

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    Default Re: PA-20 Fuel Tank question

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilbert Pierce View Post
    If the float and rod are out of the bung. Lift the tail until the bottom of tank is level. The float and rod will be rolling around in there. Finesse it under the filler neck with a stick and grab the rod with a pair of long nose forceps. Mine use to pop out when refueling so I had to do this several times. I put a taller float on and solved the problem.
    After wrestling these lil buggers back into the sight glass tubes it would make you sick to see them lift back out from simply filling the tanks!! I’m hoping mine will not gift that experts me. Screwing with these once in my life will probably be enough, but with your experience I will be looking at the clearance closely.
    Thanks for taking time to respond and please keep an eye on me going forward, more questions to come.

  8. #8
    dbudd's Avatar
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    Default Re: PA-20 Fuel Tank question

    To put the float rod through the hole in the bottom of the tank I ran safely wire up through the bottom and hooked it with another piece of heavier wire through the gas cap Fill neck. I taped the rod to the safety wire then fished it back through the hole. That worked for me


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  9. #9
    dbudd's Avatar
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    Default Re: PA-20 Fuel Tank question

    If you need any parts for the glass tubes or cork floats wagaero sells them and I have found that aviation permatex work good for putting it back together. No leaks.
    Doug


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  10. #10

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    Default Re: PA-20 Fuel Tank question

    Quote Originally Posted by dbudd View Post
    To put the float rod through the hole in the bottom of the tank I ran safely wire up through the bottom and hooked it with another piece of heavier wire through the gas cap Fill neck. I taped the rod to the safety wire then fished it back through the hole. That worked for me


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    In reviewing this issue I believe I will be using the exact method you describe. I have two wings totally stripped that I have installed the squared off wing STC. I was intending to install the tanks and cover the wings, but in looking it over, I donít believe it is a good idea to install the drop tube sight glass and risk damaging the tank until the wings are covered and installed. Unfortunately I damaged one of the tanks and now am trying to source a new left tank. It looks to me that the tanks will be much easier to install prior to covering so I hope I will be able to find a replacement tank and install it before I before I recover. This basket case rebuild is forcing a steep learning curve, Iím enjoying the challenge, but Im sure there will be more blunders to come. I sure appreciate the support from you all.

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