When I last wrote about the fuel fills, I’d relocated the fill pipes on the tanks and made stainless fill tubes that will connect the exterior fill caps to the aft tanks. The new hoses arrived recently, so it’s time to install them.
Beneath that dusty Awlgrip Matterhorn White paint and primer is a layer of fairing compound, aluminum plate, and then a large block of mahogany that’s glued and screwed to the underside of the plate. I saturated the mahogany with West System epoxy. Then, when the wood wouldn’t take any more resin, I thickened it with West aluminum powder filler to waterproof the entire hole–the wood, the aluminum, the filler, all the way out to just over the edge of the paint. This should keep water molecules from finding their way to the aluminum plate and starting a blister.
In this case, I’m using a #29 drill to go through the filler, aluminum plate, and into the mahogany below.
Since filler has zero holding power, I drilled out the filler with a 3/16″ bit. That way, the threads will never touch the filler and risk starting a chip.
The only thing keeping the 2-3/8″ red brass pipe in place is the caulk, so I put a lot of it in the gap between the pipe and the surrounding hole.
With the exterior fuel fill installed, I had a couple of last details to weld on the stainless fill pipes I made: a screw for the ball chain that attaches to the fill cap to keep it from falling in the water if it’s dropped, and a lip to better seal the hose.
I don’t have a TIG torch that can fit in this pipe, so I’ll do the best I can with what I’ve got (both tools and skill level 😉 )
It’s tough welding this because the arc wants to preferentially jump to the screw head and I can’t get the torch inside the pipe at a better angle. So I pulled the 3/32″ tungsten way out, turned the argon up to 20 with post-flow set to 10 seconds, and started the puddle a bit away from the screw, then filled back in to the screw head.
The fuel cap is solid bronze and weighs about 2 pounds. There’s a ball chain that connects the fuel cap to this screw. I’m pretty sure that even if I drop the fuel cap it won’t break this screw loose. They’re not making those Chris Craft fuel caps anymore…I definitely don’t want to see one go in the water.
It was very difficult maintaining a straight bead on the pipe with no reference point. In retrospect, I probably could have put a hose clamp on it 1/4″ away as a visual cue of a straight line. The purpose of this bead around the circumference is to give the hose something to bite onto. I’m not even sure it’s necessary….just a good excuse to keep practicing TIG. 😉
I have some things going on the starboard side right now, so I will install that inlet and also the tank vents soon. In any case, it’s great to have another item on the honey-do list pretty much checked off.