1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the Fuel Fills

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.

Fuel fill opening is fully wetted out with epoxy

I first saturated and isolated the fuel fill opening  with epoxy

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.

Vix centering drill bit puts the screw hole in the middle of the opening

Vix centering drill bit puts the screw hole in the middle of the opening

The screw will go in dead-center

The screw will go in dead-center, with zero offset

Once the pilot hole is done, drill for the tap size

Once the pilot hole is done, drill for the tap size

In this case, I’m using a #29 drill to go through the filler, aluminum plate, and into the mahogany below.

Next, drill out the filler to clear the threads

Next, drill out the filler to clear the threads

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.

Tap the aluminum to 8-32

Tap the aluminum to 8-32

See the aluminum shoulder? The screw threads will never touch the filler.

See the aluminum shoulder? The screw threads will never touch the filler.

Liberal application of TefGel

Liberal application of TefGel, being careful to keep it off the paint.

All four holes done

Two more holes to go

Taped and ready for final install

Drilled, tapped, taped, and ready for final install

Good Sikiaflex squeeze out

Good Sikiaflex squeeze out

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.

Next day, the caulk is cured.

Next day, the caulk is cured.

While I was at it, I also installed the pumpout port

While I was at it, I also installed the pump-out fitting on the port side deck

That's one more exterior hole that's waterproof

That’s one more exterior hole that’s waterproof

Slick design: water that gets under the cap drains through the holes near the screws

Slick design: water that gets under the cap drains through the holes near the screws

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.

Stainless screw needed inside the fuel fill pipe

Stainless screw needed inside the fuel fill pipe

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 😉  )

That's tacked well enough...probably

That’s tacked well enough…probably

Super long stick-out might help put more weld on the screw

Super long stick-out and a gas lens might help put more weld on the screw

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.

That sucker's going nowhere

That sucker’s going nowhere

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.

Next I ran a bead around the outside of the fuel fill pipe

Next I ran a bead around the outside of the tank-end of the fuel fill pipe and cut it to size

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. 😉

Ready to install

Ready to install

Set to install...

Set to install…

I love it when a plan comes together

I love it when a plan comes together

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.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Completing the Hydraulic Steering System

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