How to replace a wing tank in 236 easy steps:

Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.

We needed to replace a wing tank because the existing steel tank was leaking.  For easy access, we removed the wing. A replacement tank had been sourced through the Taylorcraft email list.   Thanks, Greg.

Equipment required:

2 padded wing trestles
4 steel rods (see text)
Length of rope to tie up struts, or additional trestle
Lots of helping hands for the wing removal
New fuel fittings if required
New fabric and covering supplies.

Wing removal: Disconnect the fuel connections in the wing root and the two aileron cables behind the headliner. [Note, the eyelet ends of the cable would not pass through the fairleads...we crimped the ends a wee bit and they passed through!].

Prepare some 6mm (or 1/4")  diameter steel rods (2 off 14" long for the root, 2 off 3" long for the struts) to use when  pulling the wing root and strut bolts out, use the rods to push the bolts out, the rods retain the wing on the fuselage. When you're ready with some help to drop the wing (and later replace it), the rods are easier to pull out quickly. wing_pins.jpg (34818 bytes)
pxtank06.jpg (46845 bytes) You don't need to support the other wing when you remove the "defective" wing...she will be quite happy on her own gear with only one wing, but you need to tie up the struts of the removed wing to stop them hitting the ground; you can then wheel her about if necessary (or you can remove the lower strut attachment bolt and remove the struts completely).  Also, the the two spar end attachment fitting are NOT in line on purpose, so don't worry about any apparent misalignment.
Place the wing "correct side up" on some padded trestles.


Wing tank removal and refitting: Cut away the fabric from the butt rib and the first bay, leaving the original row of stitching on the first rib, and about an inch of the first bay fabric. Here we see the original tank still in place and the bay fabric removed, but not yet the butt rib fabric. pxtank01.jpg (37089 bytes)  pxtank02.jpg (33920 bytes)
Open up the two inspection panels in the third bay, where the spar bracing wires that pass through the tank attach to the compression strut.   This allows access to the interior ends of the two wires. These wires are a pain to remove, but with some effort can be removed through the butt rib without having to remove further fabric.
Disconnect all the tank hardware, straps etc and lift the tank out.  Put in the new tank (or have the old one refurbished). 

wingtank1.jpg (20791 bytes)

You did remember to leak test the replacement tank, didn't you? Further details available on my EY restoration page .
pxtank03.jpg (40232 bytes)  pxtank04.jpg (43933 bytes) pxtank05.jpg (53934 bytes) Re-fit the bracing wires, hardware, etc.  Fit an earth bonding wire between the tank and the rear spar attachment fitting, if one does not exist.  I used a stainless self-tapping screw in the tank flange to secure the wire. Here we see the new tank installed, using new cork material above the spars, instead of the original felt.   Also note I needed to cut the upper rib bracing tape, this will be replaced.
Replace the fabric in accordance with the relevant manual/procedure.The photos show the wing turned over to clean the fabric of the first rib of all paint (using MEK...this is covered in Stitts Poly-Fiber). I chose to leave the existing stitches in the first rib, this ensured the fabric in the second bay remained tight.  I placed a new row of stitches between this existing row, using another layer of reinforcing tape and taking care to avoid the two spars.  VERY IMPORTANT!: ensure the aileron cables are taut when stitching to ensure they follow the correct path inside the wing. Otherwise after stitching, they will be prevented from aligning correctly by the stitches.  You can also see in the lower photo one of the inspection holes cut open on the underside of the wing. pxtank09.jpg (40960 bytes)
pxtank10.jpg (47289 bytes)
With stamped ribs, I guess you'd have to pull the wire fabric clips off and replace after renewing the fabric, but how you keep the second bay fabric taut, I don't know.
pxtank11.jpg (33330 bytes) pxtank12.jpg (28883 bytes) Shrink the fabric, seal, spray etc, whatever your process requires. Here we see the top and bottom fabric applied and heat-shrunk.   Note the doily awaiting affixing over the fuel filler.  The white epoxy painted tank is clearly visible through the fabric.
Following heat shrinking, a first brush coat of Poly-Brush is applied, then tapes are applied where required.  Put fabric patches where the fuel connection and aileron cables are going to pass through the butt fabric and where the drain valve will poke out below the wing.   I burned small holes with a soldering iron (later enlarged) before painting to ensure I could find the correct location after the paint was applied.
Yes, that is a Falco upside-down in the background, undergoing a respray.
pxtank13.jpg (31927 bytes)
pxtank14.jpg (35028 bytes) After spraying the UV-protecting coats of Poly-Spray, the last loose pinked tape ears are smoothed down, using grease-proof paper to stop the iron sticking and picking up the Poly-Spray.
Some sanding of the aluminium coat is required to get a good smooth finish. pxtank15.jpg (29919 bytes)
pxtank16.jpg (43196 bytes) One last coat of aluminium Poly-Spray is applied after the last sanding is done, to ensure UV cannot reach the fabric.  Note the two strings to pull the aileron cables through after all painting is complete.
Top colour now applied, but awaiting the black paint for the leading edge.  Note, the fuel filler cap will be bead blasted and painted red.  Don't forget to put in new drain holes in the underside of the trailing edge. pxtank17.jpg (28161 bytes)
Replace the wing, again calling upon your many friends to help lift it into position.  Use the same steel rods to get the initial alignment.   Each rod can then be pushed out by the appropriate bolt.
Re-connect the aileron cables, fuel pipe, get her inspected and then fuel her up, check for leaks and go fly! pxtank18.jpg (34850 bytes) home page