E10 Unleaded Auto-Gas: My Big Mistake as LSA Owner!

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Jack Tyler
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Re: E10 Unleaded Auto-Gas: My Big Mistake as LSA Owner!

Postby Jack Tyler » Sat Apr 18, 2015 6:08 am

"Yes, those beads and flakes I've been seeing in the sump gas (I took him a big sample) ARE definitely resin! Yes, the main tank is slowly delaminating."

Well, Rich...the good news is that you've identified the culprit and also identified a solution before things got even worse. I had no idea you were fuel sampling such large quantities in order to drain off that much 'schmutz' from the tank each day. Congratulations, you did the right thing.

It also appears that the Sting's builders walked the same path as many others, both manufacturers and home builders - namely, being caught after the fact using tank materials incompatible with the subsequently mandated E10 gasoline. Have you had any discussions with SportairUSA about this, or the contrast between their printed advisory on using E10 fuel and the reality you experienced with your Sting? It would seem that, even retroactively, they should be issuing a modified advisory if this is a known issue in the field.
Jack
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drdehave
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Re: E10 Unleaded Auto-Gas: My Big Mistake as LSA Owner!

Postby drdehave » Sat Apr 18, 2015 10:13 am

Jack: "...they should be issuing a modified advisory if this is a known issue in the field."

Roger that!
Last edited by drdehave on Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:43 am, edited 2 times in total.
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bottleworks
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Re: E10 Unleaded Auto-Gas: My Big Mistake as LSA Owner!

Postby bottleworks » Sun Apr 19, 2015 6:13 pm

(I'm gone. Everything deleted! Can't stand the ignorant data spread here).
Last edited by bottleworks on Fri May 08, 2015 9:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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drdehave
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Re: E10 Unleaded Auto-Gas: My Big Mistake as LSA Owner!

Postby drdehave » Sun Apr 19, 2015 6:59 pm

Yes, this issue has been a long time in the "making" and there are so many possibilities. The "mix" for my tank could have been off. Old resin (polyester resin has 1-yr shelf-life) may have been used. It could have been built on a cold, damp day and it didn't bond properly. Maybe somebody picked up the wrong resin. Maybe they used different resins back then, than now (after E10 became a known threat)? Maybe I left some E10 in there too long sometime, when the airplane was down for weather or repairs, and it phase-separated, leaving a pint of alcohol eating on the bottom? WTH did that first owner of my airplane possibly do to it--gas-wise--during that first 235 hours? It could have been their (TL Ultralight's) issue, or one of the owners, myself included. Who knows? I'm not pointing any fingers--yet. I just know there's a serious issue to remedy and I want to "cover all the bases," so it doesn't recur.

As for "isolated," I don't think so. There have been a few others, including one "dead" 2005 Sting I personally saw again yesterday, just to re-check its tank (I learned to fly 4 years ago in it), which was an awful de-laminated mess.

As for "widespread," also apparently, not so. But there certainly are more than just mine with a similar issue.

As for "cheap" for the repair, I have to agree fully with you. But then, it ain't done yet, and I don't have the "real" bill in hand. Knowing now, exactly what will have to be done, I think that opening bid was unrealistically low, however!

Now that I know exactly
how this tank is built and integrated into the hull below the cockpit, I'm pretty sure I know the real issue happening here. During construction, a "topless" tank is dropped in and then has to be sealed to a cross-beam fore and aft; and it must also be glassed to the filler neck and opening which is well off to the side, in the hull. The problem is, this glass work must all be done within a very confined space of mere inches--just about enough room to get one hand into! Some little spots probably required a mirror to see and glass! With such complexities, you're going to have the inevitable "failure spots" which don't get optimum lay-up and resin--i.e., places the E10 can get into and do its dirty work, slowly, over the long-term! I think it's likely that one or more of these little trouble spots, especially around the filler neck, is where my "resin-sucking" episode began. Once the glass-men at TL had it all "tied-in" inside--possibly utilizing trained monkeys with tiny hands--then, a "top cover" was dropped onto the tank and the two were glassed together. That top cover is the floorboard, just below my thighs. [/b]

Oh man, I've really "gone off" again, huh? It does that to me when I can't fly--especially when I can't fly in beautiful weather!
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roger lee
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Re: E10 Unleaded Auto-Gas: My Big Mistake as LSA Owner!

Postby roger lee » Mon Apr 20, 2015 8:36 am

You could use a coating in the tank called Kreme Wiess. Some use Pro seal. Theses are fuel tank coatings that will seal all cracks and holes and make the tank impervious to anything you put in it. The Flight Design fleet uses it and many of us use ethanol fuels.
Roger Lee
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drdehave
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Re: E10 Unleaded Auto-Gas: My Big Mistake as LSA Owner!

Postby drdehave » Wed Apr 22, 2015 11:32 pm

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Don't nod off yet, folks! This soap opera is just getting started! The cockpit has been gutted and wings removed (for better access to the tank). The top of the tank has been cut out, along the same lines where it was glassed in.

Note the two L-shaped shoulder "stiffeners," one on each side of the bottom of the main tank, consisting of "honeycomb" with a fiberglass covering. The right one was totally delaminated. That debris you see was removed from the top of it. What remains of the bad honeycomb is still gas-saturated. It'll be a couple more days before the real extent of damage--and whether it can be fully removed and the area repaired--can be assessed. IF doable, the cost is going up.

Note also the sump screen retainer (circular piece of sheet metal with three "legs") in with the delaminated fiberglass debris. Its three legs were glassed to the bottom of the tank. But they were almost completely loose, badly curled, and discolored--all presumably ethanol effects, too!


Anyway, this is what a composite airplane gas tank looks like, after 7+ years on-and-off on E10. Sort of like your brain on drugs.

Stay tuned for further episodes, as they evolve.


PS: I almost forgot this: Earlier, I suggested that "blobs" of resin I could see in the tank (before it was opened from the top) might have migrated in from the other side of the front bulkhead, where Caswell Gas Tank Sealer was used. This is 100% not true! All those blobs (you can clearly see them in the 2nd and 3rd photos), were drippings--a "slop line"--from when the tank lid was initially sealed to the tank.
Last edited by drdehave on Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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SportPilot
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Re: E10 Unleaded Auto-Gas: My Big Mistake as LSA Owner!

Postby SportPilot » Wed Apr 22, 2015 11:39 pm

.......
Last edited by SportPilot on Thu Aug 20, 2015 5:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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MrMorden
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Re: E10 Unleaded Auto-Gas: My Big Mistake as LSA Owner!

Postby MrMorden » Thu Apr 23, 2015 7:56 am

SportPilot wrote:Too bad they can't just stick a bladder in there.


He could with an MRA letter from TL Ultralight....that might be an option if he can talk with the factory and explain the situation to them.

It's a good thing this was caught before it caused fuel leaks or bled through the bottom of the airplane.
Andy Walker
Athens, GA
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2007 Flight Design CTSW E-LSA

Nomore767
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Re: E10 Unleaded Auto-Gas: My Big Mistake as LSA Owner!

Postby Nomore767 » Thu Apr 23, 2015 8:11 am

This is one of those situations where composite/fibreglass can be a disadvantage over metal construction, in my opinion. It seems that when it goes wrong it can be way more complex and expensive to repair, not to mention the down-time.

In both of the cases where I've flown a composite construction LSA, the CTLS and Remos GX, when they had repairs needed (relatively minor cracks in wing-tips and cargo door) the down-time was considerable and dealing with the manufacturer in Europe, not to mention the higher cost of repair, was all very frustrating. Fortunately for me it was the flight school's problem.

I've considered using E-10 fuel, because it's readily available, and because the manufacturer has approved it's use. I have a metal tank, although it's still got a sealer which 'could' be damaged by the ethanol, as well as the potential for the ethanol to damage rubber engine parts. In the end I decided that schlepping 93 non-ethanol on my own, flying to an airfield that has 93 non-ethanol on pump, and then 100LL (with Decalin) is the order of fuel that I'll use. Using 100LL on longer trips is a given but overall I mostly use 93 non-ethanol.

Seems to me that Rich's manufacturer has really dropped the ball here.

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MrMorden
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Re: E10 Unleaded Auto-Gas: My Big Mistake as LSA Owner!

Postby MrMorden » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:10 am

Nomore767 wrote: Seems to me that Rich's manufacturer has really dropped the ball here.


I didn't want to be the first to bring that up. Being told by the manufacturer that E10 is okay, and then having it eat through a tank, kinda sucks.

I'd at least talk to the factory and see if they can help with the repair costs. Take lots of pictures and keep sending them to the factory.

The comments about composite repairs are dead on. I know of one CT with a fuel tank leak inside the wing...it required most of the top wing skin to be cut away to access the tank. :shock:
Andy Walker
Athens, GA
Sport Pilot ASEL, LSRI
2007 Flight Design CTSW E-LSA

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FastEddieB
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Re: E10 Unleaded Auto-Gas: My Big Mistake as LSA Owner!

Postby FastEddieB » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:48 am

Yeah, the whole scenario kinda sucks big time.

3i calls for no more than 5% ethanol. The majority of the time I've been ethanol-free for local flying, and AVGAS when necessitated on cross countries. Pretty sure I've never gone over the 5%.

Still, that's one advantage to the setup on the Sky Arrow:

Image

That's the fuel tank just over my head as I experience the joy of checking my landing gear bolt torque.

I'm sure replacing it would be an expensive proposition were it to have problems, but nothing compared to what Rich is facing or what wing mounted tanks would require.
Fast Eddie B.
Sky Arrow 600 E-LSA • N467SA
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bottleworks
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Re: E10 Unleaded Auto-Gas: My Big Mistake as LSA Owner!

Postby bottleworks » Thu Apr 23, 2015 4:20 pm

(I'm gone. Everything deleted! Can't stand the ignorant data spread here).
Last edited by bottleworks on Fri May 08, 2015 9:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

troyball
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Re: E10 Unleaded Auto-Gas: My Big Mistake as LSA Owner!

Postby troyball » Thu Apr 23, 2015 6:39 pm

I have the same airplane and I am going to be following this post very carefully. Richard is paving the way for the rest of us to have to do the same repairs somewhere down the road. I have had several power failures, just as Richard has with clogged main jets in the carbs due to small bits of rubber clogging the main jets. All fuel hoses have been replaced and a new fuel pump installed which seems to have solved that problem.

However, I did send an email to Sport Aero in Little Rock and requested a LOA (letter of authorization) to install a fuel filter 6" before the carb fuel line intake on each side to have another safety system in place to screen out any debris that made it that far. I was refused for no good reason other than they (Bill?) did not think it was needed. I have this airplane up for sale and it is currently in outstanding condition and I have no reason to think I currently have the delamination or deterioration of the fuel tank that Richard is describing. But, if the airplane does not sell in a couple of months, I will have to seriously think of changing the certificate on the airplane to experimental and putting the fuel filters in anyway. That would also allow me to do the repairs on the fuel tank if it becomes necessary.

This airplane was used on 10% for a lot of it's life along with some av-gas. I live in Grand Junction, CO and have unlimited supply of ethanol free auto fuel. For that reason, I do not plan on flying very far with it for a long time.

Anyway, I wish Richard well with this project and I am going to be following it with great interest.


Troy Ball

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dstclair
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Re: E10 Unleaded Auto-Gas: My Big Mistake as LSA Owner!

Postby dstclair » Thu Apr 23, 2015 6:50 pm

Rich -- have you reported the issue with the detailed pics with Sport Air and/or TL-Ultralight?
dave

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FastEddieB
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Re: E10 Unleaded Auto-Gas: My Big Mistake as LSA Owner!

Postby FastEddieB » Thu Apr 23, 2015 6:57 pm

Troy,

Is going Experimental an option?

I did, and installed this:

Image

Image

Two of them, right before the carbs might even be better, but I think between the fuel tank screen, the screen in the fuel pump and this filter I'm catching 90% plus of any crap before it gets to the float bowls.
Fast Eddie B.

Sky Arrow 600 E-LSA • N467SA

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