Fuel tank outlet fittings
The Rotorway factory now
provides complete new fuel outlet fittings with an inside washer
to prevent the fuel outlets from coming out of the bottom of the
fuel tanks. I am pleased that they have adopted my inside washer
modification and include it on all new ships. Whether you purchase
the new style fittings from the factory or fabricate your own, a
simple task, this area should get some special attention if you
have a pre-Talon ship.
- If your ship is a Rotorway 162F the fuel tank
outlet fittings may need to be modified if they have not already
- I noticed this problem while I was providing
flight instruction in a Rotorway 162F. We had just refueled between
flight training sessions and were flying at altitude when I thought
I smelled fuel. I queried my student and he also smelled the distinctive
odor of gasoline when all at once the odor intensity became unbearable.
I announced "I've got it" and initiated an emergency
descent and set down. Upon landing we immediately shut off all
electrical components and rapidly departed the helicopter. It
was then that we noticed that fuel was pouring from the underside
of the body tub. It was a miracle that the fuel did not ignite
and consume us and the helicopter as it poured over the hot engine
- Upon examination we immediately noticed that
the fuel tank outlet fitting had fallen out from the bottom of
one fuel tank allowing all of the fuel in both tanks (both tanks
outlet lines are connected) to spray all over the engine compartment.
Since I discovered this inherent design problem with this fitting
installation and published the incident and the fix, I have been
contacted by several individuals who found that the fuel fitting
pulled out of their own fuel tanks with no more than a gentle
tug or had started leaking on their own.
Here is an email that I recently received:
Just want to drop a note to thank you for all
the safety tips and fixes you have shared. From the wiring, to the
extended gear, to the fuel tank mods, I have incorporated them in
my machine. Without a doubt, you saved me from certain disaster
on the fuel tank outlet modification. I bought my 162f with 82 hours
on it. When I saw your posting I checked my fuel outlets. When I
put a wrench on the right side outlet, the fitting literally fell
out of the tank. Luckily, the tank only had a gallon or so but it
was all over the shop floor. I still shudder when I think I almost
flew the ship home 60 miles. I am convinced there is no way an owner
can properly inspect the outlet on an every-flight basis which the
stock configuration requires. Waiting to see seepage near a hot
engine and muffler and over the battery may end up being a bit too
late. It was an easy fix and great piece of mind. I have attached
a picture of my son and I in the helicopter that shows the extended
gear. Thanks for all your service.
Here is the fix that I came
up with that is simple to do and works very well. It provides
a positive mechanical stop inside of the fuel tank that will
prevent the fuel outlet fitting from falling or pulling out.
You can access the fuel outlet fitting by removing the screws
on the bottom half of the body tub in the fuel tank area and
then pulling the body panel away from the fuel tank enough to
get your wrenches in to do the work. A set of stubby wrenches
is a big help.
Remove any fuel(if your
fitting already fell out it took care of this step for you)
from the tank and remove the outlet fittings. This is done by
backing off the nut that is on the threaded portion of the outlet
fitting on the bottom of the tank. There is a flat for a wrench
to hold the fitting secure while you use another to loosen the
nut. Once the nut is loose the fitting should pull straight
down. If the grommets have been pushed up into the tank by the
washer you may need to work the fitting a bit to get it to slide
Drill about an 1/8th inch
diameter hole in the center of the top flat of the outlet fitting.
I find it simple to drill up through the bottom into the inside
of the top. Clean any burrs off the fitting left by drilling
The following photos were
taken by Don Charniak of the custom washers that he fabricated
and installed on his ship. Thanks Don for providing the great
- Next drop the washer (that you already trial fitted onto the
fitting) onto string and into tank. You may want to tie off the
bottom end of the string to prevent it from pulling back through
the tank outlet hole while you are working at the top of the tank.
- Thread the string up through the bottom of the outlet fitting
and out through hole drilled through the top.
- Drop the outlet fitting into the tank while holding onto both
string ends so that the bottom end is not pulled into the tank.
- Manipulate the string until the outlet fitting threads protrude
through the bottom of the tank, it will pass through the washer
and out the hole in the tank bottom.
- If the rubber grommet is good, place it over the fitting threads
and into the space around the threads inside tank bottom opening.
(if the grommet is damaged then order new ones from factory)
- Install the factory washer and nut and tighten
- This will now provide a positive mechanical stop that will prevent
the fuel tank outlet fitting from pulling out of the bottom of
the fuel tanks and allows the rubber grommet to have a positive
stop to compress against as the bottom washer is forced up against
it by tightening the nut.Your fuel tank will now have a tough
and leak-free fuel outlet fitting that you will no longer need
to worry about.
When I arrived at Andrew
Burr's home in South Eastern Missouri we removed his fuel tank outlet
fittings to install the washers inside the tanks. The following
photo shows the deterioration of the rubber grommet that seals both
the fuel from leaking from the tank and also is supposed to keep
the fuel fitting from falling out of the tank in flight.
What is the condition of
the grommets in your Rotorway 162F fuel tanks? If you have an older
Rotorway you may want to consult with the factory regarding the
purchase of new grommets and the new style fuel outlet fittings.
The grommets were split and deteriorating
and obviously in need of replacing which we did when the outlet
fittings were installed from the inside of the tanks .
Here for more fuel tank info.