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Operation Tips

Fuel Dipstick
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I talked to Hartwig Fuel Cell folks and they said the later 180's and the bladder 182's with the long range tank use the exact same dimension bladder.  It's just the nipples/pickups might be different.  
I'm going to order the FuelHawk for the 182 w/39 g bladder cells and see how it corresponds in my 73 180J with LR tanks.

The Universal Fuelhawk dipstick is an accurate means to obtain current fuel quantity if it is used properly. There is no pre-made dipstick for the C-180/185 so you will need to calibrate your own.

Both gas tanks were drained to empty thru the gascolator then tanks were filled in 5 gal increments to calibrate both the dipstick and aircraft fuel gauges and to obtain actual useable fuel quantity in each tank.

The first picture is the actual fuel tank quantity vs fuel gauge indication vs dipstick indication calibrated for my 1958 C-180A.

The second picture is the calibrated dipstick fuel quantity card to take with you up on the wing to measure current quantity.


I have found the Cessna gas gauges are very inaccurate but at the same time very repeatable, as in, they read the same inaccurate amount every time I have checked against empty tanks being refilled in 5 gal increments from a certified pump and also compared to the fuel flow computer which is very accurate..
I have the clear acrylic tube dipstick I have calibrated for each tank which is very accurate but I don't use it very often.
What I have done is make up calibrated curves of fuel quantity vs. gas gauge indication for each tank. These are very accurate and repeatable and are kept in the plane in the event the fuel flow computer fails on a long trip where max fuel is required, which has happened on several occasions, usually due to failed wiring connections. Easy to fix but not while you're in the air.
My normal procedure is to always take off with full tanks when possible which takes 99 and 44/100% of the anxiety out of fuel management. In Alaska, we have the saying; "Gas doesn't weigh anything in Alaska" so no matter what goes in the plane, fill the tanks. The feds allow Part 135 operators in Alaska a 10% overload, as I recall, to be used for fuel.
On my Commercial ASES check ride in my Super Cub on floats, I had 7gal of gas in the tanks which was all that was allowed to keep the plane under gross with the two of us and required survival gear. The Designee asked how much fuel was onboard so I told him, "7 gallons and we can fly 30 minutes then come back and refuel as many times as we need to to complete the check ride" He said, "Would you fly anywhere in Alaska with 7 gallons?" I said, "Only on a check ride", to which he replied, "Let's fill this plane up and go fly". True story.
I had to recently empty my tanks for leaky fuel valves...
I refilled my tanks (level ground of course/not on "both" with the selector valve)  first with 10 gal each wing, then in 5 gal increments, filing a permanent mark in my clear acrylic dipstick tube with the first 10 then 5 gallons increments.
I also took a photo of my fuel gauges at each desired quantity (i.e.: 10/side, then 20, then 30), printed the photos out, then pasted them in my aircraft log book.
The photos are a great reference when you just want to do a quick comparison of what these horribly inaccurate gauges are telling you!
Not really, I already own a few pump systems. Personally I have watched a Twin Otter go into the Bering from water in drums after the fool bypassed the Bendix filter. Then good old Twin Otter 141 killed a pile of skydivers in California when the pilot bypassed the filter system and filled cans out of the sump of the truck and fueled the aircraft. I myself have had a Caravan flameout at 5,000' over Somalia at night from water in jerry can fuel provided by the Red Cross. Luckily, on a Caravan or most turbines, you can go to continuous ignition and it will still run in spite of the water.

Originally it came out in an advisory circular in 1976 AC 20-43C, but during the seminar, they pointed out it had become regulation in the last few years.

Most airports will not allow you to fuel from cans even with a pump, unless you have been specifically licensed to do so and have fuel spill cleanup training and your own equipment. Picky, yes they are, but the liability makes them do it. God bless the lawyers. We pay 2.5¢ per dollar gross revenue at the Repair Station to pay for liability insurance to keep the Harvard grads at bay. Most fuel companies, like BP, used to provide liability insurance for FBO's concerning fuel. Now you have to carry the first million yourself, they cover the rest. So if your FBO and the airport seem rabid about the point, they get the blame. Most likely their industry group persuaded the feds to make the crossover.
Sounds like someone trying to sell you a tank and pump system.
It came up at IA renewal a couple of years back. I'll have to get my encyclopedic inspector to see if he can quote the actual FAR next week.

One other item to consider, it is now actually illegal to put fuel via gravity feed, ie. dump it from a can, into your aircraft. Regs require a pump and filter. So an FAA (MOT) inspector, shaped like a marital aid, can (if he actually reads his own regs), give you substantial grief.

Please share the applicable FAR, I'm no expert but that is a new one on me.
A dipstick is defiantly a safe addition to any aircraft. My preferred kind is a small acrylic tube, that you dip in the tank, put your finger over the end and withdraw. Fuel is held in the tube by the air pressure. You read and then release the fuel back in your tank. It is much better than sniffing the aroma of fuel for hours from your wooden, saturated stick.

You can make one by getting the tubing, doing the 5 gallon at a time fill and scribing a mark with first, a sharpie and then using a small triangular file to make a small groove. This will not wash off or fade.

Remember, when your in the field, you are most likely on the step kit. Your plane will lean over and vary your readings. This can be quite a lot when you have extended range tanks (and can change, depending on the weight of the person on the wing). So really fine readings, like 1 gallon at a time may be impressive but fatally misleading, besides taking all day to dump 74 gallons in, a gallon at a time (or 336 liters for our lads up north).

One other item to consider, it is now actually illegal to put fuel via gravity feed, ie. dump it from a can, into your aircraft. Regs require a pump and filter. So an FAA (MOT) inspector, shaped like a marital aid, can (if he actually reads his own regs), give you substantial grief.
Mission Aviation Fellowship has used their own sheet metal dipstick for decades. I have one and could send a picture when I get home. Its very useful and accurate on level ground. I believe I have the template still for the dipstick.
I used a hardwood paint stir stick and eased the edges/corners at the bottom. Empty the tanks, add 5 gallons at a time, mark the increments with a Sharpie pen. I wouldn't trust my stick with another plane any more than I'd trust your stick, or a store bought one, in my plane. Accurate calibration is key with any fuel quantity indicator.
Decide how to dip before you make the stick and follow that routine thereafter. I slide my stick into the tank vertically using the rear of the filler as a guide. The same routine every time. Very accurate. A couple of years ago I added new MacFarlane fuel senders and an Aerospace Logic digital fuel gauge. Accurate to the gallon. I still dip my tanks with my paint stick before every flight.
I made a dipstick out of a length of 1" diameter wooden dowel rod. Drained the tank, put 10 gal in at a time. It is accurate to within a couple of gallons.

I question whether you could really be accurate down to a gallon like this picture suggests. I suspect that small changes in the level of the ramp could have big changes in the volume shown on the dipstick.
I believe this was a one-of by an owner, constructed the hard way - start with an empty tank, add a few gallons at a time.
I know I would buy one.
Does anyone know who posted this Fuel Dipstick picture?
Does anyone know if it is available anywhere?

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