A Real Corker of a Story
Posted February 2017
This is an old story.
Not old as in, "This has happened to countless other
I really doubt that. Anyway, this happened ~30 or so years ago
when I was flying N500F, the original Fly Baby.
The standard Fly Baby fuel gauge is a Cub-type; a cork on the end of
a stiff wire.
Not long after I started flying N500F, I decided the 30-year-old
cork was looking too ragged, and decided to replace it. It
took a few tries....
found a nice big cork at the local hardware store, intended for
closing the top of a thermos bottle. I installed it on the wire,
slid it through the cap, bent the top, shellacked the cork, and let
Turned out the cork was too big to go into the fuel tank opening. It
was tapered, not cylindrical like a wine cork, and the small end was
small enough but the flare was too much.
Grabbed my trusty jackknife, whittled the cork down, shellacked it
again, let it dry.
It fit...but the cork plunged to the bottom of its travel. Worked in
water, but the change to gasoline meant it didn't have enough
Took it off, bought TWO corks, put them inline, and shellacked them.
By this point I was getting impatient. Didn't want another overnight
wait for the shellac to dry. I grabbed my big mondo heat gun (bought
at Boeing Surplus), cranked it up, and pointed it at the corks.
A few seconds later, they caught fire. Looked like a couple of
abused marshmallows at a cookout.
So... two new corks, lather, rinse, repeat, and flew Fly Baby N500F
for years with the stacked cork system.
About ten years later, I'd bought my own Fly Baby. It needed a new
cork on the fuel cap.
I bought an off-the-shelf J-3 unit from Wag-Aero....
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