The Student Prince is currently in the shop where it is getting the final touches on a new fuel tank installation and its annual inspection. Freshly restored and with only 40 flying hours since, the Prince is better than new. Several hours after it emerged from the restoration, it’s original steel fuel tank started to develop some leaks around the braised rivets and a new aluminum tank was custom ordered. At the Arlington Airshow last weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting the man who fabricated the new tank. I thanked him for his fine craftsmanship and he told me (more than once), that building that fuel tank was the hardest job he’s ever encountered. The new tank is quite significantly lighter than the old by approximately 30 pounds, and losing airplane weight is always good. Unfortunately, there was no room in the center section of the top wing where the tank goes to build a new fuel tank with more capacity. So the Student Prince still carries only 21.5 gallons of gas at a fuel burn of 7 to 8 gallons per hour. Needless to say, I will be stopping frequently for fuel on the way to Ohio. The short range of the Prince is a dictating factor for a significant part of the trip. I actually have to deviate somewhat to the north in South Dakota because that’s where the airports that sell fuel are.
I just spoke with the gentleman who is performing the fuel tank installation and he told me that he just shot the color coat of paint and that the annual inspection was under way. Also on my laundry list of requests was that more grit be added to the wing walk so that it’s not slick when one has to climb onto the wing to get in and out of the cockpit. I didn’t dare ask for a completion date from the shop, as I didn’t want set myself up for disappointment, but the time when I can get back in the Student Prince is drawing very near. It has been months and I am over anxious. Doubly so with the trip to Ohio looming ever nearer. With the Kinner engine being completely overhauled, the mineral oil that is used for the initial break in period is going to be replaced with regular oil. I intend to put several more hours on the engine here locally to make sure it is operating smoothly before I head east toward those massive mountains.