Nicer RV-14 Fuel Caps

Added 11/08/2016

One of the things that I found during my flyoff hours that I wasn't so happy about were the fuel caps that are part of the RV-14 kit.  It isn't really the design of the caps that was the issue, but more the material they were made out of.  The fuel caps that are provided with the RV-14 kit are the SPRL fuel caps, made of plastic, by Newton.  They make them in both standard and lockable versions, but when I contacted them, they only offer them in plastic.

When I was in process of building I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with them.  The grey plastic color isn't the most appealing, and anything made of plastic like that kind of "cheapens" the image of it also.  Additionally I wanted engraved fuel caps, like I did on my RV-10. The Engraving not only identifies the caps as yours, and if you lose them, gives the finder a way to get them back to you via your N-Number registration, but it helps you comply with the markings you should have by your fuel tank openings.  In the case of the RV-14 that would be 100LL only, 25 U.S. Gallons per tank.  So even while building the wings, I wasn't completely satisfied with the fuel caps that were included.

Then it came time to fly.  Within the first few flights, I had been flying on some windy days with winds in the 15-20kt range, and when I went to fuel up I would do my usual routine of removing the caps, placing them on the wing walk, fueling, and then replacing them.  The problem was, the caps were so light (which would normally be a good thing), that they blew right off the wings on 2 separate occasions.  So I called Newton to see if they offered an Aluminum version and they said "no", and offered that maybe I should put the fuel caps in my pocket while fueling.  Yeah, right.

The final straw came when I was out doing some rolls, and even though I was maybe 3000' above my house, my family caught a video of me and while upside down I had 2 large fans of fuel streaming out from the fuel caps!  They sent me a text message and so I went and did some more rolls and sure enough, every time I went inverted, with the fuel pushing to the outside of the tanks due to centripetal force, I had a fair amount of fuel spraying out.  No wonder I had been getting blue stains down by my flaps!

Now the leakage wasn't the fault of it being plastic, because just by disassembling the cap and lubing the o-ring, and then tightening the nut a little on the fuel cap stem a little extra, I was able to reduce or prevent the fuel leakage.  But while disassembling the fuel cap I decided I would set out on a mission to have some aluminum ones machined.

I talked to Geoff Combs, from Aerosport Products, during OSH 2016 about the issue, because he's made many very nice products for RV's from both Aluminum, and Carbon Fiber, and does a very good job with everything they do.  I had already purchased a new fuel cap and ring to use to measure out for machining a replacement top, so I sent it to him for him to use.  Eventually he sent me a photo of one he had made out of a plastic compound, more as a proof of design, and it was great!
Then he got to work on doing them out of aluminum.  The result is shown below.  I now have a fantastic set of aluminum fuel cap tops for my RV-14!

Here are some things to make note of:

1) You can get just the aluminum top, at least this is how it is as of this writing.  You will re-use your original o-rings, springs, washers, nuts, stem, locking base, and flip tab.  It's an exact fit for all of the parts.

2) They will be making them for the RV-14 as an engraved product, but because any time you change things in CNC it takes time, they plan to engrave them by default with the "100LL Only  25 US Gal".  The N-Number would require them to get time on the machine, set it back up with the proper tooling, and run the engraving of the N-Number separately.  So this would cost extra for anyone wanting their N-Number or anything else added.

3) At the time of this writing I do not know if they've already made a production run, but you'll want to contact them for information on getting them.

Otherwise, swapping out your cheap plastic tops for some nice engraved aluminum tops should be a piece of cake!

Below are some photos of mine when I test fit them.  On mine, the white paint didn't stick very well to the plastic, so my caps had chipped around the edges badly, and especially had chipped on the flip-tab.  The middle bottom picture shows the tab.   I took the old caps and parts home and after soaking them for 30-45 mins in Lacquer thinner, the paint fell right off, and now I have grey tabs and spare plastic grey tops again.

Another nice upgrade by Aerosport Products!

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