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To drain or not to drain

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To drain or not to drain

Old 4th Apr 2021, 12:46
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Netherlands
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To drain or not to drain

In the early days of my flying career (long time ago, started with a few years of GA before joining the heavy stuff) we'd use to "dispense" our drained fuel by throwing it away in an arc so that most of the fuel evaporated before reaching the ground. At least we hoped so. Now in modern times (picked up intensive GA flying again) You don't make friends with witnessing people who care for the environment and airport managers, especially with "green" fields.
How do You dispense the drained fuel? Are there any provisions for that provided by the field or club? Like buckets or so?
Like in a club or rental environment with multiple flights a day, You drain every flight, or only the first flight of the day? Following the checklist does not provide for this.
Draining the wing tanks directly after refueling, I think it is unlikely You will find anything because it is still mixed, same as above, no remark about this in manuals.
Draining the engine fuel filter from a C172 requires two persons, one who has to crawl under the fuse....

I once flew a "modern" C172 in the States that had something like 11 or 13 points to check..... We still have those old buggers with only two points plus the engine...
Let's hear some opinions who does what. Please no "drain war"...yet
Richard
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Old 4th Apr 2021, 13:32
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Join Date: Feb 2002
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The habit is still throw it on the ground mostly in the UK. In the States I've seen a lot of people put it back in if it's ok? As long as you keep your fuel tester clean and no water or debris is detected, then I really don't see why it isn't put back in?
But if you are really concerned, I am sure there will be someone on field doing some work who could use the fuel for cleaning parts?
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Old 4th Apr 2021, 14:37
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I put mine in the tug for my hangar neighbour's Commander 112. (With his agreement as the farmer doesn't like it chucked on the grass).
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Old 4th Apr 2021, 15:19
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Join Date: Sep 2007
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If it's clean I put it back in the tank. That stuff is expensive!

Last edited by Dorf; 4th Apr 2021 at 23:02.
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Old 4th Apr 2021, 15:58
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Join Date: Jul 2014
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I thought the idea was that you poured it onto the ground (preferably concrete) to check it evaporated ie it was not all blue tinted water!

However, not sure how that works on grass- you probably cannot tell if it has evaporated and later, it leaves a nasty stain on the grass.
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Old 4th Apr 2021, 16:36
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One flying club I used to help out had a small used fuel Jerry can which was kept outside next to the tow bars and step ladder rack on the side of the hangar. This is the ideal solution, however most people just pour it back in the tank after checking the fuel is clear of contaminates.
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Old 4th Apr 2021, 17:08
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I normally drain in the clubhouse before I walk out to the aircraft, but I may have simply done it on the Tailwheel one cold morning.
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Old 4th Apr 2021, 17:15
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We save ours and use it with a rag to clean down any oil stains on the belly of the aircraft!
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Old 4th Apr 2021, 19:45
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Join Date: Oct 2007
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In the US I've used a fuel drain with a filter, and put the filtered fuel back in the tank.
if the aircraft is in a dry, warm, hangar you might get away with not draining.
If the aircraft is outside, or water might drop from hangar roof, then draining is needed. I have detected water, but very seldom.
Not draining has the added environmental advantage of occasionally reducing the planets human overpopulation.
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Old 4th Apr 2021, 20:34
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GATS jars or similar allow for pouring back in the tank.


Otherwise a closed container to dispense it and use it for tool or parts cleaning or small engines like tugs or lawnmowers.
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Old 4th Apr 2021, 21:11
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Join Date: Nov 2000
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I was taught that it was illegal to put it back in the aircraft's fuel tanks.

At one of my aero clubs we poured the drained fuel into a drum and used it later to power the lawnmower.

Incidentally, on only one occasion have I found water in the drain cup.
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Old 4th Apr 2021, 23:44
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Join Date: Aug 2001
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I get itchy thinking about putting drained fuel back into the tank. When we defueled a transport jet prior to heavy maintenance, particularly those with foreign registry, it went into a fueling truck. It could be reused only after our lab checked it out for contamination and biological growth. You might be surprised to see what can grow in a fuel tank. Sumping a large jet presents problems. Many tanks, many sump ports. Seen and participated in "on the ramp" disposal in early days. Later, bowsers to collect sumped fuel were made available. Lot of water collected from condensation at high altitudes where fuel got very cold and you then descended into warm, moist air.
Even worse, back in big piston days, checking oil screens resulted in pails of thick, combustion contaminated oil. Remember, we had lots of lead in 108/135 and 115/145 fuel. I remember seeing more than a few buckets poured into the storm sewers at the then KIDL airport. These went out to Jamaic a Bay. Admittedly, it was a very long walk across the ramp to the oil pit.
Good Old days were sometimes bad.
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Old 5th Apr 2021, 04:17
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Join Date: Jan 2007
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In today's environmentally conscious culture it's definitely not ok to pour fuel on the ground. Or throw it into the air hoping it will evaporate. There are two accepted solutions:

1. Pour it back into the tank using a filter or filtering sample jar.
2. Pour it into some container for use or disposal.

When flying unfamiliar aircraft I usually have one of the above sample jars with me but if not I would look around and inquire with the aircraft or airport operator where fuel samples can be disposed. If I forget my jar and no one has a safe solution, I'll pour it on the ground before I pour it back in the tank no matter how clean it seems.

By the way if there is so much water in the tank that your entire sample is water, it will be painfully obvious when you start your sample. Water has a very different viscosity and doesn't flow anything like fuel.
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Old 5th Apr 2021, 08:46
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Nice reactions! I like B2N2's tip: https://www.aircraftspruce.com/catal...atsfueljar.phpMore people use this?
Indeed we are being watched more and more with our "polluting" and noisy planes and we have to be careful with bad press if seen by someone. Well, if the solution could be that item, it would be great..... keep sending Your experiences.
Having something O/B would make You independent of local solutions, as long as no drained fuel is carried O/B back home or so.
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Old 5th Apr 2021, 12:01
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I keep it in a screw top jar for engine, filter, aircleaner cleansing as required.
Or bung it in the strip's lawn mower or one's car provided it is a clean drained sample.
Lastly it kills weed roots in the paving gaps in front of the hangar !
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Old 5th Apr 2021, 13:46
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Don't put avgas in a car which is intended to run on unleaded fuel, it'll fuss up the catalytic convertor in short order.
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Old 5th Apr 2021, 14:17
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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Agreed about Avgas, sorry, haven't used it for40 years,
Got forgetful as round here (Southern U.K.) we can buy unleaded & free from E no's petrol from a small chain that imports it.
Otherwise Supermarket unleaded runs a Rotax perfectly O. K. as they too say avoid lead !
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Old 5th Apr 2021, 14:45
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Join Date: Apr 2019
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Once had our Flying Spanner test the tanks on the BBJ we were positioning from OERK (Riyadh, Saudi) sadly one of the underwing drains decided to stick, resulting in a bit of a fuel spill, a very angry Saudi Fire Chief, one Angry Flying Spanner and two very amused pilots, although our clothes did get rather wet off the Jet A, bit like the Dutch boy with his finger in the Dyke. But that's for another day. Just be thoughtful where you carry out fuel drains.
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Old 5th Apr 2021, 18:02
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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Originally Posted by Brian Pern View Post
Once had our Flying Spanner test the tanks on the BBJ we were positioning from OERK (Riyadh, Saudi) sadly one of the underwing drains decided to stick, resulting in a bit of a fuel spill, a very angry Saudi Fire Chief, one Angry Flying Spanner and two very amused pilots, although our clothes did get rather wet off the Jet A, bit like the Dutch boy with his finger in the Dyke. But that's for another day. Just be thoughtful where you carry out fuel drains.
Having a coffee with the KLM station engineer in Dar Es Salaam, I was bemoaning the loss of about 30 gallons of Jet A when defueling. He went on to tell me about a spillage he was involved in at Lagos Airport.
5 tonnes!!!. "However it was Nigeria so nobody cared".
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Old 5th Apr 2021, 18:17
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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Pilot of a Cessna 172 RG reported a lack of power. Initial investigation revealed nothing. Then he mentioned that he was getting strange globules from the right tank water drain. So we sampled and indeed these cream coloured globules were present.
We fished a whole roll of masking tape out of the tank minus glue.
Complete fuel system was disassembled. Nightmare was cleaning the integral tanks, as as soon as the fuel was removed the glue went hard.
Tanks had to be cleaned out while filled with fuel. Very unpleasant.


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