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  #1  
Old 02-22-2013, 07:27 AM
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DanH DanH is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: 08A
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Default Shocking Reminder

I was puttering around the hangar and just happened to notice a slow drip from the fuel tank sump drain. Ran a few shots of fuel into the trusty fuel tester in hopes of flushing the trash from under the o-ring. It just got worse, so I retrieved a wrench, a spare drain valve, and a catch pan, then crawled up under the airplane to do the swap. I reached for the dripping valve......and discharged a fat blue lightning bolt about an 1/8" long directly to the wet brass.

It didn't light. No bandages and I still have an airplane.

No idea how I managed to build a static charge so quickly, but I did, and the lesson is clear. Discharge yourself by touching some metal part of the airplane before you reach for any fuel component....in particular valves dripping fuel.
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  #2  
Old 02-22-2013, 07:32 AM
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Whew! Good advice! Glad for you!
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  #3  
Old 02-22-2013, 07:37 AM
David-aviator David-aviator is offline
 
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Shocking reminder indeed. Glad the local fuel/air mixture was not right and you are OK.
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  #4  
Old 02-22-2013, 07:44 AM
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Do you have carpet in the hanger you walk on?
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  #5  
Old 02-22-2013, 07:54 AM
dealfair dealfair is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brantel View Post
Whew! Good advice! Glad for you!
+ 1 WHEW!!!!
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  #6  
Old 02-22-2013, 08:28 AM
Rupester Rupester is offline
 
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Default Thanks !!!

... for the warning and reminder. It's So-o-o-o-o easy to forget some of those basics when "puttering around" in the hangar.
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  #7  
Old 02-22-2013, 10:17 AM
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Neal@F14 Neal@F14 is offline
 
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Gasoline, being a non-polar dielectric substance, dripping to the ground from an insulated conductor (the airplane, being insulated from the ground by the rubber in the tires) can form an electrostatic generating system, sort of like a variant of a Van de Graaff generator. The plane is the upper electrode, the ground is.... well the ground, and the falling gasoline drops act like the dielectric belt transferring electrons to the ground. Given enough drops of fuel hitting the ground and the plane can build up enough of a static charge to make a spark like that.
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  #8  
Old 02-22-2013, 10:24 AM
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Dan - thank you so much for posting this reminder. I have done exactly as you did, several times, and never thought twice about it.
It takes a lot of things coming together to have a bad ending, but here is one from a local hospital a few days ago;
http://www.kgw.com/news/national/192182711.html
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  #9  
Old 02-22-2013, 10:35 AM
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DanH DanH is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rv9av8tr View Post
Do you have carpet in the hanger you walk on?
Yes, and I should have mentioned it. However, it is narrow (about gear-wide) and its been there about 15 years without issue. I crawled on it 4 feet, maybe 6 tops, from in front of the left wheelpant to where I could reach the right drain. I suppose that's enough to charge up a 220 lb Swedish-Irish-English capacitor. The mystery is why I didn't get a spark on previous trips; I went under to examine the problem (leaking at threads or through the valve?), then again with the trusty fuel checker, and a third time with the wrench.

My conclusion is it doesn't matter how the airplane and I developed a difference of potential. There's no way to track all the possibilities on any given day; doing so is not an effective prophylactic. What I need to remember is to always touch my aluminum gear leg before touching the drain.
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Last edited by DanH : 02-22-2013 at 10:40 AM.
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  #10  
Old 02-22-2013, 10:40 AM
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ppilotmike ppilotmike is offline
 
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Glad to hear you're okay, Dan. I knew your "electric" personality might get you in trouble some day. (P.S. Stop rubbing ballons on your hair before you work on your airplane.)
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