jetstar
Posts: 1366
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Mike Rowe Of Dirty Jobs Reseals A KC-135 Fuel Tank

Thu Jul 27, 2006 9:57 am

On the Discovery Channel, they have a program called Dirty Jobs hosted by Mike Rowe. If you have never seen this program, Mike goes out to various cities across the US and gets invited by various companies to help out on their dirty jobs. This is a one hour show and he does 3 segments or different jobs per show.

One of the segments yesterday was very interesting. He was invited to McConnell Air Force Base to help out in sealing leaks in the fuel tanks of a KC 135R. The aircraft had already been defueled and the access plate opened under the wing. Mike’s job was to go into the fuel tank via the access panel to clean out the old sealant and put new sealant down. In charge was a petite female technician who went in first, and then Mike went in. Mike is not a small guy and it was a very tight fit for him in both getting in and out and also maneuvering around inside the tank, they wore special overalls and a full face mask with outside air pumped in. Outside was another male technician whose job was in case anyone was overcome by the fumes, he would go in and drag them out. Not visible, but there was also a cameraman inside the wing taping this.

The wing tanks also had an outside fresh air system to purge the tanks of the jet fuel fumes. He used a scrapper to remove the old sealant and from a paper cut used an acid brush to apply the new sealant. The female technician stayed in the bay just forward and directed Mike as to how to do the job. She said she loves doing this type of work and actually volunteered for the job. They called themselves the “Tank Rats”

After Mike finished this job he had to go into the belly and work on a fuel bladder. On the KC-135, all the fuel is carried either in the wings or bladder tanks in the belly in what would normally be the cargo compartment, no fuel is carried on the main deck. First Mike went into the bladder to work on the lacing and then he had to climb out and go underneath the bladder for the fuel connections. There was another technician in there with him and again also the cameraman, so you get an idea how big the fuel bladder is. The technician told Mike that this bladder was directly underneath the lavatory and there could be some lav juice in the belly. Mike did see and complained of the odor and used the phrase “Lav Poo” to describe the leaking lav juice.

After the work was completed, Mike went up on the test flight, which included a refueling mission with a B-52. The Base Commander was the aircraft commander on this flight and after takeoff she described the mission and the track they would fly. Mike then walked back from the cockpit to the boom operator in the rear. He laid down next to the boom operator because the boom operator lays on their stomach and she described what she would be doing. The B-52 came into view and she deployed the refueling boom and transferred about 10,000 pounds of fuel. The also had a cameraman on the B-52 so you got a close up view of the refueling operation from both the boom operators position and the cockpit of the B-52. Mike was astonished how close the airplanes were and from the B-52, you could clearly see the boom operator’s face as she waved to the camera.

I wonder if anyone out there saw this show. If not, according the Discovery Channel schedule it will rerun again on July 28 at 9.pm and July 29 at 1 am eastern time. I definitely would advise watching this segment. The show itself is very entertaining because Mike takes a very lighthearted approach to everything.
 
727EMflyer
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RE: Mike Rowe Of Dirty Jobs Reseals A KC-135 Fuel Tank

Thu Jul 27, 2006 10:14 am

I saw most of the segment, it was pretty cool! This definitely wasn't his typical piece since he wasn't covered in soot or some sort of goo, but he sure talked up how much the fuel stank, thus making it "A dirty job." Definitely worth watching!
 
Dougloid
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RE: Mike Rowe Of Dirty Jobs Reseals A KC-135 Fuel Tank

Thu Jul 27, 2006 10:16 am

Yeah, I saw it...great gawd almighty, I recognized the inside of fuel tanks. I saw the inside of a few Challengers myself, and dry tanks at Douglas-even wriggled along inside a belly bladder tank in an MD11 to inspect some plumbing.

The first one I went into I had no tyvek suit and no respirator. We opened up the tank doors, parked a huge blower there, and purged it for an hour before I went in, slopping around in puddles of fuel...it formed a good part of the reasons I quit working for Atlantic Aviation. I was respirator certified at Douglas but luckily nobody ever got into trouble inside a tank on my shift and I wasn't a certified sealing inspector-I avoided that certification like bubonic plague.

I also recognized the bladders, having worked on many Turbo Commanders in the day.

I tell the old lady "That's how I used to make a living and you were always wondering why I stunk of jet fuel." Then I tell her "Yeah...that sealer? It smells like ripe cabbage farts and it always ends up in your hair-Smelling that stuff is like being at a union meeting in Hamtramck."

But see, I used to do a lot cleaner job than those guys. Down to bare metal, wire brush, then clean with MEK, then paint with 1422 A type (that's the stuff like chocolate syrup) and then when it cured cover it with 1422B (the gooey stuff). Let it cure for a day before you fuel it and Bob's your uncle.

As a practical note, I did go to Fairchild fuel tank sealing school in San Antonio. They told us there that the design life of PR1422 is twelve years. After that it starts lifting up and peeling off like the chunk Mike picked up. If it was me, I woulda cut that sealer back until I found a good solid patch and worked from there.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
474218
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RE: Mike Rowe Of Dirty Jobs Reseals A KC-135 Fuel Tank

Thu Jul 27, 2006 10:42 am

Dougloid,

I agree with you, while the bit was interesting, Mike's tank sealing technique left a lot to be desired. I wanted them the show how to find the leak. Then they should have removed the sealant over a much larger area and then reseal. The thing that really got me was when the female airman said just goop it on the more the better. Having taught tank sealing that made me scream.

The odor of PR1422 is something I will never forget.
 
n8076u
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RE: Mike Rowe Of Dirty Jobs Reseals A KC-135 Fuel

Thu Jul 27, 2006 12:48 pm

I saw the show as well, and thought it was a lot more exciting to watch than some of the other things he has done, but then it did involve an airplane.  Wink

Quoting 474218 (Reply 3):
I agree with you, while the bit was interesting, Mike's tank sealing technique left a lot to be desired.

I agree as well, which makes me wonder if they went back after the filming and did a more thorough job of it, or did more prep beforehand than they showed. But it was neat to watch nonetheless, especially because I didn't have to smell the fuel or the sealant, or go in the tank, for that matter...

Chris
Don't blame me, I don't work here...
 
Dougloid
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RE: Mike Rowe Of Dirty Jobs Reseals A KC-135 Fuel Tank

Thu Jul 27, 2006 10:36 pm

Quoting 474218 (Reply 3):
I agree with you, while the bit was interesting, Mike's tank sealing technique left a lot to be desired. I wanted them the show how to find the leak. Then they should have removed the sealant over a much larger area and then reseal. The thing that really got me was when the female airman said just goop it on the more the better. Having taught tank sealing that made me scream.

The odor of PR1422 is something I will never forget.

I used to fix a lot of fuel leaks on IAI Westwinds. They always seemed to get leaks around the rivets on the lower wing panels inboard of the MLG legs....it was said that the MLG was very stiff and it made the wing flex a lot on landing...some would leak on the top but mostly on the bottom. The way we'd find the weepers is to clean up the surface and then spray the wing with dye penetrant developer....the white stuff. The weepers would show up quite well.

If the operator was in a hurry we'd use click patches, but if the aircraft was going to be with us for a few days we'd replace the leaking huckbolts and reseal.

I was in on a ten year tank inspection on a Falcon 20 one time. The wing plank comes off the bottom, and then you inspect, repair and treat for corrosion. They used a special type of liquid buna rubber sealer to protect the metal which we called cherry syrup-it is about the best contact cement there ever was. Wish I knew the part number so I could get some-it's handy stuff to have.
Each plank had about 1,200 screws going into nutplates attaching it....it's very disheartening getting it your sealant all troweled out (8 hour sealer this time) and then about halfway through reassembly one of the screws galls in the nutplate and the threads come out.

So there we were-aircraft promised for the next day...about 11:00 at night...stripped nutplate....the boss was going to be in at 7:00 am so we all looked at each other and said "No guts, no glory." The crew chief stuck his cherry rivet gauge in the hole and up thru the nutplate, went to the stockroom, got a huckbolt of the right length, we reamed the hole, glopped the rivet up with 1422, a silent prayer was offered, and then Jose put the pneumatic rivet smasher on and pulled the trigger...KA-BANG! That good solid bang when you've got a good pull. The collar was set nicely, and we went on and finished up the reassembly. It held fuel well, and the airplane went off to wherever. Gosh knows what happened at the next inspection, though.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
727EMflyer
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RE: Mike Rowe Of Dirty Jobs Reseals A KC-135 Fuel Tank

Sun Jul 30, 2006 6:37 pm

Quoting N8076U (Reply 4):
makes me wonder if they went back after the filming and did a more thorough job of it, or did more prep beforehand than they showed.

I can't speak for the airforce, but the good ole U.S. Navy does similar PR stunts often enough, and they are always staged. The laymen will "oooh and ahh!" and never know the difference... just put him in the tank and make it look like he's doing something. I'm willing to bet the aircraft they used was about to get a lot more attention!
 
luketenley
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RE: Mike Rowe Of Dirty Jobs Reseals A KC-135 Fuel Tank

Sun Jul 30, 2006 7:28 pm

I would love to see this episode. We have a refueling base here in Pittsburgh so I get to see these planes practicing quite a bit.
Pittsburgh International Airport lover
 
EMBQA
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RE: Mike Rowe Of Dirty Jobs Reseals A KC-135 Fuel Tank

Sun Jul 30, 2006 10:46 pm

Quoting Jetstar (Thread starter):
you could clearly see the boom operator’s face as she waved to the camera.

....and she was a cute one too....!!!  Wink
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
 
jetstar
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RE: Mike Rowe Of Dirty Jobs Reseals A KC-135 Fuel Tank

Mon Jul 31, 2006 12:44 am

Quoting EMBQA (Reply 8):
and she was a cute one too....!!!

I watched a repeat of this show this past Friday and was able to concentrate on more of the fine details, and yes the boom operator was very cute, the gal who went into the fuel tank with Mike was not that bad looking herself.

I now just how Mike felt when he complained about the jet fuel smell, anyone who has worked on jet fuel systems can relate to this. That odor remains on you no matter how much you wash up, the only way to get rid of it is to take a shower.

On the JetStar, to change a main fuel boost bump you had to take off a vertically mounted panel in the wing root about the same size as the one Mike crawled through. The fuel pump was a submerged type pump mounted on the inside of this panel so after removing the attachment bolts on the panel, it had to be pushed into the tank and turned sideways to remove it with the fuel pump still mounted on this panel. Needless to say you usually wound up with jet fuel on you and your clothes.

If Mike thought that fuel bladder was tough working on, he should try changing them on a Turbo Commander, some models of these have up to 22 bladders in the wings and fuselage. Between all the inter tank fuel line connectors and the snaps holding it in place working by feel alone through a small access panel on top of the wing made this job almost impossible.
 
Dougloid
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RE: Mike Rowe Of Dirty Jobs Reseals A KC-135 Fuel Tank

Mon Jul 31, 2006 8:51 am

Quoting Jetstar (Reply 9):
If Mike thought that fuel bladder was tough working on, he should try changing them on a Turbo Commander, some models of these have up to 22 bladders in the wings and fuselage. Between all the inter tank fuel line connectors and the snaps holding it in place working by feel alone through a small access panel on top of the wing made this job almost impossible.

Hey dude...changed a lot of Turbo Commander bladders myself...never under any circumstances believe a person who says he can rebuild them...you gotta fold then exactly right, get them inside the bay and then reach in and do the interconnects blind...

Are you a fan of Aero Commanders? Guy I know worked at an FBO at Torrance back in the day. There was a guy who had an Aero Commander and used to buy his avgas in Mexico because it was a lot cheaper.
So he goes down to T-town to fill up and what he doesn't know is that the Mexicans had run out of 100 octane ,and so they took some of their 80 octane and just doped the hell out of it with mucho toluene to get the numbers up there. So this guy fills up and by the time he gets back, every rubber bag in the Aero Commander is leaking like it'll never stop....a total bladder replacement.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
LMP737
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RE: Mike Rowe Of Dirty Jobs Reseals A KC-135 Fuel Tank

Mon Jul 31, 2006 8:58 am

Quoting Dougloid (Reply 10):
Are you a fan of Aero Commanders? Guy I know worked at an FBO at Torrance back in the day. There was a guy who had an Aero Commander and used to buy his avgas in Mexico because it was a lot cheaper.
So he goes down to T-town to fill up and what he doesn't know is that the Mexicans had run out of 100 octane ,and so they took some of their 80 octane and just doped the hell out of it with mucho toluene to get the numbers up there. So this guy fills up and by the time he gets back, every rubber bag in the Aero Commander is leaking like it'll never stop....a total bladder replacement.

There's some sort of justice involved here.  Wink
Never take financial advice from co-workers.
 
jetstar
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RE: Mike Rowe Of Dirty Jobs Reseals A KC-135 Fuel Tank

Mon Jul 31, 2006 10:07 am

This particular Turbo Commander was the biggest POS I ever worked on. It was the first Turbo Commander built, it started its life as a piston engine model and was taken off the production line and converted to turboprops. They left all the piston engine wiring in, all they did was cut off the ends of the harnesses and installed new wiring harnesses. After they used it for certification, they refurbished it and sold it as a used airplane.

This was in my early aviation days and I got my first experiences with skydrol. I had some on my hand one time and touched one of my eyes and had to flush my eye out in the bathroom. That is when I also found out what skydrol does to plastic handles of screwdrivers

This goes back many years but if I remember correctly, the pressurization system worked off of a hydraulic pump turning a rootes blower that was mounted in the aft compartment. Hydraulic pressure was supplied from the engine driven hydraulic pumps. This system was a never ending battle to stop the hydraulic leaks. This company also had a co-pilot mechanic, but it required a lot more manpower to maintain this airplane. From what I heard they got this airplane at a real good price.

Quoting Dougloid (Reply 10):
Are you a fan of Aero Commanders?

I personally think that the Aero Commander line of airplanes including the Jet Commander, was designed by a demented engineer, who for some reason hated aircraft mechanics and took delight in this form of revenge.
 
Dougloid
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RE: Mike Rowe Of Dirty Jobs Reseals A KC-135 Fuel Tank

Tue Aug 01, 2006 8:20 am

Quoting Jetstar (Reply 12):
This goes back many years but if I remember correctly, the pressurization system worked off of a hydraulic pump turning a rootes blower that was mounted in the aft compartment. Hydraulic pressure was supplied from the engine driven hydraulic pumps. This system was a never ending battle to stop the hydraulic leaks. This company also had a co-pilot mechanic, but it required a lot more manpower to maintain this airplane. From what I heard they got this airplane at a real good price.

Quoting Dougloid (Reply 10):
Are you a fan of Aero Commanders?

I personally think that the Aero Commander line of airplanes including the Jet Commander, was designed by a demented engineer, who for some reason hated aircraft mechanics and took delight in this form of revenge.

Sounds like a real abortion. I'll just bet they got it at a good price LOL. That would have to be an oldie because the Garretts put out enough bleed air to keep a modest airpack setup happy, and all the Turbo Commanders I ever worked on were so equipped.

I remember one time I was in the flight office at K'zoo with my kid and right outside there was a sheriff's car and they had two guys in cuffs that were gettin special treatment-they were going to be flown to Jacktown (Jackson). So they're standing there while the pilot is trying to get the off side engine started and they're looking at each other like "Shit! I always knew crime do not pay."
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn

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