AOPA's 2001 Bonanza Sweepstakes - May 3 Pictures and Commentary

November 11, 2009

Pictures and Commentary

May 3 - It's almost done! It should be flying by the end of next week. The team at J. A. Air Center has kept on schedule - even though we added a number of airframe projects that weren't in the original plan. Oh, we didn't add much - just the installation of a Beryl D'Shannon Speed Sloped windshield and glare shield, J. L. Osborne wing tip fuel tank system (with a 200-pound gross weight increase), and a Whelen Comet Flash strobe light system. And right now they're finishing up the installation of a set of new Aero-Tech Services fuel cells (bladders).

The Sweepstakes Bonanza, a 1966 V35 model, has one large 40-gallon capacity (37 useable) fuel cell in each wing. These cells, which are irregularly shaped to fit into the available space in between the forward wing spar and the leading edge skin of the wing, were last changed in 1977 at approximately 1,700 hours airframe time. Telltale blue stains that showed up near the quick drains, combined with the age of the bladders, made the decision to install new bladders a no-brainer.

A bladder installation is all done through the access holes in the wing. As in most jobs, preparation is the key, with cleaning and abrasion proofing of the bay being important for long bladder life. Dennis King at Aero-Tech in Santa Fe Springs, California, went out of his way to provide a set of new bladders for the Bonanza project. Aero-Tech uses a process that bakes together a nitrile fuel barrier layer and a nitrile coated fabric layer in an autoclave. The result is new, flexible, well-fitting fuel cells.

Since the fuel cells are equipped with internal baffles to slow fuel sloshing within the cells, the restrictions against turning type takeoffs (with less than half full fuel), and the placards associated with the restrictions by AD 70-03-05 are no longer required.

When the usable fuel of 74 gallons from the main tanks is combined with the additional 40 gallons that the J. L. Osborne tip tanks fuel tanks provide, the total fuel capacity of the Sweepstakes Bonanza will be 114 gallons.

AOPA would like to thank the following companies that are discounting or donating their products or services to refurbish the 2001 Sweepstakes Bonanza:

Fuel cells (bladders)
Aero-Tech Services Inc., 8354 Secura Way, Santa Fe Springs, California 90670; telephone 562/696-1128; fax 562/945-1328

Wing tip fuel tank system
J. L. Osborne Inc., 18173 Osborne Rd., Victorville, California 92392; telephone 800/963 8477, 760/245 8477; fax 760/245 5735;

Click on images for a larger view.
Click for larger image
A bladder change (not the one on the Sweepstakes Bonanza) in progress. The access holes have been opened up and the old bladder has been removed and is on the floor under the wing. The bladder shape can be seen by looking at the new bladder, which is the one to the right on the floor.
Click for larger image
The wing construction of the Bonanza wing. The fuel bladder is installed forward of the wing spar in the area formed by the leading edge wing skins and formers. Access is through removal panels in the top of the wing skin.