A common cause of engine problems in rc aircraft is improper inspection and care of the aircraft fuel tank and fuel lines. As pilots, we take great care to ensure that our fuel is correct and that we have a fuel filter in place for dirt and grime but, sometimes we overlook that fuel & time are often our greatest enemy.

An rc fuel system is subject to a lot of abuse ranging from engine vibration to rough landings. Even storing an aircraft will cause damage to the fuel tank and fuel lines over time. It’s important to inspect the fuel lines of your active aircraft every few flights. But more importantly, you should always perform a full tank inspection every year to ensure your fuel system is in perfect operating condition.

Below are some helpful tips to avoid engine failures:

Annual Inspection

Perform a full fuel tank and fuel line inspection every year. Schedule your inspection when you have a week or two of no activity as this process takes time but, this time spent on inspection will save you headache on the flying field.

Damaged Rubber Stopper

Pay special attention to the fuel tank’s stopper. When you remove the stopper, set it aside for 10-15 minutes while you inspect other parts. When you return, check to see if the rubber stopper has a defined “ridge” or appears to not have filled out evenly. If damage is present, replace the stopper. A damaged stopper won’t expand to properly seal your fuel tank.

Check Your Fuel Lines

Inspect all fuel lines often! Especially those attached directly to the fuel tank. Metal (e.g. brass) tubing can sometimes cut into the fuel lines, which is caused by engine vibration. Simply bending the fuel line will quickly reveal any signs of cracks or damage to the silicon tubing.

Quick Identification

To quickly identify the fuel line going to the engine carburetor from the vent line going to the muffler, we recommend using 2 distinct colors. We like to use clear or light blue for the fuel line (to visually inspect the flow of fuel) and a darker color for the muffler line. Note: Double check the line connection to the muffler frequently. This is a high heat, high vibration area and critical for proper fuel function. If the line looks cracked or fractured at the connection point to the muffler, replace the line.

Cost Effective Safety

Fuel line and replacement stopper kits are widely available and are cheap compared to the damage or possible loss of an aircraft due to poor fuel tank maintenance. When in doubt, replace all your fuel line and even your tank. It never hurts to be proactive and play it safe.