Oh Nuts!

The nut in the tank
The nut in the tank

Well actually… “Oh nut!” What do you do when you drop a nut inside a fuel tank with a hole too small to get your hand through? You go fishing!

It’s been a chilly, windy, rainy and snowy week here in the lee of the Sierra – great for building snow base in the mountains – lousy for flying. We can only hope it’s the start of a good snowpack, but meanwhile – it gives us an excuse to keep the airplanes in the hangar and spend quality time in the shop.

While putting nuts on the bolts that hold the fuel level sender to the tank on our Subsonex, clumsy fingers managed to drop a nut inside the tank. I’ve been here before however… not to panic. I reached into the scrap bin for a long thin piece of aluminum (anything long and thin will work of course, as long as it is stiff enough to control) and roll of duct tape. Nature’s own mechanical miracle, duct tape will solve almost anything.


In this case, I ripped off a couple of inches, stuck it to the end of the strip of aluminum (the rod), and then back on itself, wrapping it so the sticky side was out. My assistant popped it in the tank and like magic – out came the nut. A trick to keep in your hip pocket for anytime you drop something light enough to pick up with duct tape in a place to small for your hands.

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


  1. Hi Paul, any reason not to use that telescopic magnet thingie ? or maybe the nut is not ferrous ?
    Thanks for the inspiration and keep on trucking !


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