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Fuel switches in D17 Staggerwing

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I'm having some trouble with the handling the fuel switches in this aircraft.


The upper switch reads (clockwise from the top) cutoff, main(center), Power Valve, Left upper.

The lower switch reads: Cutoff, Right upper, Lower right, Lower left(this one is labeled wrong, but it should be lower left).

You can only use one tank at a time, so using one tank brings the aircraft out of balance. The lower switch is only working when the upper switch is in Power Valve mode. There are no fuel gauges, so how do you keep track on the amount of fuel in all 5 tanks.

And all tanks are not too large, so you'd have to switch in time, before a tank is running dry. How do you know when to switch tanks to prevent an engine from staling on an empty tank? And how do you keep the aircraft in balance, if you cant know how much fuel is in which tank?


And I've been wondering how this was done in the real aircraft. The fuel switches are on the right side, pretty low to the floor. In a sim it's pretty easy to move there with your mouse, but I'm seriously wondering how this was done in the real aircraft.

To reach those switches you would have to lie down over the right seat, meaning you have one hand on the yoke,while you body moves down, pulling the yoke along with no view at the panel or outside. So how did those pilots keep their aircraft straight? In my opinion this is an accident waiting to happen.

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