Thursday, May 5, 2011

Who's got Gas?

Has it really been 2 months since I posted? Man how time flies. Luckily I have my pictures to remind me where to pick up from. Let’s just hope I can remember enough to write more than just the picture's descriptions. So…hi. Umm… oh yes! The engine was picked up by Bobby the machinist…

So it’s 11am and I’m in the shop with a car that will not be running for a couple of months. What’s next? I looked the car over and thought since the tranny was at the shop and the engine on the way to it’s new temporary home, I figured I should pull apart anything else that needed to be fixed by someone other than me. I somehow happened to look at the radiator and remembered I was going to take it to a radiator shop and have it boiled(cleaned). Once it's cleaned out, the shop will tell me if I need to replace it or not. I figured I might as well start saving money by seeing if the current parts were re-usable instead of making EVERYTHING brand new. Thinking about the radiator pointed me in the right direction to start from.

Another thing I would be able to send to the radiator shop was the gas tank. It would also need to be boiled out to clean any leftover gas, or dirt, or turpentine that might be gunking up a 46-year old gas tank. So I started with the gas tank. (Which reminds me, I need to search for a gas cap) Well, I kind of started. As with the torque converter, I ran into another decision of laziness. The gas tank is in the rear of the car, with the filling tube above the bumper. This means to access certain places where the gas tank is connected to, I would need to open up the trunk.

Guess who left the trunk keys at home?

I’ve been trying to get into the habit of doing the right thing. Doing things I planned on, even if the lazy way was easier. Not in the mood to cook and do laundry? Stopping at the local bar for a few beers and dinner is always the lazy and easier way. I’ve almost had to slap myself to snap out of it and just head home. So with it being 11 am and the whole day to maybe go golfing or drinking or hanging out, I angrily got in my car and drove home to get the keys. Angry because I brought everything I normally do: my tools, my jumpsuit, my headlight/flashlight, my camera; but no keys.

Fast forward, I have the keys and the trunk is open. I put the jack under the rear differential and raised the back end high enough to put a jack stand under the left and right rear axles. I lowered the axle onto the jack stands and removed the jack (yes I put blocks in front and back of the front wheels). I have to say, I was a little nervous about this. It’s been done for so many years and by everyone, but for some reason, while growing up, it was something my Dad and I never did. He said he never trusted jack stands while he was under a car. Looking back now, I find it funny that we didn’t trust the stands, but yet would trust a hydraulic jack on wheels that could move if you knudged it just enough. Anyways, I got under the gas tank and surveyed the situation as my eyes nervously darted back and forth to the jack stands.

Man was it dirty under there. Not only were there cobwebs, but there were also these dirt mound/nest/mudlike/turd-looking things around the edges. If anyone reading this recognizes what these are from the pics, please let me know. When I scraped them off, little rat dropping-like things came out. It was like petrified rat droppings. You have no idea how relieved I was to see this. I know it wasn’t really rat droppings and just some insect stuff, but I was just glad it wasn’t some ancient dirt cocoon holding some crazy ninja-like spider that I would have awakened to kill me. Disgusting! I’m getting goosebumps typing this remembering how creeped out I was under that tank. HAHA.

Back to the gas tank. So I removed the gas cap and a plate that surrounded the filler tube on the exterior of the car. That let me have access to the screws that attached to the filler tube's rubber grommet that creates the reservoir like crevice you normally see on a regular car when you open the little door that covers your gas cap. The rubber boot was stuck on the filler neck so it took me quite a while before I was able to wiggle it just a little bit loose. It was extremely stubborn, or seemed stubborn until I figured I should probably try to lower the tank, pulling it down so I could create more room to wiggle it off. So I started on the underside of the tank. With my car, there is a metal strap that runs basically from the bumper up towards the front of car to the end of the tank. The rear of the strap is locked into a groove by the bumper. The front of the strap is attached to a 22-inch bolt! There isn’t a socket on this planet that is that long, so I had to use a wrench. Since I’m “on a budget” with this car, I didn’t go buy those pop-whiz-bang ratchet-wrenches, so I had to turn the nut 278 degrees and then take the wrench off, rotate it back and start all over. Considering the nut was 9 inches up the top half of the bolt, I’m sure you sense what’s coming. It took forever to get it off. Working on your back, and actually having to hold your arm up for long periods of time and exerting 60% of your strength, trust me, you will get tired. I’m so out of shape that I had to take breaks every minute of turning. I disconnected the fuel gauge wire that attaches to the end of the fuel pump (and float) and removed the rubber fuel line hose from the end of the tank.

Tip # 237: Keep your mouth closed when you are working underneath stuff. Gas doesn’t taste very good.

With gas starting to leak, I jacked the car up a little more so I could fit a 5-gallon bucket underneath and catch the spillage. When I bought the car, the guy warned me not drive it very far. He said his friend only put a little bit of gas in it just to make sure it was running when I came to see it. So I bought a 5 gallon bucket to catch the radiator fluid when I was taking the engine out, and figured it would be great to empty out the fuel tank. I went back to unloosening the nut on the tank strap, mindful to stay clear of any gasoline over splash. I was almost done with the nut, which buy now had the tank resting on the bucket. With the gas tank lowered at an angle of almost pulling free of the grommet on the filler tube up above in the trunk, gas was still draining into the almost now full bucket. I pushed up on the tank and felt like I was doing a mediocre bench press. It still felt heavy to me. I chalked it up to being old and back then, they built things with real metal. Not that plastic stuff nowadays. So I went up top and was able to remove the rubber boot on the filler tube. It still came off with some struggle. I have made the mental note of lubing up the inside when I put it back on. With the boot off, the tank was now defying gravity by resting it’s front edge on the Home Depot bucket, and the rear being held by the filler tube’s angled neck resting against the hole in the trunk. With the bucket now 80% full, I “cleverly” decided that the guy’s friend put more in there than he thought. I wasn’t going to give up and leave the shop until that tank was clear from the car. So I got underneath it and pushed up on the front with one hand so that it was no longer resting on the bucket. With my other hand and shoulder, I pushed the bucket toward the front of the car so I would have more room to maneuver around getting the tank down. With both hands now on the front of the tank, I used my knees to push up on the rear of the tank trying to find an equilibrium of releasing the gravitational force holding the filler tube’s neck against the opening in the trunk. I then was able to contort my body clear and basically did a bench press of the tank as I lowered it onto my chest. This sucker was heavy. I was probably benching about 375 pounds (turns out it was about 100, more on that later). Still, imagine lifting a rectangle size object off your chest and to the side while keeping it level, clearing your head so no bat/spider/rat dirt nest crap gets in your hair (or open mouth) and laying it on the ground. It's pretty difficult.

I finally got the sucker down and out from under the car. Moving it around the shop was also hard because apparently, this thing was still full of gas. I drained about 4.5 gallons out if it and it still weighed like a rock. It was like moving a titter-totter with two fat kids on each end. Trying to hold it in the middle so I wouldn’t scrape it on the ground, god-forbid I create a spark and blow my self up, while the gas sloshed back and forth. So here I am straddling this thing, the gas going back and forth in the tank making it impossible to perfectly balance it, spilling spurts off gas out of both ends, shuffling step by step to get it our of the way and into it's own little resting place. I finally got it to a side of the shop and out of the way without too much damage.

Tip #238: When removing a gas tank, make sure you drive it around to get rid of the gas first.

I read that night that I have a 16-gallon gas tank. So obviously my 5-gallon bucket isn’t going to do the trick in removing the rest of the gas. In the words of Roy Scheider, I’m “gonna need a bigger boat” or bucket if you will. I decided this was a good stopping point. I cleaned up the shop and went home thinking of how I was going to empty that gas tank…DSC00356


  1. The mud things you saw are wasp nests , We have them here too..All over in my garage and in places like the car ..

  2. This is a really helpful blog post. You have some great ideas and guidelines.
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