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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

What follows will be the refurbishment of my 1970 Chevelle SS fuel tank. While technically not an El Camino, I'm sure that a lot of people here will be interested in the process. I'm starting this project, because I cannot fill my tank past half full because it seeps out from somewhere (either the tank seams or a pin hole) filling my garage AND my house with gas fumes. Bad bad bad. Time to rectify the matter.

To kick off this topic I'll point you at some required reading that I posted here a while ago: POR-15 Fuel Tank Article

1) To start, I ran the Chevelle until she ran out of gas, making the tank drop so much easier. I jacked up the rear end and put in jack stands as the tank will need to drop and move forward for the filler neck to clear and the so that tank doesn't hit the differential.

2) Since I plan on replacing the old rubber fuel lines, I simply cutt the lines (two lines to the pickup/fuel sender, no vent lines.) I also removed the ground strap and the two rear-most tank strap bolts.

3) The mounting bolts near the rear axle were original and quite rusty. I could remove one, but had to cut the other one off. I supported the tank with a jack stand so that it didn't fall. I then lowered the tank enough to remove the fuel gauge sender wire from the top. The tank could not be removed by letting the front drop and pushing the tank forward underneath the axle.

4) My straps are in great shape, so I'll simply clean them up and paint them.

5) Internally my tank looks great. No surface rust is evident when looking through the filler neck and the sender hole. I'm still going to POR-15 the insides, making sure to allow the stuff to gather along the seams and sides to fill what ever crevice or pin hole was causing the leak.

6) My tank has three rectangle ant-squeak mounting pads in addition to the ubiquitous strap strips you see in all the rest catalogs. My initial searches have revealed nothing to adequately replace these:




7) A good wire brushing of the exterior with a grinder is in order followed by a wipe down and cleaning with Eastwood's PRE cleaner. By the end, the metal feels nice and clean and looks like this:



more photos here:

Picasaweb Photo Album

more to come
 

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Great posting...
However, Safty issue!

Always fill the tank with Nitrogen or other inert gas or water before working on it with anything that will spark like a wire brush or grinder! There are explosive fumes in the tank for days after it is drained....As it is 95% sealed, it's a bomb...
Just want everyone here for the next posting...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Good Point

@69/84... Excellent addition to the conversation.

Here is what happened to me:

I found a shop that is fairly close to me that specializes in fuel tank restoration. They have a patented process to coat a tank inside and out and can work with badly rusted and irreplaceable pieces. They also cost well over $500-$800!!!! BUT, I found out that they will do a preliminary internal cleaning and use a scope to discover the integrity of the tank's insides... for $35.00. This preliminary cleaning took care of any residual fuel and fumes, so I was free and clear to make as many sparks as I wanted to.

Thanks for the safety heads up for everyone else though. It is appreciated. :beer:
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Posting correction!!!!!

My original posting should read:

"The tank could NOW be removed by letting the front drop and pushing the tank forward underneath the axle."


And I did NOT find a build sheet atop the tank. I have my Chevelle's build sheet, though, found tucked into the springs of the rear seat base. My Chevelle is Canadian built and fully documented through GM Canada, but it's nice to have original paperwork.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Project update

I have been waiting for both my POR-15 chemicals to arrive and to have the time to tackle my next steps. That confluence of those two things happened last night and here are the results.

I cleaned the tank interior with equal portions Marine Clean and near boiling water. Slosh slosh *tip* slosh *turn* slosh slosh slosh. Followed up with a rinsing of water, then a whole bottle of Metal Ready... again slosh slosh slosh. The Metal Ready can be re-used, so I attempted to get as much out as possible to save. I would say that about 2 cups of Metal Ready remained in the tank before the final rinse. That says to me that about the same amount of water will remain as well. But I have the perfect solution for that:



The combination of the heat gun getting the metal nice and warm and the air being forced in to circulate and exit via the fill pipe should get all that water dried up pretty quickly.



I left it like this for about 4-5 hours. The metal was very warm to the touch and in the end I couldn't see any water internally. I will repeat this drying step for two more hours before I proceed on to the tank coating.

In related news, I've begun to clean up my original tank straps. Though dirty and surface rusty, they are still incredibly solid. I used my trusty bench grinder with wire wheel. Here is a before and after look:

Top side


Reverse side


I was interested to find something stamped into the strap metal, "12". Not sure what it refers to, but original details like this matter to some people, so I thought I'd illustrate it for you all (sorry for the blurry photo.) The position of that stamp, when the tank is mounted, would be facing the ground (visible) and towards the front of the tank before the metal bends up into the body and mounting bolt.



I think that I'll be able to coat the interior tomorrow! How exciting! Please stay tuned...
 

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as far as the pads under the tank straps.......get a couple used (or new, they're cheap) 10 speed or 26 inch bicycle tubes. cut on both sides of the valve stem so that it's cut off of the tube. Trim to length. the 10 speed tubes should work as is, you may have to trim the width or split a 26 inch tube longways for it to work right.

Ya gotta have smart brains man!

:nanawrench:
 

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Discussion Starter #8
@Keyser... I've heard about the bicycle inner tube trick before. I have two thoughts:

1) inner tubes aren't fuel resistant rubber, though I do not know how serious of an issue this is, given that my tank is now sealed internally. Still, overfill could still somehow get on the rubber and cause it to melt/rot. Is it really an issue? I don't know, just thinking.

2) the inner tube trick still does not help me replace the thick rectangular pads which sit between the tank and the truck floor. See this:

 

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Discussion Starter #9
Project update

After an inspection with a tiny mirror and a flash light I was able to confirm that the tank is bone dry from last night's heat gun fun. So it's on to the sealant!!!!

Open can & stir it up very very well. I used a funnel to pour the can contents into the tank via the sender hole. I then sealed the tank using rubber gloves and the old o-ring and lock ring for the sender hole and by inserting the tank cap into a rubber glove and lightly closing off the filler neck. I first rotated the tank so that the sealant could work its way along the tank seam. Back and forth, back and forth... turn the tank, repeat. After about 10 minutes of this, I set the tank flat and then lifted it to about a 45 degree angle first left then right then front then back. Repeat with the tank flipped upside down. Then repeat the whole process starting at the tank seams again. After a total of 45 minutes I was pretty sure that I had all surfaces completely covered. I opened the holes for inspection and this is what I saw:







It looks like I have a nice consistent coating on all surfaces that I can see, including the large flat bottom surface. Yeah!

The sealant cannot be re-used. I emptied as much of it as I could from the tank. I will let the tank sit for about 30 minutes on each tank seam side to allow as much build up of sealant as I can achieve along this susceptible edge and hopefully fill my pill-hole leak where ever it is. I'm bringing back the heat gun, this time with no heat, to create a convection of air to help the sealant cure:



In 96 hours everything should be finally cured and ready for fuel again, though I still have to paint the tank, get my new mounting hardware, anti-squeak crap and I would like to wire brush the underside of the trunk and get some fresh paint on there.

More to come!
 

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about those pads.....I have 2 sections, each 7 ft long, of 3/8 in thick conveyor belt that I picked up at the recycling center. chunks of that cut to the right size would work perfect. the bicycle tubes would need to get an awful lot of gas on them for an extended period to begin deteriorating. mostly they are there to eliminate rattles and sparks (2 metal surfaces rubbing together) and also for padding. being squished between the straps and the tank would make it harder for any gas to migrate in between there.

some cars have rubber pads on the bottom of that cardboard cover for the spare tire. those would work as pads too or even cut pieces out of a door mat (for the house) if you can't find anything else that will work as pads. or cut those pads out of your ho chi min sandals or grab a chunk of tire tread that a semi has thrown off onto the roadway and cut pads out of the tread

think outside the box!

:nanawrench:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the ideas, Keyser. I have a couple of bicycle inner tubes and your reasoning is pretty sound, so I'll give it a try. As for the rectangle pads, I had my own idea based on what I know I have at home... a neoprene mouse pad, cut into sizable pieces it should do the trick.

The tank is now pretty much fully cured. I stuck my finger inside the filler neck and the POR-15 sealant is hard and super glossy. An excellent coating! Now I can paint the tank's exterior. I'm going to use Eastwood's Tank Tone on the tank and UnderChassis Black for the straps, because I have them both on hand.
 

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Thanks for posting the pics and comments concerning your process. Very informational!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Happy 5th of July. I spent part my 4th working on this project. I was able to get the tank fully primered, and started to lay on Eastwood's Tank Tone. I spent another half a roll of paper towels wiping down the tank with PRE cleaner to make sure the surface is as oil free and I could get. I was surprised by how much dirt and grime still kept coming off. Once the paper towels were relatively clean, I moved on to paint.

Here's the primer:

The first of a few light coats


It looks blotchy, but that mottled look evens out as the number of coats increases.


Trick for sealing the tank



I realized that I never illustrated how I sealed the neck when I was doing the interior coating. Very simple. Put the cap into a rubber glove and then install the cap. Be careful not to twist on hard as you may cut the glove.

Final coat of primer



After about 4 light coats, the surface is looking smooth and even. I used about 1.5 cans to achieve the look you see here top and bottom. I worked first on the top of the tank than flipped to the bottom. The reason for this is that it doesn't matter if the top gets scuffed from resting upside down while you work on the bottom. It won't be seen. The opposite is not true, hence painting the bottom last.

In all the advertisements for Tank Tone, it is stated that one can does more than one tank even with multiple coatings. I did not find this to be true. In fact, I was disappointed with the coverage and appearance of the tank while spraying the Tank Tone. It still looks like primer, not bare metal, and my can is now empty. Has anyone else had this issue? I've used Krylon's chrome paint for other projects for a nice "metal" \m/ :nana2: look. Can anyone attest to its fuel resistance or offer a better suggestion?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Looks like you did a great job on that project. A coated tank should outlast the original lifespan of it.
Thanks, man, but I'm not done yet. I need to finish the "silver" coat of the tank. Very disappointed with Eastwood's Tank Tone. All I really see is the primer with a slight metalic sheen. It does not look like bare or zinc coated metal. I'm thinking Krylon Metallics for final coat.

It's been so damn hot though! I have to wait until later in the day so that I'm not painting on metal that's been sitting in the sun. By that time, it's been 100+ here. Maybe this weekend will give me some paint-huffing time. Ideally, I'd also like to crawl under the Chevelle and do some cleaning. At this rate, you'll finish your Camino before I reinstall my Chevelle's tank! :poke: :???:

Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Back To Work!

Came home from work early and am putting that time to use. I've been mis-speaking when I've been saying I'm gonna use Krylon paint. I am in fact using Rustoleum "Metallic Finish". I've used it on my house's radiators and when put onto a smooth surface you can get a very nice dull polish look. Take a look at this:

Eastwood's Tank Tone on the Left, Rustoleum Metallic Finish on the Right


And this is what the full tank coating looks like:



So, pressing on. Need to let paint dry, then I'll show you mounting techniques and such. Yeah!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Hey Bill,

Yes, I did a lot of research before starting this project and I weighed the cost/benefits of simply buying a new tank. Overall the tank was in great condition inside/out. From what I could see there was little rust internally. It just had a seeping leak somewhere. At the very least, I'm hoping that this project will show us all how well POR-15 tank sealant works on minor leaks like mine.

So, yes, it was a lot of work. It was fun and hopefully it's been informative.
 

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The tanks from the Parts Place are from Canada, the Spectra brand. I just bought a new oil pan for the wife's Caddy, which is also a Spectra part. They do seem to have decent parts. About ten years ago, a tank for the 4th gen Elco was not available anywhere, when I tried to get one, but several places have them these days.

It will be interesting to see how the POR product works on your tank too.
Here's mine after I primed & painted it...
 

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Discussion Starter #20
So I spent some time today underneath my Chevelle with a grinder/wire brush to clean up the underside of my truck pans for primer/paint before I reinstall my tank. I gotta say that I'm incredibly blessed to have rock solid trunk pans! Virtually ZERO rust.

I wore a respirator, face shield and ear muffs for safety, but lemme just say that I should have also worn pants instead of shorts:



Yeah, ouch. This is why I wear leather when motorcycling.

After I clean and prime/paint the underside I think I can reinstall the tank. Slow but sure.
 
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