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4x4 Truck Gas Tank Repair - Getting Tanked

Posted in How To on February 1, 2009
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Bad gas is downright offensive. It can cause 4x4 owners and their passengers to gag. Under extreme circumstances, bad gas can even be lethal. Over-the-counter remedies can relieve intestinal gas problems, but vehicular gas problems can't be solved with pills or pink liquid.

We found this out the hard way on a '77 Chevy 3/4-ton. The vehicle sits during the week, its gas tank sweating with condensation. Crud accrued over the years. Stalling intervals were extended by siphoning out the tank and by changing the fuel filter frequently. However, pulling the fuel filter to limp a half-mile home proved to be the last straw, plugging Quadrajet orifices. The resulting rich condition emitted enough tailpipe carbon monoxide to make everyone within 10 feet nauseated. Emissions-testing classified it a gross-polluter.

Gunk is us. Rust and corrosion from a 30-plus-year-old gas tank entered the fuel system through an equally old sender, complete with a decomposed filter sock. LMC Truck is one-stop shopping for popular American truck replacement parts. Shown below is their repro gas tank, mounting kit, prebent lines, hardware, and fuel pump made for a complete pre-carburetor system revival. A Proform fuel filter is also shown.

Rehab or Replace?
Always looking for the cheapest fix, we checked into professionally cleaning the old gas tank, which didn't have any external signs of rust. Research revealed that California toxic-waste regulations now keep the average radiator shop from performing gas-tank service. The procedure's cost at the closest (far-away) place led to Plan B.

Legendary driveway mechanics mentioned at-home cleaning by pouring pea gravel into the tank and shaking vigorously to bead-blast the corrosion loose. Then the tank could be internally revived with fancy swish-around sealer from an auto-restoration specialist. Our issues with this were where to dispose of toxic rocks (small kids and curious pets on the premises) and how to thoroughly rinse out the tank. On to Plan C.

For popular trucks, replacing the tank can actually be cheaper than resurrecting the original one. Unless you're into hyper-anal 100-point OE car shows, a repro tank is a viable solution. Even rustproof polyethylene replacement tanks can be somewhat affordable, depending on the vehicle.

Since the OE fuel lines are also steel and prone to internal corrosion, it makes sense to replace them too. (OE-contour stainless lines are even available from aftermarket specialists.) We verified this hunch by running the new tank behind the old lines. The fuel filter eventually plugged. For good measure, we obtained a new Carter fuel pump to replace the existing one (vintage unknown). LMC Truck is a comprehensive source for replacement Chevy truck parts.

32-5930 20-gal side-mount gas tank $119.95
32-5820 gas tank strap set $29.95
32-5816 gas tank antisqueak kit $9.95
32-4034 sending unit (2-outlet) $69.95
30-1290 sending unit lock ring with O-ring $8.95
32-3650 main fuel line $79.95
32-3676 pump-to-carb line (Quadrajet) $24.95
32-3654 vapor line $79.95
30-1746 fuel line clips $26.95
32-4728 fuel pump $24.95
32-4620 fuel pump pushrod $9.95
PhotosView Slideshow

Installation Insights
* Have a helper. Rent a "friend" if necessary to expedite tank R&R and line-routing. Also, fuel pump replacement is challenging at best without a second pair of hands to insert the pushrod.

* Empty the existing tank as much as possible using a siphon that doesn't require mouth suction.

* Use a floorjack and a piece of plywood to support the tank if attempting a DIY/friendless installation.

* Capture and dispose of old gas appropriately.

* Even though many legendary fuel-system gurus smoke while working, they're apparently trained professionals, not mere mortals. Along the same lines, resist the temptation to apply flame to corroded fuel fittings.

* Instead of applying flame, spray all existing fittings and fasteners with penetrating lubricant to ease their removal.

* A 5/8-inch line wrench should be used on the fuel-pump-to-carb line's fittings on older Chevys.

* Any fuel debris in the carburetor means it'll need to be rebuilt or replaced.

* The photos and captions provide more details on solving the truck equivalent of irritable bowel syndrome. (Drivers and passengers are on their own to solve any personal gastric issues.)


LMC Truck
Lenexa, KS 66219

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