Day 4 - Driver Side Gas Tank... Part 1
12/17/05 - Money changed hands last night - the Scout is officially mine! So today is a workday; nice and warm for being just four days away from winter. Thanks to periodic squirtings with penetrating oil over the past week, seven of the eight bolts holding the shield plate over the driver side gas tank yielded to persuasion. No need to remove the wheel, by the way (although it's slightly easier to get the three bottom bolts out if you do). The eighth bolt moved about a turn and a half before breaking off.
Inside, bad news; first, an astonishing amount of rusty, gasoline-soaked dirt fell out:
Everything inside was covered in rust and dirt. Cautious application of a brush and digging a few pounds of clay out from under the tank with a coffee stirrer turned the view on the left into the view on the right:
I had hitherto believed that the leak in this tank was just a fried gasket around the sender, but as you can see there are rust holes in the tank itself. There are actually three; a large one and a small one near the larger gasoline stain you see in the second picture, and an invisibly small one down the bottom in the second, smaller gasoline stain. Here's a look at that shield plate (the stains on it are oil from my unbolting efforts):
This discovery means that I will definitely buy polycarbonate gas tanks for this car (one at a time, as funds permit). However, I need a fix that will last me four or five months until I have spare cash again. My thinking initially was that if there are holes where I can see them, there are probably holes where I can't see them, so there's no point in patching these pinholes... but then I wirebrushed the shield plate:
As you can JUST see inside the red circle, there is a rusted-through rock chip. This hole lines up perfectly with the larger of the two holes in the gas tank, and most of the rust on the tank is below this point. So my logic goes like this: I know the tank holds at least 1/4 capacity, which is about the level of the smaller pinhole. Hence there cannot be any holes on the bottom. I think that the rust started on the tank because of road salt and moist dirt getting in through the rock hole; the other five faces are probably intact. So there is a reasonable chance that patching the holes I can see will leave me with a usable tank, at least for a few months until I can afford a plastic tank for this side. The other side has been empty for a long time, so the tank and fuel line probably need to be cleaned out before I can use them.
My plan is to clean the rust off as well as I can without risking sparks, and use a liberal quantity of PR-1422B-2 aircraft fuel tank sealant on the three pinholes. I'll force it into the hole, then use a toilet plunger to get a partial vacuum to "mushroom" the piece that has extruded into the tank.
I will then cut two small patches of sheet steel and use J-B Weld (thanks to the ihc-digest for this tip!) to glue these patches over the two known-holed areas on the tank. I'll bond all along the edge, hopefully making an airtight seal.
I'll also sand the shield plate, J-B or solder a piece of sheet steel over the hole from the back, prime and paint it. Hopefully I'll be able to do the latter part of this job tomorrow.