Matt Harwood

1941 Buick Limited Limousine

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15 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

5-17-20-12.thumb.jpg.aa9e5e1f04cd6ed6cb7d7cdaf487e570.jpg

While you have the sending unit out check the inside top of the tank.  That's where water condenses (seems worse with E-10) and causes rust.  All of mine have had to be treated and sealed.

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15 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

There were canvas strips glued to the tank mounting brackets, so I'll find a suitable substitute before I reinstall the tank.

I used glass setting tape for my last project

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Posted (edited)

I use bicycle inner tubes cut lengthwise. Two strips for under $5.
 

 

Edited by buick5563 (see edit history)
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Nice work Matt. Only thing I would add is to try and calibrate the new sending unit the same as your old one by bending the new unit’s arm to match the existing one. I tried this halfheartedly and wish I were more diligent as now, while the gauge now works, a full tank doesn’t quite go all the way to”full” and I have about 3 gallons left at “empty”. Still beats a busted gauge though. 
peter

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If you really want to know, make sure it goes 0-30 ohms. Measure the sender outside the tank and find out how low it goes (closer to zero ohms the better). Put the sender in the tank and make sure that it still all the way down (in ohms) where it was. This assures the float does not hit bottom. Hitting bottom is not only bad for the float, it prevents the gauge going all the way to "E".

 

Then, flip the tank upside down and make sure the sender goes to 30 ohms (or more). If not it will never get to full. Also, the float should get real close to the top but not hit.

 

Third test: (optional, but a good idea if you do not like pulling gas tanks out). Put some gas in the tank with it sitting level on the ground, and then suck it out through the pickup with a hand pump. Do not attempt to use an electric one. The squeeze bulb or bellows type are easiest (and the plunger pump at harbor freight is useless).

 

Suck the gas out, wiggling the tank a little, until the sender reads zero ohms (or as low as it went when it was out of the tank). Now move the discharge hose to another can and keep sucking until you suck air. The second can is your reserve, and you can see how big it is.

 

If the pump sucks air before the sender gets all the way down (in ohms), you will run out of gas before the gauge gets to "E". IMHO it pays to figure this out while the tank is out on the ground and you can re-bend the float arm easily.

 

If there's no sock filter on the pickup, put one on. Have fun!

 

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Matt,

When I dropped the gas tank on my '40LTD, I had to build new straps out of flat stock, as they were almost rusted thru.

I used wash machine drain hose (split open and trimmed) as my top and bottom cushions .

 

Also, back to your clutch / brake pedal issue, the next time you have her up on the lift, check the 2 holes in the 'clutch equalizer" (bell crank).

Mine was almost "blown out' where the rod from the clutch pedal hooks in.

I tig welded it up and re-drilled the hole just a bit back, so there is plenty of stock for the next guy.

 

Mike in Colorado

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39 minutes ago, Bloo said:

If you really want to know, make sure it goes 0-30 ohms. Measure the sender outside the tank and find out how low it goes (closer to zero ohms the better). Put the sender in the tank and make sure that it still all the way down (in ohms) where it was. This assures the float does not hit bottom. Hitting bottom is not only bad for the float, it prevents the gauge going all the way to "E".

 

Then, flip the tank upside down and make sure the sender goes to 30 ohms (or more). If not it will never get to full. Also, the float should get real close to the top but not hit.

 

Third test: (optional, but a good idea if you do not like pulling gas tanks out). Put some gas in the tank with it sitting level on the ground, and then suck it out through the pickup with a hand pump. Do not attempt to use an electric one. The squeeze bulb or bellows type are easiest (and the plunger pump at harbor freight is useless).

 

Suck the gas out, wiggling the tank a little, until the sender reads zero ohms (or as low as it went when it was out of the tank). Now move the discharge hose to another can and keep sucking until you suck air. The second can is your reserve, and you can see how big it is.

 

If the pump sucks air before the sender gets all the way down (in ohms), you will run out of gas before the gauge gets to "E". IMHO it pays to figure this out while the tank is out on the ground and you can re-bend the float arm easily.

 

If there's no sock filter on the pickup, put one on. Have fun!

 

I've used water instead of gas.  Then leave the tank open in the hot sun till it dries out.  I like your procedure for determine reserve - gotta do that one.

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Took the tank to my friend at the radiator shop and when he saw it in the back of my truck he said, "Jeez, how old is that thing?" Then I had him look inside and he was shocked. He'd never seen such a contrast. Neither of us could think of a single reason why or how that tank should look so good inside and so ancient on the outside. He poked around and agreed that whatever that wrap is on the filler neck has to go and we should investigate and repair whatever is underneath. He also spotted an area on the bottom of the tank that he thought might have been repaired once before, although if there is a patch it is not visible from the inside. He thought maybe a pinhole leak that they just smeared goop on until it stopped. They'll boil it out and clean it and pressure test it to see what's going on and fix anything that needs fixing.

 

He did note that they don't have their large immersion tank any longer so he won't be able to completely clean the outside of the tank. I'm not going to worry much about it, the underside of my car is plenty crusty, so I'll figure out how to make it look reasonable when it comes back. It may just be as easy as giving it a quick dusting of undercoating to just even it out, or maybe I'll be dumb enough to spend the time with some kind of solvent slowly scraping all that goop off. We'll see how it looks when they're done.

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Posted (edited)

One, my gas tank is finished already. Either they're not very busy or it didn't need any work. Good news. I'll pick it up in the morning.

 

I also have a question that's completely unrelated to gas tanks, but something became shockingly clear to me today. I bought this handsome 1942 Packard 160 formal sedan with a divider window just to have some new inventory. The price was right, I've known the car for decades, it's an all-original 38,000-mile survivor (just how I like my cars), and I think it will make a nice tour car for someone (not me, don't worry). Anyway, I took it for a drive this morning and realized that the Packard rides much better than the Limited. Not a little, but A LOT. There's almost no impact harshness on bumps, but Packard just oozes over them and you barely feel them. My Buick, even with an all-new front end, new shocks, and radial tires, still kind of crashes over bumps. It's not even close. I can't imagine that the Buick did not feel as good as the Packard when they were new, so what am I missing on my car? Why does my car still send a significant shudder through the entire body every time it hits a bump? Why does the Packard feel like it's made from one chunk of iron while the Buick feels almost fragile?

 

I should also point out that I had this same impression when I owned both the Limited and a '41 Cadillac 60 Special--the Cadillac ignored bumps that would upset the Buick. Both of those cars had virtually identical suspensions. What gives?

 

Could it be the tires? The Packard is sitting on Lester wide whitewall bias-plys. The Limited currently has Hercules 10-ply truck radials from Diamondback. I did notice a bit more impact harshness when I first installed them, but they were not A LOT worse than the old Firestone bias-plys that were on the car when I got it and since then I've rebuilt the front suspension and shocks. I run them at 32-35 PSI (they're rated to 60 PSI since they're truck tires), which I figure is a good compromise between heat, ride quality, and tire life. Should I run less tire pressure? 25 PSI like it says in the manual? Go back to bias-ply tires? Try the new Diamondback Auburn radial that isn't a truck tire?

 

I also thought that maybe I should replace my body mount bushings, which are original and probably hard as rocks. That surely transmits a lot of NVH through the body structure on bumps, no? What else is there? The front shocks are rebuilt, the bushings are new, and everything is tight. What am I missing? There's no way a Buick limousine should be notably worse than a garden-variety Packard sedan in that department.

 

I could push it to the back of my mind because I'm so happy with the car otherwise, but now that this Packard has reminded me that it could be better, I'm not sure what I should do to fix it. Any suggestions?

 

Thanks!

 

By the way, here's the Packard:

 

Packard2.thumb.jpg.83da5463babd71bf0f9cfae5a7b387cb.jpg  Packard4.thumb.jpg.6a234cf7b3389a3f48a858867ce87c60.jpg  Packard5.thumb.jpg.ef97ede149c404f5fb5757e28afd1613.jpg

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)

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It is the build construction quality and weight - my 41 60 Special was superior car to my 1941 Buick super (very tin-y car) - when it came time to sell one the Buick was first out the door (mainly because tin-y, hated closed driveshaft, and ...)  All said though, the Buick was I thought a zippier car (it could run circles around the Cadillac) and easier to keep running.  Then, I switched to Auburn's and probably will not do any prewar Cadillac's or Buick's unless they are just passing through. 

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Posted (edited)

Matt,

1, Take the STP out of your shocks.

2. Get some "Lesters"" with the 4 1/2 white walls.

 

You really would not want to buy my "Martin's". Ed would have a fit.

The "BABY" rides smooth as silk since I put hydraulic jack oil in the shocks.

 

Mike in Colorado

100_1235.jpg

Edited by FLYER15015 (see edit history)
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2 hours ago, FLYER15015 said:

Matt,

1, Take the STP out of your shocks.

2. Get some "Lesters"" with the 4 1/2 white walls.

 

You really would not want to buy my "Martin's". Ed would have a fit.

The "BABY" rides smooth as silk since I put hydraulic jack oil in the shocks.

 

Mike in Colorado

 

 

The shocks are rebuilt and have the ISO 32 hydraulic oil in them, which is the thinnest available (about 10W), but I'll take your advice. I ordered some 5W motorcycle fork oil and I'll put that in there to see if things improve. Anyone have any ideas for how to get the oil out of there with the shocks still on the car? Turkey baster?

 

But first things first--I still have to put the fuel system back together. Today I figured I'd test the wiring and run a new wire to the back of the car for the sending unit. Before I dug in, however, I though it would be a good idea to test the gauge and new sending unit. So I connected a test lead to the wire at the rear of the car and to the terminal on the sending unit. Then I attached a second wire from the body of the sending unit to good ground. Turn on the ignition, move the sending unit arm, and the gauge should...

 

...What the? Oh goddamn it. Of course it doesn't work.

 

With the sending unit connected, turning on the ignition makes the needle twitch to just above the EMPTY line. Move the sending unit to full (top of travel) and the needle moves to full empty, completely bottomed out. It does not move towards the FULL end of the scale. Only about 1/16" from just above EMPTY in the empty position to just below EMPTY at the full position. 

 

In the past five years, I've probably purchased seven or eight sending units for this car, always intending to get the fuel gauge working. Along the way, we have installed those sending units in other cars in an attempt to get their fuel gauges working. Two or three Cadillacs, a Chevy, a Packard, and another '41 Buick. In every case, simply swapping out the sending unit made the gas gauge work properly. And in every case I can find on this very message board where someone had an inop gauge, changing the sending unit fixed it. 


For me, however, it is always uphill both ways. It couldn't possibly be a simple fix on my car. 

 

So I checked my wires. Good continuity from the back of the car to the gauge. Just in case it was shorting out somewhere, I bypassed the wire inside the car and connected my test lead directly to the back of the gauge and to the sending unit. Same result. 

 

Then I tried connecting the sending unit terminal wire to the other terminal on the gauge--nothing at all happened, so at least it's [probably] wired correctly. 

 

I have two theories. One, the gauge is just broken. I have another one, but I don't much relish the idea of going into the dash to pull the old one out and put the new one in. The fact that it twitches a bit in response to the sending unit's motion suggests it may be operable, but I'm not sure. 

 

Theory number two is based on the wiring diagram:

203481393_n_131942BuickShopManual-ElectricalSystem-053-053.thumb.jpg.ece9135489873e9578d0a9ac15dd5222.jpg

I've highlighted the fuel gauge circuit, and you'll note that it draws power from the ignition switch, runs through the gauge, then back to the sending unit where it is grounded. The sending unit is a variable resistor attached to ground. That's how the gauge works, by indicating the resistance in the circuit. Simple enough.

 

But you will also note there is a SECOND wire going from that same terminal that gets power from the ignition. That wire goes to the accelerator starter switch on the carburetor, then to the starter solenoid. Hmmm. Do I have it backwards? Is the gauge powered by the ignition or is the entire ignition system powered THROUGH THE GAS GAUGE?  If the latter is the case, why does the ignition switch turn the gauge on and off?  Shouldn't the gauge be awake all the time if it's getting +6V from the solenoid THEN feeding it to the ignition switch? There's something I'm not understanding here.

 

To make it relevant to my situation, my car does not use the accelerator switch and there's no wiring in place for it. It has been bypassed in favor of a pushbutton under the dash. I reconnected the starter switch when I first bought the car, but that made it much harder to start, so I went back to the button and I'm happy with it that way. My theory is that somewhere in the bungled wiring that the previous owner installed, that wire from the fuel gauge to the accelerator switch is just hanging loose or is maybe even connected to the wrong terminal somewhere. Could it be grounding out somewhere and causing this problem? And if I simply disconnect that wire at the gauge, will the gauge work properly without whatever that wire is? Or will it kill the entire ignition system? Can I just run a separate 6V power wire to the gauge from, say, that bus bar I plan to install? What is that wire's job and is it necessary for the proper operation of the fuel gauge and/or ignition system?

 

I don't know. I have to figure it out. If I'm doing all this work and spending all this money just to continue to have a broken gas gauge and a car that runs exactly the way it did before, I'm going to be pretty unhappy.

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I don't know if I can help on the gas gauge. I bought one from "Bob's" and just threw it in. Got lucky I guess.

But I did note that she being a stock 6 volt system, the wire going to the gauge seemed quite big, so there must have been a resistance calculation back then.

I used the same gauge wire for my ground on the frame and tried to keep it as short as possible.

 

Shocks = you can siphon them out with a coke bottle and some 1/8" model airplane fuel line (soft silicone).

However it tastes terrible...........

 

Mike in Colorado

 

 

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I suspect your main culprit in the harsh ride is your tires. I know that you don't like a particular source for bias ply tires, but I think that you will find that the original size bias ply tires will ride softer than the nice heavy duty 10 ply truck radials you currently have. As a compromise, you might try lowering the tire pressure to the original specification and see how that changes the ride.  

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Posted (edited)

The gauge is powered from the ignition switch. it also powers the other stuff you highlighted (part of the autostart system).

 

Test the sending unit with an ohmmeter (DMM). 0 ohms empty, 30 ohms full.

 

Then, Ignition on, wire hanging loose at the back of the car, gauge should be pegged. Short wire at back of car to ground, gauge should go to zero. (I gather you have done some of that). Until it will do that, nothing else will help.

 

2 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

But you will also note there is a SECOND wire going from that same terminal that gets power from the ignition. That wire goes to the accelerator starter switch on the carburetor, then to the starter solenoid. Hmmm. Do I have it backwards? Is the gauge powered by the ignition or is the entire ignition system powered THROUGH THE GAS GAUGE?  If the latter is the case, why does the ignition switch turn the gauge on and off?  Shouldn't the gauge be awake all the time if it's getting +6V from the solenoid THEN feeding it to the ignition switch? There's something I'm not understanding here.

 

It is not how it looks. The gauge is powered by the ignition switch. The wire to the solenoid does not REALLY go to the solenoid, just the little relay on the solenoid that kicks the solenoid. It gets power from the ignition switch like the gauge, but via the accelerator switch. That relay coil floats. It gets its ground from the voltage regulator. There is no power on that little relay coil to feed back to the gauge.

 

2 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

To make it relevant to my situation, my car does not use the accelerator switch and there's no wiring in place for it. It has been bypassed in favor of a pushbutton under the dash.

 

So it isn't relevant to your car. All you need is switched (ignition) power to the gauge, a good ground on the gauge, and a nice insulated wire to the back. That's it.

 

Is it possible the get the wires reversed on a 41 gauge? Maybe the guy who did the harness butchering got that wrong.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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Thanks, Bloo.

 

The sending unit checks out in terms of resistance. That was my first thought. We haven't had a bad one yet, but that only means I'm due.

 

I have a new theory that the wire running through the car is shorted to ground. My gauge has always read empty. I'm going to disconnect that wire from the gauge and see if it goes to FULL. That's one variable to eliminate. 

 

Looking at the wiring diagram, where does the ignition switch get power? There are three wires, one to the fuel gauge, one to the coil, and one to the cigar lighter. But only one of those is connected to the battery/starter/solenoid via the accelerator switch. Where is the ignition getting power if not from that wire off the fuel gauge?

 

I'll also check to see if the wires might be reversed. They're correct according to the diagram but that doesn't mean they're right. The previous owner really hacked up the wiring so there's a lot to sort out.

 

I have a few more things to check and maybe we'll make some progress. Thank you!

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11 hours ago, Bloo said:

The gauge is powered from the ignition switch. it also powers the other stuff you highlighted (part of the autostart system).

 

 

Thanks Bloo, great dissertation - i'm keeping this.

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13 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

 

Looking at the wiring diagram, where does the ignition switch get power? There are three wires, one to the fuel gauge, one to the coil, and one to the cigar lighter. But only one of those is connected to the battery/starter/solenoid via the accelerator switch. Where is the ignition getting power if not from that wire off the fuel gauge?

 

It's the cigar lighter wire. The diagram is a bit pixelated, but if you squint just right, there is a tie point where it crosses the "10BRC" wire (Voltage Regulator, Ammeter, Light Switch).

 

The "BAT" terminal on the voltage regulator is the "hottest" point in the system when the generator is charging and keeping up. It is really the best place to power accessories, and that is what Buick has done here.

 

If you power a light or accessory from the starter post or solenoid instead, all the current it draws will register as "charge" on the ammeter, and you probably don't want that.

 

If you draw accessory and lighting power from the "BAT" terminal of the voltage regulator, as Buick has done here, current flows to the accessories and lighting without going through the ammeter. Only current that is actually charging the battery flows through the ammeter. Also, when the generator does not charge, power for the accessories flows from the battery through the ammeter backwards, showing a discharge.

 

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8 minutes ago, Bloo said:

 

It's the cigar lighter wire. The diagram is a bit pixelated, but if you squint just right, there is a tie point where it crosses the "10BRC" wire (Voltage Regulator, Ammeter, Light Switch).

 

The "BAT" terminal on the voltage regulator is the "hottest" point in the system when the generator is charging and keeping up. It is really the best place to power accessories, and that is what Buick has done here.

 

If you power a light or accessory from the starter post or solenoid instead, all the current it draws will register as "charge" on the ammeter, and you probably don't want that.

 

If you draw accessory and lighting power from the "BAT" terminal of the voltage regulator, as Buick has done here, current flows to the accessories and lighting without going through the ammeter. Only current that is actually charging the battery flows through the ammeter. Also, when the generator does not charge, power for the accessories flows from the battery through the ammeter backwards, showing a discharge.

 

 

I see it now. Good call. I couldn't sleep last night thinking about where the power was coming from. Thank you!

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Well, no dice on the wiring. Disconnecting the wire from the sending unit changed nothing. Gauge is still broken, although whatever I did made the needle stop moving altogether--not even a twitch. Of course, now that I've been jamming my hands behind the dash and jostling everything, my turn signals no longer work, either. And since there's no gas tank in it, I can't even test whether it still runs--I have doubts now simply because of how truly farked up the wiring is on this car. In the past I've spent a few nights in jail for beating people with my fists--I think I'd do happily do another one if I could find the guy who hacked up the wiring in this car.

 

Guess it's time for a new wiring harness. I wasn't going to drive the car this summer anyway.

 

What a good idea this was. Just a simple job, right? Easy.

 

I'm such a fool.

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Don't despair, Matt.  It's all pretty simple under there.  I would be very surprised if you dislodged anything that's going to make your car not run.  Let it sit for a while and then take a deep breath and try to see what's going on with the wires.  I know it's hard to see under there -- if you have one of those LED flashlights with a magnetic swivel mount, that can make a big difference. 

 

And if you DO end up putting in a new harness and need any advice, I'm your man.

 

Neil

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

Well, no dice on the wiring. Disconnecting the wire from the sending unit changed nothing. Gauge is still broken, although whatever I did made the needle stop moving altogether--not even a twitch. Of course, now that I've been jamming my hands behind the dash and jostling everything, my turn signals no longer work, either. And since there's no gas tank in it, I can't even test whether it still runs--I have doubts now simply because of how truly farked up the wiring is on this car. In the past I've spent a few nights in jail for beating people with my fists--I think I'd do happily do another one if I could find the guy who hacked up the wiring in this car.

 

Guess it's time for a new wiring harness. I wasn't going to drive the car this summer anyway.

 

What a good idea this was. Just a simple job, right? Easy.

 

I'm such a fool.

 

 

 

Stand in line........I have a car apart today I though I could finish in three days for the entire job......it's going to go 8 to 10 full days, with a helper. The last two projects did the exact same thing. I have been at this well over 40 years, and I still have issues like this all the time. Just think, in another 20 years, you will be numb or dumb.....just like me. 😭

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

Sounds like me with my dome light.  Every time I did anything to the lights or under the dash, it quit working.  I finally found the loose connection.  I thought I had it fixed several times and was very frustrated.  You are infinitely smarter than I when it comes to this stuff, so I have confidence you will get it done.

 

p.s. My fresh water pump install is dripping.  Let’s get together for a drink! 

Edited by 39BuickEight (see edit history)

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Posted (edited)
48 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

Well, no dice on the wiring. Disconnecting the wire from the sending unit changed nothing. Gauge is still broken, although whatever I did made the needle stop moving altogether--not even a twitch. Of course, now that I've been jamming my hands behind the dash and jostling everything, my turn signals no longer work, either. And since there's no gas tank in it, I can't even test whether it still runs--I have doubts now simply because of how truly farked up the wiring is on this car. In the past I've spent a few nights in jail for beating people with my fists--I think I'd do happily do another one if I could find the guy who hacked up the wiring in this car.

 

Guess it's time for a new wiring harness. I wasn't going to drive the car this summer anyway.

 

What a good idea this was. Just a simple job, right? Easy.

 

I'm such a fool.

 

First of all - I hear you on prior "mechanics" and "handymen"! I currently have two on my list I would consider treating the same way - the first is whatever troglodyte welded the king pin pin retaining pin on my Packard, and the second is the guy who used 3" construction screws in every electrical box I've opened up in my house!

 

I'm sure you'll get it figured out soon. Maybe you could run wires from your new sending unit to under the dash, drive the car, and fix the gauge when snow flies again?

I decided to do a few small projects 8 weeks ago - king pins and replace intake manifold. Going on waiting six weeks for the machinist that promised less than a week! Anyway, keep your chin up, and good luck with your car. A lot of us are learning from your experiences, good and bad!

Edited by Ken_P (see edit history)

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Posted (edited)

Awesome. Decided to get the tank ready to go back in the car so I can start it and get it off the lift and shove it in a corner and forget about it for a while. Got my freshly cleaned tank and found a small hole in the filler neck overflow where someone got too aggressive with a grinding wheel. Welded that up. Then filled the tank with water to test it because now I don't trust the radiator shop, and water started seeping out from under all the undercoating goop.

 

Guess I'll add a new gas tank to the list of things that I didn't have to buy two days ago. Oh, and nobody reproduces a Limited tank, which is 22 gallons, so I'll have to settle for a 17 gallon tank. Hope it fits.

 

Hours of my time and hundreds of dollars just to have a car that is worse off than it was when I started. How awesome am I?

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)

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