FUEL PROBLEMS WHEN A CAR SITS
In last month's article, we had just completed the brakes and suspension work on our '41 Packard LeBaron. With the car stripped for paint and body work, it was fun to test drive it around the block. Everything tested great! I felt a little like Preston Tucker taking his prototype "Tin Goose" out to check the 335 cubic inch helicopter engine before the body was put on! The '41 is now on the lift for further undercarriage detailing, which we will cover in future issues.
It was now time to check on some of our other cars that have been neglected by letting them sit for a year or more. Even though these cars have already been restored, or are in the final stages of restoration, all had recently had their fuel tanks removed and gas lines cleaned out, and were working well when we last started them. Our '49 Buick Roadmaster Sedanet had been sitting for over a year without being started. We put in a fresh battery, 5 gallons of fresh gasoline (the old gas had not been stabilized), then tried to start the car. It didn't start! We primed the carburetor, float bowl, the all glass filter bowl and the fuel pump. The old 320 straight 8 started, but quickly ran out of gas, even though the glass filter bowl appeared full. The gas line at the filter coming from the "out" side of the fuel pump was removed and tested for pressure. No pressure. Then the incoming line to the fuel pump was removed and we found it would not siphon. Using our blower, we blew back from this line into the gas tank and heard a "pop". There had been something stuck in the recently replaced gas line. After this, we put everything back together and drove the car to another garage to pull the tank, when it quit again. Going to the source, we drained and pulled the tank, removed the sending unit, being careful to mark which way it fit into the tank (some will go in several ways and the float can hit the side of the tank, throwing off the accuracy of the gauge if they go in wrong). We disconnected the line from the fuel pump and blew out the line, then disconnected the line at the filter and carburetor, blew them out and removed the filter from the bowl. The filter was full of shellac so thick that I don't see how any gas could get through. The new lines were full of shellac as well, and the gas tank had some sediment, but had been previously sealed, so it was in pretty good shape. The new sending unit that we put in when we stored the car was rusty and sticking, so we cleaned it carefully with denatured alcohol.
We found a similar problem with our low-mileage '37 Packard Super 8. This car had not been driven for over a year, and only occasionally started. The gas gauge was stuck on half full and the old gas was coming through the glass bowl filter as orange. The tank had to come off this one too! This car is so nice to work on. Everything is clean and easily comes a part. After dropping the tank, we cleaned it out and looked inside to find a good surface with minor pitting. This tank needed to be sealed to keep it in good shape. We used Bill Hirsch gas tank seal to do this. The tank had to be removed from the car, cleaned out, all plugs, caps, etc., had to be removed and the tank had to be thoroughly dry inside. Then we poured in one quart of the sealer and sloshed it around until all surfaces were covered. We painted the outside, cleaned the brass plug and let it dry for over 72 hours, just in case there was puddling that we couldn't see inside the tank that would take longer to dry. The sending unit was rusted solid, but all the gears were in amazingly good condition. To free up the unit, we bead-blasted it and washed it in Marvel Mystery Oil. It freed right up. We hooked it up and grounded it to the car, then swung the float up and down and watched the dash gauge to make sure it read accurately. We blew out all the lines and punched a new gasket, then put everything back together. We always run a ground strap from the gas tank to the frame, to keep the gauge from jumping around.
Our '51 Packard was probably in the worst shape, since it had sat for over two years. Before we stopped driving it, we had the tank cleaned and sealed, new fuel pump, fuel lines, filter and carburetor installed. The car ran, then quit. We blew back through the lines and all air stopped at the tank. Upon removing the tank, we pulled 7-8" of rubberized gas out of the pickup tube. We ran a probe into the tube and thoroughly cleaned it out. It was supposed to have been cleaned out at the gas tank shop. It just goes to show you: Always test everything BEFORE you put it on. The tank had been sealed, but it was splotchy, showing rusty spots in the sealer. We had it boiled out and thoroughly re-sealed. We put everything back together and now our cars are all running fine again. It doesn't take long for the gas to go bad. We now use stabilizer if they are going to sit for over 6 months. In next month's D.O.C., we will show you what problems can result from bad gas. Keep 'em driving!