Installing a Fuel Tank and Line in a '66 Corvette

How to replace the fuel-tank and fuel-line of rust, water, and too much time spent sitting still

Chris Petris Sep 15, 2004 0 Comment(s)

We all do it to some extent: get the car we want, then other things getin the way ... like the rest of your life. The bottom line is that yourprized Corvette sits entirely too long with no attention. You go out tostart it and the battery is dead or the fuel is stale. Then you let itsit a little longer, allowing more water to condense in the fuel systemwhile you spend time deciding what to do about the battery.

This is a wake-up call for those of us who let our cars sit in thegarage too long. A customer recently told me that his mid-year Corvettehad an underhood fire because the carburetor had flooded, fuel spilledout through the vent tubes on top of the carburetor, a spark occurred,and up in flames it went. The worst part was that the car was in thegarage when the fire occurred. Luckily, it was in Neutral so he pushedit out of the garage and used a fire extinguisher to end the disaster.

This, then, is where we begin, as this unlucky customer dropped off his'66 Corvette for repair. After reviewing the remains, it was apparentthat many moons had passed since the mid-year was driven regularly. Thiscar was driven during many northern winters, then left to sit for a longtime.

Inspecting The Tank

After 30-plus years, the fuel system has to be full of rust and/orwater. This system is the most important to maintain to avoid fires andengine damage from fuel-flooded engine crankcases. Checking the fuelsystem first is smart business. Sure enough, the fuel tank and fuellines had severe corrosion internally and externally, and also containedsome water.

Upon further inspection, the fuel tank had one original fuel-tankretainer strap and a piece of cable to hold the other side to thechassis. Opening the fuel filler revealed corrosion across the bottom ofthe fuel tank where water had accumulated. When water accumulates in thefuel tank, it's usually just enough to cause erratic engine operation.Ultimately, if it isn't attended to, your car won't start and the entirefuel system will be saturated. Quanta Industries has an A.O. Andersenfuel tank that fits the original tank location. It makes sense to usethis tank instead of sealing the original fuel tank.

Inspecting Fuel Lines

The original steel fuel line that runs from the fuel tank to the fuelpump had been replaced in several sections with 3/8-inch rubber hose.The hose was drooping in areas that could allow a catch point and wasfull of cracks. When rubber hose starts to check (crack), it can breakat any time and cause a major fuel spill or fire. Original steel fuellines will corrode from water coursing through them and will requirereplacement. As we moved toward the front on our car, the fuel pump,pump-to-carburetor fuel line, and carburetor required replacement oroverhaul.

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In order to route a new fuel line, the body must be lifted. The firststep is to remove the front bumper bolt. Outer bumper-bracket bolts mustbe removed first from the frame and bumper. Remove the outer brackets,then have a helper hold up the bumper while the remaining bolts areremoved. Then one person on each side should pull straight out on thebumper. The rear bumper and bumper brackets must be removed from theframe.

The spare-tire carrier must also be removed. The carrier front boltshave a tendency to corrode so it's a good idea to apply penetratingfluid overnight before attempting removal. When reinstalling the frontcarrier bolts, coat the threads with Never-Seize thread lubricant to aidin future removal.

Remove the fuel-tank crossmember to lower the fuel tank. The fuel tankmust be drained before lowering it. The fuel-supply hose that connectsto the fuel line can be removed and the fuel will drain until the tankis almost empty. I use a set of hose pinch-off pliers to stop fuel flowuntil I have the hose removed and a container to collect the fuel.Please discard the fuel properly. Your local county officials usuallyhave an affordable fuel-disposal process.

Here is the original fuel tank with terry cloth tank-strap protectors.There is a sharp contrast to the new Quanta replacement fuel tank withthe A.O. Andersen logo.

Removal of the rear lower valance panel is required to allow the body tobe lifted straight up. Remove the license plate and bezel to gain accessto the lower-valance center screws.

Remove two 9/16-inch nuts and pull the brake master cylinder off thepower brake booster. Master-cylinder brake lines do not require removalof the master cylinder, but should be supported until reinstallation.Manual-brake cars require pushrod removal of the brake-pedal assemblybefore removing from the firewall. Pull outward while working thefitting in a circular motion to remove the brake-booster vacuum hose.

The clutch linkage clip requires removal and pushrod disengagement fromthe clutch cross-shaft. The clutch cross-shaft (Z-bar) does not requireremoval. Notice that the steering column is removed. The steering-columnshaft is retained with a 3/8-24 12-point bolt. Make sure to line up theflat spot on the steering-column shaft. The flat section of the steeringcolumn must be perpendicular to the bolt hole in the steering coupling.Thread damage will occur if the bolt is forced into the steeringcoupling. When retightening the steering-column-shaft retainer bolt, besure to torque it to 45 lb-ft. After tightening, check the steeringshaft for play, as an additional torque setting of 50 lb-ft may berequired.

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