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.