I am three weeks into getting this old C3 started up again. I hit a small delay while waiting for the new tank kit to arrive. This past weekend, I started the process of removing the original gas tank. At first glance, it seemed pretty straight forward but of course, I ran into a snag pretty quickly.
I started by unhooking the fuel lines and draining the remaining gas (I had already pumped the tank out) into a gas can. I then unhooked the return line on the passenger side as well. On the drivers side, I began to remove the gas vapor hose from the steel line running along the chassis and due to the age, the line snapped off from the rubber hose. So now, I am at decision point number one. Do I replace the vapor line running down the frame or do I try a longer piece of rubber to connect to the existing line? Of course, the third option is to plug it and vent my cap with a 1/16th drill through the top of the cap. Onward.
I climbed under the car and removed the tank strap bolts, that was pretty straight forward. Once the strap bolts were removed, I then began working the support bar. Again, seems pretty straight forward, 4 bolts (9/16). The first bolt came off no problem and I thought, this was going to be fast. The next three bolts became a challenge. The nut that is exposed is easily accessible however, the bolt was spinning with the nut and this is where the issue started. The bolt heads are inside the frame and offer very little access. On the passenger side, I was able to get a box wrench on the bolt head and that worked great. On the driver side, I was able to do the same on one of the bolts but not on both.
The final bolt an I got very well acquainted. We battled for several hours over a two day period. There was rust debris inside the frame so I could not get the bolt head on my wrench. I tried a nut splitter which was two wide to fit in the area I was working in. I started to cut the bolt off but that was not working well. I finally thought I would use a Dremel tool but that was also two large to fit. So the battle continued. After trying many different tools and cutting up my hands, I finally was able to slip a ratchet, through the front part of the frame while using my finger through the back part of the frame to get the ratchet situated on the bolt. It took a bit of time but I got there.
Original build sheet
With the cross bar off, the tank was free to move around. First thing I did was released the original build sheet. It is dirty but it is there. I need to see if I can get it cleaned up a little and will then place it in a binder where will be protected. I started to tilt the tank at a 45 degree angle to slide it out of its home but I was met with the realization that my factory exhaust was in the way. I used a floor jack to hold the tank up under the car while I removed the muffler hangers on both sides and then removed the chrome tips and loosened the U-bolts. In hindsight, the last step was not necessary. I was able to move the pipes to the outside of he car on each side which freed up room for the tank to come down. After battling a bit with the Gas Separator, I was successful and the tank was laying on the ground.
The next step is to check the hoses and mount everything on the new tank. Once that is done, I will reverse the steps and connect the new tank and strap it onto the frame. At that point, it will be time to try and turn the car over. We are pretty excited to get to that step and are keeping our fingers crossed that it will run and it will sound as sweet as I remember. Here are a few shots of what she looks like from behind with the mufflers hanging low.
Back view with tank and spare tire carrier removed.
Looking up to where the gas tank should be.
Muffler hangers remove and pushed aside to make room for the tank to come down.
Gas separator made in my hometown of Rochester NY back in the day. This is the original from 1971.