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1953 Studebaker Champion 4 Door Sedan

Fuel System - In Situ Project

Research Phase

The most efficient way to pursue an In-Situ Restoration is to split each major step into research and restoration. The way that I generally do this is to schedule my research one weekend in advance of doing the work. This way I have a full week to order any parts I need or to faricate any bits that need to be fabricated. Once you get this pattern down, you'll find yourself starting the weekend on restoration efforts and then finishing up by doing research for your next job.

Today we'll start looking into the fuel system. As I've already mentioned, we know that the rubber piece connecting the fuel filler to the gas tank is no good. But, rather than just fix that one bit, we're going to analyze the entire fuel system to ensure that everything involved is restored, corrected and/or repaired. By doing an entire system at a time, you'll ensure that you know everything about it's function as well as be certain that it works correctly.

We'll start at the rear of the vehicle and work our way forward. When you go over an older car, outside of rebuilding the carburetor and fuel pump, the fuel tank will provide the greatest source of challenges. Now, we're dealing with fuel and that means gasoline. So you must be very careful when messing about. A rogue spark can be quite explosive.

As with just about any other metal part on a vintage car, rust is the real enemy of a fuel tank. And, to add insult to injury it's possible for a fuel tank to rust out from the inside as well as the outside. Also, on this particular car the gas tank is exposed at the bottom (unlike, for example, my Jensen Healey where the tank is in the boot). So, when you go over the tank initially, look for rust and dents on the bottom of the tank. Bring a wire brush underneath the car with you to knock off any road grime that's collected over the years. If there are any points where dirt/mud can accumulate on the tank, then these are good points to check for rust on the outside of the tank. Also,I like to tap the underside of the tank with a screwdriver handle. With a little practice you can hear the difference between tapping good metal an rusted metal. On the off chance that the tank is completely empty you can also robe trouble spots with the business end. Just be prepared. If you go through the tank you'll either be shopping for a new one or finding a welder to repair your existing one!

Now, Let's take a look at the fuel filler and rubber connector.

Old fuel lines like these are built of steel pipe. Because of this, the same analysis of the fuel lines needs to be done as we initially did with the gas tank. In particular with fuel lines you want to look for areas where the pipe may have been sitting in water and mud. Also look for when bends have been crimped or the fuel line may have been damaged.

Once the fuel line has been completely traversed hit the fuel pump. Fuel pumps, in general, don't give any external signs of failure and age. This being said, their innards tend to rot away as they have rubber internal components. The fuel pump on this car also has a glass bowl attachment. Finally, you'll note the additional engineering done by a previous owner. This baffle plate made from old tin rain gutter is a heat shield for the pump to keep vapor lock from occurring. ;)

After the fuel pump the line runs up and terminates at the carburetor.

So, now that we've reviewed the system, it's time to make our To-Do list. This will help with parts/supplies ordering and planning the next weekend's work. Remember that we're doing an in-situ restore not a repair, so we'll do some things that you wouldn't normally do if you were just fixing the car.

Gas Tank
Pull the tank, clean it out. Plan on resealing the interior of the tank and sanding/painting the exterior. We'll need a gas tank restoration kit as well as the necessary sanding/painting supplies.
Fuel Lines
These (like brake lines) are always suspect. Rather than try to recondition the existing ones we'll build new ones. We'll need an appropriate length of line, pipe benders and flaring tools.
Fuel Pump
The preference here is to rebuild instead of replace. The interim time will give us the opportunity to determine if a rebuild kit is available, or a replacement is required. In addition, we'll look into building a more attractive heat shield to help control vapor lock.

Research (Page 1) Restoration (Page 2)

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Contents copyright 2008, 2009 - Jody F. Kerr

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