Written by Jay Heath. Reprinted with permission from Source Interlink, publisher of Vette Magazine.
Original article link: http://www.vetteweb.com/tech/vemp_1303_corvette_central_deluxe_gas_tank_kit/
Time may heal all wounds, but it’s hellishly hard on automobiles. These depredations tend to fall into two categories: those arising from the inevitable effects of the aging process, and those inflicted—whether intentionally or not—by one or more of the vehicle’s owners over the course of its life. While the Corvette’s fiberglass skin confers some measure of immunity to the former, the vintage-Vette market is rife with cars still suffering the effects of poorly executed body modifications and other “custom” work performed throughout the years.
All of which brings us, in admittedly roundabout fashion, to the ’58 model depicted in the accompanying photos. Though outwardly appealing, with a recently re-sprayed Signet Red paintjob and a mostly intact interior, the car bore the unmistakable signs of what might be charitably be described as a “colorful” past. Most notable was the rear suspension, most of whose factory parts had been jettisoned at some point in favor of a kludged-together ladder-bar setup and a nine-inch Detroit Locker rear that shuddered in tight turns like a Kardashian at a geography bee.
While the original powertrain was also MIA, the news here was less grim. In the place of the stock 283 was a 406-cube small-block equipped with a Holley carb, AFR heads, and a raunchy hydraulic roller cam. The T-10 aluminum four-speed, meanwhile, had been supplanted by a heavier-duty iron Muncie (most likely an M-20). Given the ’58 model’s sub-3,000-pound curb weight, the package should have yielded rousing performance, at least in a straight line.
And it did…when it wasn’t coughing, sputtering, and shutting off mid-charge. In fact, it was an inability to consistently perform up to its potential that ultimately forced the car’s previous owner to wash his hands of the project. No matter what corrective action he took—from changing out the fuel filter and lines to having the tank professionally cleaned—the SBC stroker still evinced all the signs of an inadequate or contaminated fuel supply. At some point it all proved too much, and the Vette went up for sale.
When the new owner also proved unable to chase down the source of the problem, he took the car to AntiVenom, a Seffner, Florida–based performance tuner specializing in Corvettes of all vintages. After a careful process of elimination left the 54-year-old factory fuel tank as the only possible culprit, AV’s Greg Lovell decided that the wisest (and most economically palatable) course of action was to order up a fresh replacement unit from Corvette Central.
Corvette Central’s Deluxe Gas Tank Kit (PN 361021) comes complete with a new cap, fill neck, gaskets, vent hoses, hold-down straps, and supporting hardware. Assuming originality isn’t paramount, it’s a smart alternative to simply cleaning and reinstalling the OEM unit, a process that, as we’ll see momentarily, does not guarantee results.
Follow along now as we start to get this long-suffering C1 back on the road to fuel- system salubrity.
1. Having problems with your fuel supply? Check the filter. The aftermarket unit in our C1 was completely clogged with rust, indicating a badly deteriorated tank.
2. After removing the convertible hard top, Lovell begins the job by removing the screws securing the fuel-tank cover. Note that the number of screws can vary from car to car, as many Corvettes of this vintage will have had the cover removed and replaced numerous times over the years. Our subject C1 had 18 stock screws, along with a few non-factory extras.
3. With the tank exposed, Lovell cuts and removes the return line feeding the (owner-installed) aftermarket fuel system. It will not be reused with the CC unit.
4. Next to go are the fill tube and vent hose, followed by the fuel pickup/sending unit (shown). The wiring for the sending unit may be disconnected and set aside for now.
5. All that’s holding the tank in at this point are a pair of metal retaining straps. They’re secured by one bolt (at the rear) and one captured nut (at the front) each, so they’re relatively easy to remove.
6. With the straps out, Lovell wrests the tank free and sets it aside.
7. A few days after our install project, Lovell cut open the old tank to take a look inside. As you can see, even after being professionally cleaned, the interior walls were coated with rust. It’s for this reason that we recommend using an aftermarket replacement whenever practicable.
8. As is often the case on street-driven C1s, the recessed area beneath the tank wore an encrustation of road grime.
9. Since preserving the finish wasn’t an issue in this particular area, Lovell deployed a can of lacquer thinner and a shop rag to tidy things up a bit.
10. The CC kit comes with a pair of soft rectangular pads that cushion the tank to reduce vibration and noise. While the weight of the tank should hold the pads in place, you can use weatherstripping adhesive to secure them if you’re so inclined.
11. The next step is to secure the fresh rubber vent line in this eyelet behind the fuel-fill door. Run the line through the hole in the body (top right) and let it hang for now; we’ll finish installing it once the tank is in.
12. Now it’s time to add the fill tube. Be sure to clean the tube thoroughly before installing it: The inside of ours was covered in a light dusting of metal shavings, presumably left over from the manufacturing process.
13. Lovell feeds the freshly cleaned fill tube through the corresponding opening in the body and pushes it into place on the provided rubber grommet.
14. Topped off with a new fuel cap (also included in the CC package), the end product should look something like this.
15. After a little experimentation, Lovell decided it would be easier to install the new hold-down straps in their front mounting tabs before lowering the tank into place.
16. With the tank in the car, Lovell bolts down the retaining straps. Note that he had to pry back the tank lip a bit to access the bolt heads.
17. The fill neck can then be connected to the tank using a short section of rubber hose that comes with the kit.
18. The next step is to run the rubber vent line through the two eyelets on top of the tank and into the vent tube on the far right side.
19. Here, Lovell installs the rubber gasket on the mounting surface of the new sending unit. Note that there’s only one way to orient the gasket so that the bolt holes line up correctly.
20. He then lowers the sending unit into the tank, bolts it in place, and reconnects the wiring (shown).
21. Here’s a look at the completed installation. Assuming the rest of your fuel system is in good shape (remember to change that filter!), all that’s left to do is reinstall the cover over the tank and head out for a test drive. We, on the other hand, have a few other issues to sort out, from the lines themselves all the way forward to the engine bay.