TR6 Gas Tanks and Lines
Tracing the Cause of TR6 Fuel Problems (Part 2)

by Dave Northrup

Click here for Part 1

Many of you read of our delightful adventures in and around the Tennessee mountains. And I’m sure you identified with the lonely breakdown in Mississippi! Apparently there is an addendum to the story.

A couple weeks later I made a trip to Fort Worth, and, fortunately, just a few blocks from home, the fuel pump failed again. Somehow the old adage “fool me once – shame on you; fool me twice – shame on me” seems to apply here. Unfortunately I had already removed the old fuel pump and taken it apart. At this point I doubt that it was the problem. To prove my point, a few days later the car started up and ran without issues.

These cars are a lot like computer programming – the error message you get really indicates only a general idea of the location and problem. It never pinpoints it exactly. Slowly, way too slowly, I’m learning about these cars!

The first step was to get the car out of the garage! Gas vapor is not a household friendly smell! Just for grins I thought I’d see if the car would start (I’m lazy – it sure beats pushing it!). And it did. At least I’m learning – I’m redoing the entire fuel system.

First step is to drain the tank. The easiest way is to use gravity! Make sure the back of the car is higher, then unplug the line in the front where it hooks up towards the pump. And it all drains out nicely! Of course, when you unplug that line, all the gas in the fuel filter and the carbs drains back down onto the ground unless you are ready for it, which I wasn’t. So I lost a little gas and unfortunately polluted the groundwater a bit. I’ll definitely do better next time!

Having a little experience in disassembling TR6’s, it did not take me long to get the tank out. What took the longest, ironically enough, was to remove and shelf all the spare parts I had carefully stowed around the spare tire: fuel pump, alternator, distributor, water pump, and other small items! The tank itself is held in by six bolts plus some miscellaneous lines, hoses, and padding. And it all has to come off to get the tank out. I also had great ambitions of repainting all the trunk surrounds – after so many years it gets pretty scuffed up. Have to pick up a can of gloss black for plastic. Do you ever wonder about all those cans of spray paint? They seem to arrive but never leave . . .

So the tank goes off to Kirby’s to get redone, all the rubber hoses get replaced, and I pick up a new gasket for the sending unit. Speaking of which, I polished that up, got all the old gasket off, and just happened to have another float to replace the one which had a wee bit of fluid in it! I’ve been told you can repair these, but I’ve never seen it done successfully! Might be a good time to see if I can correctly calibrate the gas gage and sending unit, too.

As they say, reassembly is the reverse of assembly. In this case, its pretty true. It would have been smarter to have connected that vapor hose as I was placing the tank. Once its bolted in, its very dicey getting that hose onto the vapor lead. Fortunately, I had just the right size fingers!

And for once, I remembered to screw in the sending unit before bolting in the tank without losing a single screw! Just because I like to put gas in from the driver’s side, I reversed the position of the gas cap. The heck with concours judges!

I was even able to screw in the gas line from the bottom, place a rubber grommet up in that space, connect the gas line, and get eve-rything, including the spare tire and a zillion other things back in the trunk. I carefully poured gas back in the tank, and checked for leaks, front and back. It took some starter fluid to get it running, but then it just purred along! Dropped it down off the jacks – slowly and carefully; this is no time to get hurt – and drove around the block!

It will be a while before I find out if, in fact, I have cured the problem, but I’m optimistic! Didn’t quite make it to Oklahoma, but there’s got to be something coming up! Maybe I’ll put the spare pump back in the trunk and drive over to Fort Worth.

As it turned out, my next trip was to pick up my daughter at school. She is sometimes patient with her Dad, but she really doesn’t like my funny little British cars. Especially when they quit on the way home. A policeman came by, flashed his lights, and helped me push it off into a parking lot. From there I worked on the usual, suspecting the fuel pump. But the replacement electric fuel pump didn’t do much, either. After a while, and after some serious car rocking, it started up and ran on the mechanical fuel pump. My diagnosis: there was still some crap in the fuel lines.

Had some time a few days later and took it back out. It ran pretty well, for a while, then died. Rocking did not help. But it appeared that draining out some gas onto the roadside did. Perhaps that was the last of the gunk. Perhaps not. A few days later I verified that indeed it was not, as the car once again fell prey to this malady. Rocking did not help. No fuel drained out of the lines until I opened the gas cap. Then it hit me! The problem was in the breather system, also called the vapor recovery system.

Back on jacks, empty the tank, and remove everything in sight. It was immediately apparent that I hit it his time as I could not blow air through the vapor recovery system. So then it was a matter of tracing down the piping. It pretty much follows the gas line. And somewhere was the problem. Tried forcing a wire through the lines without success. After practicing much avoidance, I pulled the entire line from under the car. And there was the problem, obvious as daylight. Where if passes through the frame next to the ex-haust, it was melted shut. The obvious answer was to install steel (brake line) piping, redo a little of the tubing here and there, and put the car back together. Which I did.

So, several days of work, gas tank refurbished, removed and reinstalled twice, interior trunk panels repainted, and all gas lines cleaned out and/or replaced, plus one unnecessarily replaced fuel pump. All in the life of an LBC.

Click here for Part 1

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