01-removing-fuel-pickup-tube-vintage-car
After deciding our 1936 Ford phaeton was going to receive a new gas tank, we removed the driver side fender and commenced to removing the old fuel tank. This process began by removing the original filler neck.

By Gerry Burger – Photography By The Author

In our humble opinion, the 1936 Ford Phaeton has the prettiest rear fenders and panels ever to grace a Blue Oval car. But as hot rodders, we can’t leave well enough alone. We install a flush mount fuel filler neck, sending unit, and fuel tank for our Ford Phaeton.

In stock form this sweeping rear panel is hidden by a spare tire and often a luggage rack, too. Because the rear tire effectively extends the back of the car, Ford opted to form long sweeping taillights extending rearward off the fenders, even with the spare tire.

02-1936-ford-phaeton-install
A trip to our local Harbor Freight store netted us a 5-gallon fuel jug and a transfer pump. We had run the tank down to below a quarter tank. Be extremely careful working around gasoline and gasoline vapors. Remember even after the old tank has been emptied the vapors within are explosive.

Read More: ‘32 Ford B-400 Convertible Sedan: Adding Classic Elegance to a Rare Body Style

We just couldn’t bear hiding that 1936 Ford’s fender and curvaceous rear panel that led to the removal of the spare tire, and thus began yet another “one thing leads to another” modification sequence. After removing the spare, the taillights appeared to extend into another zip code, so the taillights had to go, replaced by a pair of 1940 Packard taillights (see the Feb. ’21 Modern Rodding). Since Ford decided to build the gas fill cap into the driver side taillight we must relocate the gas fill cap, but first we’ll install the new tank. Did we mention one thing leads to another?

03-hand-fuel-pump
This hand-operated transfer pump made quick work of emptying the tank. We added a brass fitting to the hose end that went into the tank. This weighed down the hose so we could draw fuel off the very bottom of the tank. Never use any electric components when transferring fuel—no electric drills or pumps.

A quick check of Summit Racing’s website netted us a Tanks Inc. gas tank. We ordered a fuel tank sending unit for our future fuel gauge from Classic Instruments, so we were ready to make the fuel system new from front to back.

First and foremost: Work safely. Gasoline and gasoline vapors are very dangerous. Be certain to keep sparks, hot items, and electric motors away from the gas tank and fill neck. We had run our gas tank down to below a quarter tank knowing we would be draining the tank. Our first step was to remove the gasoline from the existing tank in the car.

04-how-to-remove-original-fuel-tank
Removing the original filler neck can be difficult. Spanner wrenches work well but we opted to use this ancient chain/strap wrench for a nice, even pull. It did the job and the neck unscrewed from the tank.

How to Remove the Fuel Tank

A quick trip to Harbor Freight netted us a hand-operated transfer pump that was safe to use with gasoline. We also picked up a new 5-gallon gas can while we were there. The hand-operated transfer pump did just that; it quickly transferred the gasoline from the tank to our new gas can.

Read More: A Street Rod That Does What Others Can’t

05-custom-fuel-pickup-tube
The collar must be loosened to remove the tank. The collar seals the neck to the tank by compressing a lead washer. The lead washer is a single-use item. New ones are available from your favorite early Ford parts supplier. Our new tank employs a simple rubber hose connection at the tank.

Next, we needed to remove the original threaded filler neck. Removing this threaded collar from the tank is a notoriously difficult task. We soaked the connection with PB Blaster penetrating oil for a couple days hoping to loosen things up. You can use a spanner wrench. We’ve heard of pipe wrenches being used, but we opted to use a chain-style strap wrench. It’s always nice when the hot rod gods smile on you.

Sure enough, with a little effort, our threaded collar was removed from the tank. Next, we went inside the car and removed the small panel in the floor that covers the fuel-tank sending unit and removed the single screw holding the gas gauge wire.

06-new-vs-old-fuel-tank-1936-ford
After removing the bolts holding the old tank in the car, we were able to wrestle the tank out of the car. Don’t forget to disconnect the fuel line and the fuel gauge wire. We sourced our new Tanks fuel tank from Summit Racing. The tank is excellent quality and holds slightly more fuel than the original.

Learn More: Upgrading Worn Brass Bushings on Early Ford Kingpin Suspension

Rolling under the car on a creeper we were prepared to remove the four bolts that hold a 1936 Ford gas tank in place. As it turns out a previous owner figured Ford overbuilt his cars, so he only used three bolts to hold the tank in place. We removed the three bolts and commenced to wrestle the tank out of the car. While the tank does come out, we can tell you it is a tight fit and the wrestling match experience is enhanced by dirt falling in your face.

How to Install a Universal Sending Unit

With the old tank on the floor, we did a closer inspection. First this was not the original tank, rather it came from a boneyard, probably sometime in the ’50s when this car underwent an amateur restoration. We discovered typical junkyard yellow paint markings sending this tank to someone in either New York or New Jersey; we couldn’t quite make out the writing.

07-1936-ford-fuel-tank-sending-unit
A close examination of the old tank showed broken bolts in the original fuel gauge sending unit. This would have been very difficult to remove and replace.

However, the original gas gauge sending unit had broken headless screws and the fuel pickup in the front of the tank had some epoxy sealant around it. The tank itself was remarkably clean inside for an 85-year-old gas tank. But after the assessment we were certain installing a new tank was a wise decision. The new tank varies from the original because it has a fuel fill outlet designed for a hose connection rather than the threaded original and the fuel pickup on top of the new tank as opposed the front fuel pickup on the original. Finally, the new tank also holds a couple of extra gallons as it is a bit deeper.

Before we could install our new tank, we had to adjust and install the Classic Instruments fuel gauge sending unit, following the instructions we had that set up and installed. We also had to install the fuel pickup and vent fitting in the tank. Once again, following the directions (I know, crazy as it seems, directions actually do help) we cut our custom fuel pick up to the proper length. The fitting also has a fuel return designed for modern-day fuel injection, but since we’re feeding a flat motor fed by a pair of Strombergs we cut the return length to the proper length but plugged that fitting on top. We connected 3/8-inch fuel line to the tank vent. We bought a ¼-inch pipe to ¼-inch hose fitting and installed it in the fuel pickup port.

08-1936-ford-phaeton-gas-tank
The fuel pickup fitting on the lower front of the old tank had been sealed with a type of epoxy by a prior owner. A good reason to change the tank, as the last thing anyone wants is a gas tank leaking in your garage.

This small hose fit our original metal fuel line in the car. We also ran a fuel-sending unit ground wire from the fuel gauge sending unit at this time. A pair of 1/8-inch rubber pads were cut and glued to the bottom of the gas tank mounting flanges with weatherstripping cement. These rubber pads are not required but our original tank had body webbing so we felt a rubber pad was a good idea.

Learn More: Fabricating a Custom Three-Piece Hot Rod Hood

With those connections completed we cleaned and painted the floor above the tank and when the paint was dry the second wrestling match began. Once we got the tank in place it fit perfectly. We decided maybe old Henry was onto something so we installed all four bolts this time.

We connected the ground wire to the chassis, routed the vent hose out by the filler neck, and then connected the fuel pickup hose to our existing fuel line under the car, adapting the 3/8-inch line down to the factory ¼-inch tubing.

09-installing-fuel-tank-pickup-sending-unit
Our new gas tank has the fuel pickup on the top of the tank and the fitting is designed for modern fuel injection as well as carbureted engines. Following the directions, we measured to determine how much tubing to remove.

And just like that we had a nice new fuel tank in our car, ready to feed clean gas to our brand-new, Summit Racing–sourced Stromberg carburetors. There was just one problem … since we had changed taillights, we actually had no way to fill the new tank. It was apparent the 1936 was taking on an early Westergard-style custom flavor with those Packard taillights, so we thought a gas fill door would be more appropriate than simply running a gas fill cap through the fender.

Did we mention one thing leads to another? Next time we’ll show you how we went about installing an oval gas door from Speedway Motors, so stay tuned. MR

01-removing-fuel-pickup-tube-vintage-car
After deciding our 1936 Ford phaeton was going to receive a new gas tank, we removed the driver side fender and commenced to removing the old fuel tank. This process began by removing the original filler neck.
02-1936-ford-phaeton-install
A trip to our local Harbor Freight store netted us a 5-gallon fuel jug and a transfer pump. We had run the tank down to below a quarter tank. Be extremely careful working around gasoline and gasoline vapors. Remember even after the old tank has been emptied the vapors within are explosive.
03-hand-fuel-pump
This hand-operated transfer pump made quick work of emptying the tank. We added a brass fitting to the hose end that went into the tank. This weighed down the hose so we could draw fuel off the very bottom of the tank. Never use any electric components when transferring fuel—no electric drills or pumps.
04-how-to-remove-original-fuel-tank
Removing the original filler neck can be difficult. Spanner wrenches work well but we opted to use this ancient chain/strap wrench for a nice, even pull. It did the job and the neck unscrewed from the tank.
05-custom-fuel-pickup-tube
The collar must be loosened to remove the tank. The collar seals the neck to the tank by compressing a lead washer. The lead washer is a single-use item. New ones are available from your favorite early Ford parts supplier. Our new tank employs a simple rubber hose connection at the tank.
06-new-vs-old-fuel-tank-1936-ford
After removing the bolts holding the old tank in the car, we were able to wrestle the tank out of the car. Don’t forget to disconnect the fuel line and the fuel gauge wire. We sourced our new Tanks fuel tank from Summit Racing. The tank is excellent quality and holds slightly more fuel than the original.
07-1936-ford-fuel-tank-sending-unit
A close examination of the old tank showed broken bolts in the original fuel gauge sending unit. This would have been very difficult to remove and replace.
08-1936-ford-phaeton-gas-tank
The fuel pickup fitting on the lower front of the old tank had been sealed with a type of epoxy by a prior owner. A good reason to change the tank, as the last thing anyone wants is a gas tank leaking in your garage.
09-installing-fuel-tank-pickup-sending-unit
Our new gas tank has the fuel pickup on the top of the tank and the fitting is designed for modern fuel injection as well as carbureted engines. Following the directions, we measured to determine how much tubing to remove.
10-1936-ford-phaeton-gas-tank-install
Our PVC/hose cutter made quick work of trimming the pickup tube and the return tube. This tool makes a clean cut with no small particles left behind. Using a hacksaw produces small particles that can potentially find their way into your carburetor.
11-install-fuel-tank-pickup
The fuel pickup fitting comes with a thick rubber gasket to seal the piece to the tank. The lines are cut to the proper length and the piece is ready to be installed in the tank. Tighten the supplied screws until the gasket is uniformly compressed. Do not overtighten.
12-custom-sending-unit
The gas gauge sending unit from Classic Instruments is designed to work with a wide range of tanks of varying depths. Our tank is relatively shallow so we removed the long piece and installed the sender rheostat on the upper portion of the unit.
13-setting-fuel-tank-sending-unit-depth
The center of the float arm pivot should be at one half of the tank depth, plus an additional 1/8 inch to account for gasket thickness.
14-adjusting-fuel-tank-sending-unit
The excess mounting bracket that extends below the rheostat must be trimmed off, making the rheostat the lowest part of the sender. We marked the bracket, removed the rheostat, and trimmed the bracket with a hacksaw.
15-setting-float-on-universal-sending-unit
The Classic Instruments sending unit rheostat is clearly marked “float side.” Loosen the screw and remove the short shipping rod and insert the float rod in the proper direction.
16-universal-sending-unit
Adjusting the float rod is simple. The float should be 1/8-inch below the top of the tank when the float is all the way up to the “full position.” By using a piece of 1/8-inch angle iron we establish both the top of the tank and built in the proper clearance for a perfect adjustment.
17-how-to-adjust-universal-fuel-tank-sending-unit
Since the float rod pivot point is in the middle of the tank after adjusting the top, or “Full” adjustment, the lower or “Empty” location is automatically set. A quick check with the tape measure proved the math. Note we have trimmed the excess off the float rod.
18-new-fuel-sending-unit-installed
The sending unit and the fuel pickup/vent fitting are now installed in the tank. Since we are feeding a flathead motor with twin Stromberg carburetors we would not be using the return line. A ¼-inch brass pipe plug was installed in the return port.
19-custom-fuel-tank-sending-unit
The last step before installing the tank was attaching a piece of 3/8-inch fuel hose to the vent fitting and ¼-inch hose to the fuel pickup port. A ¼-inch pipe by 1/4-inch hose fitting was first threaded into the fuel pickup port. A ground wire was run from the sending unit flange to attach to a chassis ground.
20-installing-fuel-tank
Before installing the tank, we decided to put a piece of 1/8-inch rubber on the bottom side of the tank mounting flange. While not required, we felt it was a good idea; weatherstripping cement holds the rubber in place.
21-installing-a-custom-fuel-sending-unit
Wrestling the new tank into position was tight but the tank fit perfectly. We installed four new bolts to hold the tank in place. We connected the gas gauge wire to the sender while the black ground wire runs to a chassis ground. An access plate covers the area.
22-custom-gas-tank-filler-neck-install
Yes, here’s proof the new tank was a perfect fit. While the original tank used a threaded piece to connect to the filler neck, our new unit will use a simple rubber hose connection.
23-1936-ford-phaeton-gas-tank-rear-fender
The original 1936 Ford fill cap was located through the driver side taillight. A very simple and functional method of filling the tank that disappeared along with the taillight.
24-1936-ford-phaeton-rear-fender
Faithful readers of Modern Rodding will remember we recently replaced the stock taillights with these stylish 1940 Packard lights. The good news is they look great, the bad news is we have no way to fill our new gas tank—but there is a solution.
25-1936-ford-phaeton-gas-tank-filler-neck-install-1
Ah yes, Speedway Motors to the rescue with a gas filler door kit. This will add the perfect custom touch to our fender treatment and next month we will show how to install this unit in a 1936 Ford fender.

SOURCES
Classic Instruments
(844) 342-8437
classicinstruments.com

Harbor Freight
harborfreight.com

Speedway Motors
(800) 979-0122
speedwaymotors.com

Summit Racing
(800) 230-3030
summitracing.com

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