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Fuel tank replacement - 1990 SE


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Hi all,

My Esprit has been stashed away in my garage for the best part of 8 months, and the smell of petrol from there was getting worrying! It was put away because the smell of fuel in the cabin was gradually getting worse and I couldn't afford the time or money to replace the tank(s). I have already replaced the fuel vapour lines a few years ago.

Now that summer is here and I see all the nice cars around, I want my Esprit back on the road!

This is one job I'm not prepared to do myself, as it's pretty dangerous and there isn't enough information around. Sorry, but the guide on LEW is a bit lacking (small pictures, different model, no detail, no procedures). I'll have more piece of mind and get it done sooner if I get someone else to do it!

I reckon it's only the drivers side that's leaking, but is it worth replacing the other tank too? Odds are that's going to go soon too anyway.

What is a good price for the replacement of both tanks on a 1990 SE? I'm going to phone all the usual candidates in a 100 mile radius from Swindon to get quotes. I might even phone Lotus just for sh*ts and giggles.

Thanks.

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Hi Alan,

I was in the process of having my tanks fixed when I decided to sell Lottie in 2002 (since bought back - see newbies thread). As I'm useless with spanners I was getting the local indy specialist to do the job and he said it was best done with the engine out (6 hours labour) then replace or fix the tanks, then engine back in.

PO told me he's fixed the tanks rather than replaced them, so assume he's used a sealant (POR15 or similar??). I'd have been tempted to replace them, but only time will tell...

Hope that helps a bit?

PS: I went to grammar school near Manchester with a boy called Alan Rae...not you is it??

Edited by islandbloke

Proud recipient of the LEF 'Car of the Month Award' February 2008

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: "Wow, what a ride!!"

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I have done many a job to the Esprit, the biggest being the exhaust manifold, but this one is a job I'd rather pass to someone who has done it before!

I'm going towards complete replacement rather than refurb, as I plan on keeping the car for a good while, well, until all the oil in the world runs out. I reckon I should budget around

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When my left hand side tank started to leak did I end up with removing the engine in order to get the tank out!

I bought an aluminium tank from Esprit engineering and had the right hand side tank sand blasted and painted.

Arne

89 non SE

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Hi,

have you checked a breather hose which is connecting both petrol tanks? This hose could be the reason for smell in cabine. Hose is under carpet under rear window.

RGDS, B

LOTUS Esprit Turbo SE, 1990

P.U.K. racing turbo charger

ECU chip 1.1 bar

Motorsport racing fuel pump

RC racing High Flow secondary injectors

RC racing High Flow primary injectors

custom made titanium free flow exhaust

Electric CC pump

Double size Chargecooler, heavy duty version

Racing air filter

BOV

Crankcase Breather filter

Ram air converison

Uprated Valeo clutch with 25% more torque

KW85 HT leads, IW22 spark plugs

S4S wheels, front mask, rear spoiler

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It's definetely the tank that's shot. I can smell fuel from underneath the car, most strongly ahead of the rear wheel, drivers side. The car has been in a dry garage for almost 8 months and I have signs of moisture on the undertray in the area of the fuel tank. I have already replaced the fuel vapour tubing (breather hose if you like) that vents from the tanks to the charoal cannister when I got the car many years ago.

I'm not going to venture into replacing the tanks myself, I just wondered what other people had paid to have theirs replaced.

Is it worth retaining the old tanks, having them repaired and flogging them on here or fleabay?

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It's definetely the tank that's shot. I can smell fuel from underneath the car, most strongly ahead of the rear wheel, drivers side. The car has been in a dry garage for almost 8 months and I have signs of moisture on the undertray in the area of the fuel tank. I have already replaced the fuel vapour tubing (breather hose if you like) that vents from the tanks to the charoal cannister when I got the car many years ago.

I'm not going to venture into replacing the tanks myself, I just wondered what other people had paid to have theirs replaced.

Is it worth retaining the old tanks, having them repaired and flogging them on here or fleabay?

Depends on how big the holes are. Pin holes can be sealed by POR-15, rust can be removed and repainted. I did both mine.

Or you could have aluminum ones made... I think Lotus has relized that they messed up not coating the tanks correctly, and now have a bunch of better coated ones in stock.

BTW Alan, what happend to your website, I was looking for some of those IR pics.

Travis

Vulcan Grey 89SE

My Lotus Photo and Projects Album

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I've just done the tanks on my 96 V8. Its mostly time and labour rather than skilled Lotus trained mechanic stuff. You just need to be meticulous but it is a big long bastard of a job.....

I had a leaking passenger tank and decided to pull the drivers side for inspection whilst I was at it - it was absolutely the correct decision. There was little visual difference in the underside corrosion (pinholing as mentioned earlier by someone). I'm sure the drivers side would have been leaking within a short time which would have really pissed me off, if I'd left it.

I had both tanks reconditioned via the patented RENU process (

Edited by jeff_hooper
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I removed both tanks when refurbishing mine.

In my case the rust was not bad and they were not rusting.

I removed all the rust from the outside and repainted them with a coat of a phosphate based primer (inhibits rust) then several coats of primer, followed by paint, and then several coats of that tough truck bed lining spray. I protected the seams of the tank with rubber u-channel to geep it from rubbing on the fiberglass. I also placed rubber mats under each tank, and made my own foam damping boards out of a closed cell foam, sheeted with protective plastic.

I use the POR-15 system with the cleaner, phosphoric acid metal ready, and then the epoxy to remove and prevent rust on the insides.

http://www.lotuscolorado.com/vulcangrey/ga...fueltankremoval

Here's all the stuff I had to remove to pull the tanks, engine stayed in, but I did have to remove the intake manifold and cam.

P7220010.sized.jpg

Travis

Vulcan Grey 89SE

My Lotus Photo and Projects Album

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Hi Alan,

I did the guide on LEW. At the time I had very little experience working on cars. It's a lot easier than it looks, it's just time consuming. As for G cars, it's 10 times easier as the tanks are smaller and there's no ECU and very little electrics there.

As for refurbing your old tanks, PNM charge around

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I'm still not 100% sure what to do, and I'm thinking of adding something else but more on that in a bit.

Travis, I removed my website quite awhile ago. It's the updating that got me, I was so busy with other things that I let it slip year after year. I was going to do another one, but it's on the end of a long list! I actually have the IR camera at the moment which I'm using for another project. It's a great tool but you have to learn about emissivitiy to make use of the readings.

Looking at your pic with all the bits removed fills me with nostalgia! I can identify many of the parts and I think I could actually have a go...until I saw you removed the intake cam and thus the timing belt...gulp! The pictures on your website were very helpful, I think I could do the right tank, but not the other one with so much dis-assembly.

Jeff, having the tanks reconned at

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Alan, that was my logic too. I had the engine taken out for a 'quick' overhaul as well as get the tanks done...

But it all went kinda downhill as more and more potential work was discovered, which is why I ended up selling her in bits 4 years ago! Wouldn't wish THAT feeling on anyone...although she's back now it was a miserable time!

Proud recipient of the LEF 'Car of the Month Award' February 2008

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: "Wow, what a ride!!"

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You mention driverside fuel smell. near the wheel.

Are you taling about UK drivers side or USA drivers side?

You did not really say where you are from.

If you have RHD there is the charcoal canister, fuel fresh air intake hose, the roll over valve all mounted within inches from the right rear wheel. These bits and pieces are all connected with the same yellow hose as the crossover hose.

Sometimes when the oneway check valve near the timing belt fails it will blow back through the charcoal canister, don't know if it is strong enough to blow off or rupture a weakened hose. But in the case of the failed check valve it also seemed that the hose were ruptured of blown off too. Might coincidence, who knows.

The rollover valve is located behind the right side rear hatch gutter by two phillips head screws about mid way, nearly behind the fuel filler flap.

Good luck,

Calvin

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Stu, I've changed my logic about having the engine reconned. Partly due to what happened to you, because that is just a nightmare and it's bound to happen to me. I had a good chat with Geoff at Esprit Engineering today about this very subject. Forget my budget of 3k for the tanks and an engine recon. I could almost buy another Esprit for the cost it could easily amount too. Honest bloke is Geoff, telling it how it is and talking himself out of work!

And so I have come to a decision! After working on my other car today I'm feeling adventurous and I'm going to have a go myself at the main culprit - the drivers side, (UK spec). I'll replace the tank with an alloy type from Geoff and do a few other jobs while I'm dirty :lol:

These other jobs include replacing the fuel pump with the higher spec type (need more info), fitting an electric chargecooler pump, replacing the header tanks, fitting an oil catch tank. This is a tank and pump year for sure! I think that will do for this year...

Calvin, I've replaced those horrid yellow (black and disintegrated when I did it) tubing, all around the rollover valve, under the carpet, to charcoal canister already a few years ago. It aint that. The smell inside the cabin is so noxious, I can't bear a minute inside, and you can smell it strongly from the outside from one particular side of the car (drivers side, I'm in Swindon, UK).

I want to thank everybody that gave advice and guidance on this. I was kind of over-awed by the job, but seeing that other people have done it and overcome many of the issue I will no doubt run into, I have the confidence to make a start at least! I haven't worked on the Esprit since the manifold job, and that kinda scunnered me from doing more. I think I will start a worklog here on the forum, to guide others as others have done, and to log progress. Honey, I'm back!

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On last thing to check on. I have seen the fuel tank balancer line that goes between the 2 tanks go bad around where it attaches to the tanks.

Might not be the problem but I always check to easy things first.

Calvin

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Well some good news. The problem is definetely located on the right hand side, so that means only one tank that may need replacing.

I've drained all the fuel out, and what a horrible job that was. I think I may need a new driveway as well after this! Pouring the drained petrol through a light strainer produced little black flakes of what looks to be rusted metal. Could be from the insides of the tank, perhaps the balancing pipe.

Well I've had a go at getting to the tank, and my biggest problem so far has been a number of captive nuts, especially the ones holding on the side engine wall. Since the bolts just spun, I had to modify the lip downwards of the sidewall to get a pair of grips to them. I'll replace these 'captive' nuts with something more sensible.

I'd like some advice, regarding the wires. The main artery of wires from the engine to the ECU. I was thinking of cutting these and adding a connector between rather than disconnecting each one at the engine since they can be difficult to get to. Don't know why Lotus didn't to this to make it easier when taking the engine out, but there must have been a reason. I'd like your thoughts on this.

I'm changing my tact on this, and I'm going to check what Calvin suggested before going any further. That balancing pipe is a piece of crap and the suggested replacement is a stainless steel affair and I was going to replace it anyway, thanks for that Calvin. Do you think if only the balancing pipe was leaking the fuel vapour could still make it's way to the cabin? Once the tanks were drained, the cabin was locked up and the next day the smell was just as bad.

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I've removed the fuel balance pipe that is between the two tanks, and it's not that. It's in pretty good condition, with only a little surface rust at where the hoses from the fuel tanks attach. Here's some images.

fuel_balance_pipe_01.jpg

fuel_balance_pipe_02.jpg

From underneath, the left hand side tank looks good, you can get a good view of it from under the car. The seams look intact and it looks like there is carpet there instead of that crap foam. The right hand side tank looks a little worse for wear looking at it from underneath. I can't see much of it, but the part that has the drain plug has surface rust and of the bottom seam I can see looks rusty.

However, that damn sidewall is proving to be a bitch. It's all loose now, but the engine wires from the ECU are in the way. I'm thinking of cutting the wires at the selected point shown in the image below, unless someone gives me a reason not to! This will make the sidewall removal and refitting much easier for sure. I'll connect these back up later obviously, with a suitable connector.

engine_wires_01.jpg

A question to those that have removed thier tanks already; what's the best method of removing the fuel lines from the pump/tank? I'm presuming you get two spanners and give it bit of welly? Is it best to disconnect them from the pump side and pass the fuel lines through the sidewall out of the way?

All help appreciated!

engine_01.jpg

I'm almost at the stage of no return, and the thought of putting it all back together again and giving it to someone else to do has crossed my mind once or twice...

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From underneath, the left hand side tank looks good, you can get a good view of it from under the car. The seams look intact and it looks like there is carpet there instead of that crap foam. The right hand side tank looks a little worse for wear looking at it from underneath. I can't see much of it, but the part that has the drain plug has surface rust and of the bottom seam I can see looks rusty.

However, that damn sidewall is proving to be a bitch. It's all loose now, but the engine wires from the ECU are in the way. I'm thinking of cutting the wires at the selected point shown in the image below, unless someone gives me a reason not to! This will make the sidewall removal and refitting much easier for sure. I'll connect these back up later obviously, with a suitable connector.

engine_wires_01.jpg

A question to those that have removed thier tanks already; what's the best method of removing the fuel lines from the pump/tank? I'm presuming you get two spanners and give it bit of welly? Is it best to disconnect them from the pump side and pass the fuel lines through the sidewall out of the way?

All help appreciated!

engine_01.jpg

I'm almost at the stage of no return, and the thought of putting it all back together again and giving it to someone else to do has crossed my mind once or twice...

Do both tank now! what makes you think it wont just rust out in 2 monthas, since the other one has???

Yes, two wrenches to remove the fittings at the top of the fuel pump.

Removing the side wall can be a pain, if the blind nuts are spinning you may need to grab them with pliers from below, or just dremel them off and replace them.

I use a windshield removal nife to cut all the glue. Looks like this.

windshield_removal_tool.sized.jpg

has a right angle blade and a draw handle.

Just undo all the electrical connections at the sensors, pulling the grommets out of the firewall will help. They are all unique and you can't mess them up. Besides the harness lengths will help you figure out where they go since they won't reach anywhere else. Take some time to clean the contacts and use dielectric grease.

Use a brass or aluminum drift to undo the pump locking ring, as those won't spark!

Travis

Vulcan Grey 89SE

My Lotus Photo and Projects Album

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Take the rear hatch off makes access 500% easier - heavy bastard thing and three people needed but dead easy to actually remove. Just make sure you mark up where the exact hinge position clamp. (Its quiet common that its removed for big service jobs and mine was already marked up). I also took the seats out (the car was overdue a seriously good valet) and with the sun roof out you really then have good all around access. (I put 4 heavy pot hooks in the beams in the garage and tied the hatch up against the ceiling to get it out of the way).

The bulkheads do NOT need to come out. Disconnect what you can and pull most pipes wires through out of the way. The stuff that's a nightmare to disconnect you can leave and hopefully just have enough slack to pull the bulkheads back and out of the way, I think one of mine would actually flip over and sit almost in the boot well out of the way, the other was just a nuisance, but not so much that hacking into major wiring was justified..! I also have several large dust sheets and used those in and around the boot/engine bay to spread my weight and cover stuff up as I worked so I didn't hurt myself or damage stuff.

I think the captive stuff your talking about are 'Rivnuts'. I bought the tool and fitting to make everything right - one advantage with the Esprit is that its little more than a Kitcar in the way its built so go to Kitcar suppliers and get stuff to make good and fix it. I had to repalce several rivnuts and used araldite to fix them in place when the original hole had become oversized worked okay and I was carfully not to overtighted.

Hope Piccy gives some idea of where I ended up to get the tanks out and just before started to reinstall. Do Both tanks now, my Passenger side leaked and when I pulled and compared the Drivers side it was obviously only a matter of months behind rot wise.

Give me a PM if your around North West England..

Jeff

post-610-1151534563.jpg

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Jeff, I'm in the south of England, but thanks if you were going to offer to come round and do the job for me :) .

Travis, that tool looks like the business to undo the gunk, but I managed it with a stanley knife. I always go by the idea of if it aint broke, don't fix it! That's why I I'm leaving the other tank until it's time is due. I won't save any time by doing it at the same time really.

And now for the bad news. I've had a really good go, but since I don't have any real means of keeping the rear hatch in place, and foresee more problems I don't need, I'm giving up. This job has had the better of me, and I know when to quit!

So I'm putting it all back together next week (I'm busy this weekend) and ferrying it to someone else to do. I'll have more piece of mind and can spend the time doing other jobs. I should save some labour since I got to all the stupid captive fasteners that took so much time to undo.

Ah well.

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Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I've been staring at my Esprit in bits for the past wee while, and it would be pretty pointless to put it all back together again, fill up with fuel and take it for someone else to do. There is the option to trailer it, but that's more money from this years Esprit budget I was hoping to save for other bits. So I've had a change of priorities and decided to complete the job.

I have a few questions again..

1. What's the best method for the boot lid? Is it remove it completely or prop it open with some wood and rope or something else. I don't have the option of supporting it from above.

2. What's the best option regarding fuel tanks? The alloy type from Esprit Engineering is

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Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I've been staring at my Esprit in bits for the past wee while, and it would be pretty pointless to put it all back together again, fill up with fuel and take it for someone else to do. There is the option to trailer it, but that's more money from this years Esprit budget I was hoping to save for other bits. So I've had a change of priorities and decided to complete the job.

I have a few questions again..

1. What's the best method for the boot lid? Is it remove it completely or prop it open with some wood and rope or something else. I don't have the option of supporting it from above.

2. What's the best option regarding fuel tanks? The alloy type from Esprit Engineering is

Travis

Vulcan Grey 89SE

My Lotus Photo and Projects Album

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Thanks Travis.

The last time I removed the boot lid/hatch which was on Ian R's Esprit, and we put a rear tyre in the engine bay, removed the gas struts, closed the lid on to the tyre and gradually removed the bolts at the hinges. The bolts nearest the spoiler end of the lid were removed last, and the lid just rested on the tyre. Then the pair of us lifted it off. Must remember to disconnect the connection for the heated rear screen.

I was hoping to avoid removing the lid by some means of propping it up, as I don't always have a helper. I'll see how I get on.

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