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Fuel tank replacement - 1990 SE


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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.

I was able to remove my tanks, without removing the hatch, had to have someone hold it up while I furiously pulled out the tank... But it was much easier with the hatch off.

Travis

Vulcan Grey 89SE

My Lotus Photo and Projects Album

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Reconditioned tanks if done correctly look like new to me. Have seen 2 types sprayed and the other was done with an inflatable bladder that adheres to interior surface once inflated. Then in both cases the outside was cleaned up, sealed, and painted.

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Please dont cut the harness. You will be chasing electrical gremlins forever. We did this on a friends car who swapped in a japanese motor. Unfortunately the motor he sourced had the harness cut where it crossed into the firewall so we just spliced it in and patted ourselves on the back. After 6 months of assorted electrical problems like fans not coming on, random check engine light and fault codes, stalling on the highway a couple of times we just tore the whole thing out and replaced it with a new one. As for the fuel pump you can get the walbro 255lph in tank pump and swap it with the stock one in 30 minutes since you'll already be taking the pump assembly out of the tank. At $130 you cant go wrong here. You can also replace the fuel sender with a new vdo one which is also an easy fix since you're already in there.

One thing that has not been mentioned is adding foam inside the tanks so prevent sloshing of fuel around turns and under acceleration/braking. Plenty of articles on the web on this topic if you want to look it up.

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Please dont cut the harness.

I agree. Follow the harness to the ECU and pull all the plugs out.

Sure you will have to cut a hole in the side wall big enough for the

plugs to pass through if you need it all out, but a patched bit of

engine lining will not cause any future electrical nightmares.

:)

Oh, and i'd want a pile of bibles, some wood to touch, a black cat

crossing my path, a horseshoe, rabbits foot and some heather to hand...

Before i risked saying anything remotely like this:

....the car will almost be perfect and I can have years of trouble free Espriting!

:)

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I agree. Follow the harness to the ECU and pull all the plugs out.

Sure you will have to cut a hole in the side wall big enough for the

plugs to pass through if you need it all out, but a patched bit of

engine lining will not cause any future electrical nightmares.

What are you talking about? There is no need to cut anything! The wires and plugs will fit through the openings in the firewalls. I've done it several times.

Travis

Vulcan Grey 89SE

My Lotus Photo and Projects Album

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What are you talking about?  There is no need to cut anything!  The wires and plugs will fit through the openings in the firewalls.  I've done it several times.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Did not know they did for sure, assumed thats why he was

considering cutting the loom...

:)

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IT'S OUT!!!

old_tank_01.jpg

There is no doubt left in my mind that it was this tank causing the fuel smell. Take a look at the images below, that crap foam soaked up and retained any water and fuel, and it stinks of it too.

old_tank_02.jpg

old_tank_03.jpg

I have my own theory why it rusted and became like it is. I found small rusty metal screws, captive crap etc trapped between the tank. These rubbed the tank over time and 'infected' the tank if you like. The inferior foam padding made it a whole lot worse. I don't see how water could get through the side window, it's sealled every well. It's water from underneath the car that's the problem?

The tank isn't simply hollow. Inside it is an arrangement of sections and welds, that I can see really helps with the fuel sloshing thing. Where the filler neck connects is another chamber or plate, which I think is to stop splashing or what ever when you fill an empty-ish tank. Now I can see why it's so expensive. There was some surface rust inside, but not alot.

In the end I only had to break 2 wires, but they had been done before by someone else. I didn't need to disconnect the harness, this did the trick:

side_wall_move_01.jpg

Not elegant, but saved me some time. I'm still going to go round all the engine connections and refurb them, as I doubt it's ever been done.

Unfortunately I had to cut one of the fuel lines, no matter how hard I tried, the connection just wouldn't give. I was afraid of bending the pipe of the tank/pump thingy because it's so weak, so I cut the plastic tube. Not a biggie, a fitting suitable for fuel will be used.

Look at the amount of crap the in-tank filter kept out from my system. There was plenty more where that came from at the pot of the tank.

pump_filter_01.jpg

Here's a familiar picture to many, it's almost out but not quite! That phlume (sp) chamber cover has got to come off.

tank_almost_out_01.jpg

The void that is left:

void_01.jpg

Here's something I wasn't expecting to see, oil inside the phlume (sp) chamber. Hope it's not a sign of something bad...

chamber_oil_01.jpg

Surprisingly, I managed to remove the tank myself. Here's what I did to keep the boot lid propped open. Two wooden props and tied to a cross beam in the garage just incase I knocked out both props, however unlikely.

boot_prop_01.jpg

I just need to make a decision on a tank. The alloy one is aparently smaller so easier to get in, but it costs a lot!

Thanks everyone for your invaluable help and advice. I just hope I don't have memory loss before it's time to put it back together again!

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Excellent well done, that all looks so horribly familiar...

I'll bet the other side will look much the same if you pull that one out too, well mine did at least so glad I did as I know its sorted and not gonna have to go through the whole process again...

If you'd be really really annoyed having to start pulling the other tank in 6 months time then have a good look at it now, at least try and investigated to see if that bloody foam is soaked...

Jeff

Ps. I never quiet figured how the leaky side window theory could apply in my case either. My best guess was something like spray from underneath finding its way in. The car was in the garage part taken apart for 6 months and when I did finally pull the Drivers side tank (the one that wasn't leaking) that foam stuff was still wet enough to almost be dripping. So once its wet it seems to stay wet, so just the tiniest water ingress ever now and then would be enough...

Edited by jeff_hooper
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Well done indeed! There could be a club for tank changers.

I removed mine using this technique in November 2004 and had them refurbished.

However having removed my engine for a preventative rebuild I decided I would replace them both and as a result can highly recommend the alloy tanks. They are pricey but they are beautifully made and light as a feather. Ok, a big feather.

Cant comment on ease of installation - with no engine in a way the job is a peach - but the alloy units are fractionally shorter in height so should be easier to install. Especially considering the lack of weight. Either way, if you go alloy or stainless you can forget about doing the job again.

Good luck with the next stage!

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Thanks Jeff, was chuffed to bits to get the tank out, with little struggle once all obstacles were removed.

I'm going to leave the other tank for now. From what I can see from below, the other tank looks in good condition. There is no foam there, but what looks to be some sort of carpet, and it doesn't cover the entire tank. I'd swear it's been replaced before. It's dry and there is very little rust present. Next time I'm under the car I'll take a pic.

I'm sure the water comes from below, when you drive in hard rain or through a puddle. The first image in my thread above shows you the main area of rust. Right at that point were a few rusty screws trapped between the tank and body. The image below shows where it collected in the tub.

old_tank_04.jpg

The rust left behind:

void_02.jpg

I was thinking of a mod to cover the inspection cut out that is below each tank, you can see that in the image above. A rubber gromit big enough to fit, or fix on a circle of rubber that can be removed for inspection. That would stop a good bit of water getting access.

tinywillyuk, I'm proud to be a member of the tank changers! Already a member of the exhaust manifold changers, but the elite are the engine removers! What condition were the refurbished tanks when you replaced them with alloys? I'm so tempted with the alloy tanks, but I think refurbed or Lotus replacements would last even longer if that inspection hole was sealed. I see no reason why that hole can't be covered.

Hopefully I won't have the car out of action for long, getting some important stuff done before I take my annual pilgrimage up to Scotland, and I've got a lot more to do!

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The tanks that came out were still usable but the signs are there that the job would need doing again. In under two years thats a worry.

Thats not to say that a quick blast clean and decent coating wont see them right again.

Can send some photos of 2004, 2006 and the alloy jobs if that helps.

I think its safe to say that the later cars have an entire undertray to stop water and other contaminants - can these be retrofitted to younger Stevens cars? Would solve the problem.

I would also suggest that condensation was my biggest source of free running water on or around the tanks. After a run, mainly evening runs it should be noted, the quarter windows are badly condensed and I'd assume therefore that a big metal can full of cold fuel next to warm air is like a can of your favourite beer when it comes out of the fridge - all wet!

When I did my tanks I considered the top and bottom packing material carefully. I last used an antistatic and waterproofed type of polystyrene - not the regular stuff which is staticy but some nabbed from the electronics industry. That came out with the tanks this year in very good condition.

This time round Ive used some foam similar to that the factory used but its encapsulated in PVA. You get the same squash under compression as plain foam but the water cant penetrate. I realise this is overkill but even alloy will corrode given time.

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Simon, some images of the tanks progression would be good for me to make my mind up! If you'd prefer to send them to me, my address is mysterae[at]ntlworld.com. The fact that signs of corrosion were there is indeed worrying. Condensation does sound like a likely candidate, but I have never suffered from the condensation on the windows above the tanks like you.

I have the half-sized engine tray on underneath the car all the time it's been driven, but I imagine water can still get in there.

Glad you brought up the subject of padding. The original stuff is a no-no, but I'm a bit bewildered as what to use instead. Where'd you get the stuff you used? Same question to all that have ever replaced their tanks.

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  • 2 weeks later...
So to stop it from rusting in the future, I want to protect it. I shall give it a few coats on the outside, but of what? Would Hammerite or some such product be good?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Might I step in with Jonos favourite lifestyle accessory suggestion - yup - POR15!

Im properly indoctrinated too.. It really is as good as he says :)

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Did you look at my website?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Sure have Travis, many times! Your images came in very useful.

I might be making a mistake here, but I'm only going to coat the outside of the tank, as the insides of the one I took out was pretty clean. I see more references to this POR-15 stuff, quite a lot of followers. Is it available in the UK? Failing that I'll use some off the shelf stuff.

My tank comes in tomorrow yay!

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Tony, James? Lingo I'm not familar with..

Anyhow, the tank job is done!! Yay!

The toughest parts of the job are:

- draining the fuel from the tanks when I pratically filled them up to the top before putting it away for the winter. It's easy to do, it's just that it stinks and I kept grounding myself every second to be sure.

- corroded bolts. The captive bolts holding on the side wall (air filter) were fubar'd and need to be cut, drilled out and replaced.

- access. You need the bootlid wide open to get good access to stuff and to get the tank out. The gas struts can be a pain to remove and refit. That boot lid weighs a fair bit, and it would slice anything between it and the car should it come down on you. See previous pic posted.

- refitting the rubber pipes connecting the fuel tank to the filler neck. This gave me blisters,

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