Chevy El Camino

How do you change gas tanks in a 1959 El Camino?

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June 29, 2010 11:49PM

Note: this is best done if there are two people doing it! There

may be other, better ways, but this is how a friend and I did


Empty the gasoline first if you can by syphoning. There was no

drain plug on my 59 El Camino.

You'll need to remove the hoses from the filler tube (one 2"x5"

hose and a smaller vent hose). We found it easier to get to these

by dropping the tank a small amount first.

You'll also need to disconnect the fuel sending unit's

electrical wire. Again, we waited until we dropped the tank a


The tank is attached via two steel straps. Use a deep-well

socket to loosen (NOT REMOVE) the nuts on these. Then, get an axle

jack and place it under the gas tank to support it. Then you can

remove the nuts on the bolts holding the straps to the tank. The

bolts will later be removed for cleaning and reuse.

Lower the tank slightly to get at the filler tube hoses.

Disconnect the clamps at the tank end and try to pry off the hose.

We found the small one came off easily but the large one didn't

want to budge (after 60 years). So we just got a sheet-rock saw and

cut it in half.

On the other side of the tank is the sending unit. We chose to

cut the wire at the filler tube side of the car near the existing

junction between the sending unit and the wire loom. We left about

6" of wire to put on a new junction after replacing the sender and

the 60 year old wire.

With the filler tubes disconnected and the sending unit wire

free, you can lower the jack to bring the tank to the ground. Dump

any remaining gasoline into a container for recycling.

We had a tough time removing the sending unit because ours had

special headed screws. We used a vise-grip first to loosen the

screws before using a Torx 15 driver to back them out. We'll

replace the original screws with Phillips head 10-32x 1/2"


Our sending unit was shot - if you're going to replace yours,

there are several on the market so choose the one that looks most

like yours. Also note that some use a 3/8" gas line; others use a

5/16" line (like mine did.) Measure well before you purchase.

I brought the tank to a radiator shop to have them clean it out.

They estimated it would cost $400. So I'm looking for a better tank

- as of 2010, there aren't any being reproduced - and the ones for

1959 passenger cars won't fit.

I haven't reinstalled my tank yet, but I'll just reverse these


Rick in El Paso Texas

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