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Lancia Augusta fuel tank saga

Some may have wondered whatever happened to the Lancia Augusta I reported on in the past, particularly the owner (kidding of course), but regular visitors to the workshop will have seen it apparently languishing in the background. Therein lies a tale. Amongst all of the work that I have carried out on the car there was the fuel tank and the desire to make sure it was safe and sound and free of leaks, what with it having sat for some time before I was on the scene. I'll start at the end with this milestone photograph, a fuel tank fitted with a correct filler cap and an updated fuel sender for the electric gauge, so simple to say but such a convoluted path.

Now we go back to the beginning. Having engaged the services of a specialist company to renew a Cadillac fuel tank that seemed beyond repair when I lived in the US I suggested to owner that we do something similar here. I'd found that there was rust in the bottom of the fuel sender well, the sender being a float suspended by string to a pulley that was supposed to be clock-sprung and geared to a direct rod connection to the gauge. As you can see in the next photo the most important of these parts were missing, it also shows the visibility of the tank and what it looked like originally.

The tank was removed, stripped of the sender parts and fuel tap and sent away to the specialist (a bit of foreshadowing here, they were told the tank was highly visible). After some considerable time and a bit of chasing up the tank was returned 'fixed' and supposedly ready to go back on the car. Unfortunately this is what came out of the box.

To say I was not entirely satisfied would be somewhat of an understatement so it was returned for correction with some underlining about finish and location. A week or two later the tank came back with a finish that was acceptable, to a degree, and, with the help of my trusty machinist, I found a way to mount a 6V fuel sender.

Now, if all this wasn't enough, an element of complication. With the tank fitted I was finally able to drive the car but another delay crept in, it was decided that I should overhaul the front suspension and adjustable Hartford rear shock absorbers, neither systems particularly familiar and the first requiring special tools. Once this was completed and I was thinking the car was on its way out I found that the coating applied to the inside of the fuel tank had somehow oxidised, it was cracked and turning to dust, blocking the fuel outlet and causing the car to stall under load. I'll throw in another understatement here, I was rather ticked off. There was no option but to return it again to the specialist to be sorted out, when I was told it was ready they mentioned that they'd had to cut the front and rear off the tank to make sure the oxidised material was removed but I still had to remind them that I needed it to be properly finished externally. This is what I got back.

Basically it's scrap metal as well as, it turns out, about 2 kg of body filler. I wouldn't put this under a car let alone under the bonnet. After all this it was good fortune's turn, the owner was discussing the situation a fellow member of the Lancia Club and he offered up 2 tanks, the best of which, whilst covered in dirt and old paint, was clean inside and looked sound. It was from a French built Belna, which meant the fuel filler cap & sender differed, creating 2 more problems.

Short story long, the fuel sender and filler neck were sweated out of the Belna tank and the neck chiseled and sweated out of the original tank. I enlarged the filler hole and notched it such that the flanged neck could pass through, hung the tank from the sender and soldered it as per. I then used a fabricated guide and a hole cutter to enlarge the sender hole such that yet another adapter could be fitted and yet another, shorter, sender installed. All I have to do now is fit a more modern tap to the outlet (M18x1.5 - 1/2"UNF adapter on its way) and, for the sake of simplicity, an easily replaceable plastic filter in a hose to the carburettor. What with all of this trouble I am going to leave the tank unpainted for now, to be honest I like it that way. If you've made it all the way to the end of this post and mention it when you visit I'll give you a t-shirt.

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