A homely early ’90’s white Ford Tempo, slowly succumbing to the upstate NY tinworm, named Snowflake. What trouble could such a beast cause? Plenty.
Just an example of how much road-salt can nibble away at everything.
The Tempo was a hand-me down from a friend of the family, to my uncle. Hard to believe, but the car Snowflake replaced was an even worse off ’97 Ford Escort that was one jolt away from resting on the ground. Rust had attacked the rear shock towers and the other hard points that held on the rear suspension to the unit body, so my father and I needed to up the tempo to fix the…Ford. And you thought I was going to say Tempo.
I happened to be home visiting the parents one weekend, when my father requested my help in the garage to work on the Tempo. He needed help dropping the gas tank and replacing both the tank and the fuel pump. My father had also sourced a new replacement tank, so all we needed to do was drop the tank and swap the fuel pump from one tank to another. In addition to replacing those items, he had managed to source a fuel-filler pipe for the car, no easy task. Apparently they are in high demand, which speaks volumes for Ford’s quality control of that era. I think the replacement pipe came from California wrecking yard.
Our somewhat organized workspace.
In lowering the rusty tank, we somehow had to reach the wires to the fuel pump. I had hoped that we could have reached through a hole under the back-seat to unhook the wires to the pump, but while there WAS a reach-through, it wasn’t anywhere near the pump itself. What the hell!? Eventually, using a house-jack post and muscle, we got the tank down enough to disconnect the wires and lowered out from under the car. Only one of us managed to get gasoline in the face, and it wasn’t me. It wasn’t in quite as bad a shape as we had feared, but since we had the new tank we were going to make the swap anyway.
Notice the gas-tank shaped hole.
Dropping the tank, however, was the least of our problems. The fuel pump was held in place by a six inch ring, with little flanges that wedged themselves into the top of the tank to keep everything in place. Much like the rest of the car, this ring and associated connections were as rusted together as anything you’d find on the Titanic.
Sure, it looks okay now that it’s off…
Yeah, that’s a little rusty.
After an hour or so of hammering with various chisels, screwdrivers (as my Grandfather always said, never use a larger crescent wrench for a hammer when a small will do) hammers and small sledges, we managed to only slightly deform the ring. It did come off, but we were unsure if we could get it back on.
Media blasting cabinet.
I look like I know what I’m doing.
A quick trip to the media blasting cabinet later, and the ring looked fairly presentable and rust free. We began the task of fitting the fuel pump back into the new tank, and securing the ring. The gasket that came between the pump base and the tank, however, just did not want to fit into the depression. We forged ahead anyway, and managed to beat the ring back into submission on the tank.
Ah, that fits nicely!
Shiny new tank.
What else are you supposed to do with the dangly bits of a fuel pump?
At this point, we had to wait for the replacement fuel filler neck to arrive, so this was as far as we could take the project. My father decided to replace the fuel pump while he was at it. For our troubles, the new fuel pump came with a ring and gasket that worked much better than the old bits we were trying to use.
Out with the old, in with the new.
Moral of the story? Don’t go home to visit your parents, lest your father wrangle you into working on a Snowflake.