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Anybody who's done it will tell you dropping the fuel tank just to do pump or gasket maintenance is a PITA. Add something like a Panhard Bar or Watts Link, and it's even worse.

My tank was leaking from the top, I could verify that by looking at it through the right rear wheelwell...moist stains were evident, and they were coming from the top of the tank. Unfortunately, like a dumbass, the last time I replaced the pump I did not replace the $3.99 pump retaining ring and gasket, and I had a feeling that's what the problem was.

I have full tailpipes and a panhard bar...I did NOT want to drop the tank again to fix this problem. Frankly I don't ever want to drop the tank again no matter what, so I cut an access hole and made a replacement panel. Problem solved.

I went through 7 fiber-reinforced Dremel cutoff discs which wasn't too bad, for cutting a 7x10 hole in the trunk floor. I made it big to help ensure that if I actually needed to remove the pump, I'd be able to, because as I recall it requires some convoluted maneuvering to get in and out of the tank and I wanted the room to do so if necessary. As it stands, all I needed to do was replace the fuel pump ring and gasket which were leaking and causing problems when run on track. But the panel also goes far enough forward that I can access the vapor valve and its gasket easily if need be.

First cuts; you don't want to go any further forward or much further to the right, as there is more than sheetmetal lurking beyond those points.

Cut open

You'll need to disconnect this connection above the tank/behind the rear bumper, then pull the loom up through the new hole in the trunk so that it and its grommet can be removed from the old sheet:

Then I marked the positions of the holes in the #8 speednuts, which clip onto sheetmetal providing a blind fastener so you don't have to be able to access its underside to fasten the plate, before drilling holes in the trunk floor. I made the holes slightly oversize for adjustability/lack of precision. Remember, when using speednuts, you can't just drill the holes anywhere. The clips will only slide on so far over the sheetmetal before stopping, and the hole can't be any further inboard than that point.

Then I transferred the patterns of the holes to the replacement panel by dabbing each hole with a little RTV, setting the panel over top, then drilling where the RTV transferred to the underside of the panel. I cut a hole for the pump loom grommet with a cutoff wheel, then enlarged it and dressed it with a dremel and a grinding stone. Then I coated the underside of the panel and the top perimeter of the trunk hole in light oil, then laid down a bead of black RTV to seal it against heat and fumes. I'm hoping the coat of oil will make the whole panel pull right off when the need arises, without bending it.

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