Making a Fuel Tank by George Hounslow
I am currently restoring a 1901 Porter Stanhope steam car. This car uses a vapourising burner that burns unleaded petrol, pressurised to around 40PSI. The pressure forces the fuel through the vapouriser, where it is turned into a gas, out of the jet and into the venturi, where the fuel mixes with the air, and then through a few thousand holes in a cast burner grate, where it is ignited, producing around 250,000 BTU’s of heat, which subsequently heats the boiler.
This early car used an early system by which the whole fuel tank is pressurised. As such, a container that would hold the pressure was needed. Luckily, I had a Compressor, with a defunct motor, but almost brand new tank. The air tank proved to be exactly the right size, with the brackets in the right place. Firstly, having removed the motor and compressor parts, the tank was sandblasted. However, the two pack paint used on compressor tanks is quite resilient to sandblasting it seems, and following a failed attempt with paint stripper, the tank was suspended and then heated with a blow torch and, with the use of a wire brush, all the paint was removed.
Now, a fuel filler needed to be installed. A suitable stainless steel filler and cap of superb quality were obtained on Ebay, with a 1.8” spout. However, without a suitable sized drill or cutter, how to cut the whole for this to be fitted? The answer, was to strap the tank to the bed of the pillar drill, using a car strop and pieces of wood to support the round tank, and then drill a series of small holes in the area required, this area being marked by placing the spout on the tank and drawing around it. Once the holes were drilled, a dremel was used to cut between the holes and then create a perfect circle that the filler would snugly fit into. The filler was then silver-soldered into place, the whole tank then being pressure tested to 100PSI. This being successful, a coat of smooth Hamerite was applied to the tank, to prevent corrosion until final painting of the car, some Oak spacer blocks made up, so that the tank would fit to the frame correctly, and, finally, the necessary ¼” holes were drilled, and the tank mounted in place. Hence, a suitable fuel tank was easily and neatly made and installed.
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