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46 Power Wagon Restoration pt. 2

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  • It's never easy. The new sender came yesterday, so I picked up some new fuel hose and crawled under the truck and modified the wiring (the new sender requires a 12V feed) and then went to screw the sender in place, they were both using the universal sender bolt pattern so that was at least simple. While trying to drain out a little more fuel to make the tank easier to install something was rattling around, so the sender came back out so I could look inside the tank which is when I noticed that the baffle in the tank had broken it's welds and fallen to the bottom of the tank. This is a stainless tank built by Chris Case, and it's very nice, but was one of his earlier tanks and one of the first diesel tanks he'd built. Regardless I'm left figuring out how I want to fix it. I don't want the baffle just laying inside the tank and it's obvious that it was doing it's job by the fact it broke loose, though from what I could see it may benefit from some modification to reduce some of the stress.

    Right now I'm thinking a "C" shaped cut along the top where the baffle goes so I can peel it back slightly and get the baffle out and probably weld on some brackets to the bottom and side of the baffle. I can plug weld those from the bottom and sides then re-weld the top closed, welding the top of the baffle to the tank as I do. It minimizes welds below the fuel line and should be strong enough if I get the brackets right. Otherwise the option is to cut the end off the tank, weld the baffle back inside and re-install the end, which is how it was built originally but that's a lot more welding of an important joint, and I'm not that confident in my welding skills.

    First I have to figure out how to clean this tank out enough to cut and weld on it.

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    • Originally posted by Desoto61 View Post

      First I have to figure out how to clean this tank out enough to cut and weld on it.
      Is it all stainless with no plastic or aluminum parts? I have a mechanic friend who has access to a hot tank parts washer (large enough he did my entire axle housings) and if you want he could probably dip the whole tank. You could actually flush it out as best as possible using acetone (should break it down pretty well) then you can fill the tank back with water to displace vapor and then cut the ends off of it, drain it, air it out, and then we can parts wash it before you put it back together? Some sequence of that maybe?
      1942 WC53 Carryall in progress.

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      • Desoto61
        Desoto61 commented
        Editing a comment
        Yes, all stainless. The acetone is a good idea, still hesitant to cut the end(s) off, need to take a look at those joints and figure out if there's a good way to do that, but mostly just reluctant to introduce a new structural weld joint relying on my TIG welding skills in thin stainless. Need to e-mail Chris and see what he recommends. Also been looking at baffle balls or tubes, which might be worth adding when I have the tank open.

    • Just don't use the foam stuff that they sell for racing applications. The injector cleaner additives have been known to break that stuff down. If they are balls, make sure they are VITON or equiv. Can you tell if Chris back-purged when he welded the tank? Thats another option actually before cutting into it. You could always purge the tank with Argon from the TIG bottle, then when you go to weld it, you can just clean locally around your access and then re-fresh the purge and weld it back. This way you don't get any "sugar" from that backside of the weld and no "burning" of fuel in the tank, only issue at that point is removal of any debris from the cutting process. Non-ferrous so magnetic catch wouldn't work... a good shop vac with a steerable snout and maybe a borescope on it it to look for any debris that may have gotten loose. My biggest fear is that my tank is going to leak or crack at some point being aluminum and I'll have a huge mess to contend with.
      1942 WC53 Carryall in progress.

      Comment


      • Desoto61
        Desoto61 commented
        Editing a comment
        I've seen the issues with foam quite a lot, most of the stuff I've seen is HDPE. Cleaning should be fairly easy once I get the tank opened enough to remove the original baffle. If I can break down and get much of the diesel out with acetone or similar, flushing with soap/water becomes doable, that mix of water/diesel/soap however isn't something I wanted to have to dispose of, acetone is (ironically) easier. The purge gas thing occurred to me too, not sure if it was done originally, have to look/ask.
        Yes, that's why I'd like to leave the ends intact, they've been holding up against the weight so far, why compromise it. If I used baffle tubes/balls the only real reason to re-install the baffle would be for structural support.
        Yes, you don't realize how much 40-gallons of fuel is till you're trying to drain it out of the tank (I had almost 20 in the tank), every time I spill a little it seems to make a huge mess.

    • Many transmission shops have those stand up parts washing units large enough to fit that tank as well, It may be worth a shot to give one of those guys a call if you have one nearby.

      I had to drain the fuel tank on my tractor last weekend due to algae build up inside the tank. I used cheap lacquer thinner to clean out the inside of it and it seemed to work well.
      1967 W200.aka.Hank
      1946 WDX.aka.Shorty
      2012 Ram 2500 PowerWagon.aka Ollie

      Life is easier in a lower gear.

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      • I had left the tank sitting over a bucket on end to let any residual fuel drip out for a day or so. Last night I went home and set up a set of sawhorses outside between rain showers (it's been really wet on the east coast this week), added some acetone to the tank and rolled it around to try and get to all the different sides then poured it out. Then took my air hose and blew blew air into the tank for a few minutes to purge a lot of the gasses from the acetone.

        I then put a few gallons of water into the tank with some purple power and did the tank dance again before pouring that out. I put some more water into the tank, put the air hose back into the tank and then got all protected and took the cutoff wheel to the top of the tank and cut about an 8 or 10" slice down the middle of the middle top of the tank. After letting all the water drain out it became a fiddly task of trying to extract the baffle through the slot. A pair of Crescent X2 Long Reach pliers and a few other hand tools allowed me to open up the cut and grab and manipulate the baffle into a position to remove it through the opening. It was not well attached to the tank looking at the weld spots, and not surprising it broke loose (I have some pics but still on the camera).

        I've been waffling about what I wanted to do in the tank. Chris doesn't put baffles in his tank any more and obviously I haven't had a working baffle in mine for who knows how long, but being a long tank without a sump I was concerned about fuel sloshing away from the pickup when the tank level gets low considering how badly diesel's like sucking air. I had looked into baffle balls or similar systems that basically fill the tank with shapes that help to prevent fuel movement. I wondered if I could build some sort of smaller baffle that installed on the suction tube that would fit through the tube opening. There are also aftermarket tank sumps that can be bolted to the bottom of any tank that I considered but there's concerns about clearance with my skid plate and it introduces a potential leak point as well as messing with my fuel line routing.

        What I ended up deciding is to use these Walbro pickups. I ordered three, two pass-through and one dead end and some submersion rated hose. I'll use some hard line and the hose to string these into a line off the stock pickup tube on the driver's side of the tank to the passenger side which should keep at least one of them in fuel regardless of how the truck is oriented. I'll leave the cut open for now in case I need the opening to to install these pickups once they come, then I'll need to figure out how to close up the cut line.
        Last edited by Desoto61; 07-31-2018, 05:06 AM. Reason: Added photo.

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        • Got the Walbro pickups, submersion rated fuel hose, and clamps Saturday. Used some stainless tubing to connect the three pucks together and then snaked them into the tank through the access cut. If I ever need to go back in there I'm going to get some flanges cut and install an access hatch, or just build a new tank as I have some ideas should I ever do it again. They are nifty little gadgets, we'll see how well they work. It was a little tricky to get them into the tank, and then they had to be connected to the original pickup tube through the opening. There was a lot of fiddling to get everything adjusted and settled correctly but it seems to have worked out like I wanted with a string of pickups from one side of the tank to the other. The stainless tubing not only saves on the rubber line (it's $20/foot!) but helps keep everything in place and give it some weight, but the rubber tube does let the pickups move a bit which isn't bad as they should also be able to move back and forward with the fuel.

          To weld the cut line back up I first opened it up a bit and then used a piece of stainless bar stock I had from my exhaust as a filler piece that fit in the cut. This gave me a sacrificial edge while I was welding as well as a heat sink to prevent warping of the tank. I went slow and welded in small sections giving time to cool off and overall it went well. Then installed the new sending unit and worked on getting it back under the truck. After getting everything hooked up I put back the fuel I drained out, primed the system which was quick, and fired it up. Fuel pressure was fine and she ran well, even better I have some idea of how much fuel is actually in the tank. I'll need to fill the tank to do a final calibration, but it's a lot better than it was.

          Then it was time to re-install the skid plate, however it has been rubbing against the rear axle so that also needed to be fixed. Like the tank it started simple and then got a little more complex, luckily not nearly as time consuming. Worst part was test fitting it to make sure it wasn't hitting the tank before welding it solid, it's not a light part. Didn't get a photo of it finished, but got everything back together, tightened down and we'll see how it all holds up for the next 1000+ miles.

          Next is to start building my running boards.

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          • Last major external job is to build and install the running boards. In keeping with the rest of the truck, I'm going to build out my own setup for them, and of course it will be overkill. First was brackets, I took a bunch of measurements and drew up a set of brackets. The bit of body lift probably made them simpler than the factory brackets, so I could get away with a fairly simple triangle shaped gusset that I got Alex to cut on his plasma table. The goal is to use 1-1/2" square tubing to form a frame that will mount a piece of diamond plate.

            To form the brackets around the tubing and make sure I had a snug fit I built a jig consisting of some scrap plate steel and a piece of the square tubing. Using the shop press I could bolt the flat bracket to the bar and bend the bracket around it. After removing I could finalize the corners with a little work in the vice or a couple of whacks with a BFH. Final result nicely fits around the tubing and bolted up perfectly to the frame holes.

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            • Well round one was a draw. Got the extension bars cut and drilled, bolted them in place and started laying out the cross bar out of the same 11 ga. square tubing for a bit of body protection if I ever get to take it off road. Tacked everything in place, pulled it off and welded up the main section, then used some thinner 16 ga. square stock to add a little more support for the eventual top plate. Went to bolt it back under the truck and it doesn't want to go back in as nice as it came out, doesn't help that it's big and awkward. While trying to see why it doesn't fit back where it came from it managed to swing down and whack me in the face, have a nice little scratch to prove it but luckily nothing seriously hurt other than my pride. I did get a bolt or two in place but it still doesn't want to line up again which is frustrating, and at that point I called it a draw and gave up for the night. Think I have a plan forward for that side and will have to tweak the process on the other side, hopefully the blood sacrifice to the Power Wagon gods will help too.

              39332594_1931140263613042_1829225373070524416_o.jpg
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              39441436_1931140403613028_6462438373175853056_o.jpg
              Last edited by Desoto61; 08-17-2018, 04:38 AM. Reason: Added photos

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              • Is there enough room in your brackets to oversize the holes a little more? Maybe a ratchet strap to "Convince" it into place? Maybe step down hardware size in the spots that it won't fit? I had to do that in one location of my running board to frame brackets on the WC.
                1942 WC53 Carryall in progress.

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                • The solution ended up being to loosen up the brackets on the frame which gave them the wiggle room to get the bolts in, problem there was that it was tricky to get at the bolt heads to tighten them back up, but it ultimately worked. On the passenger side I didn't try to make everything square, I just adjusted the cut lines to the angles they wanted to take so I wasn't fighting the frame, took a little longer but the assembly came out much easier, we'll see how it goes back in.

                  Next step will be to get some diamond plate bent up. I'll probably look for some urethane material to put between the two for a bit of flex and isolation like on the rest of the body (and the factory setup) but not certain if I need to. I'll eventually get everything blasted, primed, and have more bed liner sprayed on, only downside is the shop I used for the bed is closing, so will have to go somewhere else when the time comes.

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                  • Had the local sheet-metal shop cut and bend up some diamond plate for me to go over the frames. They're not quite a simple Z shape in there is a bit of an angle at the front on the upper lip to keep the lip underneath the cab as it narrows. It was not fun to install as they are tight, had a few minor interference's and I'm working on a painted truck, so even with some tape and care I added a couple of "character marks" to the truck. They also showed that the truck isn't quite symmetric as the fit is difference from one side to the other, but the spare helps to hide the worst of it. I need to work out some sort of transition to the mounting holes in the rear fenders, with the heavy frame I don't need the support between the fender and running board but need to do something with the bolt holes. As an aside I found the easiest way for me to make the square holes for the carriage bolts is using an air operated body saw to notch the corners.

                    Eventually I'll have them blasted, primed, and sprayed with bed liner, but time and money are not there right now. I also have some other minor tasks to do before that in that I have a few lights I want to install on and under the running boards that will tie to the dome light for some courtesy lighting. At this point they are bolted directly to the tube frame, we'll see how that does or if I want/need to install some sort of insulation between the two.

                    At the end of the day they're definitely sturdy, will keep a lot of trash from kicking up off the tires (hadn't realized how much protection they provided to the body) and of course make getting into and out of the beast quite a bit easier though they're still quite a step up/down. I might want some running boards on my running boards!

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                    • Those look quite stout and certainly like they came with the truck! Good work man! You could always get super fancy and add the power step running boards that legacy puts on some of their trucks.
                      1942 WC53 Carryall in progress.

                      Comment


                      • Desoto61
                        Desoto61 commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Thanks. Yes, I had already been eyeing a set of those to try and keep the ground clearance but get some convenience. The wife didn't seem too concerned about it though, was just glad to have something that made getting into the truck in a skirt easier/less revealing.

                    • Quiet here, so I'll add some content. I've never been real happy with the Optima battery in the Power Wagon, it's always struggled even though it's a red-top starting battery pushing through 1/0 gauge cables. Fully charged it would start OK, but after sitting for a week it seemed like the alarm would often drain it enough it would struggle without a re-charge. Naturally the local auto parts store I bought it from would say it checked out OK with their little box, but the capacity just wasn't there. I've rebuilt the starter and checked all the connections and that helped, but it would still struggle especially if it had sat for more than a week. So over the weekend I swapped it out for a regular group 65 size AGM battery.

                      This meant building a new battery mount, which was simply a piece of 1/2" bar stock and some all-thread. Didn't grab any photos during the process, but not much to see. Only downside was the Optima had both posts and screw terminals, and I used the posts for the main feed and the screw terminals to connect the cables for my jump start quick-connect, so had to do some re-wiring to get everything attached to the posts but the HD military style terminals I used make that fairly easy, it's just not as clean as it was. Rather than blast and paint the support bar I cheated and encased it in some large heat shrink tubing I had.

                      So far she starts a LOT better, but time will tell how this one holds up, I've had good luck with the Advanced Auto AGM batteries. The ratings between the two batteries are similar the Group 65 is larger with more capacity but slightly lower cranking amps. They're also cheaper than the Optima batteries though not by a lot.

                      Of course nothing is perfect, I re-used the one mounting hole for the new hold-down, but had to drill a new hole for the second one, which just happened to be right next to where I had welded a stud on the underside of the bed for a grounding cable between the bed and the frame. It worked with a little tweaking but of all the space on the underside of the bed I couldn't have done that if I had wanted too.

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