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Hot Rods What’s the safest way to run a fuel tank in a Hot Rod?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Fordor Ron, Jan 5, 2021.

  1. So... I’ve got the itch for building something else soon. Sold my shop and a couple cars and I’m trying to relocate to a new building in the next few weeks to start fresh again.

    I’ve been dreaming of building a new 32 Ford of some kind, maybe a Brookville car or something similar.

    I was all excited and fired up until yesterday, when out of nowhere at a red light on the feeder road of I-35 and 6th St headed north... Boom! Got rear ended in a late model Camry on an Uber ride with my 12 year old son in the car. Goofy damn lady never even touched the brakes! This is on a clear sunny day and we’re the only car at the intersection!

    And... this is the second time in about a year that it happened. Last time was in our 66 Chevrolet C10 pick up I’ve had since high school and my son was with me then too. If I would have been in either of my previous 32 sedans we would have been in big trouble. I don’t want to think of what could have happened with 11 gallons of super unleaded hanging out the back of the car with that kind of impact.

    What do y’all think is the safest way to run a fuel tank in a Hot Rod these days? Don’t they make foam filled fuel cells for racing or something similar? Could you run one of those bolted down in the trunk with maybe the factory 32 tank capped off as a dummy tank?

    I don’t want to see if 3rd times the charm with him in the car. Thoughts?

    Thanks in advance and Happy New Year!

    -Ron

    B1CED48A-4BEE-4818-A2D2-9269AB91DED1.jpeg 3C839C62-D2CE-4960-A7E2-5E416B5FEA1E.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2021
  2. 41rodderz
    Joined: Sep 27, 2010
    Posts: 5,419

    41rodderz
    Member
    from Oregon

    Sure there are all different shape/sizes of racing fuel cells out there. My first hamb friendly hot rod had a tank up against rear seat wall. Left space for a collision and still could carry extras.
     
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  3. 41rodderz
    Joined: Sep 27, 2010
    Posts: 5,419

    41rodderz
    Member
    from Oregon

    Glad you both are okay.
     
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  4. gnichols
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 10,989

    gnichols
    Member
    from Tampa, FL

    IMHO, the fuel tank should be in the back of the car, behind the rear axle and as low as possible. AND have a well built firewall between the cabin and the trunk area. I also hope to have a protective tube frame around my tank (and rear clip to a roll bar) whenever my mythical Model A build begins. I doubt an old steel Ford would hold up well when rear-ended by a modern car let alone anything larger, so the plan would be to put the explosive stuff in a protected area and try to prevent the spread of fuel or flames into where I'm sitting. A bladder type fuel cell would be nice to have, too. I've never been a fan of mounting the tank above and ahead of the rear axle at the back of the trunk, which is just a few feet from the seats.
     
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  5. Tow Truck Tom
    Joined: Jul 3, 2018
    Posts: 141

    Tow Truck Tom
    Member
    from Clayton DE

    Just a thought, when I was driving school bus I found the tank to be caged in heavy wall tubing.
    With space being a premium it would be challenge to fit in a rod. Security is a comfort tho.
     
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  6. I would look at the roundy round race car fuel cells, they have a bladder in them to survive crashes, plus they are flat on the bottom.
     
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  7. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 29,544

    Mr48chev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    It's a bit of damned if I do, damned if I don't. The fuel cell and a hole free steel firewall between it and the passenger compartment is probably the safest. Maybe it's time to try to convince some of the fuel cell makers to build some with a shape that is more hot rod friendly and sits up like the longer rectangular ones do.
    Searching shows that this one is 30x12x12 and 19 gallons. That's about the size of my aluminum tank under my 48. Rhodes Race Cars 18-2191-SU: 19 Gallon Street Series Fuel Cell w/0-90 Ohm Sending Unit | JEGS

    30 x 7 x 17 on this one RCI Racing 2171AD RCI Aluminum Fuel Cells | Summit Racing
     
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  8. In my area there are towns where i would swear everyone is a distracted driver. When i pass through i am constantly looking in the rear view and pumping the brakes at the stop light.
    I would think that in the middle if the frame with a bladder would be the safest location.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
  9. Dave G in Gansevoort
    Joined: Mar 28, 2019
    Posts: 596

    Dave G in Gansevoort
    Member
    from Upstate NY

    ATL and Fuelsafe will both make custom bladders to fit whatever fuel tank. I cannot imagine it's low cost, but safety: what price do you want to put on loved ones?

    You should look at their websites and see if they can do something for you.
     
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  10. Torana68
    Joined: Jan 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,258

    Torana68
    Member
    from Australia

    foam filled or bladder tank, auto fire extinguishing system (some look neat with a polished tank) . The extinguisher system is probably easiest, couple of different types around. Look up "Blazecut" for something really basic. Foam filling stops fuel spraying everywhere but wont stop a fire, Bladder is probably the safest fuel cell type.
     
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  11. I’m interested in hearing about the bladder cell deal. Is it a separate type of tank or is it something that would go in a stock 32 tank to make it safer?

    Thanks for the concerns and reply’s.
     
  12. gene-koning
    Joined: Oct 28, 2016
    Posts: 2,417

    gene-koning
    Member

    A bladder is a rubber container the fuel goes into, the foam fill (picture something that looks like seat foam) is an option. Then a steel casing (often between 18 and 14 gauge sheet metal) is built to fit around the outside of the rubber bladder. Even if the steel casing is smashed, the bladder keeps the fuel from being dumped onto the ground. The optional foam filler adds support to the bladder. There are better odds of splitting a full bladder then one 1/2 full that can crush a bit.

    Even with a bladder fuel sell with the foam inside, a puncture or tear can still dump the fuel on the ground. Most non-drag racing organizations (NASCAR, Formulae 1, Indy cars) require a bladder style fuel cell, but as seen in the last few years, fire still happens.

    You could probably get a bladder that can be installed into a 32 tank, but that 32 tank will need a pretty big hole, or would be cut in 1/2 and the two 1/2s bolted together to insert the bladder into the steel casing. Most bladder fuel cells have a bolt on cover for the steel casing. Gene
     
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  13. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 1,710

    lostone
    Member
    from kansas

    ^^^^^ in this case I would make a bolt in access panel in the bottom of the 32 tank, this way you'd never see it from the top....
     
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  14. gene-koning
    Joined: Oct 28, 2016
    Posts: 2,417

    gene-koning
    Member

    OH yea, the safest place to put a fuel tank is under the floor pan, protected by a frame. Actually in front of a rear axle is probably the safest place, but that would be pretty hard to do on a 32 coupe, behind the rear axle is the next option, just add plastic sheeting between the axle and the tank so if the get crushed together, the plastic spreads the load and doesn't give you metal on metal spark causing impact.

    If you really choose to hang the tank out behind the frame like an original 32, the entire concept is pretty useless. Gene
     
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  15. Dave G in Gansevoort
    Joined: Mar 28, 2019
    Posts: 596

    Dave G in Gansevoort
    Member
    from Upstate NY

    ATL used to list cells for road racing for cars like 356 Porsches that they could fit into the stock tank, with modifications like mentioned above. An access hole cut into the tank, and a bolt on cover plate. Ballistic fabric coated with a polymer resistant to fuels.
     
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  16. The foam-filled race tanks while offering increased safety also have a limited service life. The foam can start to break down after a while and chunks can get loose to clog things up. Same thing goes for the bladders.

    There really isn't any good place to install a fuel tank on most early cars. If it's a real concern for you, I'd look at a double-wall tank.
     
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  17. I’m considering building one of those UPAC 5 window bodies but I like the look of a stock tank out back. I’d probably run one of those 12 gallon or so racing tanks securely mounted in the trunk and just raise the lid to fill it up. That and a good fire wall to seal the trunk off from the seating area should be fine I would think. I’d like to see a double wall tank though.

    Austin is not the quirky little big town we all used to love anymore. Traffic is nuts here now and I guarantee you that lady was screwing with her phone when she hit us.

    Just the world we live in now I guess. It ain’t 1950 anymore.

    Sucks...
     
  18. miker98038
    Joined: Jan 24, 2011
    Posts: 606

    miker98038
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    My (reproduction body) 32 has the tank mounted right behind the seat, with a firewall between it and the passenger compartment. It's a vertical tank, 15 gallons or so, top fill from the trunk. The openings thru the aft firewall are sealed with the UL listed fireproofing caulk we used for wall penetrations in electrical work. It's more or less over the rear axle.
    It's not perfect, but I suspect by the time you puncture the tank I'm dead anyway from the collision.
     
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  19. lippy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2006
    Posts: 5,550

    lippy
    Member
    from Ks

    WTH?
     
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  20. I’d like to see how you mounted that just for reference. Got a pic?
     
  21. miker98038
    Joined: Jan 24, 2011
    Posts: 606

    miker98038
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Not on this computer, but the old one might have one. The car's in a different location right now, thanks to our current problem, I'm not there driving the sunshine. I'll pm you if I can find one.
     
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  22. Any other suggestions?
     
  23. rpu28
    Joined: Jan 17, 2006
    Posts: 153

    rpu28
    Member
    from Austin

    You might try moving to Georgetown. It's quite the respite after living in Austin.
     
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  24. Look at how Jaguar does it.
    They have mounted the tanks in the trunk for years and from 97-2007 at least right behind the back seat.
    The rear of the trunk is a true firewall thick steel with no holes into passenger compartment .

    I worked on a jag XJ220 with a fuel bladder and the sponges need to be replaced. Thee was a large hole in the tank you unbolted a panel and it was sponge/foam bricks that where stacked up in the tank into a fully filled amd sealed tank.
     
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  25. Oldb
    Joined: Apr 25, 2010
    Posts: 218

    Oldb
    Member

    I think you are wise to look into the most indestructable tank you can. Before I retired from public transit I ourfitted out last para transit E450 vans with no less than six amber LED lights on the rear for the four way flashers (two of those were 7"mounted high) and six red LED lights for the brakes and tail. Plus a high LED third brake light. Since they have to stop for all rail road crossings I wanted them to be as obvious as possible. Even in the sunlight you could see them a block away. We still had a couple of them rear ended. I am pretty sure cell phones were the cause. And as mentioned distracted driving is getting worse.
    B
     
  26. woodiewagon46
    Joined: Mar 14, 2013
    Posts: 1,895

    woodiewagon46
    Member
    from New York

    I can't tell you the safest place for the fuel tank, but I can tell you the worst. My Deuce roadster has a 14 gallon bomb hanging between the frame rails at the very rear of the car. My '29, Model A has 10 gallons of gas right over my legs. I must have a death wish.
     
  27. I must have one also. The Austin 7’s tank is behind the front seats. I can use it as an arm rest. :)
     
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  28. WOODEYE
    Joined: Feb 21, 2010
    Posts: 351

    WOODEYE
    Member

    These type issues were a lot simpler to deal with when you were 17 and your "little head" was doing all the thinking
     
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  29. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 6,899

    1971BB427
    Member
    from Oregon

    Just a heads up on foam filled fuel cells! The foam inside will need to be replaced about every 3 yrs. or so! And with today's gasoline it might begin to break down faster! All the major players in this industry recommend replacing it, so be prepared to do so, or you'll find yourself stranded when it plugs up your fuel filter and stops the engine.
    I run fuel cells in both of my hotords, but removed the foam before I installed them, as I didn't want the headache of messing with the foam maintenance and replacement.
     
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  30. I’ll probably pass on the foam for the reasons mentioned. I plan on leaving the stock fuel tank out back and doing something creative with it. Maybe cut an access door in it with a hinge and lock of some kind and make a trunk out of it. Or, insulate it inside and make an ice chest out of it. But, whatever I do I think having the extra steel as extra protection in the extremely unlikely event of a 3rd freaking rear crash, certainly can’t hurt.
     

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