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Old 08-26-2006, 08:18 PM   #1
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1985 32.5' Airstream 325
Murfreesboro , Tennessee
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 14
Classic MH fuel tank removal & install Procedure

Hey guys,
We recently dropped the fuel tank, serviced it, and then re-installed it. We decided to write a procedure for the next one of you who has to do it. It is basically describing how we did it and there are some pictures with it as well. We are going to post the text part on here to assist the search system. We are also attaching the word document with pictures.

I hope it helps the someone.

Mike & Josh

Airstream Forums.com
The Airstream Knowledge Sharing Forum
By: MS325 & Fish36991

Removing & Installing Fuel tank on Airstream Motorhome Classic (325)
Skill Level: 4 (Two Man Job!)
Approximate Time to Complete: 1 to 3 days depending on paint & drying time

Tools and Equipment needed:
40 gallon tub (bought at farm supply store) $30.00 (Fig. 1)
(2) 1 gallon tin tubs (bought at farm supply store) $4.00 each (Fig. 1)
Shop Creeper $40.00 at AutoZone (Fig. 1)
3/8” & ½” Socket sets
Glass Jar
Multimeter
Funnel
5 Gallon fuel cans to transfer fuel in tank to
Impact Gun & Compressor
(2) Floor Jacks for easy install (1 for the brave souls)
Zip Ties
Self-Tapping Screws
Any Fuel lines needing to be replaced
Cable brackets sold at Home Depot or Lowes for holding cable bundles



Instructions:

Removing Fuel and tank:
  • Break loose the drain plug on tank using 3/8” Ratchet with extension.
  • Loosen plug until fuel starts to drip from tank with one gallon tin under it.
  • Completely remove plug and allow it to fall into the 1 gallon tin. (Fig. 2)
Move 40 gallon tub under drain and let fuel drain completely. If you have more than 40 gallons in your tank, you will need more than one tub so plan accordingly. (Fig. 3)
  • After tank is completely drained, re-install drain plug.
  • Remove the bolt holding the center strap using a ½” ratchet (use impact gun if possible, this will save a lot of work). AutoZone has a cheap pneumatic set for $80 with many other tools which worked great for us. We used 9/16” sockets.
  • Place floor jack under tank, placing it directly under center support bracket on tank.
  • Remove the hose clamps on both the filler and over-flow hoses located on the driver side of the tank and remove the hoses from tank. Tip: ¼” ratchet wrench really helps for some of the hard to reach hose clamps.
  • With jack supporting the weight of the empty tank, begin to loosen the remaining two support straps under the tank. Crib the tank if needed.
  • Completely remove the remaining two straps and the jack (and cribbing) should hold the entire weight of the tank.
  • Begin to SLOWLY lower the tank. You will probably have to tilt the tank toward the passenger side to clear the filler & overflow nipples on the driver side of the tank. This slight angle will allow the nipples to clear the frame but it will make the tank unstable.
  • With the tank angled and slightly lowered, you want to remove the four hoses attached at the top of the tank as well as the chassis ground and fuel sender wire. These four hoses are the main fuel feed to motor, fuel return to the tank from engine, generator feed hose and the vent hose to rear of MH.
  • With all hoses removed, continue to gently lower tank until it is free from MH.
  • Roll tank out from under MH. It is easier to slightly turn the rear of the tank toward the passenger side of the MH to clear the trailer hitch. This will prevent you from hitting the fuel sender unit and outlets on anything. The tank should now be completely free and away from the MH. (Fig. 4)
    • Transfer all fuel from large 40 gallon tub to 5 gallon gas cans using glass jar and a funnel. (I’m sure there is a better way to do this but this is how we did it.
Servicing the Tank:
    • Inspect the tank thoroughly for any damage such as failing welds, punctures or severe rust.
    • Also inspect the outlets (nipples out to the hoses) from the sender unit.
    • Remove and replace failing fuel sender unit. If the sender unit has been working correctly, consider possible replacement while tank is removed.
    • Cover all opening in tank with tape to prevent any debris or water from entering the tank.
    • Pressure wash the tank where possible without spraying water into the tank. (Fig. 4)
    • Sand entire tank and apply anti-rust primer as well as repaint.
    • Install fuel sender unit with new rubber gasket. Verify the float will be positioned so it will be able to raise completely when tank is full. Also make sure the outlet nipples are facing towards the rear of the tank to prevent from being pinched when tank is re-installed in MH.
    • Label outlet nipples with chalk on top of tank to ensure proper connection of hoses. (Fig. 5 and Fig. 5.1)
    Replacing and Securing the hoses for tank Installation:
    • Replace any fuel line back to the MH hard lines that has cracking or failure. This could amount to the four fuel lines as listed above.
    • Verify the low resistance of any ground cables connected to the tank with a multimeter.
    • Once cables have been inspected or replaced, bundle them neatly with zip ties and also include the sender unit wire or ground wire respectively.
    • Drill pilot hole in each of beams above the ends of the wooden support slats.
    • Wrap the cable bands around the fuel lines and secure into the pilot holes using the self tapping screws.
    • Before tightening the screws completely, verify the fuel lines are running along the frame rails and above the wooden slats. This will allow the tank to be raised without pinching the fuel lines. (Fig.6)
    Re-Install the Fuel Tank:
      • Place all needed tools near the rear of the MH. Put them as close as possible without being in the way. This is handy when lifting and needing a tool instantly.
      • Place the tank on a piece of thin plywood or on a large piece of cardboard.
      • Position the tank behind the MH angled slightly (same as removing) to ensure the fuel sending unit clears the MH safely.
      • Gently slide the tank between the support bands until it is close to the correct orientation under the MH.
    • Have one man lift the rear of the tank and have the other slide one floor jack under the center support bracket on the tank. Slide the jack as far under the tank as possible from the passenger side of the MH. (Fig. 7)
      • Begin to jack the tank up and it should tilt towards the passenger side from being off center on the jack. The jack should cradle the tank with the driver side higher than the passenger. This will allow you to angle the tank to clear the fill & overflow nipples to clear the frame.
      • Connect the fuel overflow hose and route through the correct hole in the frame on the driver side of the MH.
      • Now raise the tank high enough for the fill & overflow nipples to clear the frame and roll the jack toward the driver side of the MH. The nipples will now be close to their thru hole in the frame.
      • Crib ends of the tank with wood to prevent the tank from falling.
      • Cut all fuel lines to the appropriate length so they will coil neatly between the wooden slats when tank is raised into place.
      • Connect all fuel lines, ground cable, and fuel sender wire.
      • Place the second floor jack under the tank near the passenger edge of the tank. Place wood between jack and tank to protect the tank.
      • Raise second floor jack and the tank should begin to level out. Continue to crib up both ends of the tank as it gets higher.
      • Once the tank is leveled out, use both jacks to ease the tank into the correct location. (Fig. 8)
        • Connect the rear most band (or which ever band is easiest but do not completely tighten the band bolt)
        • With the connected band holding one end of the tank, reposition the jacks to allow you to connect the remaining two bands.
        • Verify the location of tank and adjust accordingly with the tank loosely hanging in the bands.
        • Tighten all bands using the impact gun and ratchets.
        • Fuel system should now be complete and ready to be filled and reprimed.
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Old 08-26-2006, 08:23 PM   #2
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1985 32.5' Airstream 325
Murfreesboro , Tennessee
Join Date: Aug 2006
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Last Picture

The last picture didn't stick so I'm reposting it.

Mike & Josh
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Old 08-26-2006, 08:26 PM   #3
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Louisville , Kentucky
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Nice post! Great to read and "see" this procedure. I almost hate to ask this question now...but did you do anything to clean out the inside of the tank or seal it?
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Old 08-26-2006, 08:49 PM   #4
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1985 32.5' Airstream 325
Murfreesboro , Tennessee
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Steven,
We just checked it out with a flashlight and mirror. It had absolutely no damage or rust on the inside. The entire inside of the tank (that we could see) was shiny and clean. When we drained the fuel, it was still very clean with no noticable sediment.

For future reference or for anyone else reading this. What could/should we have done to clean and seal the inside of the tank?

Mike
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Old 08-26-2006, 10:13 PM   #5
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A few MoHo owners have had problems with sediment in the tank clogging filters. I would suspect you might use a tank sealer made for this application.

Again - great guide. I wish I took the time to document some of the repairs I've made. It's certainly nice to "see" how it's done.

Keep em coming.

Also - your lower paint looks fantastic. Did you respray this recently? Mine is failing all over the place and I'm debating respraying only the plastic parts.
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Old 08-27-2006, 06:45 AM   #6
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Nice post! When servicing the sender unit did you notice a "sock filter" at the fuel pickup? This item is critical to keep fuel debris out of filters and the carb.
Also I'm certain most would agree with me that preplanning is key. Running the tank down to a bare minimum of fuel sure makes all that fuel handling easier. 40 gals. of fuel is quite a bit to move even in a poly tub like you used... that stuff is heavy.
And one thing that really goes without saying....When working around flamables please, please, keep a fire extinquisher handy. That spark from dropping a wrench is more likely to start the whole thing glowing than some fool coming up to see what you're doing....all the while puffing on a fuse!
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Old 08-27-2006, 07:40 AM   #7
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1985 32.5' Airstream 325
Murfreesboro , Tennessee
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Steven,
We took plenty of other pics during the fuel sender rebuild because we couldn't find a new 90 ohm, three outlet, very narrow & deep pickup. We bought a universal from Napa and used the guts to make a new 250 ohm sender unit using the old pickup. The gauge will have to be changed to a more modern one but we'll not have to worry with it anymore. A matching gauge came with the universal. We'll be making another procedure for anyone who wants to repeat what we did. It was alot of work figuring out how to 'rebuild' the old one but will be pretty quick with a nice guide.

We never really considered a sealer because the removed fuel was so clean as well as how nice the inside of the tank looked. I agree that would be smart to do even as preventive maintenance for anyone else.

The lower paint was resprayed by the second owner about 6 years ago and the platicoat was resprayed as well.

Glen,
Thanks for the positive feedback. We did not have a sock filter on it and we did not put one on it. There are two inline filters along the frame rail and one in the carb.

Also, the previous owner also put in an inline fuel pump & filter. He also made put in a bypass valve too much of the fuel from spilling out when changing the filter. If anyone would like pictures or diagrams of this, we can provide them as well. We'll try to go ahead and make up the diagrams, procedures and pics in the next few days and get them posted.

Thanks all,

Mike & Josh
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Old 10-06-2009, 07:08 PM   #8
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1987 34.5' Airstream 345
Dandridge , Tennessee
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My sensor does not work. I took it in and they said it would cost $900.00 for a sensor from Chevy. They said it was a sensor plus fuel pump. What do you think?
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Old 10-06-2009, 07:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Rogers View Post
My sensor does not work. I took it in and they said it would cost $900.00 for a sensor from Chevy. They said it was a sensor plus fuel pump. What do you think?
Is it fuel injected, or carbureted?
If it's not fuel injected, I'd think it was a bit high. If it's fuel injected, I think around $450 or a tick over that would be a more realistic number. That is for the part only, right?
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Old 10-06-2009, 08:09 PM   #10
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Nice post with pics. I want to do this very thing with my Holiday Rambler. The gas tank is very similar and I'm sure the procedure is the same. Thanks for documenting the process so well. I had some intimidation about undertaking the gas tank removal but your directions has given me inspiration. Thanks.
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Old 10-07-2009, 07:33 AM   #11
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Dandridge , Tennessee
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I have the gas 454CI engine. I thought it was a really high. They said that it was a sensor and fuel pump combined. I have electric fuel pump in front of the tank. Where could I get a sensor for my tank. I also had it coated when I had it removed for all the gunk that was in it. All my filters were clogged up. Now it runs good but we have to keep track of our mileage to find out when we need gas.

Another question. I need a driver side front windshield. Do You know where I can find one and the cost?
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Old 10-08-2009, 05:50 PM   #12
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Have you considered Colaws' RV Salvage in Carthage, MO for a used one. They have hundreds of motorhomes and send parts all over the world. Just Google them.
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Old 01-29-2010, 09:37 PM   #13
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i also hav to remove my tank but the problem is that there are hydrolic levelers and the cross member goes under the tank and its welded to the frame, theres no way to drop the tank with that in the way, any ideas
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Old 10-04-2011, 01:02 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by bayliner12 View Post
i also hav to remove my tank but the problem is that there are hydrolic levelers and the cross member goes under the tank and its welded to the frame, theres no way to drop the tank with that in the way, any ideas
I also needed to drop tank to inspect but have the crossmembers for the hydraulic lifts. Decided easier to go from the top thru the floor, worked, had fuel tank almost empty by using pump to cans. Found tank in good shape, little sediment with previous owner wasting money on fuel fillers trying to solve fuel shutdown problem. Measure twice cut once, found center of tank was 3 inches in front of under bed cabinet, could lift carpet, drilled pilot hole to double check for obstructions then cut 5x6 hole, could have been larger for easier access.
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