Gunners Garage

Fuel For Thought

Bolting the new fuel tank into the car seemed like it was impossible until we thought about why the bolts weren’t grabbing.

Bolting the new fuel tank into the car seemed like it was impossible until we thought about why the bolts weren’t grabbing.


It was frustrating. A day earlier we had the brand new Triumph Spitfire gas tank all bolted on place, when we realized that there wasn’t enough room to install the “plumbing.” So, we had to remove the tank again, install the plumbing and then get the tank back into position. Easier said than done.

The job looked simple enough. There was a captive nut in the sheet metal body bracing behind each corner of the tank and one along the top. We had brand new bolts, lock washers and flat washers. And we had already had the tank all bolted in, so we knew the threads were good and the job was possible.

Somehow we got the two top corner bolts to grab and you would think that would be sufficient to position the tank properly for the rest of the bolts. But, no matter how hard we tried or how much time we spent or what tricks we tried, the bolts would not thread into the holes. We could see the holes and we knew the bolts were lined up, but every time we set them into a socket attached to the end of an 8-in. extension bar, the bolts just wouldn’t grab.

After spending the better part of an afternoon and half the next morning making unsuccessful attempts, we decided to think things out a bit more. That’s when it hit us. The bolts were only about three-quarters of an inch long and when we set them into the socket to position them, only about one-fourth-inch was sticking out of the end of the sockets. This meant the bolts were positioned correctly in the holes, but couldn’t be turned in far enough to grab the threads.

To fix this, we dug out some nuts that were small enough to drop into the sockets. We used these as spacers to make the bolts stick a bit further out of the sockets. Sure enough, the bolts grabbed the holes and threaded in place. Soon the new gas tank was firmly fastened into the car.

The moral is that sometimes it pays to put some thought into what you are having trouble doing. Cars were made to be taken apart and put back together; cars were made to fix. Sometimes, you just have to think about what you’re trying to do and figure out why it isn’t working. It is supposed to work and you just have to figure things out. That’s fuel for thought in this case.




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.