Fabricating a Custom Gas Tank
Occasionally a vintage car project may require a custom gas tank. There are many ways to accomplish this, and even some companies that will build one to your specifications. But there are some craftsmen who would prefer to tackle a task like this on their own. This article will show one way to do this.
We will follow the process used by Don Houseman, a highly talented metalsmith who prefers using aluminum for his tanks. Aluminum has properties which make it ideal for tanks – it’s relatively lightweight, easy to form, and it will not rust. Also, many aluminum tanks are left in bare metal, and if they are well-crafted, they can become a focal detail point on the vehicle.
The vast majority of gas tanks are rectangular, which eases the fabrication and allows them to fit efficiently into most spaces. A rectangular tank has six sides – the front, back, top, and bottom, plus the left and right sides. While it’s possible to make a tank from six pieces of metal, it is far better to make the four largest parts from one piece of metal by making bends in three corners. A little time spent laying out and bending a blank for this style of construction will eliminate a great deal of welding, and make a stronger, better-looking tank.
Let’s watch Don as he builds the beautiful gas and oil tanks for his hand-built roadster. These tanks were made to fit closely behind the seats, but you can use these techniques to make a tank of virtually any size and shape, which could fit in any suitable space in a project vehicle. (Corresponding caption listed below each image)
Photos by Ron Covell