Plastic parts & gas tank questions

June 1, 2008 | By Richard Beatty


I am a recent subscriber to Auto Restorer as I am interested in restoring a 1940 Buick Super Eight. The car was running until 1972 when it was stored in a barn here in Alabama. The summers are hot and all the plastic or Bakelite in the car has crumbled.

Also, the gas tank was full of sludge, rust and shellac. I cleaned the tank as best I could and then I coated it with rust inhibitor from a kit that I ordered. This entailed about a five-step process that did not do the job as well as I had hoped. While the tank was out of the car and being treated, it was damaged. There is a large dent in the tank but it does not leak.

Is there something I can do to rebuild the plastic parts or is there a source for replacing them? Who in the United States can refurbish the gas tank? I had the carburetor rebuilt and it is like new. I probably need to do the fuel pump and install a new gas line. Where can I get help?


If your plastic parts are actually crumbling, then it is very unlikely that they can be restored. If, however, there are plastic parts that have crazing or cracks they can usually be restored to like-new condition in much the same way that body work is done. That normally entails grinding the crack into a V-shape, filling it with a suitable material such as epoxy, sanding the fill to match the contour of the part, and priming and painting it the desired color.

There is no easy source for replacement plastic parts for your Buick. The car is not super rare but it is no longer what I’d call common. Still, if you put in the time and harness resources such as eBay and other Internet sites, and make it to some of the larger swap meets, you will eventually find good used examples of many of the parts you need.

Regarding your fuel tank, if the only remaining problem is the dent there are a couple of ways to fix this. One consists of cutting a hole in the tank that’s sufficiently large to allow you to work inside to hammer the dent out. Once the dent is eliminated, you would need to weld the cut-out section back into place.

Another method entails welding rods to the dented area and then using a dent puller to grasp the rods and pull the dent out. When you finish the pulling, simply grind the welded-on rods off.

The obvious benefit of this method is that you don’t have to cut a hole in the tank but it is best accomplished with the specialized machine that spot welds the rods in place.

Yet another option is to send the tank to someone who specializes in repairing fuel tanks. For example, Moyer Fuel tank Renu ( handles that type of project.

You indicate that you’re not entirely satisfied with the rust inhibiting kit you used but don’t say why. An added benefit of sending the tank out to a restoration specialist is that the other deficiencies you allude to can likely be remedied as well. Given the decades of disuse and condition of the fuel tank you should definitely rebuild the fuel pump and replace the fuel lines and hoses. Arthur Gould (631269-0093) can restore your fuel pump to new condition. I suggest fabricating new fuel line yourself using the original one as a template. You can buy lengths of appropriate-sized line at auto parts stores.