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1968 GTX - work in progress

Long term, slow-assed project to resurrect a former "field find".

About this Mopar:

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This non-numbers matching 1968 Plymouth GTX was picked out of a field behind a barn in rural SW Virginia several years ago.
At this point, I am the 2nd owner since the resurrection began, picking up over 5 years ago when the former owner passed.
Between now and then, life has interrupted work on the car several times, including my 3 bouts with cancer and three other terminal situations I've survived.
Too much money spent, but here we are...thankful both the car and myself have survived!

Work in progress on both counts...
we ain't done yet. :)

The bodywork was done before I bought it. All the floors, both rear quarters, rear valance, etc. were all rotted out and were replaced with new.
The paint is not a factory color as far as I know; thankfully, I do have the mix codes for it.
I have done basically everything mechanical and electrical on it, including sorting out some of what the former owner did wrong. :)
Eh, that's all right. He saved the car, I can wrench on it I reckon.

The car was originally an automatic/column shift 3.23 open rear car; it's now a 4-speed with 3.55 489 SureGrip.
440 is not original to the car; in fact, this is the 2nd engine I've transplanted in it by myself.
When I say pretty much everything mechanical and electrical is new or rebuilt, it's not an understatement - I've
been through the whole car more than once, replacing part after part.
Interior is all new, too.
Fixing all the instrument panel items was a ton of fun. Not.

Still working on it....but she's a functional car finally. :)

Updated 6-6-16:
Some pics of when the car was first "rescued" in 2006:
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Updated 6-9-16:
Bodywork getting done in 2006:
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Update 6-10-16:
Had her down to the local Cruise-In downtown. They cordon off Main Street and all pre-1980 cars are invited.
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Update 6-14-16:
Rusty floorpans? Oh yeah, she had them. (Check out how shiny the supports underneath the pans were, though!)
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Update 6-21-16:
A few more pics of the whole resurrection process, this time showing new trunk floor and such as done in 2007.
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Update 6-25-16:
Took her out on her first longer distance drive today to the East Tennessee Mopars show at Chilhowee Park in Knoxville, TN.
It was hot, got up into the middle 90's. She did great and ran 185*, tickled 190* a couple times. Drank gas like a sailor. :D
She got a lot of attention at the show. I think she's graduated from "project" to "car" now. Big day for her:
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Update 7-2-16:
Got the plum spot at last nights' Cruise-In. That's our county courthouse in the background, the oldest in Tennessee:
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Update 7-4-16:
Get 'em out and drive 'em! Participated in our local towns' 4th of July parade today.
No, a 440 4-speed isn't the optimum parade vehicle, but she did fine. Me, on the other hand...I'm walking kinda funny now:
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Update 7-24-16:
Yes, she is a real GTX. No clone here:
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Sequence Number: 184118
Shipping Order: C01 121xx4
Car Line: (RS) GTX
Body Type: (23) 2 door hardtop
Engine: (L) 440 4bbl 375hp
Model Year: (8) 1968
Plant: (A) Lynch Road, Michigan
Sequential Number: 180463
Paint: (MM1) Turbine Bronze Metallic
UDF: (B) (Upper Door Frame Color) Black
STP: (1) (stripe) Yes - black horiz.
Trim: (S6X) Black interior
Engine: (83) 440 Super Commando (375hp)
Transmission: (395) Torqueflite 727
Axle: (404) 3.23:1 final gear ratio
A/C - Heat: (415) Standard heater/defrost
Radio: (422) radio am golden tone
Tires: (44) f70x14 rsw (redlines)
Brakes: (478) 11in HD brakes
Dual horns: (480) yes
Console Ctr. Seat: (485)center front seat w/fold arm rest
Cigar Lighter: (487) yes
Floor Mats/Carpets: (503) carpeting
Glove Box Lock: (509) yes
Map & Courtesy: (511) light map covering
Ign Lamp w/Time Delay: (512) yes
Glove Box Light: (514) yes
Ash Receiver: (515) ash tray light
Trunk: (516) trunk light
Turn Ind. Fndr/Hood: (517) fender mount turn signals
Tinted or Clear Glass: (522) tinted windshield only
Mirror OS Left Remote: (536) remote/con outside left mirror
Wide Sill: (529) custom sill moldings
Drip or Applique: (535) roof drip rail moldings
Wheel Lip: (548) wheel lip moldings
Deluxe Seat Belts: (550) Del seat belts front & rear
50/50 Bench or Bucket: (564) bucket seat w/o headrest
Rear A/Rest & Ashtray: (565) armrests with ashtrays
Hub-caps or Wheel Covers: (583) bolt/on design wheel cover
Windshield Wiper Opt.: (589) 3 speed windshield wipers
H.D. Battery: (626) battery 70 amps
H.D. Susp. w/wo sway bar: (624) HD suspension with sway bar
Fleet Items: (647) heavy duty 14" wheels
Handling Pkg. - Police: (648) HEMI suspension police HD pkg.
Vac. Fit: (27) none
Sway Bar: (5)
Radiator: (45) 22" radiator 2896045
Engine: (735)
Trans.: (541)
Axle: (242)
Pinion: (32)
Wheel: (16B) Steel Wheels painted black
Wheel Covers: (73)
Prop Shaft: (61)
Torsion Bar Left: (781) Right: (780)
Rear Springs: Left (795) Right: (965)
Clutch and Brake Bracket: (41)
Front Brake: (5)
Shocks: Front (32) Rear (95)
Battery: (69)
Steering Column: (31X) black
Steering Wheel & Horn Ring: (12X) black
Stub Frame: (15)
Engine Fan: (02)
Engine Fan Spacer: (32)
Radiator Inlet Hose: (01)
Radiator Outlet Hose: (31)
Carburetor: (38)
Carb Choke: (45)
Cap Idle Label: (42) Emission label big block automatic

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Updated 8-2-16:
Mystery motor 440 makes "interesting" sounds at times. #mariachiband
Let's put a proper mechanical oil pressure gauge on her. Russell braided line
fed from good old pipe nipple & fitting out the back of the engine:
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Moved the existing electric temperature gauge over to in between the ash tray and the vent cable, then mounted the mechanical oil pressure gauge next to it:
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For kicks, installed a fuel pressure gauge on the fuel rail underhood too:
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Hey, I know this stuff ain't much to you seasoned veterans, but it's all progress to me. :)

Update 10/15/16:
Annual Heritage Days Cruise-In in our hometown. Yes, I was foolish enough to take the GTX to another parade. No, big block 4-speeds aren't fun to drive in parades.
Didn't matter, had fun anyways:
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We wound up at the end of the parade parking in our historic downtown for a bit of a car show afterwards. LOTS of cars for this one, including this shocker that I'd never seen before:
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Yep, that's a real '71 Super Bee. A damn nice one at that.
Spoke to the owner briefly, who said the car has been "local" for several years but that he personally had just gotten back to town after being out in the Midwest running combines.
Said this day was the first time the car had been started in two years!
Car sounded appropriately nasty (good nasty).

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A local photog took this shot as we rolled through downtown. I asked him why the shot was so blurry and he said "because your car is fast even at 2mph."
*snicker*
It's not really. :)


8-11-17 UPDATE:
Well, the GTX and myself made it back out amongst the public at the local cruise-in this evening.
Long time coming....
Engine, transmission, clutch, flywheel, entire cooling system - you name it, she's gotten it in the last several months.
Docs have done a little more work to my internals as well. :)
The goal was to "finish" the GTX before I was finished.
We made it. :)
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Of course, the GTX looks a lot better than me....

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She's ridiculous loud with that stupid 3" dual exhaust the previous owner put on her, but it's in such great shape I can't just cut it out of there.
Bottom line - she drives as nice as any healthy 440 4-speed b-body, given the manual steering and manual drum brakes.
A real Schwartzenegger car.
Just the way I like it. :)

Quick Update 8-27-17:
Well, so far so good. I have a little more tuning to do with carb and timing and such, but she's pretty close.
This Centerforce Dual Friction clutch is just plain weird, man. :) I think I like it, but it's such an on-off switch sort of deal...
Cooling system continues to do the job and now I can tinker with stuff like getting a radio and antenna on her.
Saturday, I decided to take her to a local show in the city park for the local cancer support group:
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Over 100 cars there, lots of them really nice. That's my friends' all original Plymouth Fury with a 400 that his mother bought new!
The show was for a worthy cause (Hawkins County Cancer Support Group) and I found the irony of that situation very rich indeed (since I live in this county and am a 3-time cancer survivor now). :)
When one of my friends informed the organizers of this, they immediately sprang into "he needs help!" mode, but I just waved them off.
I explained to them that the six figure loan I have been paying off at the bank took care of what I needed and that I was blessed to be able to still work in order to do so - there's plenty of folks who aren't, after all.
So this cancer survivor instead donated all manner for entry fees, tee shirts, food, heck anything that was for sale there that they were raising funds with.
I'm fine with that. :)
The GTX also seemed to sense the special nature of this particular show and was (in my imagination, at least) showing off a little more than usual herself, it seemed like. Lots of nice folks stopped by to pay her compliments and ask questions and relate stories and some even voted for her for "people's choice".
She behaved herself perfectly and absolutely glowed in the sunshine that day, flaws and all.
When another friend stopped by and asked if I knew what charity the show benefitted, I had to turn my head for a moment and collect myself.
When I finally turned back to face him again, he saw the look in my eyes and said "yeah, you know. Stupid question, sorry."
I corrected him and said "heck no, my friend, it's ALL good this Saturday." :)

Any day above dirt....

Update 10-21-17:
I sort of felt up to it and the weather will be turning colder soon, so we decided to attend a little local show benefitting St. Judes.
Temperature this morning was a brisk 42F - and the GTX has no choke or heater hoses.
What the heck, did it anyways. Turned out fine. Apparently a 440 with headers and 3" duals keeps a cabin fairly warm. :)
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The wife decided to take a pic as well. Here we find the species "largemouth ***" in his native habitat:
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All in all, it was very enjoyable and the weather was beautiful. Heck, we even won a recliner in the raffle. :)
My health hung in there long enough to enjoy the day and many great stories were swapped.
The GTX (I gotta come up with a name for her, I reckon) did great also and got many votes in the ballot box, too.
I'm truly blessed to have lived thus far to see little victories like today.
I do NOT take these for granted. Lord knows how many I have left.

UPDATE 6-20-18:
It's well into the 90's here and oppressively humid to boot, so what the heck - let's work on the GTX some more!
Today's project was to (finally) open up the radiator support from the original 22" to 26" the old fashioned way - with an angle grinder. :)
I've had the 26" Griffin radiator in there for a while, but it's always been partially blocked by the smaller opening, so I asked my metal working friend
to remedy the situation. Radiator drained and removed and everything covered up for protection, he set upon the task...

The support-ectomy resulted in the removal of this:
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John remarked on how thick the original metal was. I chalked it up to lightening the car to make it faster. :)

Net result:
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Nailed it. The supports' opening now matches the width of the radiator core dang near perfectly.
Redneck engineering at its' finest. :thumbsup:

Lookit, I know this isn't the correct way to do this, but I figure it's not hideous and it serves the purpose.
The cooling system is now as good as I can get it for the given parts installed. Baby steps, always baby steps.
Now I can face the trip to the hospital next week for thyroid removal surgery knowing I kept up the program of
accomplishing little projects, one at a time - and not leaving the car out of commission anytime I'll be out of action for a bit
just in case, you know?
Cancer removal #4, here I come...

UPDATE 7/21/18:
Armed with a radio obtained from a fellow FBBO member, I decided today was going to finally be the end of the hole in the dash that's been there
since I've had the car (and no doubt, long before that even).
I had attempted this once before with a radio that had reportedly been rebuilt, only to find it had issues, so back to the seller that one went.
Hoping that's not the case with this one.

For a fella with big hands, that seemingly gigantic hole in the dash - isn't so big after all. My hands are all cut up now, but the dang thing is in
there:
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Yeah, I know the radio faceplate doesn't quite match the surrounding woodgrain trim. It's a repro, the only one I know of - and it's technically for a '69 model.
I got the radios' wires all extended and proper plug ends on it (it came with the typical stubby pieces sticking out of it) and got them plugged into their respective
places on the speaker and inside the dash (would it have killed you to give us a couple more inches of wire on those in-dash pieces, Ma Mopar?).
The radio then was tested and it lit up when turned on and noise came out of the speaker, albeit lower volume than I'd expected.
So far, so good.
I plugged in the new "hidden antenna" that I'd bought for the thing and....nothing.
Radio wouldn't pick up a single station, including the one 5 miles from here.
I chalked it up to being a piece of crap Chinese waste of money and tossed it across the garage, then finished installing the radio anyways.

Yes, it's a leap of faith that once I get a good antenna, the thing will work.
You gotta do those once in a while, after all - those little leaps of faith.
Like I just did with my thyroid, which they wound up removing totally a couple weeks ago, successfully.
Tests came back afterwards and I have no lingering malignancy in that part of my body anymore.
See? Leaps of faith pay off sometimes. :thumbsup:

UPDATE 8/25/18:
Well, the GTX and I have made it full circle seems like. Today was the annual car show in the town park for the local cancer support group.
You'll notice above that it was this show last year that the car sort of officially made her debut as substantially "finished", meaning I made my long-term
goal of completing her before I myself got "finished" so that I didn't leave any loose ends for my wife to deal with.
A complete, functioning car is easier for her to sell when I'm gone, after all.
I'll leave no messes - that was the ultimate goal.
Anyways...

The GTX and I returned to "the scene of the crime" yesterday with a full year under our belts since that eventful day last year - this time with my wife
actually along for the ride. Gotta admit, that was pretty cool of her to do. Meant something to me.
In the last year the car has been steadily improving. We had that whole snafu with trying to get a nice rebuilt unit from Passon in her (transmission wound
up with problems, so back it went - fixed the existing one instead).
The car runs, drives, behaves better as we go, me improving this and that as I feel up to it.
Me? In the last year, there was cancer scare #4 to deal with, this time resulting in my thyroid being totally removed.
Another cool scar to show folks (kinda can't hide this one) and yet another time of me whistling past the graveyard, dodging another bullet.
The irony that I'm a 4 time cancer survivor attending a car show benefitting a cancer support group isn't lost, trust me. :)
The COOL part of that is that I attended as just another old car guy, blending into the crowd like all the other donating folks.
A few of the attendees knew, but most didn't and it was awesome to just stop and chat with others about cars, not health issues.
It's sort of nice to just be a regular ol' human. :)

Beautiful weather, lots of nice rides (although a scant very few Mopars), my wife there just because I wanted her to be, the GTX behaving.
Yeah, it was all right:
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I don't know how much longer I'm supposed to be on the good side of the dirt, but I figure it's all gravy now anyways.
The car got done. I'm leaving no messes. God chose to allow that to happen and I'm very thankful for that.
It ain't a bad gig. :)

UPDATE 9/8/18:
I've been looking for a set of original Mopar chrome valve covers for the 440 for a while and finally found a set.
I've also wanted to try out studs instead of bolts on them, so some ARP's were procured, along with the time-honored
FelPro "rubberized" fiber gaskets. Hammered the bolt holes flat them slapped them on:
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They're far from perfect, but there's just something about original stuff. Good, heavy steel and they look like
they've seen very little use - baffles are damn near spotless inside.
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May not be "right", but I like 'em just fine.

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A little instant gratification. :)
The stainless ARP studs worked perfectly; I even used a set of Mopar stainless "load spreader" washers on them
to try and keep from buggering the bolt holes.
We'll see how that all works out.

9/14/18 - LOCAL CRUISE-IN:
A nice evening ahead of the anticipated arrival of the remnants of Hurricane Florence.
Literally a last-minute decision for us to attend, but it's pretty cool to be able to just jump in the GTX and go
like that. :)
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Let's get the folding chairs out and sit a spell...

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A sea of Ferds and Chebbies parted. A shark is in da house!

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Got a spot right in front of an open café and I was hungry, so... :)

I LOVE that DeSoto, absolutely gorgeous. I'd build another garage for it it I ever got ahold of it....

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The sky got all weird after a while and a rainbow appeared. I checked radar and sure enough, a small shower approached.
Everyone scattered like roaches and left real quick - except for a few of us who knew our cars wouldn't melt.
A nice drive home afterwards. Nice evening all together.


UPDATE 5/13/19:
I suppose it's the ol' "good news/bad news" thing here with the GTX. After a long arsed winter, I decided to try and get
an early jump on this years' event season by diving into getting the worn out old 23 spline 4 speed replaced in the GTX.
Spent all winter looking for a "deal", but there aren't any such on 18 spline "hemi" 4 speeds come to find out.
Dan Brewer told me 3 months wait to get one from him (!) and I wasn't about to roll the dice with Passon again, so that
led me to finding this one (out of a '67) about an hour west of us:
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It was rebuilt by a transmission guy in the Sevierville area with a reputation. I spoke with him directly
about an hour one evening and felt I could believe what he told me, so I bit the bullet.

At the same time, I had already pretty much decided I was never going to like the Centerforce DualFriction
clutch I had already, so the decision was also made to get an old school B&B type, which I bought from Brewer's
I try to toss Dan a bone when I can; he's so very helpful and supportive of the hobby):
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That's a RAM HDX 11" setup, supposedly a step up from stock.
This of course meant the return of the over-center spring to the clutch pedal under dash, too - and a normal clutch
pedal height again.
I decide to let a good fella with a seriously nice shop (who owns several very nice Mopars, including a blown '70 Charger
he races) do the swapping this time - my back just wouldn't let me roll around under the car like that again, so down
to his shop about an hour away we go...
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My wife took this pic following me down the highway. The GTX always did track straight and she behaved quite well
for what for her is a longer ride.
We get down to the fellas shop and up on the lift she goes:
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It really was tough leaving her with him; the car and I had not been apart overnight since I got her.
Leap of faith...

Steve gets to work on the GTX and next I hear from him, he's fussing about the butchered up old z-bar the car came with.
Yeah, it was sort of made from another models' bellcrank and is sort of not right, but I'd always made it work.
Well, he was having none of it - "Ed, if we're doing this, let's do it right".
Couldn't argue with that. A quick phone call to Dan Brewer got a brand new pretty z-bar headed overnight down to Steve:
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Yeah, pricy - but I liked this Steve fella more already, too. :)
He's fussy about his work, even if not on his own car.

Next thing I hear from him is that the crossmember "is the wrong damn one!".
Oops, I forgot that. Old trans was a '70-up, so I had a custom crossmember (yes, sold by Brewer's) in there that allowed
installation in a '69-back b-body - which definitely would NOT work with the '67 18-spline now going in:
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Of course, I had a "correct" one sitting in my garage, so another trip down the highway followed with it in tow:
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That one delivered, I resolved myself to what would be a lengthy wait as Steve got around to finishing the job,
since he has a regular job too.
Instead, I get the call the next day that he was done. :thumbsup:
I couldn't get back down there fast enough, let me tell you....
After a nice visit with Steve (20 questions, etc.) and his father, he made an inquiry asking if I'd consider selling
him the car (!).
I look around his shop at all the seriously nice rides and look at him like he's nuts.
When he replies that the GTX "drives out and goes down the road real nice", it makes me feel better about the ol'
girl, Frankenstein though she is for sure.
I hop in for the hour drive home and the rabbit ears are on, super-sensitive to any tiny little new sound, any new
vibration, checking out the clutch (that winds up being a lot less stiff than I expected).
The "new" transmission feels tight, man, real tight. Shifter feels like it's connected to an actual gearset instead of
a slushbox; very precision throws are now required and it all just feels new - and damn good.
I'd been driving in that super-tense, super-sensitive mode for about a half hour when it occurred to me the car was
actually going down the road easier than before - I usually got about 62mph out of my "big toe" gas pedal application
before; now, she was percolating along at about 67mph at the same pedal position/RPM's. :)
Subsequent local drives have been more of the same. There's odd sounds here and there, but the car feels right.
OK, that's the GOOD news part...

Comments

beautiful car.you are a survivor.i just purchased my 69 satellite conv, its on satellite home,in garage section.take care lifes good.be a positive survivor keep moving on,lifes chapters of our book of life.
 
beautiful car.you are a survivor.i just purchased my 69 satellite conv, its on satellite home,in garage section.take care lifes good.be a positive survivor keep moving on,lifes chapters of our book of life.
Appreciate the kind words.
Hell man, I'm not going anywheres. God don't want me and the devil's afraid I'll take over. :)
 
Awww, crap.
Reproduction gas tank blues here. Despite my repeated efforts, the sending unit leaks.
I'm going to have to pull the new tank AGAIN.
Yes, I even re-used the original Mopar locking ring on it. Used Permatex on the gasket, too.
Hell with this.
Is there more than one manufacturer of the repop gas tanks and if so, which one is supposedly
the "good" one? Actually debating finding an original and cleaning it up...:BangHead:
 
I have literally hundreds of pics of this cars' resurrection if y'all want me to post them. All the way from the initial stripping of bad metal to installation of new, to all sorts of components being removed/repaired or replaced to what I'm doing to it these days.
I don't want to bore people, but if you like, I'll start posting them.
 
Awww, crap.
Reproduction gas tank blues here. Despite my repeated efforts, the sending unit leaks.
I'm going to have to pull the new tank AGAIN.
Yes, I even re-used the original Mopar locking ring on it. Used Permatex on the gasket, too.
Hell with this.
Is there more than one manufacturer of the repop gas tanks and if so, which one is supposedly
the "good" one? Actually debating finding an original and cleaning it up...:BangHead:
Update: I have a thread currently active where I take the tank down and remedy the sending unit seal issues if anyone is interested. Tank is back in the car as of tonight. :)
 
Her first flogging session today:

There are days you'd swear that a day like this would never come, as life and the car both throw roadblocks at you.
You just have to be meaner than all of it.
Once you're totally broke and in debt and have some permanent scars on you from the battle, one day you actually can see light at the end of the tunnel, which only causes you to pick it up another step.
It's glorious when the day arrives, man. Freakin' glorious.
You WILL get there!
 

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FBBO Member Photo Garage
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moparedtn
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