Rock Valley will fabricate just about any size or shape gas tank you might need, and they'
A gas tank is one of those things everyone needs for their truck. Overlooking low capacity, the main problem with the stock gas tank in most classic pickups is it's usually mounted in the cab, and that means it's dangerous. Remember in 1963 when a sect of Buddhist monks poured gasoline over one of their own and then he lit himself on fire? Not a pretty picture, but it's pretty much the same scenario for anyone unfortunate enough to get trapped in an older truck where the gas tank behind the seat ruptured in an accident, or the owner is a careless smoker. Moving on to a more pleasant aspect is the improved range one achieves for their pickup after they have installed a higher-capacity gas tank.
In the case of '55-59 GMC and Chevy trucks where the stock gas tank holds only 18 gallons it's easy to make an improvement with the installation of a custom aftermarket gas tank manufactured for their truck. This is all well and good for classic truck owners with a popular brand, but what about the people that own a unique example? In the case of CCT contributing editor Eric Geisert and his '41 Willys pickup project he had to design a custom gas tank from scratch to fill his needs.
This kind of undertaking is no problem for an advanced fabricator, but what about the folks who have the will, but not all of the skills? Eric found the perfect solution to the problem by making a quick phone call to Rock Valley Antique Auto Parts in Stillman Valley, Illinois. In business since 1971, the company began building stainless steel gas tanks in 1981 when they re-created a gas tank for a '34 Ford passenger car. Since then they've built tens of thousands of gas tanks for nearly every fitment imaginable. This includes boats, planes, cars, scooters, and military applications. Though now mainly known for their line of custom stainless steel gas tanks, their business also supplies all sorts of fabricated parts. This runs the gamut from battery boxes, running boards, and bumper brackets, to dashboards; and their inventory exceeds 8,000 parts for Fords and Chevys built between 1928 and 1976.
Everybody starts with a drawing of what they want. This is the illustration Eric made for
Rock Valley advises the home builder to construct a cardboard mock-up of a tank and then fit it to the space they intend to have the real one occupy. That way they can figure out how the rest of the truck's parts, such as the exhaust, rearend, and crossmembers, might interact with where they want the tank located.
Additionally, to get a custom tank made, one has to supply Rock Valley with a blueprint (drawing) of what they need. It should include the height, width, and length of the tank (the formula H x W x L x .004329 will yield the tank's fuel capacity) plus where the filler neck, vent, roll-over valve, fuel pick-up, FI pump (if needed) and, if you have it, the radius measurement of the corners (Rock Valley will do that for you if you don't know what it should be). You'll also need to tell them what kind of gauges you'll be running as the mounts for the electrical senders are different between the different gauge manufacturers and you'll need to indicate the tank's orientation such as front and top.
Once they receive your drawing they look at it to see if you missed anything and how feasible the construction is. They'll call or fax you with any questions and, when they're satisfied with what it will look like, they'll send you their drawing of your tank to confirm everything. Once you give the OK, the tank will be made to spec and you'll soon be down the road. The following photos illustrate just how involved the process of building a gas tank is ... going from a pile of raw stainless steel materials to a custom addition that you designed for your classic truck.
Once Rock Valley knows the dimensions of each piece of the tank, they can begin to shear t
Rock Valley also designs the tank's internal baffles that help control the weight shifting
The top and bottom pieces of the tank are also cut on a 10-foot shear. For some of the sma
This is the die set used to punch the hole for the sending unit.
Once the sending unit hole is punched, four small mounting holes are punched around its ed
After the appropriate number of holes are punched, all of the pieces that make up the new