Not Only Bigger, But Better, Suburban Stainless Tank | Early Classic Enterprises

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The premier manufacturer and distributor of quality suspension and restoration components for 1960-1972 GM pickups, blazers, panels and suburbans.

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Not Only Bigger, But Better, Suburban Stainless Tank

Publication Name: 
Classic Truck Trends
Publication Date: 
January, 2004
Section: 
Go Farther

Tank kit installOne of the big drawbacks of most classic vehicles is the limited fuel tank capacity, and the early Suburbans were no exception. With a tank size of only 18-gallons, they are limited to a couple hundred miles or less between fuel stops. Now this may not be a big issue for the cruise-night guys, but it's a real pain for anyone taking that long trip.

The buys at Early Classic enterprises have come up with a viable solution to this dilemma with their new 27-gallon Suburban tank. Constructed using 14-gauge stainless steel, these beauties feature an inner baffle-chamber design to restrict fuel sloshing. Optional features include an in-tank electric fuel pump for those truck owners running a fuel-injected engine.

We know that there are still a lot of truck and Suburban owners that use their rigs to tow. Early Classic kept this in mind when they designed these tanks to make sure they worked with their line of receiver hitches that hide behind the factory license-plate box until needed. These class-4 hitches allow you to have the ability to take even more stuff along on your next road trip to the lake or swap meet.

Early Classic tank kit

The Early Classic tank kit comes with the correct sending unit and replacement rear crossmember.  At 27-gallons, this Suburban tank offers 50-percent more capacity than the factory unit.  ECE also offers a 23-gallon unit for shortbed trucks.  Both tanks are available with an optional manifold to allow an in-tank electric pump for fuel-injected applications.

Follow along and we'll show you what's involved in the installation of both the tank and hitch kits on a classic '72 Suburban.

How To Steps and Images: 
The original fuel tank was held in place using a pair of sheet metal straps that cinched the tank up against the bottom lip of the frame.
After supporting the tank and removing the filler neck, the tank was gently lowered down and out of the chassis. Of course, this process is much easier if the tank is empty.
In order to achieve the larger capacity, ECE's tank is considerably longer than the stock unit. This requires replacing the rear frame crossmember with one designed for this application included with the tank. By utilizing the inner frame area, the tank can have the larger capacity without hanging down below the chassis as far as the original. The factory crossmember has four rivets that need to be drilled out or chiseled off for removal.
In order for the new ECE crossmember to slip inside the framerails, the lower body mount cushion needs to be removed on one side for clearance.
After carefully measuring and marking the new crossmember location, the mounting holes in the frame were drilled. In order to reach the upper holes, an extended drill bit from the local hardware store was utilized to get the job done.
Before the new rear crossmember can be bolted in place, the hidden hitch-mounting bolt holes need to be drilled. Early Classic includes a locating template with their hitch kit that shows you exactly where to drill the needed mounting holes.
Once this step was complete, the new rear crossmember was bolted in place.
Instead of using mounting straps, the new tank was attached to the bottom of the frame using the supplied mounting stud kit. A rubber pad between the tank and frame reduces vibration.
Before the tank can be installed, the sending unit needs to be assembled and mounted. Early Classic offers several different ohm-rated sending units, depending on the year of your vehicle.
On fuel-injected applications where an in-tank electric fuel pump is required, ECE offers this trick removable manifold to provide an easily accessible mounting location. The manifold comes pre-wired and will accept most in-tank pump applications.
The short-hose sections for the filler neck and vent tube were installed next before the tank was lifted into place. Early Classic positions the filler neck in the same location as the original, so a special filler neck was not required. The stainless Suburban tank weighs in at a whopping 60 pounds empty weight, so having a buddy help guide it into place is a good idea.
The factory sending unit wire end does not mate to the aftermarket sending unit, so a new wire-end connector needed to be crimped on.
Before the tank was fully in place in the chassis, the sending unit wires needed to be installed and tightened.
The filler and vent hoses were slid back onto the filler neck assembly and tightened. A new rubber hose was plumbed from the tank's breather fitting back through the chassis to the original charcoal canister under the hood. This will work in conjunction with the filler neck breather to help the tank fill easier.
The Early Classic Suburban Hidden Hitch Kit includes an extended ball mount and license plate flip frame. The Suburban hitch mounts on the outside of the frame, while the pickup and Blazer models attach to the bottom lip. When the hitch is installed, the bumper will conceal it from view.
The outer bumper brackets bolts use the rear hitch mounting hole in the frame. After torquing the hitch, the rear of the license plate box was marked using the receiver as a guide. The opening can be cut out using a die-grinder, or similar tool to allow access to the hitch. Finally, the included flip frame was mounted to the license plate box to allow the plate to be flipped up out of the way.
With the vehicle back on the ground, the new tank and hitch are barely visible. The license plate flips up to access the receiver hitch, while allowing the plate to still be visible. Best of all, the Suburban now has 50-percent more fuel capacity and the ability to pull a trailer.
Category: 
Technical Articles
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Company Name: 
Early Classic Enterprises
Address: 
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