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  1. #1

    Default 1981 Thunderbird with only 9k original miles wont run

    Its my dads car. Guys this car is like a time capsule. Incredible. But it would only crank and run a second. Dad put it in the shop and it turns out it needs a sending unit for the tank. My dad said he's having trouble finding the part. I checked rock auto and they also don't have the part. I figured you guys would know what to do.
    1979 Ford Fairmont Futura "The F Bomb"

  2. #2

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    The sending unit is only gonna be the gas gauge. Not gonna stop it from running.

    In 81, it is a basic duraspark setup, just like every other carbed v-8 ever made.
    2 1986 cougars (both 4 eyed and 5.0)
    1 1987 cougar

  3. #3

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    Did they actually remove the combination sending unit and fuel pickup tube from the tank in order to tell you/him this, or is this diagnosis purely with the use of x-ray glasses? Whether or not the sending unit is toast, indicating fuel in the tank where there's none causing the symptoms of running a few seconds and quitting, or the fuel pickup tube is rotten/blocked/broke off in there, or whatever's left of the sock filter in there at the end of the fuel pickup tube is blocking fuel from being drawn out by the fuel pump... 1st, I'd try removing the fuel lines from the mechanical fuel pump, making sure the one to the carburetor is clear, but most specifically blowing air back the other fuel line back to the tank and see that it's clear. That move will usually get ya going, though there might still be an issue in there, of debris or rot, that might could need addressing. According to the tank picture at RockAuto, the unit and pickup tube is at least in a friendly position with the tank in the car, up front and bottom, so if the gauge is working fine and it's just not drawing fuel and needs REPAIR inside there with a short length of steel tubing inside, because replacement units are not found, that's what I'd be doing...
    Mike
    1986 Mustang convertible 3.8L ---> BUILD THREAD
    1983 Mercury Cougar 3.8L LS
    1986 Ford Thunderbird 5.0L ELAN
    1966 Ford Fairlane sedan 200-6
    1966 Ford Fairlane GT (390ci 4spd)
    1981 Mercury Marquis Brougham
    1980 Capri RS Turbo
    1971 Mustang Fastback
    1974 Pontiac Luxury LeMans

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Haystack View Post
    The sending unit is only gonna be the gas gauge. Not gonna stop it from running.

    In 81, it is a basic duraspark setup, just like every other carbed v-8 ever made.
    See above. Pending condition, WILL cause stoppage of running.

    Every other?... surely that's a typo, or another attempt to incite a riot with those in the know, lol... "carbed" V8's prior to 1975 had no such setup. Points and condenser... which works well too... and... really likely hasn't a thing at all to do with this apparent lack of fuel after a few seconds and quitting situation.
    Mike
    1986 Mustang convertible 3.8L ---> BUILD THREAD
    1983 Mercury Cougar 3.8L LS
    1986 Ford Thunderbird 5.0L ELAN
    1966 Ford Fairlane sedan 200-6
    1966 Ford Fairlane GT (390ci 4spd)
    1981 Mercury Marquis Brougham
    1980 Capri RS Turbo
    1971 Mustang Fastback
    1974 Pontiac Luxury LeMans

  5. #5
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    Default

    Well, let's just say "every other carbed v8 fox body".

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Walking-Tall View Post
    Did they actually remove the combination sending unit and fuel pickup tube from the tank in order to tell you/him this, or is this diagnosis purely with the use of x-ray glasses? Whether or not the sending unit is toast, indicating fuel in the tank where there's none causing the symptoms of running a few seconds and quitting, or the fuel pickup tube is rotten/blocked/broke off in there, or whatever's left of the sock filter in there at the end of the fuel pickup tube is blocking fuel from being drawn out by the fuel pump... 1st, I'd try removing the fuel lines from the mechanical fuel pump, making sure the one to the carburetor is clear, but most specifically blowing air back the other fuel line back to the tank and see that it's clear. That move will usually get ya going, though there might still be an issue in there, of debris or rot, that might could need addressing. According to the tank picture at RockAuto, the unit and pickup tube is at least in a friendly position with the tank in the car, up front and bottom, so if the gauge is working fine and it's just not drawing fuel and needs REPAIR inside there with a short length of steel tubing inside, because replacement units are not found, that's what I'd be doing...



    correction, the mechanic found a lot of rust inside the tank from the car just sitting in a garage so long. he said it was BAD and that theres no way the gauge would work if he reinstalled the old sending unit.... but that it WOULD run fine. We found a page called classique auto parts for old obsolete ford parts and they have one FOR 225.00!!!!! we were considering it but then when we added it to the cart the shipping was an absurd 55.00 and at that point we figured ok they're just taking advantage of people at this point. what a rip. still looking.
    1979 Ford Fairmont Futura "The F Bomb"

  7. #7

    Default

    uhm... unless there's a hole.... well pull the tank out, get rid of the gas, clean it out with water until you can no longer smell gas(that's important btw), put a little bit of water with some pea gravel, shake it around using a flash light in the hole until you get rid of all of the loose rust(it may still be rusty), clean it out again, buy some gas tank sealer from internet somewhere, or where ever, follow their directions and then put the tank back in and use it until it falls out of the car. BTW tanks with less gas in the tank will rust faster, GL dude, and I want pictures of this 9k 81

  8. #8

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    Fuel tank is still made, 80-81 T'bird only, Spectra F5. $85 on RockAuto, but currently on sale on Amazon for $50 shipped. Might be worth it depending on what your time and effort is worth to you.
    A fuel level sender from an '83 or so Ranger, Tempo or Mustang can be cut up and used to rebuild the sender for the Thunderbird. You'll take the float and plastic "wiper" assembly off the old one, repair the fuel pickup tube with metal line if needed, then replace the float and wiper with the new ones, and bend the float arm to match the Thunderbird one. Add a "sock" at the fuel pickup if there wasn't one originally.

    Good luck!

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