Bringing a Shelby Out of Storage


I have a 68 Shelby that has been garaged for 15 plus years. I want to clean out the gas tank. I know I could buy a new one, however I want to keep the car as original as possible. How is this done, and with what cleaner? I want to clean out the fuel lines too.


Shelby out of storage It’s great to hear you’re planning to get your ’68 Shelby back on the road! Some cars are simply too good not to be enjoyed.

You have the right idea in getting all of the old fuel out before putting fresh fuel in. Gasoline looses its volatility as it ages and after fifteen years the old gas would do more harm than good. I would begin by using a hand operated pump to remove as much of the old fuel as possible. Using a small flashlight, look down inside the tank for signs of rust, when cars sit without full fuel tanks condensation builds up in the tank and rusts the tank from the inside. A little rust is okay but if heavy scale exists, the tank should be removed and reconditioned. I have seen many hobbyists use at-home products to get the job done with mixed results. The most surefire method I’ve seen to clean out an old gas tank is to send it to a company that specializes in reconditioning them.

If you’re unable to pump out most of the fuel through the filler neck, you may need to drop the tank out of the car and dump it’s contents into a suitable container.

In addition to cleaning out the gas tank you should blow out the fuel lines, and replace the fuel filter. You will want to keep a couple extra fuel filters on hand once you do get it started and change them regularly, as tarnish and sediments will come loose as new fuel begins to flow through the system. While it may not be necessary, you may need to rebuild the carburetor. As fuel evaporates it leaves behind a residue known as tarnish. This tarnish can clog the many small jets and passages within the carburetor. Be sure to include a can of fuel system cleaner (available at most auto parts stores) in your first tank of gas.

But don’t stop at just the fuel system! All fluids loose their effectiveness over time, you should strongly consider: Flushing the cooling system, changing the engine oil, rear differential oil, transmission fluid, and flushing the brake system with new fluid.

Once you do have that pony back on the road, pay special attention to anything with a seal. I have always said more can go wrong with a car sitting still than if it was periodically driven. Oil and grease seals become hard and no longer seal properly, wheel cylinders suddenly begin to leak, belts become hard and misshaped, etc… Be prepared to inspect your car top-to-bottom regularly for it’s first couple month back on the road.

Once you get the car running like a top, washed and waxed, take a few pictures and send them to, I know other members would love to see your great ride.

Wrench Safe, Mark

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23 Responses to “Bringing a Shelby Out of Storage”

  1. George Praymayer

    Like to add just one thing and that is not to be cheap with purchasing inexpensive seal though the size maybe the same and quality “looks” the same , it may not be the same, and leaks will likely appear!


    Buy a cheap electric fuel pump. Disconnect the line to the carb. Attach the electric pump to that line coming from the fuel tank. Put a length of rubber hose on the pump outlet and put the open end in a gas container. Pump all the old gas out of the tank easily.

  3. Screaming Goat Farm

    If you find the a coat of black goo in the tank there is a way to get it out, Remove it and buy minimum 1 gallon of Acetone. Dump in a quart and roll the tank around for 15 minutes or so and pour it off until you end of getting a clean pour. The last tank I did, I laid across a bar so that I could tip it back and forth without a lot of effort and in spite of having over 1/4″ of solid black gum washed clean with 1.5 gallons.

  4. JOHN W

    . My 351 windsor (in a pickup) only had a couple thousand miles then I put it into storage for 30 years.
    Short of disassembly,How can I use a low rpm process for pre lubing the crank ,pistons & and valvetrain
    i worry about the upper rpm wear caused in the first few seconds until all parts become lubed

  5. Don

    One other point very few mention is remove the pickup line from the tank and change the filter screen on it as well.If later you have problems with it running and all inline filters are good then this screen is usually the problem.I have seen these plugging up to 90% with rust and gunge from old fuel

    • Willyjp

      “Tarnish” is another name for oxidation. When iron or steel tarnishes, you call it rust. When non-ferrous metal tarnishes, it changes color too, depending on the metal. Silver turns black, copper green, brass greenish brown and bronze greenish black.

  6. Chuck Holmes

    I suggest using something like evap-rust after emptying the tank. I use aircraft fuel tank sealer for my fuel tanks. This can be found at Aircraft Spruce and like places. Easier to use than two part motorcycle tank sealers.

  7. Rick

    What kind of cleaner? Should he re-coat the tank. I’ve heard that the coatings cannot withstand the new ethanol gas & causes the coating to flake off???

    • Iriya Lee

      Personally, I have never been a fan of in-tank sealers, as I have seen them fail many times before, precisely for the reasons you’ve outlined. Ethanol in automotive fuels, does breakdown many of the coatings often clogging fuel systems. Although, I have used services like Tank Renu, and have always been pleased with their work.

      Wrench Safe, Mark

  8. Rich Florence

    I had my original owner ’69 Shelby stored for 21 years and wanting to keep the original parts also, I took both the gas tank and the radiator to a Gas Tank Renu place and had them both redone. I also cleaned out the fuel lines, had the carb rebuilt and replaced the fuel pump just in case any sediment was in it.

  9. Steve

    thanks you answering this question. my next question regards start the engine after sitting so long. the tips and tricks beyond changing the oil and hand turning the engine.
    thanks again

    • Rich Florence

      A few months before I started the engine, I poured a small amount of Marvel Mystery Oil down into each cylinder and let it sit. I didn’t even attempt to spin the motor over by hand, although you can get a tool that spins the motor over from the distributor shaft with a drill. In the meantime, I rebuilt the carb and loose adjusted the settings. Once the fresh gas pulled through the lines and into the carb, the motor fired, I adjusted it and let it run at idle. While that was going on, I pumped up the tires and slowly let the car down off the jack stands. After a couple more adjustments to the carb, I hit the road on faith and drove the car home 65 miles from where I had it stored. Having switched to silicone brake fluid after the first storage of almost 10 years, I had no problems at all with the brakes. Of course, there is always trepidation in driving that far but I didn’t have any problems at all. I guess I was lucky, but the engine ran fine and I haven’t really done anything to it since then, other then a clean off with an air hose. Oh, yeah, I did wind up changing the original fan and power steering belts even though after that many years, they amazingly didn’t show any cracks or splits in them. I figured after 43 years, it would be a wise thing to do.

  10. Dale Helpingstine

    Thanks for the good info on prepping a car that has been in storage for a long time. I have a 1932 Ford 3-window coupe that my wife inherited from her 101 yr old uncle, that has not been stated for 25+ years. The gas tank was empty so I have pulled it for inspection and plan to blow through the fuel line and change the filter, etc. My problem is that I am not very familiar with this vintage of car. I’m not sure about how to go about starting it. Can anyone give me some guidance on what procedure to go through to start a 1932 V-8 flathead Ford?

    • Customer Service

      The starting process for a ’32 Ford V8 3-window coupe is so difficult you would likely be better off to just sell me the car and save yourself the trouble. I can have the car trailer hooked up and be on my way within the hour.

      But seriously, assuming the car has never been ‘messed’ with and is still 100% stock, simply insert the key into the steering column and unlock the steering column, turn the switch next to it to the ‘ON’ position, pull out the choke knob and press the start button on the dash. Assuming you have a strong 6-volt battery and fresh fuel, the engine should turn over and you may need to pump the gas pedal a few times to get it to start. If it doesn’t make sure you’re getting: Air, Fuel and Spark to the engine.

      Send us a couple of pictures (engine, dash, body, etc), and we’ll be able to tell if anything has been altered ensuring you have the right starting procedure, and I know fellow members would love to see it. Good luck with this great and iconic car, and let me know when you’re ready to have me pick it up.

      Wrench Safe, Mark

      • JOHN W

        assuming the car has never been ‘messed’ with and is still 100% stock, simply insert the key into the steering column and unlock the steering column.

        Hmm,A locked steering wheel is original in 32 ? I thought 1970 was the first year.

    • Diesel DAn

      sure Dale ive done few “barn find” start-ups now and have learned a few do’s and don’ts , first thing before you get any engine to run make sure it will stop !! ck all your brakes 1st (ive seen this one learned the hard way !!) yours probably has the mechanical brakes (unless its been upgraded to liquid) get a good look at all 4 of your brake rods and make sure all your piviot points are solid , jack up each wheel and tunr it by hand and have a buddy press the brake pedal !! if things don’t feel right there your gonna need to take that wheel off and have a better look
      second !! remove all your spark plugs !! and give em all a few Oz of marvel mistery oil or auto trans fluid is a good sub too !! leave the plugs out !! then with a breaker bar (not the starter) turn the engine over several times to spread that oil out , Hey good time to change that engine oil too ! me id leave it over night if you can then reinstall the plugs and use the starter to move the engine over several times , this should clear the cyl and get it ready for fuel , if your unsure your fuel tank doesn’t have pin holes , only add a little bit of fresh fuel , and purge/clean the fuel bowl out , its good guess that fuel got left in the carb and dryed up in there making for a bit of trouble in there , but hey give it a go and prime the carb using the accel pump and cranking it over , ign off , once your sure the carbs primed switch it on and try to start it !! maybe it will ?? if it wont even try you’ll have to give the carb and the ign point a good go over hey also your flat heads got a reusable oil filter , just give it a good wash out with mineral sprits and let it dry , your good to go !! hope this little bit helps !!