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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14 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!

  2. Embree

    VARNISH Not " tarnish"


    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.

  4. 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.

  5. JOHN W

    QUESTION: . 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

  6. JOHN W

    How to prelube an engine ,(351 w) that hasnt run since 87.

  7. angie lynch

    Good info, we are beginning on a 65 Chrysler Town and Country wagon 383. Originsl.

  8. 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

  9. Larry

    I've never heard of "Tarnish". Was that a typo for "Varnish"? Larry

  10. 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.