Progress! I have a fuel tank in the bus and the engine has been re-installed. Hapy is ready for Hal's welding work to resume on Sunday, and I'm able to move off of the fuel system for a while and focus on some other things.
Tank modification design
After proving that the below-deck boat tank wouldn't git in the fuel tank bay, I went looking for other alternatives. I heard and tried suggestions ranging from putting the boat tank under the rock-n-roll bed to hammering the original tank. I had marks on the tank from where the vacuum pump hit during install attempts and I had marked where the water flange was hitting the horizontal seam. I extended out from those end points a few inches to provide room for coolant lines and drew vertical lines on the tank. At the top, I measured a 45* angle towards the center for 5" and then drew a straight line across the top (parallel to the rear lip of the tank) for the top cut. This extra space would provide room for the vacuum pump for sure, but it also provides space for my hand to go in front of the pump and/or flange if I need to fix something later. The pictures should help illustrate this. Please contact me if you want/need more detailed measurements.
Finding a Welder
After exhausting what I felt were all other options, I found and hired a welder off of craigslist. I wasn't sure Hal wanted the work with the exploding fumes potential. Brad (the CL guy) has done other automotive welding and fabrication and wasn't at all concerned about welding on my tank. The finished job is exactly what I wanted, right down to the vent line included in the new material. I was very stoked.
Painted and Ready
I thoguht about running some Bondo onto the seams to smooth them out, but I figured I'd probably just dork it up somehow and they would eventually become rust spots instead. So, I just shot the rear of the tank with Eastwood's Tank Tone. I re-mounted the fuel level sender, soldered a ground lead with a couple of eyehooks, and it was ready for install.
Fuel Tank Install
Actually getting the tank in and out of a bus with a TDI in the engine compartment isn't brain-hard, but its body-hard. The engine needs to be lowered all the way to the ground. Then, the vacuum pump needs to be removed as it interferes with the tank install. Then, put your bus jack into the right-side (passenger) rear jack mount and raise the bus to the highest the BusDepot jack will go. The tank will slide in through the rear engine hatch from the right side, glide over the top of the engine and get rotated into the fuel tank bay. The fuel fill line took some muscling, but the vent lines were easy. Mount the ground wire to the body and then the hold down straps. I did not wire-in the level sender lead because I'm not sure how that will integrate into the main wiring. That should be easy to reach, especially now that the front edge of the tank is a few inches closer to the sender.
Once the tank was in place, it was time to get the engine back in. Now, I still have to tighten down the fuel tank hold down straps, but getting the engine in was a bear. A few posts ago, I mentioned that I wasn't careful enough on my jack adapter alignment, so the engine came down a little crooked. This made the re-install almost as bad as the first time without the adapter. I finally got the rear transaxle bolts in though - driver side first. Now, we're ready to finish out the engine mounts come Sunday.
I expect Hal around 5 on Sunday. With the shortening of the days, we won't have much time, but I'm optimistic that he'll be able to get the rear mount finished on Sunday. We still have the dog-bone to integrate, but there may not be enough time before darkness falls. While he works on the rear mount, I'll be getting the starter back in, and the vacuum ball installed. If time allows, I'll get the exhaust manifold/turbo re-installed and tie-in the waste-gate actuator into the vacuum system (as well as the vacuum pump). If I still have time, I'll start working on the induction side of the engine. I don't have enough detail to work on the radiator stuff yet.
I'll post after Sunday's work is done.