the case of the inoperable fuel gauge.
last fall before storing the galaxie 500 for the winter, i realized while standing at the filling station with gas pouring out of the side of the car that i was i trying to fill a gas tank that was not actually empty; for reasons unknown the gas pump didn't automatically stop when the gas tank filled and i was lost in thought, thinking that i had many more gallons to add before the tank was filled. but alas i was wrong.
so, today i decided that i'd try and determine the cause of the inoperable fuel gauge. and lucky for me, my brother-in-law who knows a lot more about cars than i do had a few hours to spare and was willing to give me a hand troubleshooting the problem and just happened to be doing some work for his friend who happens to own his own auto repair business.
which was all very good news for me because although i understand the theory behind the workings of an automobile and am lucky enough to own the original shop manual for the galaxie, i really shouldn't be left unsupervised during repairs for reasons that are obvious to anyone who knows me.
after a few hours of doing various test to rule out what wasn't causing the problem - i.e. the wires from the fuel tank to the fuel gauge were in not shorted and the gauge itself was operable we finally decided to pull the fuel sending unit out of the gas tank ( you can pull unit out of the tank without removing the 20 gallon fuel tank itself! ) and discovered that the float was full of gas. if you look close at the picture you can see the small opening in the float where the arm that's attached to the float had worn through the tin ( maybe it's copper? ) allowing gas to fill the float , which obviously negatively impacts its ability to float on top of the gasoline in the tank.
we first contemplated repairing the hole in the float, but ran the risk that whatever we used for the repair would make the float heavier and impact its buoyancy. and getting a new fuel sending unit quickly was out of the question because a few calls to local parts stores revealed that they no longer carried the part, which could potenially mean that i'd have to search through junkyards or specialty auto parts suppliers scattered around the country to find a working model for a 40 year old car.
but what luck! the owner of the garage called a few parts suppliers he knew and described the float and one of them happened to remember seeing the identical float on a fuel sending unit for a 1982 ford truck.
so we bought the new unit for the truck, replaced the float on the galaxie and, whaddya know - it works!
many thanks to scot and steve for all the help. they're well aware that i really couldn't have done it by myself :-)