Replacing the Cork
Float on your Studebaker Fuel Level Sending Unit
by Henry M. Votel, Forest Lake, MN.
The fuel sending unit on my 1954 Studebaker Champion worked but did not
read accurately after 50+ years of use. My suspicions were
confirmed when I removed the gas tank for a cleaning in the Winter of
2006-07. After all those years and the newer formulations of gas
there was no trace of the original shellac coating on the cork
floats. Just holding them in my hand confirmed they were soaked
and this caused them to be sinking when the tank was filled. The
gauge never showed it above 3/4’s full. A few days later
after the corks dried they were very light.
Chatting with others and reading the few internet search results I
could find had suggestions ranging from getting new corks from the
hardware store to coating corks with modern sealers as a fix. Not
thinking these very good solutions I kept searching and came across
references and suggestions about replacing brass floats on sending
units. that sounded like the thing to do. I started checking for
brass floats, found a few on eBay and along the way saw some plastic
floats used on newer sending units.
I came across a reference at the Imperial Club web pages that gave a
reference to a Ford Part number:
After checking with local auto stores on the part number I contacted my
local Ford Parts and these floats were available for less than $7.50
including sales tax. . . . right down my alley. I picked up an
order of 4 a few days later. I will need them for other
Here’s what I did to substitute the cork floats with a brass float:
First I cleaned the unit and then removed the old cork floats.
This is the Ford Float. Part No
COAZ-9202-B about 2-1/2 inches long. They came two in a pack. You can
just buy one though.
I located a socket that was a little smaller diameter than the float
and then by clamping and bending shaped the end of the sending unit
wire into a circle.
Be careful not to upset the original arm from the float as you bend the
circle. Once I had the circle I had to bend it 90° to get the
wire oriented properly. Your float me be different so adjust as
needed. I was hoping the metal wire would not break. Lucky for me
it did not. If it had I would have had to solder or weld the
After bending it I had the proper
orientation. I tightened the circle so it clipped onto the Ford
float tightly. This float was manufactured with an indented ridge at
one end for the wire to ride in and that works just right for this
I had to twist the float a bit to make sure it would be level when it
lowered and rose.
Not trusting my circled wire clamp to hold forever I decided to solder
the float on at two points. If you start soldering on the float
you’ll notice it gets very hot quickly because it is very thin
brass. I set it onto some ice in a bowl and that helped keep it
cool. I soldered slowly, getting a dab of solder on, then letting
it cool before melting it again and finally finishing. Don’t
forget to flux and don’t rush.
Keep the float cool. Too much heat and it will burst.
The finished soldering added strength and it was secured to the float
Lastly a water test for any bubbles from leaks. Had none. Good
Demo, bending, twisting, soldering, icing and chit chat by Henry M.
Pics, web page work up and questions by my son Henry B. Votel.