Ooh, that smell.

Last night I picked up a couple of gallons of gas and poured about half of it into the dry gas tank. Fortunately, as it turns out -- for I have done this before -- I didn't just dump it all in there, just in case there was a gas leak. Previous owner's son mentioned a "pinhole leak" in the tank that they had had repaired, so I played it safe.

Sat in the driver's seat and proceeded to crank away to see if I could suck some gas into the carb and get it going. Did this several times with no luck. My neighbor Jim -- no slouch in the gearhead department -- ambles over to watch the fun. I go around back and look for gas. I can smell it, but the see-thru fuel filter is still dry. Hmm.

Jim suggests we try starting fluid, an excellent suggestion. If you aren't familiar with this magical and highly dangerous material, it's basically ether in a spray can. Yes, the medical anesthetic. It has a low ignition temperature and will usually start any motor that has spark. The smell recalls faint memories of childhood hospital visits.

It also recalls my brief stint renting a house in Pennsylvania in the 80s, when my joy at movin' on up to a single house with a driveway was tempered by the realization I'd have to keep it clear of snow in the winter. I managed to find a used snowblower (I think I paid $5 for it) that would only start with ether. Brief silent pause here for memories of dark snowy nights and a Briggs & Stratton shuddering into a dull roar.

So -- back to last night -- Jim volunteers to spray some in the carb throat while I crank it over. I pull off the air cleaner and head around front to crank away some more. Unfortunately, that wasn't the trick. To confirm spark Jim turned the engine over while I grounded a plug wire. Nothing. It was getting late so we let it go for the evening, and I pulled out the trusty Idiot Manual to refresh my memory on ignition system testing.

Fast forward to this evening. I notice a gassy smell when I pull into the driveway where the car is sitting. My first thought is the gas tank, but it's dry underneath the front. But alas, a big wet area in back under the transaxle and I can see it actively dripping there. I raise the left side with the jack so the swing axle scissors underneath it like a prop -- a handy trick with Beetles up through 1967 -- and wriggle underneath. Sure enough, gas is leaking from the short bit of flexible hose between where the steel line exits the frame and the engine. Never seen a leak there before. Steady 1-2 second drip. Double-plus uncool.

Well, I'd already been planning to replace the flexible fuel lines as a matter of course, and even have some fairly recent stock on hand. Not sure what the white foamy stuff is in the gas, though. Will need to check further.

So tonight's adventure ended with me siphoning out what remaining gas I could, putting a catch bowl under the transaxle for any remaining drops, and letting it dry out. Next I'll replace that hose and confirm fuel delivery to the engine before continuing my ignition tests. I'm aiming for having it running before the weekend's over.

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