My Lotus Europa is still leaking gas

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The past few weeks I’ve been driving with a maximum of half a tank of gas as I’ve been slowly dripping fuel if I fill the tank further up. While normally this isn’t a huge problem it does mean that I only have about 15 liters of fuel at most, enough for somewhere around 150 kilometers (93 miles).

I originally thought that it was a leak at the fuel return connection pipe but a few days ago I refitted the connection and filled the Lotus up with gas. Of course, as soon as I parked my Europa in the garage the air filled with that wonderful gas smell that permeates the whole property including the house. Bummer!

I photographed the area and came across an old glass patch clearly showing fuel not coming from the connector but from a rusty area underneath. A little research sent me out to buy a tube of J-B Weld SteelStik, an epoxy putty that supposedly will stick to almost anything and become a permanently ugly patch that may last forever.

Old repairs on Lotus Europa gas tank
Old repairs on Lotus Europa gas tank

Here’s what the the stuff looks like. I should have photographed the putty but was too busy mixing it up and getting high on gas fumes. Since the Lotus Europa S2 is partly French I thought I could be fair here and show the French language side of the packaging.

JB SteelStik
JB Weld SteelStik

Does this stuff really work? It certainly sticks well and gets very hard but so far after 3 applications I have not managed to stop the dripping completely. I’m planning on draining some gas later today so I can try once more with a drier tank, for these first applications the tank was damp.

Ugly SteelStik patch
Ugly SteelStik patch

I may just be missing the pinholes. I’ll try once more but if that doesn’t work I may have to go with a more permanent and proper solution. I should really pull the gas tank from the car but it’s not an easy task unless you have a 4 post lift. They do make epoxies and paints you can use to seal the inside of the tank with but perhaps this 49 year old tank is so rusted out that a new tank should be installed.

My MGB GT tank turned out to be a rusty mess so I bought a new one for $125 US. A Lotus Europa S2 tank is over $600 for half the capacity. Owning an old Lotus Europa is not cheap!

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