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Gas Tank Removal - 2004 Heritage Softail Classic (FLSTCI)

A while back, I wanted to have my Harley painted, but I didn't want to pay someone to disassemble it. I decided to take the tank (and fenders) off myself. I searched the internet for good instructions on how to remove the tank, but I didn't find any. What I did find were instructions that were either very generic, or spread out over several different sites. For that reason, I decided to document everything I did, with both instructions and images.
1. Get all the fuel out of the tank. It doesn't matter how you do it. I rode mine around, well after the fuel light came on, until I was no longer brave enough to go any farther. Then I used a siphon to get all the fuel I could out of the tank. The bike needs to be upright to get as much as possible out of it. Standing the bike upright (off the kickstand) causes the fuel to return to the right side of the tank, which is where you have to put the siphon hose in. Finally, I started the bike again and let it run until it ran out of gas.
2. Remove the seat. I'm not going into any details on how to do this. If you can't remove the seat, you might as well get someone else to remove the gas tank.
3. Pull the main fuse. Don't make the mistake I did, and spend hours searching for the 40 amp main fuse. I finally figured out there is no main fuse on this model. Just disconnect the battery - same result.
4. Remove console hold down nut.
5. Lift the console up and lay it over the handle bars.
6. Remove the hold down bolt from its holder and store it somewhere for safe keeping.
7. Disconnect the cable that connects to the tank.
8. At the front of the tank there is a vent hose. Remove it.
9. Locate the crossover fuel line. This is a line that runs from one side of the tank to the other side. It will be near the front of the tank. For the purposed of these instructions, we will be destroying this line because (1) it's hard to get off without destroying it, and (2) It's a great opportunity to replace it with a stainless steel braided crossover line.
10. My crossover fuel line had a plastic outer sheath. I just cut it off, since I was replacing with the stainless steel line.
11. The easiest way to remove the crossover line, and leak the least amount of fuel, is to clamp both ends of the crossover line, as close to the nipples as possible.
12. Once the line is clamped shut on both ends, you can cut the line between the two clamps.
13. Rig something up (larger hose, funnel, etc.) running into a gas container and, one at a time, put the cut end of the crossover line into it and remove the clamp. This will allow any remaining fuel to drain.
14. Locate the high pressure fuel line on the left underside of the gas tank.
15. Disconnect the high pressure fuel line. Grab the fitting that comes out of the tank. Push up on the outside ring and pull down on the fuel line. It will pop out. Careful handling this hose. The fitting on the throttle body breaks easily. They make a braided stainless replacement line also.
16. Remove the front tank bolt. This is a long bolt that runs from left to through the frame at the bottom front of the tank. It has a bullet shaped nut on it. Both the bolt head and the nut are size 9/16. You will need 2 wrenches/ratchets - one on each side - to remove it.
17. Remove the rear bolt. This one goes straight down at the top rear of the tank, just forward of the battery. This is a torx bolt of size T-40.
18. Lift the tank up a little, and you will find the wires to the fuel gauge on the bottom left of the tank. Pull them down carefully and trace them to the connector, which is behind a little clip at the frame. It should pop out. If it doesn't lift the tank up a little you'll see it. Disconnect it.
19. Once the fuel gauge line is disconnected, you can go ahead and lift the tank away from the frame. There is a rubber seal for the front of the tank that wraps the frame. It's going to want to hold onto the tank. Lift the tank up at the back and work it away from the front.
20. At the spot where you removed the rear tank bolt, there is a rubber washer. Be very careful not to lose it. That's something you will need when during reassembly.
21. Now is the time to start removing everything from the gas tank, assuming you are getting it painted, which is why I removed mine. Start by removing the two pieces of crossover line. The clamps on them are pretty tight, so go ahead twist them and work the hose until you get it off.
22. Next step is to remove the 10 screws around the pump plate. These are torx screws of size T-20. Be extremely careful with these screws. There are tiny clear plastic spacers on them. You do not want to lose them. Do not remove the pump plate yet - just remove the screws.
23. Raise the pump plate up about 2 inches. DO NOT try to remove it yet. You should be able to see a small fuel hose under the lower end of the pump plate. This hose runs to the quick release connector at the bottom left of the tank. You must first disconnect this hose from the pump. You should be able to see a clamp holding the hose. Stick a small screwdriver in the portion of the clamp that sticks up, and work it back and forth until you can get the clamp off (or loose). Now you should be able to stick the screw driver between the end of the hose, and the base of the pump, and pry the hose to the point it can be removed by hand. Be careful not to poke a hole in the hose.
24. At this point, you still cannot remove the pump plate and pump assembly. The pump assembly has a long, black plastic "arm", with an elbow. That elbow, while in the tank, is bent at a 90 angle. It cannot be removed while at this angle. The picture below shows how it sits while inside the tank. Note the screwdriver pressing against the black tab on the plastic arm. The plastic arm is spring loaded and, while it is difficult to reach the black tab while the arm is in the tank, you need to use a long screwdriver and press against the tab.
25. When you press against the black tab with the screwdriver, the spring will cause the arm to straighten out, like in the picture below.
26. You can now pull the pump assemble almost completely out of the tank. Unfortunately, there is a long wire with a float on the end, preventing you from removing it completely.
27. The only way I found to completely remove it is to detach the float from the assembly by loosening the single screw holding it on. Once the assembly is removed, you can reattach the float until time to reassemble the tank.
28. With the pump assembly removed, it is now time to remove the quick release fitting, located at the bottom left of the tank. You might want flip the tank over and drain any remaining fuel at this time.
29. Using a wrench, start loosening the quick release. The ribbed fuel line, inside the tank, is attached to the quick release. It will turn as you are loosening the quick release. You might want to stick your hand inside the tank, and help it turn, so it doesn't get tangled and break off. Remove the entire thing, hose and all, as a single piece. If there is another hole capped off, remove that cap as well.
30. Now it's time to remove the fuel guage. To do so, we need to remove the wires from the little black clip that connects to the bike. The first thing you should do is make note of the order the wires are in the clip. As the picture below shows, mine are black, empty, yellow, & orange.
31. There is a small little clip/hinged door holding the back side of the wires. The first thing you should do is work it open.
32. Next, look into the other side of he plug (the part that actually plugs in). Above (or below, depending on how you hold it) each of the wires, you will see tiny little holes. You need to stick a very small pointed tool (like an awl) in the holes. Work your tool around, while pulling on the corresponding wire. Eventually, it should come out, then you can move on to the next one. If you are impatient, you can always cut the wires. Just remember, you will need to put it back together later, so leave enough wire.
33. Now, just pull the fuel gauge directly up and out, while feeding the wires through. Your tank is now taken apart.
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