Fuel Guage Woes (bit long)

Dear All,
I have a TD5 110, with fuel guage issues. I know what the fault is, a rubber sleeve off the end of the filler spout for my Jerry can slipped off and
dropped down the big hole in the side of the car that swallows money. About 14 months ago!! My fuel guage is now playing up, and I presume that said item of rubber is now interfering with it, the guage never reads less than a quarter full even though there is nothing but vapours. I have had this problem before and last time I solved it by filling the car to the brim and presumable floating the bit of offending rubber out of the way. I am on a family holiday in the lakes over new year and know I will have time to try and effect a more permanent soloution to the problem and so have a few questions.
Having consulted with the Haynes BOL but not physically got on the floor under the car it seems pretty straightforward to get to the fuel sender unit on the side of the tank and remove it, does anybody know if this would give me a reasonably sized hole to play coat hanger fishing through? If not the fuel return assembly looks like the largest hole to fish through however that will involve whipping the tank off completely. Can anybody give me an approximation of how long it will take me to get the tank off and then back on again? plus any tips on stuff to watch out for as I'm doing it.
I'd obviously be doing this _as if_ on the side of the road with a limited tool kit of a socket set, some screwdrivers, some spanners and a couple of ramps and a jack to lift the back of the car up to get better access. I'm a total mechanical numpty and pretend I know nothing about cars at all in conversations down the pub. I can manage to change brake pads and do simply stuff like adjust my handbrake to pass the MOT and then adjust it back again to how I like it, but if this seems like to ambitious an enterprise for me I'd appreciate somebody saying so. That way I wont even bother taking the stuff with me away on holiday.
regards,
Mark
I do want to do it though as I would be very satisfied with myself, plus it will give a justified break from being bounced on by toddlers.
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Mark wrote:

It is possible that the problem is the bit of rubber in the tank, but before getting too carried away I would remove the sender assembly - can be done just removing the rear wheel (chock the front wheels, fuel tank fairly low!). Test that the float moves freely and that it registers correctly (you will have to have it wired up to do this) when you move it. If it does, the problem is probably the bit of rubber, and you may be able to retrieve it through the hole with a torch and a bit of fencing wire for example. However, the symptom is consistent with a faulty earth on the gauge itself, and may have nothing to do with the bit of rubber. If it is the same as the earlier 110s the gauges are earthed by a cluster of tags under one of the gauge mounting nuts, and if this is loose, earthing is a matter of chance. In this situation, the gauge reading will usually change when the instrument lights are switched on and off (but they respond only over about thirty seconds, so it is easy to miss the effect unless you are looking for it.) JD
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<snip all my own waffle>

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Interesting point about the earth problem I'll check that first, to my knowledge the dash hasn't been off yet, but I do have some interesting wiring issues around the column switch clusters that I have had to deal with previously...... I've not noticed any problems with the instrument lights though, and if there was an earth problem I'd expect them to not light up at all when the earth was not working..... hmmmm BTW, JD doesn't stand for Jon Damrell does it?
regards,
Mark
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Mark wrote:

The instrument light in the fuel gauge should not light if the gauge is not earthed, but a high resistance earth will still light the bulb but cause an incorrect reading. Because the earth leads from all the gauges come together under one nut, each with a separate wire, the possibility exists for problems with only one gauge if the nut is loose. I know it did in my case.
No, it does not stand for Jon Damrell, it stands for John Denham. JD
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