Etching fuel tanks
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Etching fuel tanks

This is a discussion on Etching fuel tanks within the Technical forums, part of the Caferacer.net Forums category; I've got a few tanks to clean. A lot of people have asked, here's what I do; First don't waste time with tanks that are ...

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  1. #1
    Senior Member oldhondacafe's Avatar
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    Etching fuel tanks

    I've got a few tanks to clean. A lot of people have asked, here's what I do; First don't waste time with tanks that are rusted through! Duh! If the tank is varnished, I rinse it with MEK. That might take a day or two to soak. Let it dry completely. If you have scaley rust put a cup of small nuts in and shake vigorously!. Use a magnet on a stick to get the nuts (and rust powder) out Cap off the petcock bung ( don't put the acid in the petcock, it'll ruin the o-rings) Fill the tank with the acid solution and make a cap for the top ( again, don't use acid on your gas cap) The cleaner I use is from Home Depot, it's called Phosphoric prep&etch. costs $15. Phosphoric acid is the active ingredient. with the tank full and sealed, you can rotate it every 1/2 hour to get everywhere. Don't let it sit overnight! an hour or two is enough. Pour the cleaner back in the jug cause you can use it several times . rinse and dry i the tank. if it needs a second wash do it now otherwise fill it with some gas mixed with some motor oil and coat the inside. drain it out and let it dry for afew days and check for re-rusting. If you did it right, it should be ok now. I use a heat gun to speed up the drying (not when fuel is present!)If you tank has a pin hole ar crack, it will show up while the etch is in the tank ,if you spot a leak mark it and repair it after. Some people use solder, welding, or JB weld. as long as you sand the tin down to bare metal these all work ok. If the repair is going to show you might dent the area in enough to bondo over and leave a smooth finish to re-paint. here's a few pics;
    http://i707.photobucket.com/albums/w...leaning004.jpg
    http://i707.photobucket.com/albums/w...leaning006.jpg
    http://i707.photobucket.com/albums/w...leaning007.jpg
    The first pic shows the cap I made, the disk is a hole saw knock out, the "T" is a 1/4" bolt welded to a piece of bar stock, the red stuf is rubber sheet.( you could use old inertube)
    the third pic is a tank I bought off e-bay, the seller said he couldn't tell how it looked inside cause he dinn't have the key. when I got it, my finger poked right through to make that hole! If you see any blisters in the paint like this , this is likely what's behind it!
    \'78CB750f,\'76 cb500t,\'5-CB/CL450 basketcases,\'68 CL175,\'66 CA77/in a CL72 frame,\'1971 DT1f,1988cbr1000f,1987cbr1000f

  2. #2
    Junior Member XLerate's Avatar
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    Haven't been around the forum in quite a while and was checking out old threads.

    The best chemical I've found for cleaning rusted fuel tanks is Oxalic Acid. It is a naturally occurring acid and is among the group 'Weak Acids' as opposed to strong, caustic & corrosive acids. It's much safer, inexpensive and the mixture once mixed up can be used again & again. It not only cleans fuel tanks very nicely, but your 'bolt bucket' of old rusty fasteners you refuse to throw away, and old rusty mechanical parts clean up to fresh new metal!

    It's safe enough to be used in beekeeping, spraying the hives to kill a nasty mite infestation. It can also be used on boat decking, wood members & brightwork & fasteners to remove stains. It's also used in weak concentrations to remove carpet stains or rust or blood stains on clothing and is found as component in various cleaning products. Won't hurt chrome but will remove the rust.

    For fuel tank cleaning you use 8 to 16 tablespoons of the crystals per a 5 gallon tank, preferably mixed with warm or hot water, but cold's okay. Fill fuel tank with the mix, or mix in place in tank and let sit at least overnight. Oxalic will not harm the metal anyway. Some really bad tanks can take a couple of days of soaking. When poured out and tank is rinsed with water there's a light haze on the metal like a coating that stays in place, doesn't foul the fuel. It shouldn't harm the tank's paint at all [but you can test underneath tank], or tanks's lining, a big plus compared to a caustic acid like sulphuric, phosphoric or muriatic etc.

    Again, you can save the leftovers and whenever a rusty something or other needs a dunk there ya go. Still works fine even if it has turned blackish from chemical reactions.

    Nice too that you can get small quantities shipped to you cheap at the link. I have another pound on the way as I write.

    http://www.soapgoods.com/Oxalic-Acid-p-889.html

  3. #3
    Junior Member XLerate's Avatar
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    May 2010
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    Haven't been around the forum in quite a while and was checking out old threads.

    The best chemical I've found for cleaning rusted fuel tanks is Oxalic Acid. It is a naturally occurring acid and is among the group 'Weak Acids' as opposed to strong, caustic & corrosive acids. It's much safer, inexpensive and the mixture once mixed up can be used again & again. It not only cleans fuel tanks very nicely, but your 'bolt bucket' of old rusty fasteners you refuse to throw away, and old rusty mechanical parts clean up to fresh new metal!

    It's safe enough to be used in beekeeping, spraying the hives to kill a nasty mite infestation. It can also be used on boat decking, wood members & brightwork & fasteners to remove stains. It's also used in weak concentrations to remove carpet stains or rust or blood stains on clothing and is found as component in various cleaning products. Won't hurt chrome but will remove the rust.

    For fuel tank cleaning you use 8 to 16 tablespoons of the crystals per a 5 gallon tank, preferably mixed with warm or hot water, but cold's okay. Fill fuel tank with the mix, or mix in place in tank and let sit at least overnight. Oxalic will not harm the metal anyway. Some really bad tanks can take a couple of days of soaking. When poured out and tank is rinsed with water there's a light haze on the metal like a coating that stays in place, doesn't foul the fuel. It shouldn't harm the tank's paint at all [but you can test underneath tank], or tanks's lining, a big plus compared to a caustic acid like sulphuric, phosphoric or muriatic etc.

    Again, you can save the leftovers and whenever a rusty something or other needs a dunk there ya go. Still works fine even if it has turned blackish from chemical reactions.

    Nice too that you can get small quantities shipped to you cheap at the link. I have another pound on the way as I write.

    http://www.soapgoods.com/Oxalic-Acid-p-889.html

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  5. #4
    Senior Member kenessex's Avatar
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    I like that I can get 2000lbs for $2062 if I want that much.

    Ken
    WERA 119
    CCS 119
    CRA 119
    AHRMA not anymore
    \"Think twice before you speak, and then you may be able to say something more insulting than if you spoke right out at once.\"
    Evan Esar
    Newbies, Geeto and Tex (Bye Tex)hate me!!

  6. #5
    Senior Member kenessex's Avatar
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    I like that I can get 2000lbs for $2062 if I want that much.

    Ken
    WERA 119
    CCS 119
    CRA 119
    AHRMA not anymore
    \"Think twice before you speak, and then you may be able to say something more insulting than if you spoke right out at once.\"
    Evan Esar
    Newbies, Geeto and Tex (Bye Tex)hate me!!

  7. #6
    Junior Member XLerate's Avatar
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    Yeah, well I just bought a single pound off them for something like $12-$15 delivered. There's almost any quantity available. They seem to have the best price I found on the net, and nice folks by an email I got from them.

    The next cheapest place I found had a 7 lbs minimum and it was much more expensive, plus I don't need that much, plus shipping was a killer.

  8. #7
    Junior Member XLerate's Avatar
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    , CA, .
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    Yeah, well I just bought a single pound off them for something like $12-$15 delivered. There's almost any quantity available. They seem to have the best price I found on the net, and nice folks by an email I got from them.

    The next cheapest place I found had a 7 lbs minimum and it was much more expensive, plus I don't need that much, plus shipping was a killer.

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