Cleaning out fuel tank.
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Cleaning out fuel tank.

This is a discussion on Cleaning out fuel tank. within the Technical forums, part of the Caferacer.net Forums category; Bro's RF tank is manky inside, rusty and shit stained. I've haven't cleaned a tank out before, other than flushing with new petrol. What's the ...

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Thread: Cleaning out fuel tank.

  1. #1
    Senior Member Andyshep's Avatar
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    Cleaning out fuel tank.

    Bro's RF tank is manky inside, rusty and shit stained.

    I've haven't cleaned a tank out before, other than flushing with new petrol.

    What's the best/cheapest/easiest options?

  2. #2
    Senior Member irk_miller's Avatar
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    I used S100, Purple Power, or sometimes Pine Sol, to clean out any grease/fuel. Sometimes I use vinegar. Then I de-rust with Phosphoric Prep and Etch from the hardware store (sold at Home Depot in the US). If it's thick scaly rust, i fill the tank with a cup of roofing nails or drywall screws to break it up. I finish up with a water/isopropyl alcohol rinse, then dry with a heat gun. I have a 100% success rate on saving tanks that still had enough metal to save. Only once, with a BMW R100/7 tank, was I not able to save one. That tank had about 2 inches of water/fuel sitting in it for years. Once I de-rusted it, there was a perfect line around the tank that was so thin I could push through the sheetmetal with a pick.
    Last edited by irk_miller; 03-06-2019 at 08:50 AM.
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  3. #3
    Junior Member GRAVEL RASH's Avatar
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    Initially get some steel shot cut open a duck load or ask a waterfowler for some around 2 or 4 shot size, if you do not have any or know anyone get some small bolts and nuts throw them in the tank dry. shake the tank tip it one way or the other loosed as much of the rust as you can. When the tank looks to be just light rust all the heavy rusting is out, you need to block the tap thread or plate it off and add 9 parts water to 1 part molases to the tank fill the tank leave it three or four days.
    Next drain the tank and immediately before the orange residue dries add a half pint of clean water with a table spoonfull of wash soda and add the shot shake the tank until you start to see the steel is clean. If its not clean enough or its got the dark pitting on the metals surface you just add the molases mixture and start again, repeat and repeat until its clean as you want it.
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  5. #4
    Senior Member woodsman's Avatar
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    I use the power washer to start, stick the end in clean as much as you can. Hit all the crevices where there may be sludge. I can get to most parts of the majority of tanks I've done. Clean out all the shit that will come and then fill it with vinegar and let it sit a couple days. Dump out 1/2 the vinegar (I pour it through a coffee filter so I can use it again) and add an abrasive, I like drywall screws they have lots of edges. Shake it in all directions, drain it, rinse it (until it runs clear), blow dry.
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  6. #5
    Senior Member TrialsRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by irk_miller View Post
    .... Once I de-rusted it, there was a perfect line around the tank that was so thin I could push through the sheetmetal with a pick.
    Like Irk_miller noted, seems the bigger challenge is replacing the rust that was at one time iron with something that will still hold fuel in a compromised steel tank.

  7. #6
    jcw
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    Senior Member jcw's Avatar
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    After the power washing and bolts/nuts/screws for heavy flaky rust, I have had good luck with oxalic acid sold as wood bleach in hardware stores. Boiling water and acid.

    Always add acid to water and not the other way around otherwise the mixture does it's best impression of an erupting volcano through the filler and on your face. Don't ask me how I know...


    Sounds like if it's recent you can just get by with powerwashing and acid. The nails/bolts thing is a PITA
    Last edited by jcw; 03-14-2019 at 08:10 AM.
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  8. #7
    Senior Member Cyorg's Avatar
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    If you can't find some oxalic acid, just steal some of the neighbors rhubarb leaves and put them in a blender. It'll just take longer. There is a local fellow here that runs a business dedicated to repairing gas tanks. He told me that the best thing he ever found for removing that stinky varnish is MEK (methyl ethyl keytone). Not sure if those knobs in Brussels still allow that sort of thing, but you can still buy it here from auto parts stores if you ask. Never seen it on the shelf though. It's used in Plastic pipe glue primer as well.

    I've never tried molasses for rust removal , but know some old farts who have and they swear by it.
    Last edited by Cyorg; 03-14-2019 at 09:21 AM.
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    "Non urinat in ventum"

  9. #8
    Senior Member Andyshep's Avatar
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    Thanks all.
    MEK is sold on ebay over here.
    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/SHL-500ml...-/272038690495
    Edit: It's poly cement for model making. RF's owner is big into model building so probably has a fair bit laying around.

    I'll post some pictures up of the tank later, a fair bit of shit came out when I emptied the foul smelling old petrol(gas).
    Last edited by Andyshep; 03-14-2019 at 09:45 AM.

  10. #9
    Senior Member Cyorg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andyshep View Post
    Thanks all.
    MEK is sold on ebay over here.
    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/SHL-500ml...-/272038690495
    Edit: It's poly cement for model making. RF's owner is big into model building so probably has a fair bit laying around.

    I'll post some pictures up of the tank later, a fair bit of shit came out when I emptied the foul smelling old petrol(gas).
    Good to know. I just checked EBay on this side and they list it. Price isn't bad either. Definitely good stuff for removing varnish from carbs. Downside is that the bride will make a fuss about the stink.
    "Non urinat in ventum"

  11. #10
    Senior Member irk_miller's Avatar
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    MEK is the best stuff to remove old tank liners, too.

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