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Old 01-10-2012, 05:29 PM   #1
grovedawg
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Default Building an aluminum gas tank

I'm starting to build two aluminum gas tanks and wonder if there are things that I should be aware of before I install it? If I weld it thoroughly (which I will) it shouldn't leak. But should I seal it regardless? What would work as a sealer? I'm going to run baffles, and then weld the top on.

Any HAMB'ers out there who've trodden this path that would like to pass on their wisdom? Thanks, Ryan

PS. Here are pics of my progress so far. I've welded the sides, and the bottoms in. I've yet to weld in baffles, and cut holes for the sending unit, roll over valve, and pick up tube. I may also weld a bung at the bottom so I can drain it if I ever need to.
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Old 01-10-2012, 05:47 PM   #2
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Default Re: Building an aluminum gas tank

I am sure that others will add to this response. Designing and fabricating fuel (and oil) tanks for various aircraft, aerobatic and classics/antiques, I do not do anything after TIG welding and leak checking. There is no sealer, that I know of, that is FAA approved for slosh-sealing, coating, the interior of aluminum tanks. The problem, potential or not, may be the various additives that are used in modern pump gas. And, just my opinion, if it isn't used in aircraft, it's not likely to be suitable for automobiles. Stand by for more information from others. Pros and cons.
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:05 PM   #3
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Default Re: Building an aluminum gas tank

Pressure test it for leaks and call it a day.
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:19 PM   #4
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Default Re: Building an aluminum gas tank

We build a lot of gas tanks and we pressure test them with air and check for leaks with soapy water.
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:22 PM   #5
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Default Re: Building an aluminum gas tank

I had a 1/4" plate welded in the top [about6" sq.] in case I want to drill & tap another fixture of some sort .. think ahead..
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:23 PM   #6
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Default Re: Building an aluminum gas tank

Methanol in todays fuel will be a problem down the road ...WHY... Methanol/alkahol is highly corrosive especialy to aluminum, most racers that use alum/tanks drain them after use. The better grade it is the better it resist corrotion 6061 t6 is best .I however would strongly recomend stainless steel for your tank for todays fuels JMHO.....
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:25 PM   #7
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Default Re: Building an aluminum gas tank

How would I go about pressure testing it with a huge filler tube? I'm sorry if this is a dumb question, but I want to get it right. Thanks for your response dudes.
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:29 PM   #8
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Default Re: Building an aluminum gas tank

RPM, reply number 4 above, has it exactly right. Test with VERY LOW air pressure.
1.5 to 2 psi. USe soapy water and a brush. Go over the welds with the mix and look for bubbling. Heavy plate on any surface is not necessary for possible future fittings. Get weld bungs...1/8....1/4.....pipe thread. Weld 'em in and screw in a plug.
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:30 PM   #9
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Default Re: Building an aluminum gas tank

Use a piece of hose, a pipe plug, and a couple of clamps.
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:31 PM   #10
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Default Re: Building an aluminum gas tank

Quote:
Originally Posted by john mullen View Post
Methanol in todays fuel will be a problem down the road ...WHY... Methanol/alkahol is highly corrosive especialy to aluminum, most racers that use alum/tanks drain them after use. The better grade it is the better it resist corrotion 6061 t6 is best .I however would strongly recomend stainless steel for your tank for todays fuels JMHO.....
The cost for the same quantity of stainless steel was more than double that of the aluminum...

Is there anyway to keep the aluminum from corroding? If not I'll store that info for later and call it a loss until I have to build a new one.
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:33 PM   #11
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Default Re: Building an aluminum gas tank

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flatheadguy View Post
RPM, reply number 4 above, has it exactly right. Test with VERY LOW air pressure.
1.5 to 2 psi. USe soapy water and a brush. Go over the welds with the mix and look for bubbling. Heavy plate on any surface is not necessary for possible future fittings. Get weld bungs...1/8....1/4.....pipe thread. Weld 'em in and screw in a plug.
Cool. I've used soapy water to find leaks before.
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:36 PM   #12
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Default Re: Building an aluminum gas tank

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Originally Posted by grovedawg View Post
How would I go about pressure testing it with a huge filler tube? I'm sorry if this is a dumb question, but I want to get it right. Thanks for your response dudes.
Go to a plumbing supply house and buy an expandable rubber plug. They are available in sizes up to 10 or 12 inches and are fairly cheap. Unless you are fighting a rust issue, tank coatings often create more problems than they solve.
In the pics that aluminum looks to be about 1/4''? Heavy duty tank!
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:40 PM   #13
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Default Re: Building an aluminum gas tank

Quote:
Originally Posted by grovedawg View Post
How would I go about pressure testing it with a huge filler tube? I'm sorry if this is a dumb question, but I want to get it right. Thanks for your response dudes.
Bicycle inner tube and a hose clamp. Already has the schrader.Also will keep you from putting too much air pressure in there. Be careful .

That trick works good for radiators too
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:41 PM   #14
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Default Re: Building an aluminum gas tank

I would look into at least applying epoxy to the welds, they may not leak air or water but they will seep. I've worked on fuel tanks (for large generators) that have had it poured in and capped then tumbled to coat the inside. Water Glass (sodium silicate)works also .
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:42 PM   #15
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Default Re: Building an aluminum gas tank

Quote:
Originally Posted by 31Vicky with a hemi View Post
Bicycle inner tube and a hose clamp. Already has the schrader.
A Bicycle tire is a great idea. Thanks
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:44 PM   #16
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Default Re: Building an aluminum gas tank

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Originally Posted by 48 Chubby View Post
In the pics that aluminum looks to be about 1/4''? Heavy duty tank!
It's .120 wall thickness. I didn't want to worry about it. EVER.
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Old 01-10-2012, 07:39 PM   #17
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Default Re: Building an aluminum gas tank

If you wanted to install a late model in-tank pump & needed a LARGE access hole, you'd be glad you had a tappable plate... think ahead...


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Old 01-10-2012, 07:50 PM   #18
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Default Re: Building an aluminum gas tank

#1 Make sure you run a very fine fuel filter as there will be particlates contaminating the fuel down the road. #2 you could use avation gas (no methanol) just costly also or #3 use stabil for marine aplacations and you will probably be ok.... Good Luck... Looks like a real nicely enginered tank by the way.. .
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The cost for the same quantity of stainless steel was more than double that of the aluminum...

Is there anyway to keep the aluminum from corroding? If not I'll store that info for later and call it a loss until I have to build a new one.
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Old 01-10-2012, 07:52 PM   #19
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Default Re: Building an aluminum gas tank

O'Boy here we go

First thing is that the material you should use is 5052 H32 , Its a material that was designed for marine use and of all the alu. out there it is the least corrosion sensetive. Thats why they use it in boats.
Second is that one should never build a tank that large from pieces,You should bend the shape as much as you can and then overlap the final seam so that the load is not directly on the weld. By welding mutiple pieces you can develop fractures along the welds. The only way to prevent that from happening is to edge the pieces first either with a radious or a bend and butt weld the two together and you will notice that when the part is welded properly that the drop-thru shows as a back weld bead but the stress will be on the whole radious.
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Old 01-10-2012, 08:03 PM   #20
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Default Re: Building an aluminum gas tank

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Originally Posted by dreracecar View Post
O'Boy here we go

First thing is that the material you should use is 5052 H32 , Its a material that was designed for marine use and of all the alu. out there it is the least corrosion sensetive. Thats why they use it in boats.
Second is that one should never build a tank that large from pieces,You should bend the shape as much as you can and then overlap the final seam so that the load is not directly on the weld. By welding mutiple pieces you can develop fractures along the welds. The only way to prevent that from happening is to edge the pieces first either with a radious or a bend and butt weld the two together and you will notice that when the part is welded properly that the drop-thru shows as a back weld bead but the stress will be on the whole radious.
EXCELLENT SUGGESTIONS. You want to have a few welds as possible.
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