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Cleaning a gas tank

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by twilloug, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. twilloug
    Joined: Nov 29, 2008
    Posts: 115

    from Omaha

    So I was planning on cleaning and coating the inside of the gas tank on my 41 chevy. I finally pulled the float off and dumped the gas out. No leaks in the tank and I found out the inside looks really good. A little rust/crap in the middle bottom of tank otherwise clean metal.

    So my question is if I am not going to coat the inside of the tank, what is the best way to clean it? I have heard diluted muratic acid but also heard worries about it "etching" the metal and leaving a surface that is prone to rust....

    Any thoughts?
  2. cavemag
    Joined: Jan 8, 2011
    Posts: 210


    Gas and a chain with bolts put through it. Or you can try the gravel trick.
  3. junkman8888
    Joined: Jan 28, 2009
    Posts: 501


    Greetings! What I have done in the past was take the tank to a radiator shop and have it cleaned, they use a caustic soap in a heated tank, when the tank is done it is also clean enough to be safely welded on. Good Luck, Mike.
  4. Malcolm
    Joined: Feb 9, 2006
    Posts: 7,629

    from Nebraska

    Hi, Tim :D
    Hmm, maybe this could be a research project for one of the interns at work? They're always in need of an interesting project... haha :)


  5. StrickV8
    Joined: Dec 20, 2005
    Posts: 1,006


    take it to a radiator shop and let them dip it.
  6. Sheep Dip
    Joined: Dec 29, 2010
    Posts: 1,572

    Sheep Dip
    from Central Ca

    I agree radiator shop works great
  7. If theres only a little crud and rust.. you probably don't need to do the gas tank boogie.. (ask notch) it entails a chain or gravel.. or lug nuts.. ya might want to get a gas tank restore kit from like eastwood
  8. phoenix5x
    Joined: Dec 26, 2007
    Posts: 241

    from Ohio

    I used the 3 step tank restore kit from KBS coatings it worked real well...but in that kit there is a product called aqua clean that is similar to that caustic soap mentioned in an earlier post. You can buy it seperate from the kit form KBS. Worked well in 55's gas tank...

  9. If I was going through the trouble to clean it I would coat it. I'm not sure about fuel where you live but back here it is next to impossible to purchase gasoline that is pure almost anything you buy it at least 10% ethanol. Ethanol is corrosive.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2011
  10. OldBlueOval
    Joined: Jan 10, 2006
    Posts: 197

    from Upstate NY

    I took a gas tank off a 64 olds looked just like you describes. I got 1 gallon of evaporust from harbor freight $16.00 poured it in with a small chain and worked it side to side to let the chain loosen the rust and in 2 days it looked like new put in back on the car and filled the tank worked great . Something to think about if you want to do it yourself Joe
  11. If there is little rust you can use acetone to clean out the gunk.
  12. 1950ChevySuburban
    Joined: Dec 20, 2006
    Posts: 6,191

    Member Emeritus
    from Tucson AZ

    Lots of good info on the HAMB about this via the search feature.
  13. modelamac
    Joined: Aug 9, 2007
    Posts: 316


    Here's how we do it... not saying this is the best or right way
    a buddy of mine owns a chrome shop... and came up with this...

    If you can get access to portable cement mixer. like the dyi electric style.

    1. take your tank and strap or chain it to the barrel of the mixer or if it's an old mixer that doesn't mean much to you or any one just take the barrel off and strap it flat to the turning area the end of barrel mounts on.... but what ever make sure it it is very secure.

    2. stop by a local glass shop and ask if you can have a small bucket of broken temper glass. (make sure the pieces are like small chunks)

    3. put a few hand fulls in your tank and seal the fill hole.

    4. turn the mixer on and walkaway... we usually let it run for a few hours. (it make an ass load of noise, so be prepared)

    5. empty the glass out, making sure you have it all out take a look and it should be like a shinny new mirror inside. if not let it run a little longer.

    it's basically the same principle as a rock tumbler. the glass has sharp little edges and the tumbling effect cleans every inch of the tank.

    those old mixers are gear reduced so they turn rather slow and are designed to turn a large amount of weight/mass... we've done car & motorcycle tanks with no problems.

    It always works great for us without much effort or mess and it's pretty safe no heat, no sparks etc... as long as you have it strapped down tight and use common sense...

    we're all fat lazy bastards so the easier it is and the less labor involved the better!
  14. twilloug
    Joined: Nov 29, 2008
    Posts: 115

    from Omaha

    Thanks for all the suggestions. I did do a search on here and it seemed like everyone was "etching" and then coating. I just want to clean the inside and coat the outside. I do have the aquaclean from KBS and so I think I will do that will either chain or lugnuts.

    Although I might still go with Malcolm's suggestion of further research by the interns!
  15. Bert Kollar
    Joined: Jan 10, 2007
    Posts: 967

    Bert Kollar

    Back in the "day" we put a bunch of nails in the tank, shook the hell out of it to clean it and then poured in a pint of Goodyear Pliobond. Worked everytime. Today I would use the radiator shop and then Pliobond if it is still available
  16. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 17,854

    from California

    I just yesterday bought a new tank for my 61 Dodge. mine was rusted to shit inside and I just didn't want to mess with it. $270.00 plus shipping and another 80 bucks for a sending unit and pick up.

    anybody need 7 gallons of gas with rust and junk in it? I'll give you a good deal.
  17. 1hot57
    Joined: Dec 18, 2008
    Posts: 102


    How ever you clean the tank make sure that you coat it when its clean also make sure to let the coating dry WELL. Good Luck
  18. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,906

    need louvers ?

    Had a customer come in with a '31 a couple of years ago that hadn't been run in fifteen years, but was nicely painted. There goes a radiator shop soaking... My solution came from the motor cycle guys - Grab a gallon or so of C.L.R. and fill the rest up with water and let it soak over night. Drain, filter, and repeat as nessesary. Works like a charm, and it was much easier on the metal than actual acid.
  19. twilloug
    Joined: Nov 29, 2008
    Posts: 115

    from Omaha

    So I decided to go with the CLR in the tank along with some lugnuts and chain. Worked pretty well, however there is still some rust spots in the tank. Thinking of trying naval jelly (Phosphoric acide) and water to see if that does the trick. Am I being too picky? Do I need to coat the inside of the tank? Take a look at the picks and let me know what you think. Sorry the pics aren't the best. Hard to get a camera to take a pic of inside of tank.

    Attached Files:

  20. I've had good luck in the past with the Eastwood stuff. I just cleaned a tank yesterday with the metal wash, muriatic acid, metal etch, acetone treatment and it looks pretty good inside. I decided not to coat mine at this time.

    Have you got a fuel filter?
  21. handyandy289
    Joined: Sep 19, 2010
    Posts: 354

    from Georgia

    You definately need to coat the inside. You have removed some of the existing coatin and now have bare steel. It will rust almost immediately if you don't seal it.
  22. twilloug,
    Rust is rust, have it cleaned out and sealed.
  23. Freeland
    Joined: Oct 1, 2009
    Posts: 217


  24. twilloug
    Joined: Nov 29, 2008
    Posts: 115

    from Omaha

    So I have decided to coat the tank using the KBS stuff. I bought a gallon each of the etcher and cleaner to use with the Rustseal so all I need is the quart of KBS Gold tank sealer. My only other question is the fuel pickup tube. The tube is integral to the tank so it cannot be removed. Do I need to worry about the coating clogging the tube? The end of the tube appears to be welded to the bottom of the tank, so there is no way to remove it.
  25. twilloug
    Joined: Nov 29, 2008
    Posts: 115

    from Omaha

    Just an update. After talking to more and more people, I called the local radiator shop and they said it would be about $130. Decided to take it in to them to do. Money well spent. The cleaned the tank and pressure tested it. Found a leak on the bottom that I didn't see. Fixed the leak and coated the inside of the tank. Looks great! One thing off my list.
    kbgreen likes this.
  26. Frankie47
    Joined: Dec 20, 2008
    Posts: 1,729

    from omaha ne.

    Benson Radiator?
  27. twilloug
    Joined: Nov 29, 2008
    Posts: 115

    from Omaha

    The radiator shop was Bobs Radiator in the 84th and F street area. Ask for Bruce.
  28. hemi
    Joined: Jul 11, 2001
    Posts: 1,961


    My car sat for 15 years with what was probably 3/4 of a tank, and the bottom was caked with varnish-type stuff. I did the ghetto clean with the chain and gas, and drove it. But it didn't get all the gunk out, and it clogged my pickup sock, so I had a shop boil it. They said they had to do it two cycles, (only charged me for one) but it's coated inside like new and painted black on the outside and done. Money well spent, also.
  29. GREASER815
    Joined: Dec 2, 2008
    Posts: 973


    I take it to my radiator shop. They boil it out in a hot tank, then he coats the inside of it. He gets all dirty and has to deal with all of the mess, I hand him $70 and take it home and install it, fill it up with gas, it works beautiful and I dont have to do anything! I may be lazy, but for the price, you cant beat letting them do all of the work.

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