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Technical Cleaning Gas Tank At Home

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by TheSteamDoc, Dec 22, 2021.

  1. TheSteamDoc
    Joined: Jul 14, 2018
    Posts: 281


    What chemicals you guys using to clean tanks these days? I've heard MEK works well. Gonna drop a chain in it and drive it a few laps with it strapped to the tractor wheel. A local radiator shop hot tanks them.
  2. ??? few laps ( on a race track) ??? strap it to a tractor wheel ??? Is this at a tractor race?

    Take the gas tank somewhere to have it professionally cleaned. You could have it Steam cleaned.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2021
  3. Fogger
    Joined: Aug 18, 2007
    Posts: 1,636


    Be very careful with mek, methyl ethyl ketone, it can be absorbed into the skin and lungs and will accumulate in the kidneys. It was used in the film industry to clean striped magnetic film and was finally banned due to numerous film editors dying when their kidneys ceased to function. Taking the tank to a radiator shop is much saver and efficient.
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  4. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 5,316

    from Ioway

    Unless it is some design that isn't reproduced, you're probably ahead of the game just buying a replacement. It depends how much your time is worth but also the condition of the tank, for instance does it have rust & pinholes too?
    lothiandon1940 likes this.

  5. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 3,476


    Take the tank to the local car wash and poke the wash wand into the sending unit hole and the filler neck and swish it around as best as you can.
  6. Most tanks have baffles in them, so your chain might not get into all areas. I've heard of guys using nuts and bolts, but how you'd be sure you got all of them out, I don't know. A citric acid solution would be good to get rust out, but if you've got a competent radiator shop that does it, I think that would be the best bet... it wouldn't be their first rodeo.
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  7. nosford
    Joined: Feb 7, 2011
    Posts: 680


    Around here there isn't any radiator shops anymore, at least within 50 miles or so. This question comes up at least half dozen times a year and we have chased many different "leads" only to find the shop is closed or they don't repair radiators or hot tank / boil out (take your pick) gas tanks. Just did the roll the tank around with things in it followed by a pressure wash and the results were marginal, going to try the acid wash coat the inside with the white stuff next but haven't had much luck with that either. Good luck.
  8. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 5,316

    from Ioway

    Radiator shops are getting scarce, and the ones remaining don't boil out stuff like they used to.
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  9. I'm pretty sure most of the "chemical" companies like Eastwood and POR 15 and others have 3 part "kits" for this. A pretty strong cleaner, a metal prep wash followed by a sealer. Stay away from the MEK unless you just have a death wish. I can't believe they can still sell that stuff.
  10. Hollywood-East
    Joined: Mar 13, 2008
    Posts: 1,712


    I used muriatic acid on some ol' tractor tank's that were Gum'd up pretty bad..
    Rinsed them in the dirt driveway... Worked well...
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  11. mohr hp
    Joined: Nov 18, 2009
    Posts: 416

    mohr hp
    from Georgia

    I did that Eastwood deal with the chain on my '64 Dodge 330. It just does not get it all clean. That car drove me nuts, always clogging up fuel filters and needles/seats. I was stranded in it several times. If there's a new tank anywhere, I'd get it.
    Joined: May 5, 2015
    Posts: 1,105


    I am with these guys on replacement of the tank. I have tried everything and still after some time there was rust and rust flakes on the inner surface of the tank. I would take a tank to the local radiator shop, they would dip it with the end results always looking like a sponge, full of tiny holes. I have a tank in my old IH that I pulled, clean, filled with water, bounce it around with nuts and bolts, welded up a small hole, and sealed the tank. After 6 months, my gas filter was again filled with rust flakes (yea, I know, I did change all of the fuel lines). Save your self the trouble, spend the money, replace the tank, and enjoy the ride.
    Truck64 and connielu like this.
  13. PhilA
    Joined: Sep 6, 2018
    Posts: 1,427


    If you can get/afford a new one, get a new one.

    If not, a few handfuls of nuts and bolts and screws inside, and a gallon of diesel. Plug up the holes with rubber bungs and tumble it for a few hours- either as you say on the tractor wheel, better method is to strap it to a cement mixer.

    With enough of a shake you'll get all the nuts and bolts back out of the sender and filler holes. Rinse with diesel. Then have it steam cleaned by somewhere that cleans trucks.

    nosford and Fortunateson like this.
  14. stuart in mn
    Joined: Nov 22, 2007
    Posts: 2,117

    stuart in mn

    What needs to be cleaned in the tank? Is it rusty and full of debris, or is it just old gas residue that's turned to varnish?

    I've done the nuts and bolts routine to clean out rust with success.
    Truck64 likes this.
  15. no55mad
    Joined: Dec 15, 2006
    Posts: 1,920


    ^^^^^^As PhilA posted, strap it to a cement mixer.
    Truckdoctor Andy and PhilA like this.
  16. rustdodger
    Joined: Jan 17, 2009
    Posts: 276


    Another way to go is to buy some BB's and put them in your tank seal it up and roll it around.
    rusty valley and lothiandon1940 like this.
  17. fordpatina
    Joined: May 12, 2012
    Posts: 1,321


    Long time ago I cleaned one with 10 gallons of vinegar I let it sit for 5 days it did the job
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  18. ........Was that White or Apple Cider?......Just messin' with you.:D;)
  19. fordpatina
    Joined: May 12, 2012
    Posts: 1,321


  20. I have had good success with believe it or not dollar store toilet bowl cleaner. The gel kind. Had a guy tell me that’s what he used on old mower tanks that were rusty. You just need about 30 bottles of it. This will only work on light to med rust inside. Heavy rust it may just open pits up and leak. Fill it up as best you can with some bolts and nuts in it and seal it up. Throw it in the back of your truck for a few days rolling it over every night. Then dump. Rinse with water and baking soda and coat the inside with a quart of oil. Done 3 or four model a tanks this way. Works well.
  21. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 6,853




    Well, at the time of this cool Rambler sedan, it was home for 31 days. When we all gathered at our friend’s house on the island of Kauai, we realized that we needed a form of transportation large enough for 5 adults and a little kid. So, off we went to pick up something cool, but large enough to fit our budget and families.

    It was a bullet proof rambler sedan that took us all over the island on a daily basis. Comfortable inside and it ran like a top. All we did was to build our own surfboard racks with the brackets I brought from home. It was sturdy enough, for more than 3 surfboards, but for daily use, it was 3 that are shown.

    We drove it on paved roads, and one day we went to a secret (or not so secret) deep pond and waterfall area. The dirt road leading into and out was ragged and very bumpy. On the way out, we hit something and the sound was not good. We stopped several miles later smelling some gas.

    By the time we got back to our friend’s house, it definitely was a gas tank leak. So, creative surfer minds went to work trying to figure out how to stop the leak, so we could continue our explorations all over the island.


    We talked to a local mechanic and he said the cost to repair was reasonable, but we would be without our car for at least a week. That was not going to work for all of us. So, we tried to drain and dry out the tank as much as possible. Removed from the Rambler, it was propped up on sawhorses and left to dry out.

    We tipped the tank over and nothing came out. Upon inspection, there was nothing inside of the tank. So we got a torch and together with our patching supplies, was ready to weld a patch on the crack. But, smarter minds came into play with the fumes coming from the hole. It was not going to end well if we used the torch to fix the hole battling the fumes.

    So, as we surfer guys put our minds to work, we came up with patching up the crack from the outside. Using a combination of resin, fiberglass cloth and shredded fiberglass strands, we made up a mixture that would cure, slowly. The reason for slow curing was that if a “hot” batch were made, we knew from experience that a “hot” batch could get hot enough to start a fire.

    The old saying slow and steady wins the race… well after a day of walking down the street to surf several spots and checking on the finished product of the gas tank repair status, we were happy that our surf sessions were not interrupted. The tank was looking good and with a nice coat of paint, looked new and did not leak or smell. (Other than like a surfboard glassing room.)

    We had our needs and fixed it our way. Your tank could have serious consequences if not professionally repaired or at least, get another tank. YRMV
  22. deathrowdave
    Joined: May 27, 2014
    Posts: 2,830

    from NKy

    I just had this issue on some Fat Bobs , Rusty as I have ever seen . Miss installed white gel liner loose inside also . Acetone and BBs , strapped to a small tractor ( grand kids ) rim and spun them for a hour each . Next was white vinegar , spinning again . Last bath was phosphoric acid rinse , red coat coating and they look new inside . Harley tanks are super heavy metals unlike auto tanks . Good luck , time will get it clean for you , just use caution on which brand of sealer you choose , if you plan on sealing your tank . Redcoat or nothing for me .
    Truckdoctor Andy likes this.
  23. I use Aluminum brightener to clean tanks, it’s acid, hydrofluoric acid and sulfuric acid, works wonderfully.
    Budget36 and alanp561 like this.
  24. Beanscoot
    Joined: May 14, 2008
    Posts: 2,356


    I did one early this year. I just filled it with a gallon or two of water and many cups of "gravel" (small rocks, sand, dirt etc.) from the driveway. Added a little dish detergent and plugged the holes, swished it back and forth right side up, upside down etc.
    I changed the water several times. It was surprising how much rust and dirt came out.
    Finally I placed it upside down on sawhorses and sprayed inside with the garden hose to rinse out the gravel and dirt. This took a long time, and having it on sawhorses makes it much more convenient. I even parked a wheel barrow under it to catch the debris so I could dump it back where it came from, and see what was coming out.

    So I dried it, reinstalled it, filled it up with gasoline and found it is now leaking at the seam about half way up.


    Ironically, the reason I took out the tank is because I thought the pickup sock was clogged, but it turned out this was in the fuel line and would occasionally migrate up to a bend, then clog the line. This had been a problem for years.

  25. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 5,316

    from Ioway

    That's loonie!
    '28phonebooth, XXL__ and Beanscoot like this.
  26. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 8,418


    I have as well. I’d have to look at the jug again to see it (posted a pic of the label here before) but it does “take away the rust”. I wrote down the mix, as I recall it was 4:1 water with it.
  27. Beanscoot
    Joined: May 14, 2008
    Posts: 2,356


    Another thing to keep in mind is that once the original terne coating is gone from the tank, the bare steel will rust pretty much immediately unless coated with something - which is a whole other kettle of fish.
    Truck64 likes this.
  28. Summit Racing actually sells a solvent just for cleaning fuel tanks. You may have to call them on the phone. I have not bought any in a while but last I did was reasonable and works like a champ.
  29. Uh . . .check that lable again. I really doubt it is hydroflouric acid. That is one of the most dangerous chemicals around. It has a nasty habit of penetrating flesh and dissolving bone in mass quatity. We used it in the oilfield to stimulate oil wells that were plugged with calcium scale but the safety precautions we took were incredible.
  30. I have done a few tanks and have used the kits. Eastwood, Summit, KBS, and other make kits with the cleaners, etches, and fuel proof rubber liners. I have never had a problem with any tank treated with these systems.

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