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Projects Making a fuel tank from an old hot water heater - possible?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by vintage_mpg, Jun 18, 2020.

  1. vintage_mpg
    Joined: Jan 4, 2014
    Posts: 47

    vintage_mpg
    Member

    So the PO on my project handed me a sweet hot water tank that has already had some nice mods done to it, and I'd love to use it for my current project. However - I have a million questions....

    I purchased the KBS tank sealing system, so I feel good about that. But what amount a fuel pickup tube? Side or from the top?

    And what about fuel level indicators - I.e., fuel gauge? Big deal? Try and make one? Or skip it and use a dipstick of some sort?

    It's a sizable tank, measuring right at 25 gallons, so I should be fine in that regard. Just curious what you think about it. Perhaps that's getting stuck in the details - and I need NO help with and more of that!

    I'm such a noob at making something from nothing, so I'm paranoid about each and every single step. Ugh.

    Here's the tank:

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  2. rusty valley
    Joined: Oct 25, 2014
    Posts: 2,381

    rusty valley
    Member

    those old riveted tanks are cool for sure, but cant imagine the inside is in very good shape, and gas would probably find a leak that water didnt, and its too big, speedster project?
     
  3. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 1,540

    lostone
    Member
    from kansas

    Just tap the bottom and pull gas from there. No need to go from top or sides. Also hide the gas line on the bottom this way.

    If your not worried about fuel level I guess you could just put a dip stick on the lid. Or get a big pipe nipple, cut a hole in the top, weld it in, weld a flat on top of the nipple, drill a hole to mount a fuel gauge thru.
     
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  4. Slopok
    Joined: Jan 30, 2012
    Posts: 2,620

    Slopok
    Member

    How is this any different than using a beer keg except for the rust inside?
     
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  5. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 5,850

    Budget36
    Member

    Looks like a galvanized tank...make a planter out of it.
     
  6. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 5,850

    Budget36
    Member


    Kegs are SS, that's galvanized
     
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  7. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 5,850

    Budget36
    Member

    BTW, did use them many years ago when diesel was diesel for side tanks,,,that saying, sell it to a rat rodder.
     
  8. 1946caddy
    Joined: Dec 18, 2013
    Posts: 1,709

    1946caddy
    Member
    from washington

    I'm sure the tank is not light.
    Be easy enough to weld a couple of half couplings, one at the top and one at the bottom. Piece of clear gas line and you would have your gas gauge.
    I'm guessing this is not a traditional build.
    Also, if you're going to weld on the tank, wear a respirator when cleaning off the galvanizing.
     
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  9. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 47,997

    squirrel
    Member

    If it has flaky rust inside, which it probably does, it's gonna give you trouble. Most folks who have used tank sealer seem to have had problems with it later.

    It would be safer to have the pickup tube go in from the top, and siphon. And you could make a 5 hole steel sender bung and weld it to the top (carefully because of the galvanizing--don't get sick breathing fumes!)

    Sounds like a lot of work, and questionable outcome. But if you love the tank, then go for it.
     
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  10. vintage_mpg
    Joined: Jan 4, 2014
    Posts: 47

    vintage_mpg
    Member

    So - a few things: it's definitely heavy. Way heavy. Not fun to move around! Haha. I'm not looking forward to coating it, rolling it back and forth, turning it this way and that. Doesn't just whip around.

    I don't know if it's galvanized or not; not even sure how to tell. It's not flaky inside, and actually looks pretty darn solid. I get that the welding galvanized material gives off some serious bad mojo, but besides that, why would it matter if it's galvanized? I'm going to seal it all anyhow - so does it make a huge difference?

    I like the two half couplings and glass line idea; that would be cool. However, not sure I could see the glass line anyhow. The tank will be inside the tail-end of the car, tucked in tight. Prob couldn't see the fuel level from it's mounted position, unfortunately.

    Let's say I bag the entire thing and move on to another tank. What alternative would you suggest? This size and shape work incredibly well for my application, so to find something similar would be super great. Perhaps a long, skinny square/rectangular fuel cell? That would solve the fuel gauge issue, as I'm sure I could find one with gauge-ready properties.

    Hmmmm. Much to chew on.
     
  11. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 5,850

    Budget36
    Member

    RE: why you cannot coat/seal galvanizing...

    Okay. imagine an old wood fence with the paint starting to peal. Now paint over it. It will start to lift.

    Edit:

    I don't think that is a hot water heater, maybe a storage tank for hot water, but it's just a tank. ;)
     
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  12. vintage_mpg
    Joined: Jan 4, 2014
    Posts: 47

    vintage_mpg
    Member

    Ahh - OK. Even if it's not flaky now....it's just a matter of time before it IS flaky? That what you're saying?

    Even if I do the whole "KBS clean, KBS rust blaster, KBS seal" process....it's still going to lift at some point?
     
  13. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 5,850

    Budget36
    Member

    Ya know what that is? It was a pressure take, maybe small pump....okay so water came in the bottom, the plug in the middle was where the relief valve and gauge was at. It's a mini version of what gives my place water.
     
  14. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 5,850

    Budget36
    Member


    U, nless brand spanking new, I bet you see a bit of rust inside...once that happens all the gas tank sealer you can buy will not seal it.
     
  15. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 5,850

    Budget36
    Member

    Also, looks to have been welded together, so means where the 1/2 was ground down to weld the tank, the heat on the inside curled the galvanizing.
    \
    Sorry I'm going on, just make a cool planter out of it.
     
  16. vintage_mpg
    Joined: Jan 4, 2014
    Posts: 47

    vintage_mpg
    Member

    Is there any way to confirm that it is in fact galvanized?
     
  17. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 5,850

    Budget36
    Member

    Sure...have a torch or welder? Heat a spot or try to strike an arc...my guess is you'll get a yellow puff of sulfur type stuff wafting up.

    Not healthy, so take precautions.

    So another way, touch at it with a grinder, if the stone lays on top with little/no sparks then starts to spark, mans you went through the coating.

    Now, easiest way would be to understand what a galvanized pipe is.

    Edit:

    Go look at your neighbors 10+ yo chain link fence.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
  18. rusty valley
    Joined: Oct 25, 2014
    Posts: 2,381

    rusty valley
    Member

    you are in western colorado, cant find a dead combine or tractor that has a gas tank? combine tanks do not bring real money like a collectable tractor tank, they would have a gas gauge, and proper fittings all set to go. wheat country, no swatters around?
     
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  19. drtrcrV-8
    Joined: Jan 6, 2013
    Posts: 1,409

    drtrcrV-8
    Member

    Also I doubt that that tank has any baffles inside to control "sloshing", especially when going around corners! I did something similar but used parts of 3 0lo 5gal propane tanks(used 2 of the removed ends for baffles insi9de the tank to control the "slosh", sometimes referred to as "surge" inside the tank) I wound up with approximately 18gal capacity. And NO, I didn't cut them with a torch!! LOL!! Hint : Start by removing the valve, & if that's stuck, run water over the drill bit as you drill the tank with a small drill to remove any pressure, then increase the drill size enough to fill it with water, then you can SAFELY cut it with a cut off wheel for a nice clean cut that's easy to weld.
     
  20. vintage_mpg
    Joined: Jan 4, 2014
    Posts: 47

    vintage_mpg
    Member

    You are correct there - no baffles at all.
     
  21. vintage_mpg
    Joined: Jan 4, 2014
    Posts: 47

    vintage_mpg
    Member

    That's a great idea, actually.

    I don't know of any tanks for sale...but I've not looked. Good thinking.
     
  22. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 47,997

    squirrel
    Member

    I can tell it's galvanized by looking at it. As long as you grind off the zinc coating in the area you're welding, and don't breathe any of the funky white smoke that comes off it, you'll be fine.

    If the inside is not flaky rust, then why would you coat it?
     
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  23. rusty valley
    Joined: Oct 25, 2014
    Posts: 2,381

    rusty valley
    Member

    good advice as usual jim, but he says it wont be seen in the car, so i wonder why he would mess with it? maybe tell us what you are building and some new idea's may come to light!
     
  24. I had an oval Model T tank that was galvanized. I think the one they used in the How to build a hot rod Ford book was a galvanized repro. Easy to get such tanks regalvanized here in the UK. I'm sure it could be done in the US. If the tank is solid and leak free then why not. Weight is not a huge issue, especially if it's over the rear wheels.

    Sent from my moto g(8) power using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
  25. Yep, looks like the old Wtr Htr in my garage... I even have the original stand and burner Assy.

    I thought about how to repurpose it???

    1) Cutting it in half, and using it in the bed of my 55 to cover a frame arch for a drop?

    It’s one heavy piece of Iron! Little weight in the bed might change the CG and even out the ride...

    2) Air Compressor Tank?

    Can’t bear to to take it to the materials yard!



    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
     
  26. vintage_mpg
    Joined: Jan 4, 2014
    Posts: 47

    vintage_mpg
    Member

    I'll see if I can't get the innards of this old tank pressure washed today and snap a few pics. Not much of a "window" to see into this bad boy....but I'll bet we can snap a few pics and show you around the place - so to speak. When I last looked, it looked pretty darn neat and tidy, save for the spiderwebs - but that could have been all in my mind.

    I really like the idea of drilling/tapping the lower side section of the tank. That will allow for easy fuel siphoning and will also get 95% of the fuel out of the tank, if I'm thinking correctly. Perhaps if I leave the tap off the very bottom, I can avoid some of the inevitable sludge that will find its way into the tank over time. Seem reasonable? I'll add a fuel filter before the pump, and there's already one between the pump and the carbs, so I should be covered in that department.

    I think I'll coat the tank anyhow. I've got the materials, and this system gets killer reviews - plus it would just give me a fresh start with this tank. Stupid, you think? Seems reasonable to me - but this is my first go-round with such a creation. The sealant would coat up all the openings as well (there are FOUR, not counting the filler neck), and in my mind it would be nice to seal it all up save for the actual fuel outlet. Any thoughts on that? I'll drill and tap for the fuel outlet, plug everything else, and coat that dude.

    For the time being, I think I'll just skip the fuel gauge. It's never really going to be much more than town rig, and with a 25-gallon tank, there should be PLENTY to cruise around with and not worry too much. Famous last words, I'm sure. My bet is that there are many of us cruising around with a broken/missing fuel gauge....and as long as we're attentive, it's no big deal. I'm guessing the existing fuel gauge and any new sending unit I might add wouldn't speak the same language and talk to each other anyhow - which would mean adding another gauge to the already small dash, so I can live without it for now. If I find it's a must-have (the fuel gauge, that is), I can always come back and add it later.

    I am so grateful for all your input! I love hearing from all of you. It gets me motivated to keep working!
     
  27. nochop
    Joined: Nov 13, 2005
    Posts: 2,034

    nochop
    Member
    from norcal

    Rat rod fodder....(sorry)
     
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  28. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 5,850

    Budget36
    Member


    Sorry Jim, but you are incorrect.

    See how the tank was welded together?

    Instead of explaing, take a piece of galanized metal, use say a1/4 inch piece of angle iron.

    Grind where you weld.

    Now run a bead. Now turn it over and look at the other side.

    All the rocks, nuts, etc the OP can do to get every bit of flake out of that "tank", will bite him in the ass down the road.

    Hey, all good...I'm not changing filters :)
     
  29. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 47,997

    squirrel
    Member

    Yeah, it turns white flake on the back side of the metal. Is that going to be a problem here?
     
  30. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 4,855

    Boneyard51
    Member

    Bottom line is, if the OP doesn’t really want the tank for its appearance, chunk it and build a new tank out of steel or aluminum to fit the compartment. All problems will disappear!








    Bones
     

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