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Gas tank liner MELT DOWN!!


Chacheska
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I'm in BIG trouble. For those who have been helping me with advice on my '36 Pierce V12 - I opened up the drain plug to let out all 30 gallons of gas I put in in the fall along with Sta-bil fuel stabilizer so that I could work on the electric fuel pump when, along with the gas, a syrup-like goo was oozing out with it! I'm guessing the tank had a coating on it that the stabilizer disolved. NOW I know what's wrong with the pump!! Sure wish that filter was in line BEFORE the pump (Howard). The Pierce Arrow 100 year meet is here in less than 3 weeks and I really need some suggestions here. I'll be spending my Sunday getting the tank out. Thanks.

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It may not have been the gasoline stabilizer that did you in.<P>The feds are mandating "oxygenated" gasoline in many markets. There are two possible oxygenators that can be used MTBE and alcohol. MTBE has proven to have problems and is being phased out where it is in current use (e.g. California). So the gas in many markets is required by law to have alcohol in it.<P>A number of the earlier gas tank sealant products are turned to goo by alcohol. So it could have been that full tank of gas that did you in, not the stabilizer.<P>I know HVS has made some remarks about gas tank sealers and alcohol. And, if I recall correctly, HVS has a car where the gas tank was fouled up by the use of alcohol and an old sealant. Perhaps he can share his experiences and give some advise.<p>[ 06-24-2001: Message edited by: Tod Fitch ]

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Chacheska ~ Been there. Had that happen on my wife's Model A. Here is what probably happened. The tank was coated years ago before the alcohol resistant sealing compounds were developed. No one ever thought we would be putting alcohol in our gas tanks frown.gif" border="0 So what happens is you got a tank of gasahol and the ethyl alcohol in the stuff dissolved the sealer. The good news is that it most likely has all run down to the bottom and settled there. The bad news is that the outlet is at or near the bottom of the tank so the goop feeds or is sucked into the fuel line, and in your case right into the electric fuel pump. mad.gif" border="0<P>Solution: First, get a new fuel pump.<P>Now to overcome the mess inside. You could probably remove the tank and try to dissolve the mess inside with denatured alcohol. How much you can get out that way is uncertain, because you will have to pour it out through the filler neck or cut open the tank.<P>If you know Model A Fords, then you know that removing the tank from a restored car is no joy filled task. Further, trying to clean it out will ruin the finish. Therefore, I devised a solution that involved curing the symptom rather than curing the problem.<P>Now this is an easy thing to do on an A because it is a gravity feed system with the outlet on the very bottom of the tank, right where the goop collected. How this will work on a Pierce I do not know, but if you can rig it, it is a viable solution to your problem.<P>Disconnect the gas line at the tank and create some sort of standpipe to go in the opening so that it draws gas from higher up in the tank. I created a fitting using copper tubing about 3/4 to 1" long and this got the inlet point above the mess inside of the tank. The dissolved sealer will never harden up again in the tank, at least it hasn't in the A in 5 years, so you must continue draw gas from above it.<P>Remember that you no longer have access to the gas at the bottom of the tank, so don't let the gauge get too near empty. Also if your gas guage float gets into this stuff, it will glue itself to the bottom of the tank. Ours did. Another reason to keep the gas level above 1/4 tank.<P>Remember, this is a non professional fix and all I can tell you is that it has worked for me.<P>hvs<P>PS: Tod's post came on while I was writing this one so I read it after posting this. I agree with his feeling that the stabilizer most likely had nothing to do with the problem. It's the ethanol.<p>[ 06-24-2001: Message edited by: hvs ]

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Been thinking about how to construct a standpipe for the outlet.<P>Here is what I think might work. I assume the outlet on a Pierce is somewhere along the lower edge of the tank, if it is anything like most of my '30s and later cars.<P>If it has a compression fitting at the outlet, fabricate a new section of line to run rearward from the electric fuel pump [WITH A FILTER BEFORE THE PUMP rolleyes.gif" border="0 ]to the tank. Allow sufficient extra tubing beyong the ferrule to create the standpipe. Bend the tubing beyond the fitting so that it points toward the top of the tank. This will be a bit tricky since it has to slip through the opening. Do the best you can.<BR>If it is a flared fitting , convert to compression. That may take some doing.<P>Possible BIG problem. shocked.gif" border="0 Your tank may have a piece of tubing inside running from the outlet to and along the bottom of the tank. This is the case where the outlet is higher up on the tank and not on a lower edge. If that is the case, I believe opening the tank will be necessary.<P>All of this is just long distance speculation. There may or may not be any useful information here. ~ hvs

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I think the horse suggestion is the best! I tried calling the man who owned the Pierce for 12 years before I got it but he won't be home until this evening. Looking at the notes I took before I bought the car he had the tank removed and boiled out but never mentioned a sealer. I'll ask him what he did. Oxygenated gas was used in N.Y. briefly about 5 or more years ago but was withdrawn because of numerous complaints and I'm not aware that they've gone back to it. A Pierce friend of mine said the slop was probably sucked into the sending unit. Another friend feels the slop was pulled into the carbs but ech carb has a fuel filter before it so I'm hoping not. What do you think about that, HHoward? I also looked in Hemmings and found a company called Gas Tank Renu with 3 locations and one happens to be 20 miles from here in Buffalo so I may go that route. I don't know anything about the company. Has anyone used them before? Thanks for the quick responses. I'm leaving now to see if I can get the tank out and look for that horse!

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Wanted to add something. I did drive the car for a couple of hundred miles before adding the Sta-bil and it ran fine. I added the Sta-bil and drove it about 15 miles when it quit on me. Even though it may not have been the stabilizer it just happened to quit after I used it. If it was gasahol (and I don't think we have any in this area) how long would it take to disolve the liner? Any suggestions as to what I can use as a strainer to salvage my 30 gallons of gas? Nylon stocking? I never had a good reason to get married but now that I need a stocking ......! Thanks, guys!

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If I remember correctly, nylon stockings would disolve very quickly if splashed by gasoline when I worked at a filling station 35 years ago. Be careful. Gas is probably not worth the effort to save. Not worth the risk of more problems.

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Chacheska ~ You said that you added the Sta-Bil and then drove 15 miles when it quit. What was the time interval between adding the stabilizer and driving the 15 miles?<P>If they were one right after the other, I can't see how even a straight shot of alcohol could do that much dissolving that quickly. If there was a L O N G time between, then that could be a different story.<P>As for the disposal of the gas. Probably the safest and ecologically best place to get rid of 30 gallons of gasoline is through an engine. shocked.gif" border="0 <P>But that's just my opinion. ~ hvs

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The tank is out and the feed line is at the top of the tank with a 90 degree elbow coming out of it. I put that Sta-bil in about 8 months ago and can't remember the interval between adding it and driving it to storage but most likely just a couple of days because I've always done that to my other cars. I buy my gas from a local Indian reservation because the gas is 20 cents a gallon less than anywhere else and I've been buying it there for my other cars for the last 11 years. They make their own fuel so I'm not sure what's in it. I got another suggestion. Because of the brown color ad the honey-like consistency of the goo a friend of mine thinks it may be sugar in the tank! He thinks a liner would be a different color and more stingy in texture. This has a greasy conistency to the touch, almost like lithium grease. Still haven't heard from the former owner although I looked through my notes to see that he had the tank bolied out when he owned it.

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You can forget about it being sugar. What came out of our Model A tank was exactly what you describe coming from your tank, and it sure wasn't sugar. It was dissolved, pre alcohol proof gas tank sealer. FOR SURE!<P>With a top outlet you can forget about the standpipe idea.<P>You will probably have to open up the tank to get all of the crap out, unless a tank cleaning shop will GUARANTEE a job done otherwise. Whatever you do, be SURE that you get the tube from the top outlet to the bottom of the tank completely clean and free of any blockage.<P>That will keep you busy while you look for another fuel pump. rolleyes.gif" border="0 ~ hvs

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There is little chance this stuff has got into your carb if you have filters in line. But when you replace the fuel pump remember to change the filter too, that is likely to be in a state.<BR>Also, while you have got tank and pump off it is very worth while clearing your fuel line from tank to pump. There is a high likelihood that this too is all gooped up.

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Update. The former owner had Bill Hirch's gas tank sealer put in the tank after it was boiled out. It was the white sealer that's supposed to be alcohol proof. The gas I bought has Ethanol in it. Hirsch says MEK (Methyl Ehtyl Ketone) will disolve it but I spent 2 hours on the phone and no one knows what it is much less sells it. It's also a carcinigen and no one wants to play with it or dispose of it as it's an environmental hazard. A local radiator shop said they'd clean it out but they want to re-seal it with a red rubber-like substance that they claim will resist alcohols. I don't want another liner but they claim that once the metal is etched another liner is a must or rust will form. Don't know if that's true or if they're trying to sell their product. Need more info but don't have much time.

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Yes --- It sure will rust after being cleaned out and should be coated with something. I just do not know what at this point.<P>I suggest that what ever you do, in the future you avoid buying gas from the noble red men. They are probably still trying to get even with the white man for taking their lands rolleyes.gif" border="0 ~ hvs

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Chacheska,<P>Bill's correct about the M.E.K. disovling his sealer. You should be able to find it at your local hardware store, Lowes or Home Depot. (least you can around my area.) You'll need a gallon of it at best. If you can not locate some, try a good lacquer thinner. You'll need to let either of them soak and maybe do it a couple times. After cleaning the sealer out, rinse with water real good, air dry with a air hose and then do the same thing again but this time using muractic acid. This will etch the tank in preperation of using a new sealer. Ask that radiator shop what that red stuff was again. If it's Red-Kote brand sealer they're talking about, that is what you want to use to re-seal that tank. I've been using it for years and never a problem or come back. Also, the radiator shop's "hot tank" will not cook out the old sealer you have in there. As for disposing of the M.E.K., ask a local paint/ body shop that is in compliance in having hazardous waste removal pickup. See if they will help you out in getting rid of it for you.<P>Rick

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Chacheska, READ THIS!!!<P>You do NOT want to be playing with MEK if you can possibly avoid it. Not only is it all the things you stated (serious hazardous waste problem, major carcinogen, etc.), it also is very volatile and stinks!!! If you live anywhere near civilization and try to use this stuff to clean something it will NOT be a secret, and your neighbors will not be happy to find out that stuff they're kids are breathing is MEK! shocked.gif" border="0<P>However, the biggest problem you'll have will be disposal. This stiff is an "F-Listed" Hazardous Waste which, as I recall, is different from the listing for body shop paint solvents (I may be wrong there, I was a hazardous waste inspector for the PA DER until 1993, but it's been a long time since I've had those codes memorized). Any body shop that takes in hazardous waste from someone else, even waste that is perfectly compatable with their's, is going <I> <B> way </I> </B> out on a legal limb. <I> Taking in a hazardous waste that has nothing to do with the body shop's work from an outside source could very likely result in criminal action for them and the person providing the waste! </I> shocked.gif" border="0shocked.gif" border="0<P>If there is no alternative to MEK cleaning, I'd seriously consider having a professional metal treater who has this capability do this. It may take a long time to find one (I wouldn't know where to begin beyond the B to B phone book), but you'll be very glad you did. <P>Alternatively, you could contact your state's local environmental enforcement office and request information about the disposal of contaminated MEK. They'll have a list of approved disposal companies that do business in your area. You can call them for quotes (be sure to arbitrarily make up an approximate quantity of this material you'll be generating). Most states have set procedures for getting rid of single quantities of hazardous wastes. Here in PA you'd likely be given a temporary generator number for manifesting the material through a licensed transporter to the authorized disposal/recycle site. <P>This will be expensive. MEK is not gasoline, although I'm not sure the guy who sold you that last load of gas knew that! <P>There are numerous off-spec chemicals which can be used as low-grade/cheapie gas, especially as a substitute for octane boosters in "premium" gas. Often they'll use paint thinners made from xylene and tolulene. Some of these contain MEK! In fact pure MEK could be sold as fuel, albeit very expensive fuel. Legally and technically there's nothing wrong with it, as long as none of the materials are chlorinated. {and nobody's around using gas tank sealers!} <P>Finally, as I think this will be the lowest cost course of action, you may want to consider getting a new gas tank and lines. For a car like yours this will of course be a custom fabrication. You may have to jerry-rig something to make the 100-year event (like using an old beer keg). It may not exactly exude the class and dignity befitting the Pierce, but it would beat missing the event!<P>Good Luck!

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Thank you very much Rck and Dave. I knew the MEK was a hazard but didn't realize the extreme extent of that hazard. My neighbors are only 10' to 15' away from me so I'm very entrenched in my neighborhood. I'm caught between a rock and a hard place if the MEK is the only way to disolve the liner. The tank is a 3 chamber tank with 2 baffles. If the MEK does dissolve the liner will it flow out with the MEK or leave chunks that will linger in the tank or baffle holes? I'll see if I can get the rad shop to use the MEK. My health and my neighbor's health is too important for me to jeapordize. Wouldn't it be funny if the electric pump just quit from old age and it had nothing to do with the ooze? Tomorrow I'm going to take apart the fuel pump as well as cut the fuel filter open to see what's in both of them. Then I plan to get a telescoping mirror and light a match in the sending unit hole to see what's in the tank. O.K., maybe I won't use the match. Just wanted to see if anyone was paying attention. I'll be using a flex-shaft flashlight. Thanks again for the MEK warning, Dave. Just when I thought abuot giving it a try you brought me back to sanity.

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Chacheska: You had asked if anyone used the Gas Tank Renu people in a prior post. Yes, I did have my tank done by them about 2 1/2 years ago (New Jersey location). When I got my car the prior owners used a sealer that was not compatible with newer fuels. So, I will say this about them: they do nice work but it depends on the location you take it to. Second, they are not exactly cheap but since I don't have the equipment to deal with this problem, I pay the experts. BTW: I chose the Renu people since theirs is a process that bakes the surface on as opposed to others.

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Chris. Thanks for the vote of confidence in Gas Tank Renu. I saw a display yesterday at the Packard nationals in Canindaigua, N.Y. They cut various holes on the top side of the tank and sandblast the inside. They coat the interior with a PVC type resin that's impervious to all types of fuels They plug the holes then seal the outside with the same coating. They offer a liftime warranty, too. The only thing I didn't like was the coating has the appearance of a tar-like substance that doesn't look original at all. I'm a big originality buff and didn't like the way the exterior looked. Thanks again, Chris.

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Chacheska: I too have used the Gas Tank Renu people for my 36' Packard. They did my tank about 3 1/2 years ago. Someone used a sealer that was a do it your self job and didn't get the tank clean before they put it in and it started to flake off in the tank. A guy I know, he restores British cars sent it to MI. for me, it took about 3 weeks total, shipping from TN, and around $300. (with shipping cost) total, and I think they did a good job.

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