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chistech

Cleaning a fuel tank

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Picked up a fuel tank for my 32’ Olds and other than a fe w dents, it’s in solid condition. There is the typical light orange surface rust inside and some areas that are a little more flaky so to speak. I put a chain inside and worked the tank all around and it’s pretty clean now but wanted to get the rest of the orange surface rust off the inside. I have a bottle of Eastwood etch and was curious if I used it to clean the tank, which it also leaves behind a phosphorus coating, can I just use the tank as is. I don’t want to put sealer in the tank as it doesn’t need it. Is there something else I should use rather than the Eastwood etch?

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A radiator shop will usually boil out an old gas tank.

I took a real stinky one to my local shop just a week or so ago and the old boy there treated me right.

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I've used evaporust and it works great,  of course you need a few gallons and will have to rotate the tank a few times during the process unless you want to buy 15 gallons.  2 to 3 worked well for me. 

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A radiator shop will usually boil out an old gas tank.

I took a real stinky one to my local shop just a week or so ago and the old boy there treated me right.

 

good luck doing that in NJ.

 

I slosh a couple of gallons of gas in mine-rinse repeat.

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I spoke with my guy who does my radiators and tanks normally and he said to put the etch in and slosh it around for a while then drain it out. I did that tonight and it cleaned it up nicely. It didn’t need a boiling or anything super strong, just some surface rust removal. Some little areas show a little orangish pits but nothing too much. It looks like an every day fuel tank does so to speak.  Now it’s ready to be painted. Thanks for all the advice.

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Just curious, since you have the tank out and have gone this far in getting it cleaned out, why wouldn't you go ahead and seal it? It's good insurance against any future problems developing if it's done correctly. We've been doing this for 35 years and have never had a problem develop from a tank that we've sealed.

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 After cleaning out a gas tank, you will need a inline filter.

 I use the clear plastic ones where you can see the build up of rust in them. You will be surprised how often you will need to change them. Instal them on the line between the tank and the fuel pump.

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After cleaning, and then sealing two different tanks I used the clear filters -

but since they were properly sealed (stuff from Eastman) neither filter ever had any more stuff to collect over several thousands of miles of touring

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About 1 1/2 years ago I cleaned the tank on my 1930 Packard. The fellows at Byron York's shop who were working on other mechanical bits, took the tank out and we had it boiled out. I then took the tank and put several chains in it to knock off any surface rust while shaking it around. Took the chains pout and blew it out with compressed air and then did the same as mentioned using Evaporust. I then washed that out clean with water and used my air hose to dry it out and put it in a heated room over night to make sure all the moisture was out. Looked inside as best I could and it looked good and then I sealed it with Hirsch sealer. It worked great and car runs perfect. Do the extra cleaning and sealing now before you put the tank back in the car. It will save you a lot of headaches and regret later .

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10 hours ago, franklinman said:

Just curious, since you have the tank out and have gone this far in getting it cleaned out, why wouldn't you go ahead and seal it? It's good insurance against any future problems developing if it's done correctly. We've been doing this for 35 years and have never had a problem develop from a tank that we've sealed.

I agree. So it is bare metal and a bit rusty now.  You clean it out real well to bare metal where it will continue to rust as you always get some condensation.  Seems like clean it and seal it.  In 1932, they didn't have the compounds we have today to properly protect the inside of the tank.  Other option is to clean it and keep replacing filters.

Scott

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11 hours ago, franklinman said:

Just curious, since you have the tank out and have gone this far in getting it cleaned out, why wouldn't you go ahead and seal it? It's good insurance against any future problems developing if it's done correctly. We've been doing this for 35 years and have never had a problem develop from a tank that we've sealed.

 

1 hour ago, Stude Light said:

I agree. So it is bare metal and a bit rusty now.  You clean it out real well to bare metal where it will continue to rust as you always get some condensation.  Seems like clean it and seal it.  In 1932, they didn't have the compounds we have today to properly protect the inside of the tank.  Other option is to clean it and keep replacing filters.

Scott

 

 

Ditto to both.  If it was rusty and you don't seal it, it will be rusty again. Especially if you ever use ethanol gas.

 

Like Walt G, I've been using the Bill Hirsch alcohol resistant sealer in my customer's cars since it first came out. Not one problem with it.  

 

One other place  that crud can build up over the decades is in the fuel lines. Fresh gas, hot/cold changes under the car, and vibrations of driving (works much like ultrasound cleaner tanks), can make it to come loose and cause problems with the vacuum tank or fuel pump, and the carb. Don't just clean the tank and assume the fuel system crud problem is taken care of, either replace the fuel lines, or install filters just before the pump and carb.

 

Paul 

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Ditto on the in-line filters also.  I should have mentioned that as well in my original post response. Most folks just can't believe how much trouble a little fine dirt/rust can cause!

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The posts here are the first “good” reports I’ve ever heard about tank sealers. Up hear in New England I live by the water and  there have been many issues with boats running sealed tanks. I had my original 32 Olds tank cleaned, soldered, and then sealed with what was described to me as the best sealer on the market. The sealer is red in color and the fuel in the pump glass is red tinted already and I haven’t even put the body on the chassis yet. For this reason I started looking for another tank. I do know our gas in New England is notorious for eating up all sealed tanks. My 31’ Chevys sealed tank is now showing white milky like residue and I have changed my in line filter twice because of it.  I’d rather leave my tank as is and drain it at the end of season than seal it based on what I’ve seen and experienced in my area. If you guys have had good luck, good for you, me, not so much.

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I have two 30s cars    both my tanks seemed to in good shape     do not remember why    used  HURST  gas tank sealer       white stuff about   25 years ago     never had any issues

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I'm going thru the same situation with a Model A tank. I cut two access holes approximately 4"x10" as far forward as I could. I was able to get a 1" putty knife in and literally scrape the old type sealant out. I cleaned it as best as I could and tomorrow I am going to use a friends sandblast booth and remove what is left. After that I'll TIG weld up the access holes and then consider sealant. The issue is, the old sealant that ethanol attacks was applied in the '70s, was supposed to be the best. Now if I use the new ethanol proof sealer how do I know in a few years the "latest and greatest" isn't going to break down? I would venture to say that everybody that used the sealer from the '70s is going to have problems in the future. Any suggestions as to what I could use, that is impervious to ethanol gas to coat the inside of the tank. I was thinking perhaps fiberglass resin?

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Yes, the early tank sealers back before alcohol was used in gas are softened by it, gumming up the fuel system.  

 

And fiberglass polyester resin is not designed to be an adhesive for metal, or much else. Lots of people in the 1960s and 70s found that out after fiber glassing their leaking wooden boats and saw it coming off within a few years. 

 

We've had alcohol in the fuel for about two decades now and I've yet to see a problem with the many fuel and vacuum tanks I used the Bill Hirsch sealer  in.

 

Paul

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tHE HIRSCH SEALER IS SUPPOSEDLY USED ON AIRPLANES AND THE BEST I HAVE FOUND ON THE MARKET.

 

I TRIED ANOTHER BRAND ONCE AND IT DID PEEL OVER TIME.

 

IT DOES MATTER WHICH SEALER YOU USE.

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Well, the good thing is that next week is HERSHEY and I will be able to talk to the Hirsch people. Once I get the inside of the tank glass beaded the sealer will have an excellent surface to bond to. I'm also in the process of looking into a gas tank sealant called Re-Nu. From what I have been told, once it cures it is rock solid and impervious to most anything. I don't know however, if the process is something that can be done without bringing my tank to their facility.

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The nice thing about the Hirsch sealer is the tank does not have to be 100% rust free. Just the loose rust knocked off, like some do with chains and play big cocktail shaker. Then washed out with fast lacquer thinner and blown dry. Fast lacquer thinner is one of the few solvents that is strong enough to clean old gasoline residue, but will not leave anything of it's own to contaminate the surface, like some rust removers and solvents do. That may be why some folks have had troubles with gas tank sealers - in other words, not the sealer but what was used to clean the tank caused contamination problems for the sealer.  

 

And the Hirsch sealer will seal rust pinhole leaks.

 

Paul

Edited by PFitz (see edit history)

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you have to ship your tank to renu

 

If you can use a sealant on an airplane, it will work on anything. nothing better! buy Hirsch!

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I use Gas  renew  service in about 2 years it came lose and pluged up the hole system  . Went back to the people that did the job and they  told to get lost . wasn't that nice . Had a stainless tank made  was about the same cost as the renew job no problems after that  King32

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6 hours ago, mercer09 said:

you have to ship your tank to renu

 

If you can use a sealant on an airplane, it will work on anything. nothing better! buy Hirsch!

AV gas has no ethanol which makes a huge difference  but I’m very skeptical the FAA would allow a tank with a sealer in it for anything but private aircraft. I’ll have to check with my plane buddies

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