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The gas tank cleanup and recondition tale ...

Discussion in 'Featured Articles & How To's' started by boss-tiger, Nov 21, 2022.

  1. boss-tiger

    boss-tiger Gold Level Sponsor

    So, needed/wanted to cleanup 2pr of gas tanks for my two cars. Over the years I had/acquired a total of 12 gas tanks (it was a nice pile in the attic) and thought to myself 'How hard could it be to just get them all restored ..." - so off I go on a project that started in April and I just completed in yesterday (mid November, 8 months that seemed to last forever). I already had these gas tanks, so dragged them out of the attic, pulled off old hoses, clamps, sending units, spiders, etc. and piled then into the back of the car .. away I go, the project begins. Had all tanks: A) hot tanked/flushed/muriatic acid tanked then neutralized (outsourced at metal stripping company for approx.. $50/tank which sounded OK at the beginning and was assuming I could sell 8 to help pay for this, but wait ... b) now in case you did not know, time is not friendly to Sunbeam gas tanks and only 7 tanks survived this first step (found some pin holes for sure) and purchased a 13th tank from friend for $50 to end up with 4 pairs. Repeated same process on this 13th tank. Now I have 8 good, clean bare metal gas tanks (4 pair) looking great with only a very light surface rust inside from step A. Also I know my economics to recoup costs for this project are slipping away. Plugged up each tank (did this one at a time) and poured in about 1/2 gallon of EvapoRust, sloshing around by shaking and flipping end/side/etc. over and over for about 4 hours on each side (took a while) - then flush with warm soapy water twice each then quickly plugged/flushed again with Acetone to pull out the water which worked great to end up with a nice clean shiny metal inside. C) plugged/filled each with about 1 quart of Red-Kote gas tank lining product, flipped tank over and over to get all sides (did two tanks at a time and took about 20 minutes per tank), then poured out excess Red-Kote and able to reuse on multiple tanks any excess. then D) sand, prime, spray paint each tank to protect the outside's . Long story short: project took 8 months to complete at a cost of about $135 each for the final 8 good tanks (excluding initial cost of the tanks purchased over the years in $25-$75 each range) Repair summary : started with 12 tanks, over 100 miles driven, found 5 tanks bad, purchase another tank and repeat, (2) gallons of EvapoRust, (1.5) gallons of Acetone, (3) quarts of Red-Kote tank cleaner and and guess 80+ hours of my time. In conclusion, if it looks easy and/or inexpensive .. then it probably will not turn out as you plan - HA! All good, just thought you might get a kick out of my gas tank restoration adventure
    dwolff706 likes this.
  2. Bill Blue

    Bill Blue Platinum Level Sponsor

    No need to toss pin holed tanks. The POR15 sealer will seal repairs made with screen wire. I would not be surprised if Red Kote will do the same. Were you able to remove all of the black factory seal? I have found that chemical strippers available to DIY'ers will not touch the factory seal. I had to remove it by inserting a chain into the tank and "sloshing" it around. For hours.

    Not easy, but cheap.

    Silver Creek Sunbeam likes this.
  3. boss-tiger

    boss-tiger Gold Level Sponsor

    The hot tank got out 98% of the liner, then the muriatic acid did the rest. Re pin pholed tanks - yes the POR or RedKote should be able to fix .. but I just did not trust that myselfand did not test that out. I had one tank that basically looked liked it was sweating, the pin holes were so tiny you could not see.
  4. bulldurham

    bulldurham Platinum Level Sponsor

    My Series II tank lasted more than 20 years w/ a POR 15 repair. The bottom had many pinhole . When it finally started leaking there was only one pinpoint leak. I did the same refurb about 4 years ago and all remains good. Repaired 2 late series tanks 3 years ago w/ good results as well.
  5. puff4

    puff4 Diamond Level Sponsor

    I’ve soldered pinholes in quite a few tanks over the years. It’s a permanent and safe solution to the problem. It’s really not that difficult… the important bit is working with fresh metal and using tinning flux. The end result will be every bit as good as new and after interior coating should last a lifetime. The only caution is to ensure there are no remaining fumes in the tank before any heat.

    PROCRAFT Donation Time

    Probably why I let a Mustang tank into the trunk floor
  7. 260Alpine

    260Alpine Silver Level Sponsor

    Joel, Good to see you back here!
  8. belmateo

    belmateo Gold Level Sponsor

    Would brazing work the same?
  9. puff4

    puff4 Diamond Level Sponsor

    Yep. But the increased heat needed to braze rises the chance you’ll warp the metal.
    belmateo likes this.
  10. belmateo

    belmateo Gold Level Sponsor

    Good to know, thanks
  11. Acollin

    Acollin Platinum Level Sponsor

    Gas tank experts
    1966 series V

    i have owned my car since 2014 and the PO owned since the late 60s ( 3 owners) . I do not believe the inside of my fuel tanks have ever been cleaned , resealed or altered in anyway.

    1) is there a way to tell, without removing the tanks from the car, if my saddle tanks have been attended to?
    2) my car is now 56 years old. Is it inevitable that the factory coating mentioned in the threads will clog my fuel lines?
    3) my car runs fine and my fuel filter is clear, could I have avoided this issue altogether?

    My plan is to do nothing at this point. I am reluctant to look a gift horse in the mouth?
    Be well all
  12. puff4

    puff4 Diamond Level Sponsor

    Andrew, if your fuel pump’s filter screen is free from black bits and you have no fuel smell in the boot, your tanks don’t need servicing… enjoy your driving!
  13. boss-tiger

    boss-tiger Gold Level Sponsor

    IMO, todays high ethanol fuel mixes (standard stuff we buy at the gas stations) pulls in moisture which can rust your 50 year old gas tank. I only drive my car mid spring to mid fall, then it is in storage. Durring the summer when I know I will use up a full tank, I fill up with stardard goverment Ethenol required mix and don't worry much about it. My last two fill ups for the year (and no I can never predict that perfectly) I buy the more expensive non-Ethanol fuel (it is pricy $). Storage over the winter tanks are kept full with this non-Ethanol fuel.

    FYI = non-Ethanol fuel (my real experience) : a) car starts so much better when cold, b) definately much better idling expecially both cold and warm, c) I believe better performance, and d) it is not as damaging t0 my old Holley carburator, and assume fuel lines, pump, hoses, etc (non of which were designed originally for Ethanol fuel. Re. my Holley, when I run Ethanol fuel it seems I have to rebuild every other year, since I have been using the non-Ethanol fuel before winter and storing with, I am on year 3 without rebuilding the Holley - also car sit a lot during Covaid (with non=Ethanol)

    I also line my tanks now to help protect from the Ethenol moisture grab issue and maybe it is a waste, but it does not seem to hurt anything either
  14. boss-tiger

    boss-tiger Gold Level Sponsor

  15. Bill Blue

    Bill Blue Platinum Level Sponsor

    Next time your low on fuel, using a small flashlight, look into the tank. If you see see black, it is original sealer, If red or white, it has been redone. If original, be on the lookout for black flecks in the fuel filter, as it seems it will happen. But no need to fret about it, just be aware of the problem.
  16. Acollin

    Acollin Platinum Level Sponsor

    I’ ll give it a flashlight inspection today.

    I am fortunate that the closest gas station to my house has non ethanol. Yes, it is more expensive, but it is all I have ever used in my two sports cars, chainsaw, generator, lawn mower etc. I learned many years ago now, from my stihl dealer, that non ethanol is a cost of owning this stuff that must be accepted. I won’t even use ethanol products when I know I would run through a tank in a week.

    be well— just very happy that- so far- my fuel system appears OK.
  17. boss-tiger

    boss-tiger Gold Level Sponsor

    Be very careful around fuel fuel with flashlights - FYI, sometimes flashlights have a tiny 'spark' of electricity at the switch when turned on and gas fumes are very dangerious. Make sure to have very good air ventilation also a good idea.
    Shannon Boal likes this.
  18. Shannon Boal

    Shannon Boal Platinum Level Sponsor

    Would brazing work the same?
    Brazing fuel tank, have had success with repair in one spot. If it has a rust hole because water collected in a dimple, or small low area in the tank, like VW beetle tanks where the fuel pipe connected, it will work. In a large area, the brass may develop cracks while cooling. On a Corvair tank I found myself chasing one darn leak after another. . . In short, brush up on fluxing and soldering, it will serve you well. First choice for oil pans, too...
  19. boss-tiger

    boss-tiger Gold Level Sponsor

    Never done myself, but have always seen tanks repaired with solder.

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