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Old 05-22-2011, 07:12 PM
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Cleaning out a rusty gas tank.

I picked up a nice looking and fitting 18 gallon gas tank for my Model A pickup project.
It has some light rust and scale inside. I can get it boiled out at a radiator shop for about $50.00 or so but wondered if anyone has any ideas on cleaning it out myself at home.

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Old 05-22-2011, 07:27 PM
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Muriatic acid will disolve the rust and scale........Mix it with about 10 parts water and leave it in there over night, it should be clean in the morning.

That said, $50 isnt bad for boiling it out.....cost a bit more but no hassles with acid etc
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Old 05-22-2011, 07:56 PM
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I use the diluted muratic acid along with lava rock and tumble it for awhile, works good.Before discarding the acid,you should neutralize it with baking soda.
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Old 05-22-2011, 09:39 PM
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I've cleaned out a few vehicle gas tanks and some NATO jerry cans with 50/50 muriatic acid/water and medium sized COARSE limestone gravel. First, I clean out the tank with some Simple Green or other degreaser and wash it out. Then slosh a few gallons of the acid/water mix and gravel and repeat and repeat.

Of course, you want to wear heavy rubber gloves, safety glasses AND a protective face shield, and away from anything you remotely care to keep clean. If you don't have coarse gravel, you can use some heavy chain, but the acid might etch/eat into it a bit.

I then wash the tank out with Acetone and let it air dry. After it's dry, I seal them up with some gas tank sealer.
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Old 05-23-2011, 05:48 AM
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I just had the tank on my 65 Ranchero boiled and sealed.
This was done at an industrial radiator shop.

$125 and I did not have to screw with the tank at all, other than to remove it and re-install it.

Tank had to come out anyway for a sending unit replacement and thorough cleaning (sat about 5 yrs with a full tank of fuel)
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Old 05-23-2011, 07:21 PM
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Thanks for your ideas!
I dropped a chain in side and banged that around real well then
I used 2 gallons of muriatic acid & 16 gallons of water.
It's out in the yard right now bubbling and foaming away, like a
science project! Can't wait to see how it looks in the morning!
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Old 05-23-2011, 10:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon29
Thanks for your ideas!
I dropped a chain in side and banged that around real well then
I used 2 gallons of muriatic acid & 16 gallons of water.
It's out in the yard right now bubbling and foaming away, like a
science project! Can't wait to see how it looks in the morning!
I think that's a 12% solution by volume mix you've got there, so you should be okay. I would definitely check on it every couple of hours.

Muriatic acid and bare steel are bad combinations. Sure, it cleans the steel, but it will actually eat/dissolve it if left long enough. I remember I was acid washing concrete and left an industrial broom in the acid bucket. I came back after an hour to find the broom handle laying on the ground and the bristles laying in the bucket. The acid mix completely dissolved the handle mount to the bristles.
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Old 05-24-2011, 06:31 PM
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Not that anyone gives a crap but this is the latest in my tank cleaning adventure!
My 8 to 1 water/muriatic acid overnight soak did very little, started looking at new gas tanks again....too much money!
Stopped this morning at a radiator shop to see about boiling, guy said his tank was down but he'd take a look. he suggested straight muriatic acid.
I put 2 gallons in the tank, taped up the openings and drove around on my service job with it in the back of my pickup all day so it would slosh around.
Got home tonight, opened it up ...... and it looks pretty good!
Rinsed it out then gave it a phosphoric acid rinse that is supposed to help seal it?
The thoughts on using a tank sealer are running about 50/50,
any recommendations?
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Old 05-31-2011, 07:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon29
The thoughts on using a tank sealer are running about 50/50, any recommendations?
I used Red Kote to seal up my NATO jerry cans. They're still holding up great.

Back in the early 1990s, I used quite a bit of gas tank sealer to great effect. I remember it was a two part solution in white cans with an old Model A/Carriage on it. Once mixed, it turned blue and you had to immediately pour it in as it was nasty, nasty stuff. I can't remember the name of it though.
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Old 11-13-2015, 09:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon29 View Post
I picked up a nice looking and fitting 18 gallon gas tank for my Model A pickup project.
It has some light rust and scale inside. I can get it boiled out at a radiator shop for about $50.00 or so but wondered if anyone has any ideas on cleaning it out myself at home.
Do you recommend this method for me to use tomorrow in removing rust from my 31 Ford Roadster gas tank?
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Old 12-04-2015, 12:47 PM
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I've read that vinegar and a chain works pretty well. Vinegar (weak acid) will eat the rust and not harm the parent steel. The chain helps break down the rust.


I use acetic acid quite a bit to remove rust in general. My biggest container, 2 lbs of acid in about 10-12 gallons of water. I have a smaller cat litter container, maybe 3 gallons and use about 3/4 lb of acid in it.


I do neutralize the parts after with a dip into baking soda and water. No rocket science, a 1 lb box into 5 gallons of water. Muriatic acid will have to be neutralized as well.
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Old 12-07-2015, 10:47 AM
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This is kinda an older post, but I will throw this in for anyone searching.

This is how I have done dozens of vintage motorcycle tanks. The amounts can be loosely adjusted.


(For a 3 1/2 gallon tank) 8oz of Naval Jelly (acid that eats rust and leaves good metal) mixed with water and filled to the top of tank. Using hot water makes the jelly easier to mix. Leave it filled 24 hours or until metal is rust free and shiny. Dump and rinse thoroughly with garden hose. Add a table spoon or 2 of baking soda and fill with water. Let sit for 10 minutes. Dump and rinse thoroughly. Drain as much water as possible. Thoroughly coat/rinse the inside with WD40 to prevent flash rusting. Drain and fill with gas soon.

You can adjust this method for a car tank. The amounts don't have to be perfect.
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Old 12-07-2015, 01:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yellowsnow View Post
This is kinda an older post, but I will throw this in for anyone searching.

This is how I have done dozens of vintage motorcycle tanks. The amounts can be loosely adjusted.


(For a 3 1/2 gallon tank) 8oz of Naval Jelly (acid that eats rust and leaves good metal) mixed with water and filled to the top of tank. Using hot water makes the jelly easier to mix. Leave it filled 24 hours or until metal is rust free and shiny. Dump and rinse thoroughly with garden hose. Add a table spoon or 2 of baking soda and fill with water. Let sit for 10 minutes. Dump and rinse thoroughly. Drain as much water as possible. Thoroughly coat/rinse the inside with WD40 to prevent flash rusting. Drain and fill with gas soon.

You can adjust this method for a car tank. The amounts don't have to be perfect.
Wouldn't it just rust again if you left it uncoated?
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Old 12-09-2015, 09:51 AM
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Wouldn't it just rust again if you left it uncoated?

No. If you do it good and fill it with fuel right away once the fuel is used up it doesn't seem to rust again with regular use. I'm sure the fuel helps some in preventing that.
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