I'm now re-restoring a '15 depot hack that I haven't driven since 1994 and found that I FORGOT to drain the gas 'way back then. Thankfully the thick, thick varnish is "only" 2" deep. Whats the best way to clean it out? My radiator guy said he quit de-gunking gas tanks. I've used a gallon of acetone, shloshed it a little and let it sit overnight and drained quite a bit out and have been using a flat stick to dip in the fill hole and scoop some of this sludge out. Now when I drain the tank, the acetone looks like Karo Syrup. Going into town tomorrow and considered buying 2 more gallons of acetone. Is there a better/another way?
Add to Acetone,some Toluene. It(THe mix) is an excellent gum solvent.
Use a can of crystal Draino to a tank full of hot water. Let set overnight and check it. If not clean yet pour it back in and let set another day. Should be nice and clean. It will remove anything carbon based, but will not remove any rust. Letting it sit in the sun will also speed things up... Do not use the pre mixed Draino pipe cleaners. They are not strong enough to do much good....
I just went through this with my '27 Coupe. It is painted body color so I didn't want to have it "Hot Tanked". Started by draining out the crud. Put in glass marbles & rolled it around on the lawn for a while... that broke up the big chunks. Then put in a box of roofing nails... same thing. Then flushed with gasoline, water, Evapo Rust slosh. Flushed with water. Let dry for two days. Coated with Bill Hirsh gas tank sealer... two more days of drying. Installed... Car runs! It only took about 7 weeks in my spare time to get through all of that
While I can't recommend a way to clean it I can tell you it MUST be totally cleaned out. While "old style" fuel won't dissolve it's own varnish ethanol gas definitely will. There was madness at all the marinas here years back when the switch was made. Boat owners tended to leave existing fuel in their tanks over a season and the varnish would form. Never caused a real problem until ethanol when fine sand like flakes began clogging fuel filters like crazy. Come to think of it maybe that's your answer. Ethanol fuel left in the tank to dissolve the varnish.
I believe that crystal Drano contains lye and will attack and strip the galvanized plating inside the gas tank. Not a good thing as the plating keeps the inside of the tank from rusting.
Cleaned a Model A tank in car that had gas that must have been way older then what you are dealing with. I dumped a gallon (may have been more) of lacquer thinner in the the tank and let is just work. Rocked the car back and forth every so often. Seemed to do the job.
You really need to get out and drive more often!
Thanks all ! Might be a solution in there somewhere. So, . . .uncle Jack, just where do I get this Toluene? Big box hardware store carry it? I never heard of it. But you've got a chemistry degree and provide excellent Model T advice so I'll try it first. Paul, the glacier just started retreating down here in south Texas so I can now get to the barn ;o). Must be something to Algore's Global Warming scam. Actually, I've hoarded too many Model Ts over the years and am now getting down to 4 or 5 that I can better manage.
Up here in the sunny Midwest,we can but Toluene or toluol as it is sometimes called,At wally world,K-mart,Hardware store farm and fleet place. Some paint stores even carry it.
For some reason, I just can't even think of coating a gas tank with anything. I've heard too many bad stories of the coating coming loose, and then you really have a problem. I've always just dumped in some clean pea gravel and sloshed it around until everything is clean. No need for a coating.
I'll second Mark Gregush's suggestion of lacquer thinner.
Pea gravel will work on rust if it can get past the baffles other wise you are just cleaning the first section. If the tank is cleaned and prepped as the instructions say there should be no problem with the current made for modern gas coating. But his question is how to get the old gummy gas out.
About six weeks ago I got a '49 Chev running that had sat 20 years with a little gas in the tank.
The owner drained the tank and put new gas in it.
After getting it running real nice it sat 3 days and when he started it again it bent 4 push rods and would not start.
I took the head off and removed all of the valves. The intakes had to be hammered out.
We cleaned the guides and valve stems with a wire brush. After putting it back together it ran fine.
Two weeks later the owner went to move the car and it started but broke a rocker arm.
After another week I took the head off because all 6 exhaust valves are now stuck in the guides.
They will only move with a sledge hammer and the springs will not close them again.
I have removed the engine and sent it all to be cleaned in a pressure/spray washer.
I will remove the gas tank Tuesday and get it cleaned out GOOD.
Purchase a new reproduction, round tank, if still available - there was some talk a while back about availability with the new ones. What's your time worth ?
Does anyone know what ingredients are in 'Carb & Choke' cleaner? That stuff has always worked real well for me. It's also inert. (Non-flammable.) Helpful hint? Each year before storing snowblower, lawnmower, or any small engine... Allow engine to 'run empty' the gas tank, i.e. "run out of gas". Then, spray the C&C cleaner into the gas tank. Remember spark plugs and oil changes first. Next season, fill the tank with fresh gas, 1-2 pulls or cranks, and "Off-we-go!" Before storing our vintage vehicles, this format has worked for me.
Gasoline? Our local Fleet-Farm offers an ethanol-free mid-grade for a few cents more. Considering ethanol takes about 10% more energy to make and is about 10% less efficient, plus ethanol's corrosive effect; make your choice. I myself have seen and ruined too many small engines, before researching to not let that happen any further. Stainless steel is necessary for transport - no pipeline! And think about what it does to our Model T's and pre-2005 vehicles.... Enough of my soapbox.
I believe carb cleaner typically consists of acetone, toluene, and methanol.
Also, I believe the ingredients in lacquer thinner are basically the same as carb cleaner.
I'm not an expert.
When I clean glass fuel bowls and such for small engines I use Methyl ethyl keytone. Works great for taking away the varnish and crud. I have used it to clean small tanks for relining to. but it aint cheap.
Find a station with E-85 and buy 5-10 gallons. It's probably gonna be the cheapest solvent you can find. I'm sure lacquer thinner and some others mentioned above will do the trick, but they are going to be pretty expensive in the quantities you will probably need. E-85 is pretty much denatured alcohol, just a lot cheaper than buying it at Lowes.
The answer to your question is directly above this post.
I have never seen a gas station that sells E-85.
I have not know of a paint supply store or a hardware store that sells lacquer thinner in many years here in CA.
We can still get mineral spirits, MEK and acetone though.
Again, great advice !!.. Thanks much!. I purchased another $16 gallon of acetone yesterday at Home Depot and poured it in the tank last night. Jack, I've called around and can't find any tolouene. But I do know of a E 85 gas station in San Marcos and will get 5 gallons today on my way to New Braunfels. Then after sun-drying I expect to coat the tank innards in case theres any balls of sludge left. Interesting that tolouene is all over IN but not in TX and lacquer thinner is all over TX but not in CA. And I'll report the results
Lol, I'm with Charlie B - why not just get the biggest of it out and then fill it up with ethanol loaded gas? If you've been needing to burn a brush pile, just use the leftover crudded up gas to start it.
Aerosol carburetor cleaner is Xylene based and is made to dissolve old gas and MEK is even stronger so I would pour in some MEK to do the job. That's what I used on my cowl tank and MEK cleaned it as clean as a whistle. I've read where Tolulene is a carcinogen, but what isn't these days. Jim Patrick
Erik, I was not aware that Crystal Draino (lye) will remove the galvanized plating. I have used the Draino many times with very good results. Most of the tanks I have worked on were also rusty tanks with a lot of the galvanizing already gone. I just may not have noticed it removing the galvanizing. It may also take quite awhile to remove it .??? If you are planning on coating the inside of the tank with a sealer, removing the galvanizing will not be a issue., (I also have coated/sealed at least 10-15 tanks with no problems) The main reason for sealer failure is poor pre cleaning and prep. If the tank is rusty inside I take 100 short drywall screws and put in the tank. I count a 100 going in and 100 coming out. Then I put in about 4 or 5 gallons of water/ draino solution if Im still trying to get the last of the tar out. I use plain water if the tar is gone. The really short screws will go by the baffles and clean both sides of the tank. I then strap the tank to my cement mixer tank. I turn it on and let it run for awhile. I check it about every 15 minutes to see the progress. Each time I change the position of the tank so the screws get a different angle of "attack" The sharp points of the screws will clean right to the bottom of the seams. After I have cleaned out the gunk with the Draino, and also have done the drywall screw cleaning, I prep the inside of the tank with a acidic etch. There are several versions of the etch out there. Most are a Phosphoric acid based product. Langs and the other vendors sell the cleaning and etching kits. The acid etch gives a good surface for the sealer to attach to. It also gives the steel a slight zinc coating (galvanized) coating. If for any reason there is some rust left the Phosorphic acid will convert rust oxide (rust) to a zinc oxide (galvanized) coating. As I said earlier, I am not aware of the Draino removing the galvanizing, I will do some more research as to it doing that, but I still stand by my method as a very effective way to clean a old tar like coated tank that is also rusty. It is probably cheaper to just buy a new tank. But some people will still want to save the original tank in their original car if possible, regardless of the amount of time required or the price.
I've used lye based oven cleaner to degrease parts and my experience is that it eats zinc/galvanized plating.
Soak some galvanized plated nails or screws in crystal Drano and see if it strips the plating.
My dad and I have cleaned our original gas tanks similar to your method. We have a friend who has a rotisserie and he filled the tanks with stones and soapy water and let them rotate for 24 hours. My dad coated the inside of his with sealer but I did not do the same with mine.
I have a new round gas tank in stock, 1650.00 plus postage,Bob
Sorry was 150.00 plus postage, keypad sticks,Bob
Erik: I am not doubting what you say. I have just never noticed it before. On a old rusty tank, I feel like it is not an issue. But it is good to know if cleaning something with a galvanized coat that you do not want to hurt. I am always glad to learn something new.....
I am with Bob Bergstadt, if you get it clean you still have an old tank that will leak when it is ready, you spend hours trying to get it clean plus the cost of what ever you use as a solvent. Any specks of rust you don't get our will find their way to the carb jets and cause more grief. Bite the bullet, do it right the first time. Replace the tank. You will be glad you did.
Just tell them it's 1650 installed plus airfare and hotels
Jack P., So far I've got 2 gallons of acetone @ $16 ea. and 3 gallons of E 85 @ $2.89 ea into a good metal-solid round gas tank. I'm doing this concurrently with a re-restoring job that, I think, will be finished in 5-6 days. I'm retired and enjoy using good original parts. Years ago I ran out of good Wards Riversides and radiators. So I've been buying new T Drivers and Berg's radiators. Still have a few good round gas tanks left however. Looks like the crud is broken down to soluable, drainable 'root beer' and the tank bottom is clean. Now to dry it and coat it. Thanks again to all !!
George: Glad it is cleaning up. What do you mean by "coat it" If you are planning on using some brand of "slushing compound" Like POR gas tank sealer, ect. You "MUST USE" some kind of etch on the inside of the tank. If you do not etch the tank. The liner "WILL FAIL" I am using caps to shout for a reason. The biggest reason for liner failure is improper cleaning and etching of the tank. The liners need a etched surface that is slightly acidic to adhere to. Soap, gas, paint thinners, Draino, carb cleaners, lye, oven cleaners, ect leave a slightly caustic surface. The caustic surface is opposite of what you need to use. You may mean "coat" to mean using some oily coating like diesel or ?? to coat the inside of the bare tank with and use no type of slushing liner. In that case the etching is not needed. Good luck with the 5 to 6 days ..... My easy, short, projects usually end up taking months to get done these days......
A number of years ago someone posted some pictures somewhere of Pea gravel in a tank and tying it underneath the rocker and setting all day rocking on the porch. I take my tanks to a GOOD radiator shop that has a vibration tank. A vibration tank is over $2000.00 dollars so many of the smaller shops do not have them.
Just my opinion, but I think tank cleanliness is over rated. No doubt, you want to get out all the goo, but I'm not too worried about every single flake of rust. If the tank don't leak, get out what you can, then use one of the tubular inlet screens in the top of the sediment bulb. That will keep anything from getting to the carb. Even if it were to build up, the thing is probably 2" tall. There'll never be THAT much stuff build up in there.
The best way to take care of a rusted, dirty or sludged up fuel tank is to pour a couple cups of gas in it, throw a lit match at it, get out your catalog and buy a new one.
Please be aware this is only a suggestion and I nor this website will be responsible for the negative outcomes that may occur. So follow these suggestions at your own risk.
I want one of these for my speedster
http://www.thebrassworks.net/shop/Gas-Tanks-&-Brass-Lights/c86/p588/19-Gallon-Br ass-Gas-Tank-in-Polished-Brass-with-Cap/product_info.html?osCsid=e884e74b523029e b43ef834d8cafc763