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cleaning out a gas tank

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m38mike View Drop Down
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    Posted: 29 July 2018 at 8:15am
Ever since I installed EFI in my Blue Mule I've been plagued with sediment filling up my fuel filters.  The EFI system cycles through my gas and pulls it so much faster that it used to when I ran with a carb.  As a result, it stirs up the rust and sediment that's accumulated in my tank over the past few decades.  I didn't want to have to change out fuel filters every week or two so I decided to clean out my tank.  

For the first part of the cleaning I used electrolysis.  I put the tank into a plastic wheel barrow, filled it with water, added Borateem detergent, inserted rebar electrodes into the tank, and connected the electrodes to the positive terminal of a 12v battery charger.  I connected the tank to the negative terminal of the charger, then turned the charger on.  I let it go to work for about 24 hours. 



Here's a photo of the wheel barrow full of water after the electrolysis has been working for about 1/2 hour. 



The electrolysis did a great job of cleaning the bottom and all sides of the tank.  But it only did a so-so job of cleaning the top of the tank.  I think that was because the bubbles in the water tended to insulate the top of the tank from the rebar electrodes.  I tried turning the tank upside down but I could not get it submurged like I wanted, and the rebar kept moving on me and coming in contact with the tank.  That negated the electrolysis process.  So I decided to try a different idea.  Tumbling.



Here is a video of how that worked.  I filled the coffee can with clean rocks from my driveway and poured them into the tank.  I put the gas cap on, and sealed the other openings with duct tape.  Then I put the jeep in gear and slowly turned the tank over and over and over.  I did that for about 1/2 hour.  Then I took the tank off and dumped the rocks out.  I rinsed the tank out with fresh water and the whole inside was nice and clean. 



The next step will be to add a liquid liner to the tank to seal the steel so it can't rust again.  




Edited by m38mike - 29 July 2018 at 8:19am
M38Mike
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Rick R View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick R Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 July 2018 at 9:53am
That makes me smile. What a great solution to a common problem.
Good job Mike!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wadoyado Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 July 2018 at 11:45am
Originally posted by Rick R Rick R wrote:

That makes me smile. What a great solution to a common problem.
Good job Mike!
I agree you can tell he uses his head for more than just a hat rack Joe W
"It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the jeep you've been driving all your life" (Mickey Mantle paraphrase)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark W. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 July 2018 at 12:23pm
another way to agitate the tank is to use a small cement mixer as they turn nice and slow. My younger brother has a Harley custom shop and has a cement mixer with foam blocks in it to hold tanks so he can spin them with stainless steel pins like used to clean brass for ammo reloading. Works great.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jeeper50 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 July 2018 at 4:38pm
I used a couple of large pkgs of BBs instead of rocks and tumbled it and found the tank had way to many holes to fix and opted for a new one for $140. 
'53 Cj3B 4 cyl D25/D44 lockrights,11" brakes, Belleview ol skool winch.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote m38mike Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 July 2018 at 10:36pm
I used the Por15 tank liner in the tank.  I bought a quart and after thoroughly mixing it there was still some of the filler material in the bottom of the can.  That's OK because I'm mostly interested in coating the steel to keep it from rusting again. I laid the tank down on each side for about 2-3 minutes, then turned it onto another side.  I repeated this twice to be sure that the liner got into every corner and across every surface.  I drained about a pint of liner back out of the tank.  Then I set up a small fan to blow air through the tank to help the liner dry faster.  I checked it at about 4 hours and it's dry to the touch.  And it looks great inside, very shiny and silvery.  Fortunately I didn't have any holes in the tank that weren't supposed to be there.  Now that it's super clean and lined, I shouldn't have any more plugged filters unless I get some dirty gas.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote m38mike Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 July 2018 at 10:49pm
Originally posted by Mark W. Mark W. wrote:

another way to agitate the tank is to use a small cement mixer as they turn nice and slow. My younger brother has a Harley custom shop and has a cement mixer with foam blocks in it to hold tanks so he can spin them with stainless steel pins like used to clean brass for ammo reloading. Works great.
A lot of folks have mentioned the mixer idea to me.  But I don't have one, and don't want to rent one for the little bit of work I wanted it to do.  So I improvised.  And that worked.  The problem my method has is speed control.  I've got to be there to regulate the speed.  With a cement mixer you just set it on slow and go do something else for an hour.  I thought about tossing a bunch of old nuts and bolts in the tank instead of the rocks, but decided to try the rocks instead.  I know the rocks worked.  I'd bet the nuts and bolts would too.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Roadmap Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 July 2018 at 8:42am
I used a handful of 1/4" nuts and bolts bolts in a tank for my Farmall Cub tractor recently. It worked out very well.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ndnchf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 July 2018 at 9:33am
I don't mean to sound rude, but.... For all the trouble of trying to clean out a 70+ year old tank and ending up with one that may be clean, but will be even thinner than before due to corrosion, why not just get a new one?  You can get one for about $150 delivered.  Mine was rusty and full of crap.  Over the winter a new one was installed, bolted right in.  It works great, no more problems.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote TateC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 July 2018 at 12:38pm
I think he made all the effort because it is an M38 tank and they are not cheap at $425. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ggordon49 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 July 2018 at 12:47pm
I have heard mix feelings on lining a fuel tank with some type of sealant.. Some people say it will eventually start to degrade (sooner rather than later) and start clogging everything back up.... I used the POR15 on a motorcycle tank and everything seems good... I appreciate your ingenuity, we should call you MacGyver  Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ndnchf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 July 2018 at 12:53pm
Originally posted by TateC TateC wrote:

I think he made all the effort because it is an M38 tank and they are not cheap at $425. 

Ahhh ok, I didn't realize it was an M38.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RICKG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug. 2018 at 12:51pm
Hey Mike today I ordered a new in-tank filter for my M38 (stainless steel) and it got me to thinkin about yours we tried to clean in camp @NCR.  I talked to John B. @ MWM and he said the fibre type was designed to be throwaway/replace. Once plugged then cleaned they become ineffective (but better than nothing) .
Here's a pic of the later cleanable steel mesh filter.
 
 


Edited by RICKG - 02 Aug. 2018 at 12:59pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote m38mike Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug. 2018 at 4:01pm
Muley, that's exactly the filter I need for inside my tank!!  Thank you for sharing that with me.  I will have to get a pair of these ordered post haste.  

BTW, the liner is all dry now and I've got the tank back in the Blue Mule.  I put 5 gallons of gas in it and fired up the engine.  Found a leak in another gas fitting to be repaired this afternoon. Otherwise I think I'm good to go.  I've got a fiber filter in the tank right now, but after seeing the steel filter I'm going to change it out.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mikec4193 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Aug. 2018 at 7:12am
Crazy stuff right there...good ole American ingenuity at its best...

thanks for posting...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drm101 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Aug. 2018 at 3:06pm
I used a motorcycle tank repair kit from Eastwood on my WO carburetor because there were holes in the fuel bowl. 4 years later and it's still holding strong. Do you think a chain in the tank would be a good idea so you don't have to worry whether all the rocks/nuts/bolts etc., come out after cleaning?  If you live in SE Michigan and need to borrow a cement mixer, feel free to PM!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bob3b Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Aug. 2018 at 4:00pm
I did the cement mixer thing and used eastwood tank liner and it looks great still after five years.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Greaser007 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Nov. 2018 at 11:21am
ndnchf:

On the Omix-Ada replacement tank, did the fuel outlet match-up with the original tank for proper location to line-up with the hole in the body-tub ?

I need a new tank, which rusted through from the outside-in behind the seat where the leaves collected for decades.

I looked into the idea of welding-in a new piece of metal, and after searching the Net for info, I came across a how-to.
The guy writing the how-to article said his dad used to weld gas tanks all day after proper prep. His dad said to fill the tank with water until it spills out the fill-cap opening. Then with the water spilling out, and the tank Full, light the fumes at the inlet with a torch.
Personally, I think I would be hunkered-down behind a buddy for protection while igniting the fumes.

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