WAY "OT" Removing rust from INSIDE gas tank
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  1. #1
    mcclij01 is offline Plastic
    Join Date
    May 2010

    Default WAY "OT" Removing rust from INSIDE gas tank

    I rescued a 1953 Ford Jubilee tractor from the weeds/woods. After much general repair I was able to make it purr like a kitten---for a few minutes. After some investigating I found the inside of the gas tank had some rust. I removed the tank and dumped in some ball bearings of varying sizes, added some diesel fuel, strapped it to my four wheeler and let the kids ride around for a few hours. This seemed to work pretty well to clean the tank to a nice shine. Now the problem is I can't for the life of me get all the loose pcs. of rust out of the tank. Some of the pcs. are big enough to plug the outlet. I have let the garden hose run for ever, at many different tank angles, and I still can't get all the rust flakes out. Anything out there that will dissolve it? Any other ideas?

    PS: I know I can buy a new tank but this has turned personal.

  2. #2
    thruthefence's Avatar
    thruthefence is offline Titanium
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    People's Democratic Republic of Louisiana


    You might try some of that 'sloshing' sealer the old car hobby uses. Any loose stuff should be captured when the sealer sets up.

    here's an example:

    Gas Tank Sealer Kits

  3. #3
    ecortech is offline Aluminum
    Join Date
    Jul 2006


    Try a magnet, one of those flexible wands with a magnet on the end, used for retrieving parts that you dropped into the unreachable depths of whatever you are working on, should work okay. Some sort of vacuum device would work, but don't use a shop vac, too much danger of residual fumes sucked up by the vac causing an explosion.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Hamburg, Minnesota, USA


    I've had good luck using a hot water pressure washer. The garden hose just doesn't have enough oomph to break up the rust.

  5. #5
    Tony Quiring is offline Stainless
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Madera county california usa

    Default Lye

    Get a can of lye, pour it in, fill with water and let soak a few days.

    If you have a windmill nearby then rig the tank to rock with the lift...how I have done it in the past.

    The lye will break apart the chunks and grab anything organic.

    After a few days flush with LOTS of water, upside down to get most of any chunks out, then rinse out the drain.

    You may need a second round, good luck.

  6. #6
    reggie_obe is offline Titanium
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Reddington, N.J., U.S.A.


    Take it to a radiator service shop and have it boiled out. After that process it can be patched and sealed.

  7. #7
    keithmech's Avatar
    keithmech is offline Hot Rolled
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    powell river bc Canada


    I'll second the radiator shop.I struggled with a rusty tank until it became "personal".
    Finally caved and had it boiled and recoated.No more problem with rust.
    This is on an 85 suzuki samurai which I appropriately named "Rusty".Sherusts faster than I can paint her.

  8. #8
    motion guru's Avatar
    motion guru is offline Titanium
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Yacolt, WA


    I have yet to find a radiator shop that will take in a used gas tank in my town.

    I used gravel from my driveway and then strapped the tank with gravel and water in it to the cement mixer and let it run for a few hours. I had to leave as the noise started to drive me crazy.

    Once done with that, I used a pressure washer to get it rinsed out - then blew dry with compressed air - I now use the truck fairly regularly and haven't had any rust problems.

  9. #9
    Ron_P's Avatar
    Ron_P is offline Aluminum
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Cincinnati, Ohio USA


    The only success I have had in several tries is to take tanks to a metal cleaning firm (I used American Metal Cleaning here in Cincinnati). They use an alkaline stripping process. The tanks come out completely rust free in and out.

    Need to coat the inside...they sold me a quart of Red-Kote Fuel Tank Liner. Pour it it, tape off the ports, and roll it around the back yard ("like a monkey [copulating with] a football", as it was described to me) and pour off the excess. Works wonderfully and very durable in my experience.

    Finish the outside as desired.

    And for your own health, keep flame away from that tank until it's stripped. No matter what you try, if you have to braze on fittings, there will be residual gases in the tank and it will go boom. I proved this under controlled circumstances, after cleaning with lye, scrubbing inside with chain, etc.

  10. #10
    3t3d is online now Diamond
    Join Date
    Nov 2004


    At a gas station I worked at in the 70's , some guys were working on their race car, and looked up to see the owner coming in early... They threw the case of beer onto the building next door, to hide the evidence.

    Later that day, at the next door body shop, radiator shop, Old Al was about to solder up an old gas tank. Al had such a bad heart condition, that he was not supposed to live more than another ten minutes or so, according to his doctor.

    Just as he was about to solder up that thank, he had the soldering copper in the flame..... The case of beer fully broke through the skylight...
    Crashing to his feet where he was working on that old gas tank....

    Nobody ever did admit to what they did. Well not to the owner. Who's biggest regret was that he didn't invent prohibition himself.

  11. #11
    T. Jost is offline Cast Iron
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Hillsboro, Kansas USA


    Do Not Use Any Tank Liner until ALL the rust is removed!!!

    I run a Welding, Radiator and Machine shop. I work on fuel tanks. The problem with what you've done so far is that there are baffles in that Jubilee tank and it can be a real devil to get the debris out from in back of the occluded end of the tank. Once you've gotten as much as you can washed out dry it thouroughy. Drain it as best you can. Set up a shop vac to blow. Clean the vac out first and use a clean filter or you will blow the tank full of stuff as bad as what you've gotten out. Stuff the hose down in the filler hole and just let it blow until all the water inside is gone. An hour or so usually does it. If the humidity is very high or you've left too much water in it it can take much longer. Once it is completely dry bang around on it with a soft mallet do dislodge any hanging particles. Switch your vac back to suck. Fabricate a skinny suction tip. 1/2" conduit and some duct tape will do in a pinch. Take a long skinny extended reach blow nozel for compressed air (braze a length of steel brake line or 1/8 inch copper tube to a blow attachment) and fish it into the dark recesses of the tank while using the suction of the shop vac to gather the offending junk in. It is tedious but it can be done. Once the tank does not rattle at all, bang on it with the mallet again and check for new rattles. Repeat until nothing moves. Once it is completely clean, using a quality tank coating system will keep new rust from forming and seal in anything jamed in the tank seams and between the baffles and tank sides. Clean first. Some of the most miserable tank cleaning jobs I have ever done were ones where a dirty tank was coated with cheap coating. Trust me. Get it clean first.


  12. #12
    Timw is offline Stainless
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    N E Florida


    I had a 1939 9-N and a 1948 8-N. Pulled both of them out of the woods, piston,sleeve, valve job on the 9. Valve job, pump rebuild on the 8. I played a lot with them then sold them and bought a 35hp Branson 4WD Diesel and stopped playing!!
    That tank fitting should have a screen on it IIRC.
    As stated a piece of chain and a way to tumble the tank will loosen everything.
    I have soldered, brazed and welded dozens of fuel tanks including gasoline tankers (even inside tankers). There are some tricks and some procedures that make it safe to do.


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