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Guide - How to restore rusty fuel tank without splitting it.


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#1 Iceberg

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 05:12 PM

Guide - How to restore rusty fuel tank without splitting it.

Most of the old fuel tanks look pretty bad inside rust, dust and old fuel - just have a look at my #1photo.
If anyone is struggling to find a good condition fuel tank, you may be better do a quick restoration and get few more years out it.
What you need:
High pressure washer ( I used car wash – ask the attendant if that is ok first)
Decent adhesive tape
Hot water – not boiling
Liquid Measuring container
Marine cleaner
Paint etcher
Fuel tank sealer

Or you can just buy a kit from a car paint sore  Por-15 seems to have good reviews and you should not pay more than $135 Aud for it, some shops will try to sell it for up to $200 so ring around.
Step 1 – Wash
Once tank is empty and the fuel sender is out, wash the tank well with the pressure gun, you should be able to stick the nozzle inside the tank and try to get all angles, when you think you have washed the fuel tank well then wash it for another 5 minutes. Try to get all angles and rotate it.
See Photo #2 – Much better already.

Step 2 Dry
Next dry the tank, with a decent heat gun set inside the sender hole the tank should dry out in 1.5 hours or so.
But I noticed there are a lot of fumes, even after decent wash, so I kept on stopping and letting the fumes come out by using pressurised air.

Step 3 Loosen the left over rust (repeat this step any time the tank is properly dry )
Once tank is dry, really dry!  Bang it around gently and you will notice more rust flakes, I vacuumed this out.
You can also use a handful of washer inside the tank and then rolling the tank.
See Photo # 3 Looks even better.

Step 4 Mask the holes
Using adhesive tape cover the holes but the fuel filler hole
See Photo # 4 & 5

Step 5
Add 1 litre of Marine cleaner into some container and add another 1 Littre of hot water.
Pour the contents of the container into the fuel tank through the fuel filler hole.

Step 6 cover the fuel filler hole with tape to seal it.

Step 7 shake the tank with marine cleaner, move it around for 20 min.

Step 8 empty out the fuel tank contents and repeat steps 5, 6&7 steps

Step 9 empty out the fuel tank contents and repeat steps 5, 6&7 steps

Step 10 empty out the fuel tank contents and repeat steps 5, 6&7 steps

Step 11 repeat step 1

Step 12 Etcher
Once the tank is empty of the water and there is no pools of water inside mask the holes again and add in 1 litre of the etcher.
Roll the tank around for good 30 minutes minimum ( no more than 2 hours )
After this, empty the contents

Step 13 Dry the fuel tank, bone dry!
Again you can use the heat gun or just leave it in the sun for a good day.
I used a heat gun to pretty much dry it out and left the tank on the shelf for 3 days.

Step 14 Loosen any rust dust
When the fuel tank is bone dry, once again bang the tank around with your palm, also you can gently hit it with a hammer on the seams of the tank.
You should see some more rust loosen up but it is just the very fine rust dust, I vacuumed this out and used the air pressure gun.

Step 15 Tank sealer
Once I was happy that I have managed to get all nasties out of the tank and fuel tank was bone dry then sealed the holes and poured in 1 litre of the tank sealer.
Sealed the last hole and rolled the tank slowly for around 20 min.
Need to ensure you cover all surfaces, even the fuel pipes inside.
Once you have covered all internal surfaces – pour the tank sealer into its original container.
Try to get as much of the sealer as you can, even little drops count.
Place the tank upside down, blow clean the fuel lines ensure it is not full of sealer.
Take out the tank drain plug and clean the thread inside the tank – ear buds work well but removing the plug and putting it back in once cleaned a few times also does the trick.
The seal set really hard so clean all surfaces that it may spill onto immediately.
See photo # 6  Decent coverage – arms and back is tired.

Step 16 leave the tank for 4 days upside down to properly set.
See photo # 7

Once mistake I made was that I did not mix the tank sealer well enough, 10 minutes of mixing it was not enough and now I have these little lumps of hard seal.
Still very happy with the outcome.


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#2 gav240z

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 07:54 PM

Nice, I suspect I'll have to do this also my car has been sitting for 20+ years now and I'm sure it's looking nasty inside. Are you going to repaint the exterior of the tank?

#3 Iceberg

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 09:21 AM

Nice, I suspect I'll have to do this also my car has been sitting for 20+ years now and I'm sure it's looking nasty inside. Are you going to repaint the exterior of the tank?


Hi Gav,

I am very happy how it came up, now that it has cured it looks really good. No more blocked fuel filters for a while.

I am planning to paint it. That is why I wanted that Snap On air compressor you were looking at, use some soft pallets to take the paint of everything, I really like the idea of refurbishing stock items.
Ps next job is to get her RWC and then copy your interior restoration of all the plastics - thanks for posting those photos.

#4 Wayne G

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 08:30 PM

I saw this product recently at a hot rod show and it looks the business.  I have not tried it but I will be soon enough.  I do not work with or have any link to the company http://www.rustedsol...utions.com.au/  :-\

#5 AK

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 07:58 PM

Hi Ice

Thanks for the article - really well done!

As it happens I had a RDO today (I HAD NOT READ YOUR ARTICLE YET - ##XX!@!!!)  and I decided I would pull out the fuel tank out of 260 2+2, lots of rubber hoses attached to the fuel tank and that weird breather tank set up in the back quarter tank pretty complicated for model year 1976.

Anyway mine was worse than yours by the looks in fact I was thinking is was a throw away, then I went to the all-mighty google/YouTube to see what I could find, I found a couple of extra things that you have not mentioned. Which may or may-not be helpful to other Zeders.

I am going to use 10mm scoria pebbles to loosen and sand the rust away inside the fuel tank, the idea is you might fill up about 20% of the tank with the pebbles and then find some way to tumble the fuel tank continuously for 1 hour or 2, I plan to use a large cement mixer provided I can hire one with a big enough opening to slide the fuel tank into then flip it around at the half time interval.

The tank will really need a good clean after this, the internal pipes will need a blow out with a compressor but it should get rid of most of the rust. Note that the Fuel tank float sensor is quiet a fragile looking thing and was rusted to hell but still working, I have this soaking in some vinegar but there might not be much left after the rust is taken off - see how we go, anyway do not do any of the pebble action or even hard pressure washing until you have removed the fuel level sensor.

Step 2 after the pebbles would be to use Apple Cider Vinegar solution (This type of Vinegar is said to be the strongest and is often use by vintage antique resto people, this will act as acid to eat the rest of the rust in the hard to get at places out, this might take a week or more with some regular flipping of the tank. When this vinegar has done the trick, then neutralize it with a baking soda mix, then lots of pressure washing and detergent to get it all clean then basically follow your steps from there.

I plan to use the POR - 15 black gloss on the outside after striping the outside back to naked

Will let you know how the scoria pebbles and the Apple Cider Vinegar go .
Cheers AK


#6 PB260Z

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 08:15 PM

I am going to use 10mm scoria pebbles to loosen and sand the rust away inside the fuel tank, the idea is you might fill up about 20% of the tank with the pebbles and then find some way to tumble the fuel tank continuously for 1 hour or 2, I plan to use a large cement mixer provided I can hire one with a big enough opening to slide the fuel tank into then flip it around at the half time interval.


Could you strap it across the mouth of mixer using diagonal ratchet straps ?
Just a thought.

Cheers

PB

#7 AK

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 09:46 PM

Yep that will work - hopefully if is to big - cheers for idea. AK


Could you strap it across the mouth of mixer using diagonal ratchet straps ?
Just a thought.

Cheers

PB



#8 PB260Z

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 09:49 PM

Yep that will work - hopefully if is to big - cheers for idea. AK


Gidday

If poss post a few photo's of before, after & during the process.

Cheers

#9 Iceberg

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Posted 14 July 2015 - 10:21 AM

Hi Ice

Thanks for the article - really well done!

As it happens I had a RDO today (I HAD NOT READ YOUR ARTICLE YET - ##XX!@!!!)  and I decided I would pull out the fuel tank out of 260 2+2, lots of rubber hoses attached to the fuel tank and that weird breather tank set up in the back quarter tank pretty complicated for model year 1976.

Anyway mine was worse than yours by the looks in fact I was thinking is was a throw away, then I went to the all-mighty google/YouTube to see what I could find, I found a couple of extra things that you have not mentioned. Which may or may-not be helpful to other Zeders.

I am going to use 10mm scoria pebbles to loosen and sand the rust away inside the fuel tank, the idea is you might fill up about 20% of the tank with the pebbles and then find some way to tumble the fuel tank continuously for 1 hour or 2, I plan to use a large cement mixer provided I can hire one with a big enough opening to slide the fuel tank into then flip it around at the half time interval.

The tank will really need a good clean after this, the internal pipes will need a blow out with a compressor but it should get rid of most of the rust. Note that the Fuel tank float sensor is quiet a fragile looking thing and was rusted to hell but still working, I have this soaking in some vinegar but there might not be much left after the rust is taken off - see how we go, anyway do not do any of the pebble action or even hard pressure washing until you have removed the fuel level sensor.

Step 2 after the pebbles would be to use Apple Cider Vinegar solution (This type of Vinegar is said to be the strongest and is often use by vintage antique resto people, this will act as acid to eat the rest of the rust in the hard to get at places out, this might take a week or more with some regular flipping of the tank. When this vinegar has done the trick, then neutralize it with a baking soda mix, then lots of pressure washing and detergent to get it all clean then basically follow your steps from there.

I plan to use the POR - 15 black gloss on the outside after striping the outside back to naked

Will let you know how the scoria pebbles and the Apple Cider Vinegar go .
Cheers AK


Hi AK,

The tank i did was out of the 2+2 as well, some what not easy to remove (all of the hoses)

I did the same research as you have AK but i went with lining of the inside of the tank as other ways it will start to rust out again very quickly and if it is lined then i just will wash it out every 18 months or so.

Other than that the vinegar will work, especially if it is concentrated but you should neutralize the Ph level properly after the vinegar treatment.
Also you will end up with some what 'etched" insides so it would be easy to seal it already.

I like the idea of the cement mixer, i did not think of that. you inspired me, I may make up a jig :)

These tanks will become hard to come by so i am thinking of refurbishing the tanks and sell them both lined internally and externally with good hard seal such as POR but i am not sure if there would be interested people out there.

#10 AK

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Posted 05 November 2015 - 09:32 AM

Gidday

If poss post a few photo's of before, after & during the process.

Cheers

Execution Step by Step Reconditioning the Fuel Tank

Hi Guys

 

I tried the scoria pebbles and cement mixer combination to internally sand-away the rust and it worked really well.

 

See picture below or the scoria stones – excuse the finger

 

pic 1

 

 

This is what I did.

 

 

I hired a large tow behind the car cement mixer that had 4hp 4/stroke motor powering it.  - this was $50.00 for a day.

 

On the inside of the cement mixer drum was some angular bars welded at one point on the sides and  also close to the centre point of the drum base (these bars serve as paddles to mix the concrete inside the drum) I ended up using ratcheting straps and anchoring to them to the angular bars on the inside of the drum, and looping the strap around the tank to hold the fuel tank across the end of cement mixing drum, it kind of looked like aeroplane propeller.

 

See pic 2

 

This worked well but required a lot of tension and you also have to pad the fuel tank against the brim of the cement mixer drum – I used some cut pieces of old BMX tyres to do this, this was perfect as they were grippy an strong.

 

 Without them the tank would always loosen and slip.

I filled the tank to about 15% of its capacity with 10mm scoria pebbles.

 

 

 

 

 My fuel tank had probably had 5mm of rusty slag and scale in the bottom and after this process alone the rust was almost totally gone on all the flat surfaces. In total the fuel tank spent about 3 hours rotating and I did flip the tank over to make sure the top and bottom both got equal treatment, as the stones tend to slide against the side facing the cement mixer drum.

 

Getting the stones out wasn’t as bad as thought it was going to be but you have to patient it takes time and some stones got wedged under divider wall between the low part and deep part of the tank which I has to poke out with a stick, note you have to get the pebbles out the fuel sensor hole as there is a lip on the inside of the filler pipe that prevents stones coming out easily.

 

After about 1.5 hours turning like a propeller on each side it was time to empty it out so I stopped the mixer filled the tank with water until it was spilling out than put the mixer on high rotation this spilled out the stones and water so it was 80% empty when I turned it off for the last time.

 

The worst part of doing all this is the mounting of the fuel tank to the cement mixer drum this was a cumbersome time consuming and difficult task apart for that it was all pretty good.

 

After this process stone washing/sanding process  I flushed the fuel tank clean with water, it pretty close to 90% perfect but some rust in the centre clamshell seam grove

 

 

Photos after pebble mix process - see pic 3 & 4

 

 

Next step was to put in the 16 litres of apple cider vinegar which I will leave in for about 2weeks and flip it regularly,  this should take out all the rust – concentrating on the seams by letting the tank sit on the seam sides for days.

 

I almost considered not doing vinegar treatment as the tank looked so good after the pebble process but I am glad I did because a huge amount of rusty crap still came out of it after this process  ;lots more rinsing

Note you have to  tape up all the holes in the tank I did this by using the good ole duc-tape and some zip ties to ensure the  taped caps stayed in place, I used a typical spray can cap to seal the fuel filler neck with some duc-tape and zipties

 

Pictures of the of blocking the holes in the tank below pics - 5,6 & 7

        

 

With Fuel sender hole I found a big washer and then I made two gaskets out of bicycle tube then screwed the lock ring down – perfect seal

 

 

After washing out the tank several times and blowing out the pipes eventually the rusty crap stopped coming out Then I used Por 15 Metal clean to clean out the tank once more and neutralize the effects of the Vinegar Drying out the tank I did straight away by putting a heat gun in the tank filler hole in the lower setting and letting it run – I also put electric strip radiator heater on faced it on the tank – the tank was heated inside and outside it got pretty hot to touch and effectively dried out in about 30 min.

 

 

The same process of dunking the product in Vinegar was also applied to the Fuel sender unit see pictures below -   pics 9,10,11,12, & 13                                                            

 

 

Tank inside after the cement mixer treatment and vinegar and Metal Clean - pics 14,15,17 & 18

      

 

I put paint striper on the outside of the tank and  removed the paint with a hand held wire brush, then used a wire wheel on 240volt drill to clean her up fully and get rid of any of the stubborn rust spots, tank is looking really new - pics 19,21 & 20

 

 

 

Then then I  Used the 1st step of the KBS Gold Standard Fuel Tank Sealer  Kit (Got this from  Autobarn) 

pics - 22 &23

1st Step KBS kit is pour in 50-50 mix of Aquaklean tank cleaner solution this is mixed with 50% hot water  Ieft this in 24hours and repeatedly turned the tank in this period and gave it a really good shake. Note you have to  tape up all the holes in the tank I did this by using the good ole duc-tape and some zip ties to ensure the  taped caps stayed in place, this solution should help get rid of the vinegar and neutralize  the effects of the vinegar

 

The next step is to proceed with step-2 of the KBS kit putting in the  rust buster solution which I put in as per the recommendations an I made sure that the centre seam got extra time immersed in solution

The 3rd step of the KBS kit is the silver tank lining solution which I again followed the instructions looks like really good stuff the tank is thickly lined in silver paint now and looks brand new. This stuff is super strong pretty impressive.

 

Tank finished with the tank sealer inside.  pics 24 & 25

 

 

 

List of steps

 

  1. Remove tank from car
  2. Hire Large concrete mixer
  3. Fill tank with 10mm scoria pebbles about 15-20% full
  4. Strap tank to the front of the mixer ratcheting straps
  5. Run for 1.5 hours on one side
  6. Run for 1.5 hours on the other side
  7. Add water to the tank and run mixer on highest speed until most of the water has come out
  8. Get all the stones out and flush tank with water
  9. Add the vinegar for 2 weeks and flip regularly
  10. Take out vinegar and flush with water and detergent
  11. Use POR-15 Metal Clean solution and dry the tank 100%
  12. Sand blast or paint stripper on the outside of the tank
  13. Add the 1st step of KBS Tank reliner kit witch is a cleaner, Give a good swish around
  14. Dry out the tank fully used a Heat gun in the inside through the filler neck and also used a radiator style electric heater to heat up the quiet hot to get all the water evaporated
  15. Put in the rust buster solution step 2 of the tank reliner kit
  16. Dry out the tank fully used a Heat gun in the inside through the filler neck and also used a radiator electric heater to heat up the quiet hot to get all the water evaporated
  17. Pun in the special tank relining solution swish evenly around the tank, tip out excess and let it dry
  18. Remember to blow out the pipes before the reliner paint dry’s
  19. Paint the outside with POR 15 BLACK GLOSS after making sure the surface is properly prepped

Please note I also removed the fuel sensor system let that soak for 2 weeks in vinegar – cleaned that with POR Aquaklean and then used the rusbutster , then used the tank liner solution on all the outside surfaces except for float and the electronics. It was still some how working even know it was caked with rust

 

Good lesson for all is to keep fuel stabilizer in your cars if you are only using cars occasionally. The modern fuels goes off quickly - off fuel and half empty tanks accelerate the rusting process – also keeping the fuel tank fully topped up will help slow rusting because nothing is left exposed to rust.

$200-$300 on parts to fix the original tank may also be better than the original - a reco’ed tank from USA was about $600  without shipping so it was cheaper and no doubt done better than most reco’s  but it was a lot of work. But thought of sending rusty crappy fuel down to a beautiful straight six engine is not something I wanted.

I am also considering covering the top half of the tank with adhesive sound deadener (stinger brand) this will quiet down the car a bit more as the tanks act like drums.

Hope this all helps fellow Zeders looking for a reference - Cheers AK

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#11 PB260Z

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Posted 07 November 2015 - 06:45 PM

Hi Mate

GREAT write up, very detailed and heaps of images - impressive.
Glad the Cement Mixer idea worked out well.

Cheers

PB

#12 gav240z

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Posted 07 November 2015 - 08:02 PM

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