How To Clean A Motorcycle Gas Tank – Maybe you scored a big tank at a bum meet or maybe your trusty horse is showing its age. But the problem of rusting motorcycle gas tanks is a story as old as motorcycling itself. Just like vintage cars, vintage tanks seem to have a character that newer gas tanks no longer have, making them that much more desirable to salvage and repurpose in some form of construction. I personally tend to collect them in the garage and inevitably use them in some kind of construction or donate them to a friend’s building.
But before we talk about how to save your favorite old fuel tank, you should make sure that it is worth saving. Some tanks may be rusty or so badly damaged that it’s probably best to rehabilitate them and turn them into garage art. That said, if you have the right set of awesome skills, you can save almost any tank. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. For this specific exercise, we’re going to focus on how to recover tanks that have common surface rust and corrosion inside the tank that need to be repaired to prevent sludge from getting into your carburetor or stopping tank degradation. Therefore, a quick inspection of the tank should reveal the extent of the damage. Is rust seeping into the tank causing a possible leak? Are there any cracks at the seams or welds? After determining if the tank is salvageable, we can proceed with the salvage.
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Now we can start the rust removal process. I would immediately plan to replace the valve and gas cap as part of the restoration. Partly because if the tank is in bad shape, they will be too, and partly because the next piece could damage the valve and tank cap. You’ll need about a foot of dog chain, nothing heavy, just a light, twisted chain that you can buy at a hardware store for a few dollars. The next thing you’ll need is a few liters of apple cider vinegar. Depending on the size of your tank you may need more or less, basically I like being able to fill the tank up to 3/4 full.
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Antique motorcycle gas tanks are cool and have character, but you’ll need to determine whether or not they can be salvaged.
To start, turn off the faucet, pour in about a liter of apple cider vinegar and insert it into the dog chain. Put the lid back on, turn on some of your favorite workout music and start shaking. Shake it vigorously for a few minutes, turning it several times in different directions. Open the lid and discard any large flakes you may have dislodged. Use a flashlight to do a quick visual inspection, if you notice any more loose pieces that can form with a good hand mixer, pour some more into the tank and shake again for a few minutes. After releasing all your pent up aggression by shaking the crap out of the tank, pull the chain out of the tank through the tank cap. If you have problems with this, a magnet is your friend. I’d like to take a minute to address some of the nuts I’ve seen floating around in the nets – DO NOT USE GRAVEL OR LOOSE NUTS AND BOLTS. I’ve seen people recommend using things like gravel and loose hardware, but unless you have a few hours to kill trying to get small screws and bits of gravel out of your tank, sticking to the chain will save you a lot of time.
The next part is much less laborious. Fill the tank (at least 3/4 full) with apple cider vinegar and let it sit for at least 24 hours. Two days is better if you have the time and change it every now and then. No need to shake it like before, just roll it. After 48 hours of soaking, just drain all the nasty liquid. To make sure the tank is nice and clean and to neutralize the vinegar, you need to do one last step. Take a gallon of distilled water, add about half a box of baking soda, and rinse the tank thoroughly. At this point it is a good idea to blow out the inside of the tank with some compressed air to speed up the drying of the tank.
At this point the tank should be in very good condition, but there is a risk that it will rust quickly as the surface is raw metal. At this point, I recommend sealing the tank with a tank sealing kit to prevent sudden rust and keep the inside of the tank in good shape for years to come. This is also the best time to replace your faucet and tank cap. More than likely, if the tank is in bad shape, so are they. All in all it’s a pretty simple process, take your time and go work on those bikes.
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Finding a 10mm socket is difficult. Signing up for our email is easy. Get updates on new products and exclusive offers. The POR-15 motorcycle fuel tank repair kit is designed for the special needs of bicycles and other small metal fuel tanks, such as recreational vehicles, snowmobiles, outboard motors, generators, pumps, etc.
The POR-15 Motorcycle Fuel Tank Repair Kit has everything you need to repair and seal your motorcycle’s fuel tank. These motorcycle tank restoration products will stop rust, corrosion and seal leaking holes. Your fuel tank will be impervious to all fuel additives, including the new Phase II fuels that have a higher alcohol content. It has superior strength and fuel resistance.
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Before: This fuel tank had small holes on the end near the seam. If the tank has an old competing faulty gasket, it must be removed before starting the repair process.
Step 1: Mix 1 liter of degreaser with 1 liter of warm water. This solution will be used to remove rubber, varnish or sludge from the inside of the tank.
Step 2: Pour the entire jar of Metal Prep to dissolve the rust, coat the tank with zinc phosphate and etch the metal for better sealer adhesion.
Step 3: Once the tank is clean, empty the tank and rinse thoroughly with water. Let the tank dry. Once completely dry, pour out the entire can of fuel tank sealant.
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Step 4: Once all surfaces are coated, drain the tank for about an hour to remove excess sealant from the tank.
Step 5: After repair, use fuel conservation and stabilizer to keep the entire fuel system running and avoid “old gas” problems in the future!
I used five days for this process. The degreasing process went smoothly. The preparatory phase is also no problem. However, the sealant did not fix the leak. Has anyone tried to repair this tank before using JB Weld or equivalent. I used a wire wheel to degrease the solder and get to the bare metal around the outside. But apparently it didn’t stick to the JB weld and I still have a leak in the same spot. So one day I will cut that part of the tank and weld a new piece of steel on the inside. I hope the seal doesn’t prevent soldering. Basically, the business was a failure. For now, I ended up using a used tank that doesn’t leak.
The kit was well designed, had decent instructions, and I’m sure it works great on an ALL metal tank.
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As far as I can see the repair is good but the work is too recent to give a final review.
It is not possible to completely empty the product from the tank, so care must be taken to apply the repair solution sparingly.
This is undoubtedly the case with many motorcycle fuel tanks and instructions should include this advice if not.
It is important to understand each product in your repair kit and how it works. Proper chemical interaction is critical to achieving the best possible bond between the sealant and the tank interior. Fuel tank gasket does not adhere well to plastic. If your fuel tank contains plastic components, these must be removed before applying fuel sealant.
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Please note that these instructions are general guidelines only and cannot and do not cover all applications and environments. If you’re still not sure what to do, call the toll-free Technical Advice Line at 800-457-6715. Tired of changing fuel filters, cleaning carbs or putting a neglected bike back on the road.
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