How To Clean Motorcycle Gas Tank From Rust – Maybe you brandished an old tank at a swap meet, or your trusty steed is showing its age. But the problem of rusting motorcycle gas tanks is a story as old as the motorcycle itself. Much like old cars, old tanks seem to have a character that newer gas tanks don’t, making them ideal for saving and reusing on any build. Personally, I tend to get them out of the garage and definitely use them in some build or donate them to a friend’s build.
But before we get into how to save your favorite old gas tank, you need to make sure it’s worth saving. Some tanks may be rusted or badly damaged and are best rehabilitated and turned into garage art. That being said, if you have the right skill set, you can outlast almost any tank. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. For this particular exercise we’re going to focus on how to salvage tanks that have general surface rust and in-tank corrosion that need to be repaired to prevent sludge from getting into your carburetor or further depletion of the reservoir. A quick inspection of the tank should therefore reveal the extent of the damage. Will rust seep through the tank causing potential leaks? Are there cracks in seams or welding? Once you have determined that the tank is salvageable, we can move on to salvage.
How To Clean Motorcycle Gas Tank From Rust
So now we can start the rust removal process. Right off the bat, I plan to replace the petcock and gas cap as part of the restoration. Because if the tank is bad, so are they, and this next part can damage the fuel cock and cap. You’ll need about two feet of dog chain, nothing heavy duty, just light twisted chain that you can buy at the hardware store for a few bucks. Next you need a few gallons of apple cider vinegar. Depending on the size of your tank you may need more or less, basically I like to fill the tank about 3/4 full.
Rusty Gas Tank Interior
Old motorcycle gas tanks are cool and have character, but you’ll have to find out if they’re salvageable or not.
To start, turn off the tap, pour about a quart of apple cider vinegar, and put that dog chain down. Put the hat back on, play some of your favorite workout music, and start moving. Shake it quite violently for a few minutes, turning it upside down and in different directions. Open the cap and discard the large pellets that you can throw away. With a flashlight, do a quick visual inspection and if you can see any more bits coming out of a good beat, pour some more into the tank and shake again for a few minutes. After you shake the poop out of the tank and get all your aggression out, get your chain from the tank through the gas cap. If you have problems with this, a magnet is your friend. I’d like to take a minute to address some of the junk information floating around the interwebs – don’t use gravel or loose nuts and bolts. I’ve seen people recommend using things like gravel and loose hardware, but if you don’t have a few hours to spare trying to get small bolts and pieces of gravel out of your tank, sticking to the chain, it will save you a ton. .
The next part is much less work. 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 time, stimulate it from time to time. No need to shake like before, just roll. After your 48 hour soak, drain off 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 and add about half a can of baking soda to it and rinse the tank thoroughly. At this point, it’s a good idea to blow the inside of the tank with compressed air to speed up drying.
At this point, the tank should be in very good condition, but since it is a raw metal surface, it can rust. At this point, I highly recommend sealing the tank with a tank sealer kit to prevent flash rust and keep the inside of the tank looking good for years to come. This is the perfect time to replace the petcock and fuel cap. If the tank is in bad shape, so are they. Overall it is a very simple process, take your time and work on these bikes.
Fuel Tank Repair Kit
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A 10mm socket is hard to find.Sign up for our emails is easy. Get updates on new products and exclusive offers. Tired of replacing fuel filters, cleaning your carburetor, or getting a neglected bike back on the road? Looking for a solution. I know that, because I learned to do this before I got into trouble like you. I had a fuel tank that was deteriorating internally and it was a problem with my tank, fuel filter, carburetor and engine. Your service manual won’t tell you much about how to deal with a rusted fuel tank (“remove and replace”, “I’m sure if it mentions something like that), but in terms of cost and/or inability to get reservoirs (and usually As expensive as the colorful stuff out there!) can be, you’re doing the right thing by reviving yours.
So, as a rider who has saved a tank or two throughout my career, I’ll leave you with some thoughts, process and photos that you may find helpful. You will want to read everything before you start.
Old Gas Tank Sludge, How Do I Get Rid Of It?
How to clean a fuel tank Plan your job Assess commercial options Prepare the tank Add chemical and mechanical discolor Agitate (shake it!) Wash and neutralize the seal (optional) Assess your sample
Each reservoir varies in degree of degradation. I’ve seen lightly rusted tanks on the surface and a caring owner, and I’ve also seen (and owned!) fuel tanks with more barnacles and scales than the Queen Mary’s hull. The course of action one takes in these situations can be very different – or they can be exactly the same.
The object of my work is the 1964 Yamaha YG1 tank belonging to our New Guy’s brother, Johnny Greaser. Chromium! Cared! Photo by Lemi.
First of all, removal and replacement should be considered. I mention this because it is a very viable option these days, especially with so many options available online. Spending a hundred or two hundred dollars on a brand new aftermarket tank that can essentially be locked up and worked properly again is probably the most prudent course of action. Also consider used tanks that may be in better condition than your tank. And if your bike isn’t too old, a dealer might have a new one sitting on a shelf somewhere.
Do It Yourself Automotive Nightmare: Rusty Tank Syndrome; Eastwood Has The Cure
Older fatbobs tend to stay in service for a while because they are built to last. They are not light, but for a set to rust, you have to put it in the ocean for decades. As a general rule, a newer bike tends to use thinner sheet metal to save weight and create more complex tank shapes. Photo by Lemi.
Also consider tank construction. Old Harley-Davidson Fatbob tanks, for example, have excellent survival rates due to the incredibly thick steel used in their construction. However, generally, newer bikes have lighter gauge metal tanks. If your tank is made of thin steel and the rust and scale are heavy, fixing the problem will be more difficult and will take longer. If your tank is rusted in any areas, this may be an indicator that the tank is not salvageable, depending on the time and money you have spent on the job.
Of course, scarcity works; A reservoir in a given state
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