How To Clean Out A Motorcycle Gas Tank

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How To Clean Out A Motorcycle Gas Tank – You’re tired of replacing the fuel filter, cleaning the carbs, or getting that neglected bike back on the road. You are looking for solutions. I know this for sure because I learned how to do these crescent moons before and I was in the same ritual as you. I had a fuel tank that was going bad from the inside and it was a problem with my tank, my fuel filter, my carb and my engine. Your service manual won’t tell you much about how to deal with a damaged fuel tank (“remove and replace,” if it mentions such a thing, I’m sure), but how expensive and/or unavailable the tanks will be. Considering that (and how expensive the colorful stuff outside of them usually is!), you’re doing the right thing by reviving yours.

As a motorcyclist who has recovered a tank or two in my career, allow me to give you some food for thought, a process, and a few photos you might find useful. You might want to read the whole thing before you start.

How To Clean Out A Motorcycle Gas Tank

How To Clean Out A Motorcycle Gas Tank

How to clean a fuel tank Plan your job Evaluate commercial options Prepare the tank Add chemical and mechanical descalers Mix (shake it!) Seal flush and neutralize (optional) Evaluate your sample

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Each tank is different in its rate of degradation. I’ve seen some tanks with rust and worry on the light surface, and some fuel ships with more barnacles and scales than the hull of the Queen Mary (on her own!). The steps taken in these situations may be quite different – ​​or they may be the same.

The object of my labor is this tank of our new guy’s brother Johnny Greiser’s 1964 Yamaha YG1. Chrome! Clean! Photo by Lemmy.

First, think removal and replacement. I mention this because it’s a very viable option these days, especially with so many online options for replacement. Spend a hundred or two hundred bucks on a new aftermarket tank that can basically run right and run right again. Also consider used tanks that are in better shape than yours. If your bike isn’t too old, a dealer might have a new one sitting on a shelf somewhere.

The old Fatbobs stayed in service for a while because they lasted. They are not light, but you have to throw them in the sea for decades to rust. Generally, the newer the bike, the thinner the sheet metal to save weight – creating more complex tank shapes. Photo by Lemmy.

Motorcycle Gas Tank Black And White Stock Photos & Images

Also consider the construction of the tank. For example, older Harley-Davidson Fatbob tanks have an excellent survival rate due to the very thick steel used in their construction. Typically, newer bikes have tanks made of lighter gauge metal. If your tank is made of mild steel and has heavy rust and scaling, fixing the problem will be more difficult and time consuming. If any part of your tank is rusted, it could be an indicator that the tank is beyond protection given your time and money devoted to the job.

Obviously, rarity works; A tank in a certain condition that might be considered a reject for a high-performance bike may be the Holy Grail for a low-performance one. This also includes the exterior of the tank: the original paint certainly helps maintain the quality of the original bike. A motorcycle tank is worth putting some effort into its original livery because of the value the material brings to the entire bike. Likewise, a reproduction that cannot be easily reproduced to match other items on the motorcycle is expensive to duplicate.

Once you’ve determined that a particular tank project is worth your time, money, and effort, it’s time to calculate the damage. A flashlight, mirror, cell phone, and bore scope all come in handy at this point. Mild rust or scale problems are usually not too complicated to deal with. Remedies for heavy pitting, pinholes and/or missing metal usually require metal fabrication and bodywork. We will assume in this article that the structural integrity of your tank is uncompromised, but if that is the case, further surgery may be necessary – including opening the tank for further inspection and maintenance.

How To Clean Out A Motorcycle Gas Tank

Here we start. It’s certainly not the worst I’ve seen, but make no mistake, this tank needed help a long time ago. Photo by Lemmy.

Harley Davidson Fuel Tank Hi Res Stock Photography And Images

Johnny Grazer’s YG1 tank you see here has suffered nearly 50 years of neglect and scale. It was bad. Not really bad rot, but definitely one of the more problematic tanks I’ve wrestled.

Most fuel tank treatments require a two-sided fork. The first prong is concerned with removing the heaviest rust deposits, while the second involves reviving the finish, perhaps in preparation for applying a tank sealer. While heavy deposit removal is best handled mechanically, finish restoration is usually handled chemically – although this is not always the case. (If you have your own methods, please add them!)

I put a borescope in the tank to see how much rust there is. It was average, although there were a few spots with thick scaling and deposits. Photo by Lemmy.

For mechanical rust removal, I usually choose an abrasive material that can be placed inside the tank to help manually strip the scale. Nut and Bolt is a popular agitator, and I know some people who use plain old gravel. I’ve used BBs with success in the past, often in tanks with crevices where large objects can’t reach or get stuck. Since they are round, they are unlikely to be caught in a tank with very pronounced “lobes” with steep walls. I’ll tell you about my secret weapon a little later.

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When it comes to the chemical side of things, an acid usually helps remove rust through an etching action. I like to start with a mild acid (white vinegar) and work up to a stronger one if necessary.

Be sure to remove the tank and empty the fuel first. At the very least, you’ll want to seal the holes in the tank. Most tanks have a filler cap and petcock outlet, but others may have crossover tubes, such as dual-tank Harleys and dirt bikes with two large lobes that overlap the engine.

Plugs, stoppers, vacuum caps, threaded fittings—I have them all, but I’ve only done them once or twice. Order the right tools to get the job done right, and your results will reflect your hard work. Photo by Lemmy.

How To Clean Out A Motorcycle Gas Tank

You have a few options here. I’ve had better luck with silicone plugs and rubber or vinyl vacuum caps for small holes and bangs. If you are working on a modern motorcycle, you will need to remove the fuel pump plate. They’re so big it’s hard to seal! Making a gasket using a block-off plate that you buy or fabricate is usually the order of the day here. If you use vinegar, you can seal the filler with the cap, with the understanding that you will need to purchase a new cap or replacement seal after cleaning.

Tips For Motorcycle Safety

Holy moly? The best way to deal with a hole like this is to make a block-off plate, take a gasket and install it like you pump fuel. Photo by Lemmy.

You want to do this in a well-ventilated area, and you don’t want to be near anything that could damage the acid, as it can spread. Even if you use a relatively mild acid like vinegar, you don’t want to create acidic fumes in the house. They may not be harmful, the smell may be offensive, and the items you have may contain acid vapors

Personally, I like to install a catch basin below my tanks to contain all potential leak points. That means a plug or cap malfunctioning and leaking is just a day of wasted time. Vinegar can be recovered, if the tank is raised above the basin (instead), the paint will never go out of harm’s way.

Before you start loading acid into your fuel tank, you can put a few test pieces in a glass or ceramic container and make sure there are no adverse reactions to your acid. Less likely if you use vinegar, but you don’t want to ruin anything, mess up the inside of your tank, or poison yourself. If you’re using something stronger, that’s a possibility

Nasty Gas Tank Dent

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