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I'm trying to figure out what products to use to clean out a gas tank that has been sitting for 2 years with old gas in it. I would prefer not to ruin the paint job if possible. Any ideas??
 

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Did this very thing when I bought my TL... it was full of rust. I hunted the internet and although they make lots of chemicals and products, I figured I'd go the cheap route first, and if that didn't work, I'd buy the expensive stuff.

I was able to make my tank look brand new with VERY little money.

1.) Medium sized bag of pea gravel (should find it EVERYWHERE this time of year. BB's work too, but are WAY more expensive)

2.) 2-5 bottles of a rust remover product like CLR (I used Krud Kutter I think)

3.) OPTIONAL: A preventative product like Tank Kreem after the job to coat and prevent future rust/crud. $40.00 at my local Cycle Gear. I skipped this step initially, but plan on doing it when I install my new fuel pump in a few days... just for the peace of mind.

That's it... that's all you need. Depending on how rusted, cruddy it is, you may need to let it soak.

A.) Rinse off about 1/3 of the bag of pea gravel in a tub in the sink.

B.) Pour some CLR or whatever in the tank and slosh it around while you are doing step A.

C.) Pour the cleaned pea gravel in there and add enough CLR to make a nice "slush" of gravel and CLR.

D.) Shake and turn, shake and turn, etc... if it's not too bad, this can be done between 30 mins and 1 hour, even when taking breaks if your arms get tired. The CLR kills the rust, and the pea gravel "sands" the inside of the tank to speed up the process. Don't use sand like some say, it doesn't have the "punch" of the gravel, and the pea gravel is hard enough to get out at the end, I recommend a wet/dry shop vac... worked like a charm.

That's pretty much it... make sure you shake and flip and shake every direction to really get in everywhere. You'll be amazed at how clean you will get it with this method. If it's EXTREMELY rusted (mine sat 10 years without being started, with VERY little gas) then you can do what I did. Rinse and dump the ENTIRE bag of pea gravel in, fill the rest up to the very top with CLR, seal off and let it set overnight. Dump all but about 1/3 of the bag the next day, add a little CLR and follow the original steps above.

I realize I just made this sound really complicated, but this method is cheap as hell, won't harm your paint like the chemical peels, and works GREAT.

I'll try to post some before and after pics of my tank...

EDIT: I forgot to add that occasionally you want to dump the CLR out and refill with fresh, you'll know when... it will get filthy and begin to foam up a lot... sorry I forgot to mention that step, but you would have figured it out!
 

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Here is the tank and fuel pump that came out of the TL when I first bought it... I knew it was rusted when I bought it, but was NOT prepared for this!

New tank needed right... WRONG, Krud Kutter and pea gravel, that's it. The pump was shot, I used a Caravan pump for a while, but just got an OEM pump to put in.







 

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just a suggestion, ive had great results using a small chain, rather than BBs or gravel- and its easier to retrieve
 

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Good suggestion, just make sure the chain is small enough to get in the creases, which can be very small. Would be MUCH easier to retrieve, although it was nothing with my shop vac!
 

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What did you use to seal up the tank to shake it? I'm sure the fuel pump is not a good idea for those who have a good pump.
 

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What did you use to seal up the tank to shake it? I'm sure the fuel pump is not a good idea for those who have a good pump.
Nope, it wouldn't be!

I left the fuel cap installed on top of the tank, but for the bottom I used the metal trim ring that comes off the pump, and three layers of that Saran Wrap that self sticks to bowls and such. The only holes I left open were the two fuel hose connections on the bottom for venting.

I let it sit upside down (fuel cap on the bottom) overnight on an old towel folded in 1/4ths in case it leaked a little (which it did, but not enough to matter). Depending on your fuel cap seal, you could potentially leak most of the CLR out overnight, so be aware of that and store it somewhere that won't matter, garage floor for me.

Keep in mind, the sealing and overnight soaking is only because my tank looked like that... if the tank you are trying to clean is not as bad as that, you don't even need to do all of that.

EDIT: As for the sealing when shaking, just leave the fuel cap installed, and shake it at all angle while the hole for the fuel pump is facing upwards so you don't spill it. It doesn't need to be full at all, only 1/4 full with gravel and CLR, so the opening won't matter, if you know what I mean.
 

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Sounds like I'll try it - I have an extra fuel tank that I wanted to paint but it had rust and other crap in it - although it was in dry storage. Not too bad though, not like yours :dowhat. Would Home Depot have the pea gravel?
 

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Sounds like I'll try it - I have an extra fuel tank that I wanted to paint but it had rust and other crap in it - although it was in dry storage. Not too bad though, not like yours :dowhat. Would Home Depot have the pea gravel?
Yep... anybody with a garden center (I got mine at Walmart), it's about $3.00 - $4.00 a bag for the medium bag. I honestly didn't even need all of it, but at that price, get the medium bag. :)
 

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if you have the tank seal it wouldnt be hard to make a thin ali plate to seal the hole . it could be an item that travels the world .:devious
 

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I as going to throw my old tank out today ,but upon seeing this thread maybe it got life left in it after all :O .I'm impressed with how yours came up Ghost :yes
 
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