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Patching up fuel tanks


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  #1  
Old 04-26-2019, 12:19:21 AM
RustyNumbat RustyNumbat is offline
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Default Patching up fuel tanks

I need to patch up a few pin/nail sized holes in a tractor fuel tank. It previously had some kind of filler foam layered over it, and it eventually unstuck at the edges and lifted. I've never patched up this thin sort of tin before.

Easiest two methods I can think of is using either a silicone sealer or using steel putty. Would these be reliable?
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Old 04-26-2019, 02:37:15 AM
cobbadog cobbadog is offline
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Default Re: Patching up fuel tanks

G'Day RustyNumbat.
Our David Brown 30C Cropmaster had some pin holes in the bottom and of course was there because the tank was sat down on the saddle with old felt under it so each time it rain the felt got wet then that started the rust.
The best way to fix it was to borrow a small sheet of light copper and tin it with solder. Then prepared the steel tank with some killed spirits (weak acid) and tinned it with solder. Then heat and join it together. This was made easier using a LPG powered soldering iron but it is a perfect result. Now I have the tank off in preparation for painting I also had an issue with sediment, mainly rust, inside the tank. David Brown when he made these TVO fuel tanks unkindly brazed a filler tube on the inside so that it doesn't splash back up. This stops you from turning the tank upside down to empty out any crap inside and the holes for the fuel lines are way small.
My fix for the inside was to go and buy some Hydrochloric acid from Bunnings, 1 litre bottle at around $7.00, and poured 3/4 of it into the tank. Obviously I blanked off the fuel line then I sat the tank on each side and end for around an hour each side. Then let the crap out through the fuel line outlet. It was disgusting what came out but now the inside is all shiny and new looking inside. I did rinse it out many times with water to dilute any residue of acid then sat the tank out in the full sun and let evaporation remove the rest.
With fillers they will let go but I have not tried products like U-Need-It a plastic putty that sets rock hard.
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Old 04-26-2019, 05:11:19 AM
RustyNumbat RustyNumbat is offline
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Default Re: Patching up fuel tanks

Thanks for that, I've not done arc welding since high school, let alone brazing so I'm ruling out anything that good a job! This is an Allis model C fuel tank, same deal with not being able to drain out all the sediments through the fuel outlet. Might just have to slosh some spirits around it in and let it drain out the nail holes now I've uncovered them!
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Old 04-26-2019, 07:18:45 AM
Tracy T Tracy T is offline
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Default Re: Patching up fuel tanks

silicone and gasoline dont play well together. dont think it plays well with diesel either.
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Old 04-26-2019, 10:43:02 AM
Pete Spaco Pete Spaco is offline
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Default Re: Patching up fuel tanks

They make epoxy kits for just that sort of thing. JB Weld has one.

Pete Stanaitis
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Old 04-26-2019, 06:10:54 PM
Weezer Weezer is offline
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Default Re: Patching up fuel tanks

Be careful there.... an open flame around any acid is bad news, like take you down right now fumes. Also when the pour in liners fail, they make blisters that trap fuel that doesn’t come out “ in the wash”. Makes for big excitement when you’re cutting the bottom out of a tank to replace it.
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Old 04-26-2019, 07:23:22 PM
DustyBar DustyBar is offline
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Default Re: Patching up fuel tanks

Can you bridge any small holes with just flux and solder? I've tried that on tiny holes but haven't had any luck. It seems like you have to add some filler metal to get the holes to close up. I've had to snip small pieces of copper wire to apply with the solder and then grind or file down, more or less flush.
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Old 04-26-2019, 07:45:11 PM
slip knot slip knot is offline
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Default Re: Patching up fuel tanks

I've had decent results with just small metal patches over the holes and solder them down with the old time soldering irons. the big brass ones that have to be heated with a torch.

Direct flame on a gas tank can make for some loud noises if not prepped right.
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Old 04-26-2019, 10:38:19 PM
RustyNumbat RustyNumbat is offline
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Default Re: Patching up fuel tanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by DustyBar View Post
Can you bridge any small holes with just flux and solder? I've tried that on tiny holes but haven't had any luck. It seems like you have to add some filler metal to get the holes to close up. I've had to snip small pieces of copper wire to apply with the solder and then grind or file down, more or less flush.
I was chatting about panel work with a car restorer I worked with, he mentioned you could build up braze to fill a small hole on a brass(?) backing then remove the backing leaving the braze filling the hole.
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Old 04-27-2019, 01:27:08 AM
cobbadog cobbadog is offline
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Default Re: Patching up fuel tanks

Obviously ay naked flame near a fuel tank will go off with a bang, But in this case it was emptied for a few days then before any soldering took place I filled it with water to push the gases out then emptied it out for the soldering part.
The trick I used here was when the LPG powered soldering iron was about to go near the tank I killed the flame. SO only heat from the iron was transferred to do the job. Once both surfaces were tinned they go together quickly and will be fully sealed.
Preparation is always the key and using killed spirits on the metal tank allowed for the tinning process to happen easily. So soft soldering is a good option and if you have a LARGE electric soldering iron then it could do the job as well without having to killed the naked flame as on a LPG heated iron. What does help is having a big heavy iron to transfer the heat required.
I have used a similar process to seal rust holes in Chinese stainless steel tanks I use for ultrasonic cleaning of blinds. Crap quality = rust holes if the solution is left in the tank. SO killed spirits again allows for soldering process to take place.
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Old 04-28-2019, 08:04:06 AM
Tracy T Tracy T is offline
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Default Re: Patching up fuel tanks

the safe way to work on any gas tank is really simple, remove the oxygen. you can do this with engine exhaust being piped in while working, or if you have a mig welder the shielding gas being piped into the tank does just as well. no oxygen = no boom. i am not very good with solider myself, but give me a oxy/acy torch and a brazing rod and i can go to town!
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Old 07-25-2019, 09:31:01 PM
Beanscoot Beanscoot is offline
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Default Re: Patching up fuel tanks

I have had excellent results using Dustybar's technique.

Years ago a friend and I tried patching a fuel tank with brazing, but the steel sheet metal at the brazing developed cracks that grew quicker than we could braze them shut.
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Old 07-26-2019, 02:40:02 AM
cobbadog cobbadog is offline
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Default Re: Patching up fuel tanks

My latest repair was as described by dustybar's method.
After the fuel tank was sandblasted I found a number of pin holes and so I went to use the lpg soldering iron again. When we had to put the patch on the bottom years ago it was my Dad who showed me what to do and this it had to be me to do the as he has passed now.
My memory told me I need 'killed spirits / acid' to do the job and again from memory I used hydrochloric acid and dropped some bits of galvanise sheet metal in it until it stopped bubbling them that was considered 'killed'. It wasn't all that successful so I tried another option and that was the plumbers flux used for joining copper pipe with solder this did work for me.
So again I heated the iron up until it was hot and put the flux on the pin holes one at a time and then turned the heat off and simply soldered each hole up and this is how it turned out.
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Old 07-26-2019, 01:59:58 PM
Andrew Mackey Andrew Mackey is offline
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Default Re: Patching up fuel tanks

Back in the day, when they had steel gas tanks in cars, my boss would take a bar of ivory soap and jam it into the hole. When gas flow stopped, he would cover the soap with JB weld epoxy. These 'repairs' would last for years. Lee pedersons fuel tank sealer will do a good job too. i have used it many times with good results. lee is a sponsor here on the Stak.
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