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How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?


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  #1  
Old 06-01-2017, 09:56:35 PM
Jim Alexander Jim Alexander is offline
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Default How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?

Help!
I have a three hp Ideal that has a fuel tank that must have fuel from 1915 turned ugly in it. I've turned on side and flushed and flushed with water for going on hour and a half. Still get solids coming out. Rocks at first, now down to bits of rocks.
I really am not wanting to remove the plate at the bottom of tank, I've heard stories that can open a whole other can of worms. Do any of you have a solution as to what to use to clean it out good?
Thank you all in advance, I pray for solution.
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Old 06-01-2017, 10:10:11 PM
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Craig A Craig A is offline
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Default Re: How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?!?!?

Since the deposits will be oily acids aren't your best bet.
Soak with a lye solution.
Solutions of plain old lye, liquid potassium or sodium hydroxide will clean up oily deposits like nobodies business.
Once the oily deposits are gone you can use an acid solution to take care of leftovers.
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Old 06-01-2017, 10:25:40 PM
Lou Quirch Lou Quirch is offline
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Default Re: How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?!?!?

Besides water I used a piece of cable about 4 foot long and chucked in my drill. That broke up the mud like rocks and slowly got it pretty clean. I only had a 3/8" pipe plug hole to get the stuff out. I flushed and worked on it for over 12 hours. I'm still not happy with it. So I'm going to take the base off the engine so I can sand blast the inside. The only problem with that is that I broke the first bolt so I stopped and I'm having new bolts made. When I get them I'll go back to it. This was on an 8hp R & V which has a large tank.
Good luck,
Lou
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Old 06-01-2017, 11:56:11 PM
Jim Alexander Jim Alexander is offline
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Default Re: How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?!?!?

Thank you Craig! What acid solution do you recommend with cast iron?
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Old 06-02-2017, 12:04:12 AM
Odin Odin is offline
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Default Re: How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?

I ended up not being able to completely clean out the cast iron tank on my Nelson. After many attempts at flushing it out, I was still getting iron grit from it.

So I put a few handfuls of vibrating tumbler stones into it and shook it around a bunch to knock any chunks loose.

Rinsed it out one more time for good measure, and applied Caswell gas tank sealant to it.

Managed to get a nice thick coating inside it, and it actually rinses cleanly now.

Can still see and feel the iron grain, but it is fully encased in the epoxy and won't cause problems for the check valve anymore.
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Old 06-02-2017, 05:34:27 AM
BV071747 BV071747 is offline
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Default Re: How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?

I use Muriatic acid. You can get it at swimming pool supply places or stores like Home Depot
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Old 06-02-2017, 07:23:00 AM
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R. Kern R. Kern is offline
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Default Re: How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?

I had a 3 hp Jumbo with a really dirty cast iron tank...I got it broken down as much as possible and used several solvents (Kerosene, paint thinnner, etc) to clean out what I could get..then took a bunch of sheet metal screws (really sharp points and put a bunch of them in there and began the "shaking" process...everytime I walked by the tank I gave it about a 5 minute shake...did that for a couple of weeks...about every 3rd or 4th time I'd dump out the crud and screws and then put in more screws and begin again...it worked well...then some more solvent soaking and soon it was clean enough...then I coated it with the tank sealer that stopped any pin hole leaks and also "stuck" any loose stuff to the bottom and sides.
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Old 06-02-2017, 09:09:13 AM
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Default Re: How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?

I have used ceramic chips and mineral spirits to clean tanks. Built a tumbler to hold the tank and turn it over and over. It worked quite well. The problem is that I think this creates a worm hole into a place where there a great number of ceramic chips and they leak into the tank at a slow rate. Every time I think that I have all of the chips out after waiting a day or so there are one or two more.
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Old 06-02-2017, 10:24:20 AM
Matthew Guy Clarke Matthew Guy Clarke is offline
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Default Re: How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BV071747 View Post
I use Muriatic acid. You can get it at swimming pool supply places or stores like Home Depot

I have used Muriatic acid to clean parts. Just do not leave in in there for long . It will eat and keep eating, even after flushing. I always flush real well and pour an antedote in, I always used baking soda, but the local speed shop said to use vinegar. Never the less, it is deluded Hydrochloric acid, and is nasty if forgotten.
When I went to the Fay Straight sale, I forgot I had the tank end of a Hog Joy hog oiler in a bucket in straight Muriatic acid, and when I got home it had ate holes in it. I also wondered if I left a connecting rod for my Jack Junior in a tub of it, as I have not seen the rod since, and the tub of acid was all black solution???
With the RV 2 hp , I scraped with an assortment of pointed and flat scrapers for a few days till clean.
And believe it or not, it you can seal it air tight, fill it with water and let it set all summer , the rust will dissolve in water alone. Except for the flakes of iron that occur, the need broken, or dissolved with a solution.
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Old 06-02-2017, 10:51:39 AM
Jim Alexander Jim Alexander is offline
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Default Re: How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?

Thank you all for your comments and warnings, I'll pay attention and be careful for sure.
I wish I could follow some of your suggestion, unfortunately intregal tank at base of an engine that I'm guessing weighs in around 300 pounds establishes some restrictions as to what i can do. I can barely lay it over by myself!
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Old 06-02-2017, 09:46:14 PM
Beanscoot Beanscoot is offline
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Default Re: How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?

Use alkali, as Craig A advised. Alkalis such as lye, caustic soda will not attack steel and cast iron, even when hot and left for some time, whereas acids will.

Alkalis are much more effective at removing congealed fuel residue, paint etc., which is why they are the ingredient in traditional "hot tanks".

For faster action, you can pour in a kettle of boiling water to warm up the casting. Then drain it out and add the alkali.

Rinsing the solution well with clean water is best, since a trace of alkali is better to remain than a trace of acid.
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Old 06-02-2017, 10:20:38 PM
DaveTexas DaveTexas is offline
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Default Re: How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?

My stover had a 2x4 inch hole at the top that the plate was already rusted. I worked the inside by hand and also used a dremmel and drill with wire wheel. Made a new plate for the top. I can see with the plate on the bottom not wanting to mess with it.
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Old 06-02-2017, 11:26:18 PM
Bob Painter Bob Painter is offline
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Default Re: How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?

Here is a method I have used for forty years, works great. Put several handfuls of gravel in the tank and then use a ratchet strap to affix it the wheel of a tractor or truck. Take a few trips down a gravel road at a slow pace. After eight or ten miles you can empty out the gravel and all kinds of dirt, rust, etc. I have used this method on cast iron Monitor tanks, Model A Ford fuel tanks and numerous tractor tanks. Drive slow, make sure the tank is strapped on good, and they come out looking like they were sandblasted on the inside. Bob....
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Old 06-03-2017, 09:53:43 PM
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Rex Pyles Rex Pyles is offline
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Default Re: How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?

Here's the best way

https://youtu.be/uXWghlHeLmk
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Old 06-04-2017, 09:09:24 PM
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Default Re: How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?

do u think muriatic acid and water would work to free a stuck piston the head is off and standing on end
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Old 06-04-2017, 09:53:50 PM
Matthew Guy Clarke Matthew Guy Clarke is offline
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Default Re: How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brickman View Post
do u think muriatic acid and water would work to free a stuck piston the head is off and standing on end
I know hot roders who use acid, I stated my experience. I tried it before and the acid did not penetrate. it just laid on top. and ate a ring in the bore.
The acid eats and does not quit till it is totally removed. Bad idea in my opinion. I like kerosene.
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Old 06-04-2017, 10:10:44 PM
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Craig A Craig A is offline
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Default Re: How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brickman View Post
do u think muriatic acid and water would work to free a stuck piston the head is off and standing on end
Not a chance.
Everyone has their favorite but brake fluid has worked for me on some of the most awful things you'll probably never see........
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Old 06-05-2017, 07:35:00 AM
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Rich Mueller Sr Rich Mueller Sr is offline
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Default Re: How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?!?!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lou Quirch View Post
Besides water I used a piece of cable about 4 foot long and chucked in my drill. That broke up the mud like rocks and slowly got it pretty clean. I only had a 3/8" pipe plug hole to get the stuff out. I flushed and worked on it for over 12 hours. I'm still not happy with it. So I'm going to take the base off the engine so I can sand blast the inside. The only problem with that is that I broke the first bolt so I stopped and I'm having new bolts made. When I get them I'll go back to it. This was on an 8hp R & V which has a large tank.
Good luck,
Lou
I have a 6hp Challenge and the stuff in it is like road tar, and the tank is bolted on and part of the base!! And a NO torch area or BOOM, on the bolts that hold it on, which I tried to Loosen on 1, and it isn't moving, and, worse I have seen a couple 4 -6 hp Challenge,s that have the tank sides brazed up by the bolt holes, not only will the bolt snap off but it will take the cast iron side out of the tank, a 6hp Challenge is about 900lbs to!!. The tank has no leaks or cracks ,but the 3/8ths flare to 1/4" pipe fitting isn't coming out without a drill to, and I had a seep when my friend Tom Nowak took me to a get together after a bladder cancer scare, it had a black tar string all the way to the trailer going down the road!! LOL, I found out why it didn't run so good at times lol. I put a little tank on it temporary until I figure out how to clean it out with something, with out taking it off, thinking about taking it down a rough gravel road on the trailer, with a bunch of solvents in the tank to shake things up is about the only choice that I know of....
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Old 06-05-2017, 06:34:15 PM
Zira Zira is offline
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Default Re: How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?

Rather than a Cub tractor & a Novo engine, how about a Cub engine & a Gibson tractor?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaUeUrPPR7E
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Old 06-05-2017, 07:49:29 PM
Jim Alexander Jim Alexander is offline
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Default Re: How To Clean Out Cast Iron Fuel Tank?

I got the Gibson, my tank does not come apart that easy. Maybe if I was doing a full restoration, I'd give it a try.
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