Monday, September 3, 2012

Does Uranus Have Gas?: Cleaning My Gas Tank

Sorry about the title.  My wife is ALWAYS scowling at my for immature attempts at bathroom humor.  I think she thinks that I might be THE cause for ALL of the wrinkles she thinks she has on her forehead.  There may be some truth buried between the lines in that statement.
So, yesterday I began a project that I really had no intentions on toying with just yet.  After mowing the yard and doing some of my chores, I was rummaging around in the shed and I thought I would take a look at the gas tanks that were hanging out.  There were two to toy with.  I know I have been a bit vain in keeping the parts to each jeep segregated, but this time I opted to take the tank from one of the parts jeeps.  It was in much better condition.  No holes, holds liquids and is even painted OD.  So what if there is a massive mouse's nest in it.  It must be nice with those kinds of neighbors.
Back in time:  the original tank the day I removed it from the jeep.

Both tanks posing. 
The original has had obvious solder repairs across the sides and bottom and there are new holes that need to be repaired. 

This tank was originally removed from the USMC radio jeep.

USMC jeep tank.  It really looks great!  Really.

This tag is on the top of the tank.  I am not familiar with the manufacturer. 
I have not researched this, yet, to determine if it is wartime or post war.  It does appear to be a Willys number.

The mouse home.  You didn't think I would mention it and not show it to you?
The outside of the USMC jeep tank looks fantastic.  There is a bit of surface rust along some of the edges, but all in all it is great.  The inside, despite where the mouse lived, looks really good, too...just some more surface rust.  I thoroughly rinsed it out.
Here is a look down the ol' filler hole.

This is a look down the sending unit's hole.
The main job to be done now is to clean the inside.  There are all sorts of chemical kits one can buy to do the job and help seal the tank.  I did one on an old M37 tank as well as the GPW tank many years ago.  This time, I thought I would do a science experiment and try to clean out the tank a different way:  electrolysis.
Here is what you need, besides time:  battery charger, sodium carbonate (washing soda), and some spare metal pieces (I'm using three pieces of rebar).
At this point, the hardest part of the equation was locating the Arm & Hammer Washing Soda.  Turns out not a damn store in my area carries it.  So, instead of buying it online and waiting a week, I made my own.  Two cups of baking soda spread across an oven pan and baked for two hours near 400 degrees.  The baking releases the water and carbon dioxide (or something like that) and creates sodium carbonate.  Boom.  Crotch bomb.
I measured and cut the rebar into three pieces:  one to extend into the filler hole, one for the sending unit hole and then one that is welded between the two.  I drilled a hole into two blocks of wood so the rebar would fit into them and could sit on top of the gas tank and not touch the tank.  The sending unit bar was placed at an angle to achieve maximum tank penetration.
Here is a good shot of the rebar fixture.
 I taped the upper ends of the rebar as an extra precaution to keep it insulated from the tank.
Next task is to fill the tank with the sodium carbonate thoroughly mixed with water.  I used approximately 1/3 to 1/2 cups per 5 gallons.  The tank holds 15 gallons.
After the tank is filled with the water/sodium carbonate solution, the rebar fixture was set in place paying extra attention so not to have it touch the tank. 
Once satisfied, I connected the battery charger's negative lead to the tank and the positive lead to the rebar.  The final step is to wait a few hours.  Supposedly, the rust from the sides and bottom of the tank should all converge upon the rebar, thus cleaning out the tank.
All systems go.

Negative to the tank, positive to the rebar. 
Rebar not touching the tank, but "suspended" in the water/sodium carbonate.

Here is what is going on inside...bubbling!  I think it is emitting hydrogen.
 Now it is the waiting game.  The best thing for me to do now was to just get away so I couldn't mess with the scientific concoction and pull it out early.  This is when Buzzsaw called and asked for some help with his jeep.  Perfect.  That killed 4 hours and then I came home and piddled with the kids for 2 more hours before their nap time.  Then, it was time to check out the progress.

I unplugged the battery charger and pulled the rebars out...and specifically in that order!

Well, something definitely happened.  I hope that is rust from the tank.

This is a picture through the fill hole while the tank is still filled with the watery solution. 
Kind of reminds me of the Titanic.

I ran a magnet near the drain hole and "fished" out this hunk of rusty bits and pieces.

After several attempts of spraying a high-powered stream of water into the small holes and then using the magnet stick to fish out the remaining bits of detached rust, this is the view from the fill hole.  Better!

This is the view from the sending unit hole. 
The drain plug can be seen protruding in the lower right hand corner.
 After the water rinse and magnet sweeping, I flushed the tank with the rust removing chemical.  I poured some in and just swished it around for a few minutes and then drained.

This is the final view from the fill hole.  Now we've got a respectable tank!

Here is the best shot...from the sending unit hole.  Looks like a little bit more of the rust particles to fish.
 The liquid is the rust removing chemical.
All in all, I am VERY PLEASED with the project.  I was fortunate to have such a good tank to start with in that it didn't have any defects, other than rust, to contend with.  As for the experiment, it was great.  I had never tried that route before.  Although it didn't remove all of the rust, it did make it very easy to remove the remaining bits.  They basically washed away with the work from a hose.  The tank is already dressed in its original OD, too.

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