Getting rid of sand in the gas tank

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It’s the little things that can drive me crazy. Not that I need any help in that department.

Swirling muriatic acid solution in the tank
Swirling muriatic acid solution in the tank

Some time ago, the inside of the fuel tank was cleaned. It was, in fact, cleaned three times—once by the interim owner/seller and twice by yours truly. All in all, it was good to go, except for one small thing; or many small things depending on perspective.

After the last cleaning, I detected the sound of small particles rolling around the inside the tank. It sounded like sand, but not a lot of sand. It actually sounded like very little. Yet, that was enough to get my full attention.

At first I thought this was no big deal. I’ll open all the holes—fuel filler, petcock and sending unit—and turn the tank this way and that way until the sand is gone. Now, let me put it this way; there’s not a man alive who could have flipped the tank enough times for all the sand to fall out.

Fine. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again…until your arms fall off.

And still, I hear the sound of sand.

If brute force won’t work, then try brain power. This should be simple. I’ve spent more time in school than anyone I know. So sand…you’ve met your match and I’m bringing out the big guns, the shop vac. Simply hook it up to blow air out and I’m good. Yeah, not quite…

Alrighty then. Blowing air out isn’t exactly using the shop vac’s strong suit, which is sucking air (and sand) in, right? Although the vac hose won’t fit into a tank hole, it pulls strong enough to get the sand. Mmmm…maybe not.

How about a combination of methods? Yeah! Use the shop vac while turning the tank all sorts of ways. The suction will definitely pull out the airborne sand. Oh my aching shoulders…and still no cigar.

My little inventive engineer voice tells me to rig the vacuum hose with flexible tube to reach way down deep into the tank. After I pile up the sand in the front corner of the tank, I drop the hose in and bye-bye sand. Dog gone it. Are you kidding me??

This really is making me nuts. There’s got to be a better way. I just need to think and find it.

Rinsing it with diesel fuel should work. The particles will be suspended in the fuel, unlike gasoline where the particles fall to the bottom. When I dump the diesel, the sand will go with it. But, do I want to risk blowing up the new paint job by splashing diesel fuel on it? And, especially, when the paint is Rustoleum—good adhesion, but takes forever and a day to harden. I’ll pass. Put that trick back in the bag for another time.

Search the internet because I’m totally out of ideas. Searching…searching, searching and even more searching. What’s going on? Nobody’s had this problem?

Here’s an interesting idea hidden in the bowels of the internet. Spray oil on some cotton. Stuff the oiled cotton into the fuel filler hole. Shake the tank (oh brother, again?) and the particles will stick to the oiled cotton. Give it a try! (click photos to enlarge).

Instead of oil, I used generic Lemon Pledge. I didn’t want oil on the clear coat. Lemon Pledge is about as sticky and safe as there is for fresh clear coat.

And best of all, it worked! Check out the little specs of grit that stuck to the cotton after a first go-round.

After taking several runs at the tank with cotton and Pledge, there are no more sand sounds. It’s gone.

There’s nothing quite like the sounds of silence.

With that job complete and the tank painted, I put the sending unit, fuel tap, and cap back on the tank.




Next: Fixing side covers

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