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Old 09-14-2016, 06:26 PM   #1
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Rust in Fuel Tank

I've been told that My 1998 Beaver Contessa diesel motorhome has rust in the fuel tank. It's showing up in my fuel/water separator and fuel filter. I'm wondering what direction to take. Any suggestions on the following questions?
1. Any suggestions on how to raise my 14 ton Motorhome in my driveway to drop a tank?
2. Were would I go to repair my existing 100 gallon tank?
3. Were can I go to replace my tank with a new tank?
4. Any easy fix or thoughts of the funds needed to fix this type of problem?
Thanks much for all thoughts in advance.
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Old 09-14-2016, 06:36 PM   #2
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There are several chemicals that you can use to coat and seal a fuel tank... the key is to pull the tank down.... throw a chain into the tank and move the tank around enough to loosen the material and wash it out.. once the tank is clean than you chemically seal it....

What's happened is a diesel tank either has to be plastic, aluminum or steel... diesel will deteriorate galvanized surfaces and the zinc that leaches out of the galvanized surface is not good for filter/injectors and fuel systems.... so the chassis builder made the tank out of steel... and expected you to leave the tank at 95% when you stored the unit so that moisture wouldn't attack the walls of the tank....
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Old 09-14-2016, 06:58 PM   #3
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My first question would be is it the tank itself that is rusting, or did you pick up a load of contaminated fuel? Would you be able to look inside the tank by removing the fuel level sending unit or drain plug and inserting a camera to look around? My situation was a load of contaminated fuel that I picked up somewhere. I normally use Pilot/Flying J and race track stations, but who knows where this came from. Any way, I ended up draining the tank, dropping the tank, and washing it out with a water and air pressure combination many times and then reinstalling. It was not possible to get it all out due to the configuration of the internal baffles. Filter changes now result in very few rust particles when opening up the filters, but I still see them occasionally. My tank had a drain plug on the bottom that was plugged up when I removed the plug. I poked a screw driver thru the crud, and it drained freely then. If it is the tank rusting, you can look for a product that is used to coat the inside of the tank, but you have to remove the tank, pour it in, and then roll the tank around to coat the inside. I have not used this product, but maybe someone else on the forum can add their experience. Harbor freight sells a fuel transfer pump for around $150. There is also the option of hiring someone that can do fuel polishing if it is contaminated fuel. This is fairly common in the boating industry and may be available by checking with a local marina. I tried pumping the fuel thru a filter using the fuel transfer pump for hours with little success. I hope this helps.


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Old 09-14-2016, 09:29 PM   #4
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In 50 years I've never had a tank with rust. Why? Keep it full of fuel.
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Old 09-14-2016, 10:44 PM   #5
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First.. modern stations have coated tanks... and good filters at the pump... its almost impossible to get rust from a station unless you keep a 55 gal barrel in the back of your truck....

The rust comes from moisture that collects on the side of tank... as the temperature changes the tank will sweat and diesel doesn't have a strong enough film strength to keep the bare metal from rusting... metal tanks in gasoline installations have either galvanized tanks or aluminum coated tanks, or plastic tanks... a full tank won't have this problem... and the location of the tank... high humidity and high swings in temperature have a lot to do with this... think of it this way.... you walk out to your car and the inside of the windows is coated with moisture... the same thing is happening inside the fuel tank... so a full tank can't do this...

This is also why modern fuel storage tanks.. (underground) are fiberglass... more costly but last longer and can't rust...

Aluminum tanks on trucks are expensive... a metal tank would cost maybe 20% of the cost of aluminum but the side effects of steel mean that all modern installation of diesel engines means either a plastic (cars, light trucks) or aluminum.. oh yea... stationary engines have a coated tank... usually glass lined like a water heater...

I hope this clarifies my thoughts... do any of you remember a small engine metal gas tank that's rusted out even though you keep the tool (mower, rototiller etc) in the garage... of course today they are plastic tanks...
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Old 09-15-2016, 04:50 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jelag View Post
There are several chemicals that you can use to coat and seal a fuel tank... the key is to pull the tank down.... throw a chain into the tank and move the tank around enough to loosen the material and wash it out.. once the tank is clean than you chemically seal it....

What's happened is a diesel tank either has to be plastic, aluminum or steel... diesel will deteriorate galvanized surfaces and the zinc that leaches out of the galvanized surface is not good for filter/injectors and fuel systems.... so the chassis builder made the tank out of steel... and expected you to leave the tank at 95% when you stored the unit so that moisture wouldn't attack the walls of the tank....
Great thoughts . . . I always keep the tank full but, once removed, I'll be looking at these possibilities.
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Old 09-15-2016, 04:58 AM   #7
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My last tank of fuel was purchased at a flying J. Even though I always fill the tank, I left the tank about 1/3 full for about 3 weeks before discovering the fuel problem while trying to start it up again. I usually fill the tank at the end of each trip.
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Old 09-15-2016, 05:34 AM   #8
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1st thing, drain all fuel from tank. If your capable of removing tank, then use hyd. Levelers to raise MH, buy, rent a pair of jack stands that will support front of coach. Tank should then be able to slide out.

Once removed, it's not a clean up job you're going to want to do in the driveway. Take it to a radiator repair shop and they can stream it out. Or if your daring take it to a car wash. After using the chain method described above, pour a few gallons of regular household paint striper in it, slosh around and let soak a few hours, rinse with water, use compressed air or place tank on side with a floor fan blowing in overnight to complete dry inside.
You'll also need to disconnect fuel line at primary filter and blow compressed air though it to clear anything that may come from tank.

Unless tank is really rusted bad, you should be able to clean it out. If replacement needed, there should be a metal tag on it with mfg and part number that either a local truck dealer or your chassis mfg can order for it.
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