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Old 18 Dec 2010
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Fuel Tank Leaking

Hi all,

a few days ago my fuel tank started leaking. Since yesterday it's bad, ca 150ml over night, so I need to do something.

Whats the best solution in your opinion to solve the problem, keeping in mind I'm on Sulawesi, so anything fancy is out of reach.

I have heard of several people that buying a bar of soap and rubbing it on will seal the leak. Those guys made 2500km with the soaped tanks. But There's gotta be something a little less dodgy.

I though about welding it shut, after emptying it obviously , as welding is everywhere here. Sane or insane?

Last idea I came up with was to buy 2 liters of paint, fill the tank and hope it'll seal the thing after doing that once or twice. I'm really not sure about that one.

Any idea would be great.
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Old 18 Dec 2010
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Sorry to hear of your dilemma. Is the Gas tank Plastic or Steel? I heard you refer to welding the tank, that is a specialist job either way. a "small" hole can be plugged with a thorn or a piece of wood like a cocktail stick jammed in cut close then epoxied over.

A Split would have to be seen to be advised on.

As your fuel loss is only 150ml overnight, i am going to take a wild guess that it is probably your petcock leaking or a float sticking due to dirt in fuel getting into the needle valve.

Last edited by Martyn Tilley; 18 Dec 2010 at 07:21. Reason: i spell like a 5 year old.
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Old 18 Dec 2010
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I've never used soap, but it's a method often recommended.

A few months ago I met a South African in Namibia driving a Landrover back home after a tour around south-western Africa.
Through rock damage, he'd got quite a bad leak in his petrol tank a few weeks earlier and proudly showed me the repair, done with soap.
"But it's even better if you mix sugar with the soap, but not too much," he told me.
Sugar reacts with petrol, usually detrimentally, but he claimed a little added to the soap helped to stop the soap drying out and caused it to stick better to the steel. He was an experienced traveller in Africa and expected his repair to last at least all the way home, another week or so.
Maybe worth a try.

Or can you get "Araldite?" Or any other two-part epoxy adhesive in tubes.
A year ago my son-in-law mended a leak in his petrol tank with that, and it's still all fine.
Use sandpaper or a file to make sure the area around the leak is perfectly clean, and that any paint is firmly attached to the metal still (or better, remove the paint if you can). Make sure you get rid of ALL rust if there is any around the leak.
Spread a small blob of Araldite over the leak and let harden completely.
Then a slightly larger blob over that, spread more widely, let harden completely again.
Repeat a third time.

And don't forget, if your tank is leaking at all, it becomes quite a fire risk. So take extra care everywhere, specially where you park it.

Good luck.
TTR250 - London to Cape Town
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Old 18 Dec 2010
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Chewing gum works as well , I'm not sure which brand ,but my friend "fixed" a boat fuel tank that way .
Two part epoxy is probably the best way to do the fix by yourself , maybe a type that has some kind of metal filler in it .Use emery paper to sand the paint off first.

Don't let anybody near it with a welding machine until you know that they are a capable welder .Most likely they will just make the hole larger .The job is best done by TIG or oxyacetylene welding after the petrol vapour has been removed by steaming or filled with an inert gas .
Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light. - Spike Milligan
"When you come to a fork in the road ,take it ! When you come to a spoon in the road ,take that also ."
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Old 19 Dec 2010
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Thanks Guys for the fast answers.

Great stuff.

I went around all the bike shops in town this morning and found some 2-component epoxy I will try in a few minutes. If that fails me the soap will get to work.

i am going to take a wild guess that it is probably your petcock
that was my first guess as well, but while checking the tank I found the crack at the back seams just above the bolt.

Thanks again guys, I'll go and try the epoxy now.

Have a great day.
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Old 19 Dec 2010
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Sunlight brand soap (as in a bar of soap) rubbed into the crack is by far the best solution - I've had to use soap on a road tanker on dirt roads in Australia to fill a crack about 150mm long. The best soap is the laundry style bars if you cant get Sunlight.

You can also try a cyanoacrylate glue - from model shops - to fill the crack. Any rigid glue will fail within a few days, it needs to flex.

Brazing or welding is the permanent fix.
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Old 19 Dec 2010
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I would empty the tank and just have it welded or brazed.
Any decent welder should be able to get the job done.

I have done 2 fuel tanks now with a wire feed and it was not difficult.
I drain the tank, let it air dry, fill with water and drain and let it air dry, blow it out with a compressor and then put a long burning piece of straw inside to burn out any fumes. Then I get to work.

The farmer down the road where I grew up taught me how to do it.
Worked great!
Good Luck!
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Old 21 Dec 2010
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tank leak

I fixed a leak in my metal petrol tank with epoxy twice and it lasted about a year each time.The next time i washed it out twice with soapy water, let it dry and then soldered it. that was about a year ago its ok so far.This may not be much help to you Timae.
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Old 21 Dec 2010
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ive just done a 350lc tank..wash thoroughly with boiling water and washing powder/detergent several times then weld or braze whichever want.
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Old 22 Dec 2010
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epoxy is on and so far working though that doesn't really say too much so far.

Thanks for all the tips on the welding. Though it'll be at least a year before I'll be able to weld it properly back home.

Till then - may soap and epoxy treat me good.
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