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BIG RED Gas Tank Restoration - Removing a Gas Tank Coating Liner (Kreem RedKote)

My face cringed when I twisted the cap and looked inside of the fuel tank. It looked like someone used a Kreem kit intended for a 12 gallon car fuel tank in this BIG RED tank. It was very thick and it didn’t look to be in good condition. JB Weld was also used on the outside of the tank. My goal was to restore this tank so the old liner needed to be removed. This is the process I used to remove the existing tank coating.

Chemical attack – I bought a quart of Methyl Ethyl Keytone (MEK) substitute to dissolve and break the bond of the existing coating. I removed the fuel petcock assembly and used a rubber stopper to plug the bottom of the tank. I poured the quart of MEK substitute into the tank and also added a bunch of nuts, bolts, and wood screws. Since it was only one quart I would pick the tank up and shake it up so the MEK substitute would get at all parts of the coating. The loose hardware in the tank helps knock the coating off. I let the MEK work for about a day shaking every few hours when I was around.

Pics after soaking with MEK substitute for 2 days

Nuts, bolts, and screws to help break the bond of the coating

Some notes – The MEK substitute fumes are strong so work in a well-ventilated area. I only used one quart due to the expense of the MEK substitute which was about 13 US dollars. The BIG RED tanks are over 3 gallons so filling it completely with MEK would be pricey.

Power wash – I drained the MEK and removed the nuts and bolts. A lot of the Kreem coating had come off but there was still some coating that was bonded to the tank. I fired up the power washer and rinsed the inside of the tank. My goal was to try to remove the rest of the coating with the water pressure. It worked but there was still some coating left on the inside of the tank.

Power washer was used to rinse inside of tank

Tank after power wash rinse

Round 2 – Since the MEK wasn’t looking good after it sat inside the tank I decided to put the nuts and bolts back into the tank and fill it with about a quart of Acetone. I already had Acetone on hand so I decided to try it. I let the Acetone sit for another two days shaking up the nuts and bolts occasionally. This second round removed the rest of the coating and I power washed it again to rinse everything out. It was now ready to be prepped for the new tank coating.

Acetone used

Results after round 2. Now to final rinse and then white vinegar for rust removal.

More notes – The MEK substitute does not evaporate as fast as the Acetone. I used the original gas cap during this process to keep the fumes down and so I would not lose any of the nuts, bolts, and liquid (MEK or Acetone). The acetone may be easier to find as compared to the MEK substitute. The Kreem coating was very thick on this tank. If the coating was thinner I might not need the second round of chemical soak and rinse.

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