cutting a fuel tank
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  1. #1
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    cutting a fuel tank

    Hey everybody..... Well, me and a friend have been hauling in anything that's metal, not too important, and not bolted down that we can get to the local scrap yard over the last few weeks, and splitting the profits. We found an old inground fuel tank of some sort that we can have, but the scrapyard will only take it if its cut in half. The walls on it look like they might be an inch thick, and it held 500 gallons. No one knows when the last time it was holding fuel was, or what kind of fuel it held.

    So now, I'm wondering how we should cut it. We have his diesal tractor, and my chevy to work with if we have to fill it with exhaust and cut it. I have a sawzall angle grinder torch and circular saw to choose from.

    Cost is sort of an issue, but safety is first no matter what.

    So, I guess I'm just looking for advice here. How would you guys cut this thing??
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  2. #2
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    For the small amount of money you'll get scrapping it, and that money split in half, minus the costs, plus all the effort of getting it out of the ground, and then the safety factor, I would leave it where it is and move on to something else. Wouldn't be worth it to me to mess with it.
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  3. #3
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    I agree. Move on. Not worth it. One accident and it's game over.

  4. #4
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    i fully agree, the exhaust route cant smother a good fuel fire

  5. #5
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    If possible fill it almost full of water then cut with torch on top. Cut out a hole about 2 ft sq. then it cant blow anymore. The exhaust trick will work too. Then take torch out past it, light it, then drag back past the opening. If it dont do anything then its fine. I would smell of it, if it dont smell anymore then theres a good chance it is safe. Just use good judgment. You will find lots of this stuff in your new found business. good cutting.

  6. #6
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    I am going to have to disagree.

  7. #7
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Lanse View Post
    The walls on it look like they might be an inch thick, and it held 500 gallons.
    1" !!!??? If this is a normal old home heating oil tank, I don't think it's that thick.
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  8. #8
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    Many years ago the rage was to change out the underground fuel takes at gas stations around here with new ones. One winter a contractor I was working for from time to time called and wanted me to do some work for them if I had time, I said sure.

    When I got there he had this real big old rusty gasoline tank taken up from one of those gas stations he had got for $1 and wanted me to build an oil field style water tank out of it.

    I built the pipe skid and we placed the tank onto it with this loader. I then started my rig and ran a hose up and into that big tank letting it fill up with exhaust fumes. While waiting I proceeded to wire brushed all the places I planned on cutting holes and also where I planned on welding to this tank. All this while I had him and a few of his loyal employees right there in my way all talking and asking questions about what I was doing and whats this and that for.

    When my marking and cleaning was done I walked over to my rig and got my cutting torch and goggles, and lit the torch. I walked back over to the tank and noticed there were now - no one there but me. Standing by the tank with torch in hand I turned around looking for my long last friends and boss and I found them - peeking around from behind the cinder block garage corner. Naturally I yelled and waved for them to come on back here and keep me company, but they all gladly refused. Laughing I turned and started cutting and welding on that gas tank for the next several hours.

    ----------------------

    I say don't do it.

    Yes It can be done because I've done it before, but it ain't safe. I used exhaust because its the easiest, but also I've heard its the safest. But that was only from other welders over the years.

    Later guys

  9. #9
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    I know of a guy that decided to make a forge out of an old propane tank. He filled it with water and emptied it then lit the torch, as soon as he cut though the tank blew up and next he knew he woke up having spent 6 hours in surgery removing shrapnel.

  10. #10
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    Take it to a huge field, fill it with water, than find someone like a Navy Seal with the knowledge and enough C-4 to 'pop' the seams all apart, or maybe just knock the ends off.

    No Seals there? What about just running it over with a Cat D-11? Maybe even a little D-9 would do.

    BTW, has anyone here ever seen a D-12? I'm sure I once did, and I also knew another person who said he had, but have only found one 'good' reference to one online.

  11. #11
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldiron2 View Post
    No Seals there? What about just running it over with a Cat D-11? Maybe even a little D-9 would do.
    I was thinking take the teeth of the excavator and tear it open, then pound it flat myself. Been there, done that several times. Actually have a couple of old 275 gal home heating oil tanks I need to dispose of soon, that were stored in my new shop space. It's either the air chisel or the excavator, if I can get my buddy to drop it off for the day for some other work.
    .



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  12. #12
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    Quote Originally Posted by yorzaxt View Post
    I know of a guy that decided to make a forge out of an old propane tank. He filled it with water and emptied it then lit the torch, as soon as he cut though the tank blew up and next he knew he woke up having spent 6 hours in surgery removing shrapnel.
    Why did he empty the water? If I was to do this it would be filled with water during the first cuts. I don't think it could go boom when it's filled with water.
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  13. #13
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldiron2 View Post
    Take it to a huge field, fill it with water, than find someone like a Navy Seal with the knowledge and enough C-4 to 'pop' the seams all apart, or maybe just knock the ends off.

    No Seals there? What about just running it over with a Cat D-11? Maybe even a little D-9 would do.

    BTW, has anyone here ever seen a D-12? I'm sure I once did, and I also knew another person who said he had, but have only found one 'good' reference to one online.
    D12? Never heard of one. But before I die, I want to run an 11 and see "what its got"!
    "Where's Stick man????????" - 7A749
    "SHHHHHH!! I sent him over to snag that MIC-4 while tbone wasn't looking!" - duaneb55
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  14. #14
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    I am sure the tank he is talking about is an old butane tank. They were always buried because of their need to be kept cool, so as to keep down the pressure. They would have a wall thickness of about 3/8ths of an inch. That amounts to quite a load in the scrap pile. I would use the exhaust, fill it with water, purge it with propane, but only if you understand that all you need to get out is the oxygen. Find a way.

  15. #15
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Stick-man View Post
    D12? Never heard of one. But before I die, I want to run an 11 and see "what its got"!
    The one I saw (which I remember being clearly marked as a D-12) was being used to pull out the concrete bases of powerline transmission towers. The friend saw one being used to cut a road in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The only two good pictures I could find are below; another shot labeled as such was actually of a D8N.



    BTW, here's a piece about the D-11N and about Caterpillar in general, on a pretty interesting website.



    .
    Last edited by Oldiron2; 10-23-2010 at 01:06 PM.

  16. #16
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    Take it to a lake and do some under water cutting. Just need a snorkel.

  17. #17
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianM07 View Post
    Take it to a lake and do some under water cutting. Just need a snorkel.
    Not that I expect he would, but it's a bit more complex than that... Honestly that can as dangerous as cutting the tank above ground. Underwater cutting usually produces explosive gasses, and if they build up in a pocket they can explode. I saw the faceplate on a commercial helmet shattered by one gas build up between two plates. Luckily the diver stayed concious and was able to increase his gas flow to the helmet and go face down and didn't drown.
    .



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  18. #18
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    5000 Gallons maybe?

  19. #19
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    Quote Originally Posted by DSW View Post
    Not that I expect he would, but it's a bit more complex than that... Honestly that can as dangerous as cutting the tank above ground. Underwater cutting usually produces explosive gasses, and if they build up in a pocket they can explode. I saw the faceplate on a commercial helmet shattered by one gas build up between two plates. Luckily the diver stayed concious and was able to increase his gas flow to the helmet and go face down and didn't drown.
    Well I have put the welder down until I gety some school uner my belt. I didnt know welding could be so dangerous until reading some of the stories on here.

  20. #20
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Stick-man View Post
    D12? Never heard of one. But before I die, I want to run an 11 and see "what its got"!
    Iv'e never seen a D-12 or heard of one and have run equipment all my life
    run everthing from a D-3 to the D-11R
    Kamatsu makes a 975 which is the biggest i know of and have seen

    I love the D11R but i am a power junkie
    There is nothing like over a thousand HP at your finger tips
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  21. #21
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    The first thing I'd recommend here is:

    DO NOT LISTEN TO ANY OF THE ADVICE GIVEN. LEAVE THE DANG TANK ALONE.

    [/SIZE]Reading your other post regarding your Victor gauge, you obviously are new to welding/cutting.

    Cutting a "fuel tank" takes knowledge/experience you do not possess. While you may get some good advice here, you may also get some advice that will get you killed.
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  22. #22
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    be sure to give your next of kin a link to this thread and your password to the site and have them report back when this "doesn't go so well"
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  23. #23
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    Quote Originally Posted by SundownIII View Post
    The first thing I'd recommend here is:

    DO NOT LISTEN TO ANY OF THE ADVICE GIVEN. LEAVE THE DANG TANK ALONE.

    [/SIZE]Reading your other post regarding your Victor gauge, you obviously are new to welding/cutting.

    Cutting a "fuel tank" takes knowledge/experience you do not possess. While you may get some good advice here, you may also get some advice that will get you killed.
    +1 Nicely said. I fully agree.

    Good luck

  24. #24
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    Hey guys, Alright, so I never got to cutting this thing up, but Ive got some free time this weekend and Im thinking of going for it. What about getting a pack of sawzall blades, and using some oil? Itll be slower than a torch, but wayyyy safer I think. The oil would keep the blade and the steel cool, and help it cut faster. I dont know how thick this thing is, but if you say its like 1/8", then it probably is.
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  25. #25
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    Re: cutting a fuel tank

    now here is a thought, guys weld all the time on aluminum tanker trucks and they weld inside of the tank when a leak is discovered, what part or the req is, is that it has to have the vapor released to atmosphere for 24 hours before the work can begin. I know this as I was a shop manager for a tanker outfit that had to have this done often, but proceed with caution as always.


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