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It can be difficult to store a motorcycle for extended periods of time. You may have heard horror stories of people who didn’t properly take the right measures before storing only to find significant damage to their bike.
The steps for storing the tank alone or the entire motorcycle with an empty tank are simple, but vital to the tank’s longevity.
How can you store an empty motorbike gas tank? To store an empty motorcycle fuel tank alone, empty it completely, then add some rubbing alcohol to the tank. Dry the tank completely. Add some silicone packets to absorb any excess moisture and store it in a place where it won’t get damaged. You can follow the same steps if your motorcycle needs to be stored with an empty tank.
I’ve found myself in many scenarios where I had to both store a motorcycle gas tank by itself as well as store the whole motorcycle with an empty tank. This is what I’ve learned in the process that can help you keep up with and maintain your motorcycle and it’s parts.
Storing a Motorcycle Gas Tank by Itself
A person might need to store their motorcycle’s gas tank separately for several reasons. As I had just mentioned, I’ve had to do this several times myself mostly because I eventually planned on fixing the tank when the weather was a little warmer or I was going to sell it eventually.
Whatever your case may be, it’s completely possible to store the tank by itself with little risk of damage to it if the proper steps are taken. The first thing you’ll need to determine is where you’re going to be storing it. It’s ideal to store it in a temperature controlled environment, such as a basement or shop. Having a motorcycle tank stored in such an environment will give it it’s best chance in the future.
That’s not to say that storing it in extreme heat or extreme cold will completely ruin it. You’ll just need to keep an extra eye on it to make sure it isn’t rusting or corroding in any way.
In either case, make sure to store your tank in a place where it won’t be tampered with. Don’t leave it on the ground in the garage because that’s almost a guarantee it’ll get scratched or dented. This lesson was hard for me to learn because my college roommate used one of my motorcycle tanks in his college apartment as a stepping stool. It caused a massive dent.
It you put it up on a shelf, make sure it’s secure and won’t fall off. Small vibrations from thunder or passing trains can make the tank slowly find it’s way to the edge and make it fall. Also make sure it’s surroundings don’t have the potential of scratching it up.
Once you find a storage place, remove the tank from the motorcycle if you haven’t already. You can drain all fuel into a safe container. Allow the fuel to evaporate for several hours by leaving the top off. To ensure there’s no residual fluids, poor a half a bottle or so of rubbing alcohol into the tank, close the cap, and swish it around so it coats the entire inside of the tank.
You can get rid of any excess rubbing alcohol by removing the cap and letting the alcohol evaporate. The evaporation of alcohol can be assisted by rubbing it with water. It’s also soluble with gas so no damage will be done if it’s mixed with gas.
Next, add several silica gel packs to the tank. These are the same ones that you’ll find in certain food products. Silicone, a desiccant, absorbs and holds excess moisture. This will prevent any rusting. It’s easiest to tie a string around them before you put them in so you can simply pull them out when you’re ready to use your tank instead of having to fish them out.
Lastly, twist on the cap tightly so there’s no chance of moisture getting in. You may also want to make sure the fuel lines/petcocks are also sealed so moisture doesn’t get in that way either.
Storing a Motorcycle with an Empty Gas Tank
In some situations, it’s most ideal to store a motorcycle with the tank completely full of fuel with some stabilizer in it. But there are several scenarios out there that call for an empty gas tank during long term storage such as if you’re storing your bike in your house, in someone else’s home, or if a storage unit calls for it for safety reasons.
First you’ll need to empty your gas tank by removing the fuel lines and having the gas run out into a container. Next, turn on the motorcycle and allow it to run until it stops.
Follow the above steps. To let the fuel evaporate, keep the cap off for a while. Half a bottle of rubbing alcohol can be added to the tank. Use it to coat the entire tank. It will evaporate any moisture remaining inside.
To prevent moisture from entering, add the silica gel packets to the petcock openings. Once you place your motorcycle in it’s spot for long term storage, it’s also a good idea to wrap a towel or blanket around the tank to prevent any damage from it’s surroundings.
See my article for more information on how to store your rest of the motorcycle over time.
When You Don’t Properly Store Your Gas Tank
Properly storing your motorcycle’s gas tank for long term storage, is crucial, especially if it will be empty all the time. I kept my motorcycle gas tanks in their original state because I intended to sell them later. I needed to make sure they were in good condition.
Proper tank storage poses the greatest risk. Moisture has as a way of finding itself in places it shouldn’t be. Metal can be damaged by water. Rust is caused by metals that contain iron, which is what most motorcycle parts are made of. The reaction eventually creates oxide, which weakens metal’s bond.
Rust can eventually destroy metal and cause holes. Obviously, you don’t want to have any holes in your tank because that would kind of defeat it’s purpose. It’s possible to fix holes formed in a motorcycle gas tank, but fixing it would almost cost as much as buying a new one if you have to take it into a professional to do it.
Proper motorcycle gas tank storage poses the next greatest risk: dents and scratches. This is especially true if your children or pets live in the home. As I mentioned above, any person can cause harm.
It is possible to fix scratches and dents on motorcycle gas tanks, but it can take a lot of effort. Learn how to paint and repair a motorcycle tank.
How to Fix Damages to a Motorcycle Gas Tank While It Was Storage
You don’t have to spend a fortune if you are unfortunate enough to sustain damage while filling up your motorcycle’s gas tank.
Examine the inside of your tank when you take it out of storage. If you notice some rust that wasn’t there before, it’s best to clean it out before you put fuel in it and have the rust running through your fuel system.
You’ll need to tank the tank off the motorcycle if it’s still connected. The first thing you’ll need to do is rinse out the tank using a high pressure hose. The gas cap should be removed and the petcock holes left open to allow the water to drain. This will eliminate any particles.
Once it’s rinsed out, plug up the petcock holes using either corks or tape. There are a few options for the next step. You can start by using Metal Rescue Rust Remover, which is a rust-removing chemical. This can be done by adding a large amount to the tank and replacing the gas cap. Then, swirl it around for a few minutes before letting it settle. You can then remove the tape/corks, and let the acid flow into a container.
This next suggestion may sound a little crazy, but I’ve tried it myself and it has worked great. Fish aquarium gravel can be used to cover rust spots that are difficult to reach. You can add several handfuls of gravel directly to the gas tank by using a funnel. Then, you can either add more water or more rust removing acids. You can close the gas cap and shake it for several minutes to allow the gravel to loosen the hard rust spots.
You can empty the liquid by unplugging all the petcock holes, and then taking off the gas cap. Getting all the gravel out will take some time, but you’ll know when you get it all out because you won’t be able to hear any rocks moving around inside. You can rinse the interior with water and then add rubbing alcohol to evaporate the water.
What happens to your motorcycle’s fuel system if it gets rusty? You may experience fuel delivery issues if rust particles are found in your fuel system. This could be because parts or hoses might have become clogged. Carburetor jets have a tendency to become clogged. Use a fuel filter and change it more frequently until you know the rust has worked it’s way out.
You can store a motorbike in your home. It is possible to store your motorcycle indoors if you have your own garage. You will need to take safety measures to prevent fumes as well as store it in a place that’s not near any source of heat. It is not recommended to store a motorcycle inside an apartment or condo. You can read my article for more details.