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Old 01-03-2008, 08:35 AM   #1
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Polishing LP Tanks

I have recently come into possession of two 30# Aluminum LP Tanks. A friend of mine found them at a garage sale for $20 each. They have the old type fittings, but appear to be in nice condition (no dents or gouges). I plan to polish these tanks and use them on Lucy sans the tank cover. I hope to achieve a little bit of a vintage look.

I need some information in two different areas.

1. Are there any tips on refitting these tanks with modern valves and making sure that the tanks are sound?

2. I also need tips on polishing these tanks. What type of polisher is best for this job, and what type of pads and polishing compounds to use? Should they be clearcoated when polished?

Here are a couple of pictures of these tanks as they are now.
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SuEllyn & Brian McCabe
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Old 01-03-2008, 09:00 AM   #2
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polishing tanks

Your local propane dealer can supply you with the newer OPD type valves.
I polished my tanks last summer with spectacular results but also a LOT of work. One tank was extremely bad and had a textured orange peel look on the surface. I ended up using a palm sander starting with 220 grit and working down to 1200 grit. I had to use a mouse sander in the small areas around the valves and handles. I had my doubts when I started but the bad tank actually polished easier and looked better than the other when finished.

The area around the handle and valves is difficult and time consuming. I suggest doing it first when you get done here the rest is pretty smoothe sailing. Maybe you could remove your old valves plug or tape off the threads and have more room to work here.

As for clear coating,I can't really say. I forgot to mention I used Gord's Aluminum Polish

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Old 01-03-2008, 09:30 AM   #3
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Great find Brian!

I polished ours on Maxwell...shortly, I'll be doing another pair for Birdy. It is a PITA! But looks great great when done.

I too lightly sanded some of the casting imperfections with fine sand paper, using whatever tools I could to get into all the nooks & crannies. A lot of the top around the handles & valves had to be done by hand...even my Dremmel tool was awkward. I used the compounder & Cyclo on the body with the different Nuvite grades (because we had it from trailer polishing) but so much had to be done by hand, it didn't really matter. By hand, I used "Nevr-Dull Wadding Polish" and it work very well on the tight spaces. You can get it at Wal-Mart or any Auto Zone-type store. No matter what, it's a dirty job...give you a flavor of what we vintage folks go through on a whole trailer!

Depending on your climate, they will probably look good for 5 years or so before you have to re-do you keep up with the oxidation annually, a half a saturday a year should be good. I wouldn't clear coat gets nicked & scratched everytime you go to fill the tanks, then you'd have to remove it before polishing the next time.

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Old 01-03-2008, 09:48 AM   #4
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There is a drill attachment available at auto parts stores that I think would work for the tight areas. It is a foam ball on the end of about a 10" shaft that chucks up in your drill. I don't have the name or a photo available, we use them on the aluminum wheels at work.
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Old 01-03-2008, 10:04 AM   #5
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I belive a Mothers ball from the auto parts store would help, but I would have the tanks hydro tested first to see if they are OK. I would also go easy on the sanding/grinding as to not weaken them. Lastly don't replace the removed valve before polishing, just take care to plug the hole.
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Old 01-03-2008, 10:12 AM   #6
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I did mine by hand. Wet sanded down to 800 grit and then started to polish. I used the stuff called diamond bright toolbox polisher. It did a great job.

Here is a link to what I did:


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Old 01-03-2008, 10:29 AM   #7
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Those things look horrible, I'll do you a favor and take them off your hands tomorrow at TopSail...

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