Copper gas tank

Discussion in 'Painting, Welding, Bending and Gas Tanks' started by buzbikebklyn1, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. buzbikebklyn1

    buzbikebklyn1 New Member

    While looking through the all the dealers sites for a cool looking inexpensive gas tank I became some what frustrated with what was available, and wouldn't tip off the local constabulary to the bikes true nature the second they saw a top tube gas tank.

    Spun aluminum keg style style tanks look nice but cost $200.00 or more.

    Saddle tanks from Whizzer or the regular pressed tanks just don't cut it for me looks wise.

    While on the other forum I caught a thread about a guy that made a beautiful in frame tank out of tin for a Schwinn. It fit perfectly between the top tube and the two thinner cantilever tubes, a true work of the metal smiths art.

    I'm the first to admit, I don't have ANYWHERE near this guys skills or equipment... but I can be pretty clever when it comes to improvising something cool looking, strong and that gets the job done.

    A keg tank, rack mounted... Hmmmm
    I'm sure we've all seen the V8 juice can gas tanks, they look OK, and are functional an the ones I've seen are very well made, but to me they still look like i'm bringing home a juice can from the store strapped to my rack.

    I pondered what materials to make my tank from that were easily worked with (no welding involved) functional and yet still look cool...

    While talking to a plumber friend of mine, he suggested a piece of copper water pipe and 2 end caps, we got stoked... we go out to his truck and he pulls out an 8" length of scrap 4" copper water pipe and 2, 4" end caps and Viola!
    We had the main body of the tank, a quick trip to Home Depot for a double male brass garden hose connector, a brass cap with gasket for said connector, a 90 deg. 1/4" street elbow and one female 1/4" adapter to screw the street elbow into.
    I took the gas valve from a regular kit tank and laid all the parts on the bench to dope out how we would put them all together to mount them.

    A bottle of flux, a roll of silver solder, a can of map gas and 3 grades of emery cloth for polishing down the copper was purchased was at the same time.
    Total cost for the hardware and consumables? $32.79
    (the copper was free, donated by my good buddy and fellow M/Ber George the plumber, DUDE!!! thanks, good looking out!)

    If you were to buy the copper it would have cost about $75 to $80 bucks more.
    (it seems copper pipe and fittings that size are ridiculously expensive)
    80.00 + 32.79=112.79... a bit stiff because of the high price of copper, but for something unique to your bike? and still half the price of a store bought tank...not bad at all.

    Due to the thickness of the copper it was a little difficult to get it hot enough to accept the solder, we solved that problem by using two torches at the same time

    It could easily be made from steel or aluminum if you don't mind a little welding for the cap and petcock bungs. since I don't have access to a welder...WE SWEAT IT!

    A simple cradle mount would hold the tank to the rack by its 4 mounting strap holes.
    We cut up a 4" copper straight fitting and flattened it out with a mallet and a 2 steel plates to create the mount, then i used my bench vise as a break and careful measuring to bend up the cradle mount.
    (quite a bit of banging and cussing as well)

    Ill use two copper perforated straps to hold it to the mount, and rubber washers underneath the mount to isolate it a bit from vibration.

    First I sanded all the copper pieces to remove most of the manufacturing marks and make it easier to polish later after all the soldering is done and fit all the main parts together.

    Then I started measuring the mocked up tank on the rack to discern the best placement for the mount, gas cap and fuel valve and marked them.

    I decided on a center mount for the gas cap, and I chose to place the fuel valve through the open slot in the rack to protect it from strike or crash damage.

    A quick few coats of clear gloss to protect it from tarnishing and the leather band to hide the mounting straps.

    First I washed it out with soap and hot water, then a solution of baking soda and hot water to neutralize any flux left inside the tank, then blasted it dry with compressed air, then just to make sure the copper wont react with the fuel I coated the inside of the tank with sealer before final assembly, hey, if it works for nasty rusted old Harley gas tanks, why not mine?
    I think it came out great, exactly what i was thinking of.

    Please check the pics... maybe this will work for you. I hope you like it.
    BBB gas tank/

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2011

  2. Wheres my dog

    Wheres my dog New Member

    DUDE...... beautiful work and craftsmanship!

    How much would you charge to make one for me? I want one!!!
  3. buzbikebklyn1

    buzbikebklyn1 New Member

    First off, let me thank you for the compliment...
    This has been a dream of mine for a while now and your the first one to ask me to make a part for them, your tank will be special.
    I have several ideas for new and unusual gas tanks.
    I'd be happy to discuss building a tank for you.
    Lets take this private shall we?
    Please feel free to hit me up im PM.
    Please start thinking measurements/location/capacity and materials.
  4. Wheres my dog

    Wheres my dog New Member

    PM coming to you tomorrow!
  5. Dave C

    Dave C Member

    I am, of course, going to steal your idea:devilish: That is, by far, the best looking tank I've seen. The copper can be polished before clear coating and when waxed it would look so gorgeous.:tt1:

    Lucky for me there's like two huge recycling places here, finding a copper pipe shouldn't be all that hard and they sell at scrap prices. My top bar is at a steep slant and I can't use about a third of my tank. Being able to have the fuel outlet at one end and the filler on the very top for max capacity appeals to me. I'd try to find a piece long enough to fit as much of the topbar as I can.

    Guesstimating from your example it looks like 9" would= 1 gallon. I have just over 20" of room for a tank, just over 2 gallons!! Way more than you could use in a day even traveling like I plan:helmet:

    edit: We have a place here called Andy's Parts. They specialize in brass and copper fittings. I had 2 really weird compressor fittings that I could not find the stuff to join them. I went to Andy's, gave the guy the 2 pieces. He walked in the back and came out in under 2 minutes with a coupler that joined the two. I have bought my brass and copper from them ever since:cool:
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2011
  6. motorpsycho

    motorpsycho Active Member

    That's pretty cool looking!
    Did you use a vented gas cap?
  7. Bob Mac

    Bob Mac Member

    copper tank

    Nice job. I went to your pics to see how you have it mounted to the seat post or rack. It doesn't seam to be mounted yet. Just wondering how you solved that problem.
  8. buzbikebklyn1

    buzbikebklyn1 New Member

    Go for it Dude!

    Dont have to steal what was cheerfully given Dave...
    I'm honored, I do happen to have an idea about how to structure a tank to use all of that top tube tank.
    (ya don't think I gave away ALL my secrets now did ya?)
    You have to love those small hardware stores, I know exactly what you mean when he came out with that coupler... you never know what they got back there.
    This past winter I was dreading freezing my butt off out in the garage with a space heater for company so I wanted to utilize a small spare bed room we use as a closet to work on some small parts in comfort... I scored a small but sturdy bench but needed a small 4" vise.
    I was going to pay $69 bucks for one on line BUT the mom n pop hardware store guy came thru... he just happened to have a brand new cherry red 4" bench vise for $35 bucks!

    I'd be to glad to collaborate on your tank, hit me up in PM... we'll talk.

    F.Y.I., mine measures 8"x 4" and holds approx .9 US Gall.
    Ya dont HAVE to use use large diameter copper, how about twin 2" pipes with elbows or capped on the ends, with tees for crossovers and another 2" to 1"reducing tee for the gas cap for a rack mount?
    THE DOUBLE BARREL TANK, be the first kid on your block to have one!
    I dare ya!
    "I think I just re purposed my purpose!"
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2011
  9. Dave C

    Dave C Member

    I went by my local scrapyard today, no 4" but lots of 3". Now I'm thinking a two x 3" tube steampunk kinda tank:grin5: The pieces are long enough to reach from head stem to seatpost.

    I'll have to wait until payday, hopefully the tubeing will still be there and not recycled :p
  10. loquin

    loquin Active Member

    Nice job on the tank. I like the look. Did you seal the outside, to avoid the copper turning green? A couple of coats of clear lacquer should work. (clear polyeurathane would work too, but it tends to get a yellowish tint over time.)
  11. buzbikebklyn1

    buzbikebklyn1 New Member

    Double Barrel Tank.

    I've used 2" pipe with good success, twin tubes, 6 end caps and 5 "T"s, 2 Ts to form a cross over 1 T to hold the gas cap, and 2 dummy Ts to form a mount.
    The dummy Ts are pointed down, drill a hole in each dummy cap, then slip the dummy ts into those and use thin cross bolts to hold it on.
    this can also be used for vertical mounts like a seat post.

    This also prevent excessive fuel sloshing,