Bondo Special

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Apr 15, 2004
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A couple of years ago I bought a steel Interstate tank off ebay. I was a little nervous about buying such a big-ticket item from fleabay, but for things like this there seems to be little choice. Certainly no Norton owner worth his or her salt is willing to part with one.

The tank looked ok and held gas, but the paint was damaged from what the seller said was a brake fluid leak. Some of the paint had been sanded away on the right side and I could see Bondo peeking through. I also noticed that my magnetic tank bag would not stick. Only the left flap could find metal to cling to.

There was some surface rust and dried fuel residue inside, but overall it didn't look too bad in there and it didn't leak when I put some gas in to rinse it out.

So, recently I decided to take the plunge and get it stripped and repainted. But I got a call from the guy doing the work after he got the tank half stripped. "You got screwed" he said. Here's the photos he emailed me:

Left side didn't look too bad:

Bondo Special

But the top and right side - ay caramba!

Bondo Special

So I'm trying to decide what to do now. I suppose Ross Thompson could salvage this (maybe), but it wouldn't be cheap and I'd still need paint. I'm tempted to cut my losses, sell it for whatever it will bring, and order an Evan Wilcox tank. Or save my money and give up on the idea for now. Both bikes have good Roadster tanks - fibreglass on the 750, steel on the 850.

Blah. Burned again on fleabay. When will I learn?

Debby, disappointed
Sorry about the huge image sizes. I tried to resize to 640 x 480 in photobucket but it didn't work. They're displaying at the correct size in photobucket, but here they're 1024 by 768 :?
Mine dropped against a concrete pillar, got it debumped and then what remained lead-filled before the paint job. The tankbag magnets seem to work ok.
Gas tank repair

Hi Debby,
I wouldn't be too disappointed about the tank, a good bodyman could fill and smooth that dent out very easily, and probably for a lot less than one of those aluminum tanks. I once bought a Kawasaki that had been attacked with a hammer, the bondo was almost an inch deep in some spots by the time I was finished and you never would know it. When I had my Commando shipped from Baxters Cycle in Iowa somewhere during the truck ride something fell on the gas tank, a little bondo later, looks perfect. It doesn't really matter how much bondo as long as its done right and the only one that needs to know is you. Look at all those high dollar chopper bikes (I know, bbbaaarrrrff) much of those frame joints and metal work is smoothed out with bondo, its really good stuff.
that is some serious damage, but it is repairable. It would not be acceptable to just bondo over the whole area. It would be way thicker than its designed to be and will eventually fail. One way would be to pull the dents out as much as possible than apply filler. The best way would probably be to cut the tunnel out of the tank, than hammer it out. Either way, it'll be a bit of work to get it right.
thats what i would do cut the bottom out and take it to a car body shop they should have all the dollys to remove the dents
That tank certainly looks salvagable to me. With some heat and proper dent pulling equipment the tank can be repaired.
Send your pictures to Ross and get an estimate before you do anything. As mentioned in another thread, alloy tanks show every bump and scratch and oxidize easily requiring more buffing and polishing if you want to keep them brightl.

Steel interstate tanks are a sought after commodity. After I wadded mine, and it looked as bad or worse than yours, I debated on what to do. Ross's repair cost was less than half the cost of the Wilcox tank and included replacing the front mounts and lining the finished tank with POR-15.

As I have said before, when I got my tank back and sat it next to my borrowed original tank, Ross' re-worked tank was very straight where the factory tank showed waves and imperfections that would need skimming. My painter had to use no filler, just prime, sand and paint.

I like the Wilcox tank, but the upkeep would drive me crazy. Besides, you won't be able to use your magnetic tank bag :(
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