I‘ll tell you why our mobile bar never made it to it’s destination!!
Luckily fuel tanks on Routemaster buses (our mobile bar) are quick release. I started to drain all the fuel but it was pouring out very slowly. I poked a screwdriver in the drain and then it came out at a 100 mph! Something was in there blocking it!! Once the tank was empty (125 liters later) I released the tank to remove it. All was well until I ran into a very silly problem…
Way back in 2015 I told the chippie “don’t worry, I wont need to get under that small hatch..”
How many hatches do you see? One, right? Well there are actually two. But one of them was boarded over by my chippie who, to be fair to him did suggest pulling the floor back up to reveal it. At the time I was in a hurry because the guy doing the vinyl was waiting to start and he was only available for so may days. I famously said to him “Don’t worry, I wont need to get in there!” I even surprise myself at how much of a bell**d I sometimes am…
Now we’re nearly 3 years later and you’ve guessed it… I could not reach the connecting pipes to the top of the tank from underneath no matter how much I tried. So I had only one option left. I’d have to cut the floor open to reveal the second hatch that would give me access from the top. The question is, WHERE IS THAT HATCH!!??? I mean, I roughly know where it is but I need to know EXACTLY where it is… This was going to get messy…. but then!!!!
Suddenly I realized, I had a second bus as a perfect example!
Thank all the lucky stars I bought number 2! I could just measure exactly where the hatch was located and then replicate this inside our Mobile Bar. I have never measured the same thing so many times in a row. It was bad enough that I had to cut into my beautiful floor so I wasn’t going to get this wrong. After having drawn out exactly where I thought the hatch would be I fired up my multi tool and started cutting……
I don’t usually get stuff like this right. This time I did though. It was bang on! Oh and look, there are those connectors I couldn’t get to! WHOOP!
All free and you’re coming out!
I was dying to find out what was actually in there…. What had stopped me from my ITV live tv debute…. What was it!!??
The tank on the inside as you can imagine was a total mess. The round circle you see is actually a 4 inch deep and 7 inch wide pot where the drain hole sits. THE POT WAS FULL WITH BIG FLAKES!! Diesel eventually turned back to oil. If cold this gunky gooey oil/diesel goes quit hard and crusty. So the build up in the tank had become so bad it had started to actually flake off the tank walls and end up in this pot at the bottom.
Here’s my theory..
The fuel gets sucked up through the fuel pick up tube. This tube sits with its end right above this round hole (drain pot). If a flake of crap were to get sucked up by the fuel pick up it would partially block the diesel flow. This would cause the engine to struggle but only if it needed lots of diesel…. Once the engine was turned off the flake would sink to the bottom again. This theory does explain the fact that the fault was intermittent and when I got more diesel the problem temporarily went away. The newly added diesel maybe shook up the flakes and moved them around.. Who knows.. Either way a proper cleanup was needed.
The mobile bar fuel tank cleanup!
If this drain at the bottom where a little bigger our problem could’ve been much easier to solve but judging by the state of the tank it was a good move to have it out and cleaned up properly. The gunk kept coming out…..
The next problem….
My mechanic on the phone is saying there should be 3 holes to clear out each section. I keep telling him “there are only 2” Until I send him this picture he didn’t believe me. His response was, “Where’s the third hole!!”
For some reason I’ve ended up with a tank that only has 2 out of 3 inspection holes….. BRILLIANT!!
What do I do now? Make a hole!!
You might think I’m mad to just chop the fuel tank open but It would be no good to leave a third of my tank lined with all this crap. There are 2 walls inside the tank stop fuel sloshing around whilst on the move. There are holes in them but not big enough to get in and clean up. So I literally had no choice but to chop it open and continue my cleaning effort.
Good thing I did too because it was just as bad in there as it had been in the first two sections.
Once every corner looked like this and all the surfaces had been properly scraped it was time to put the tank back together again.
A plate was created to close up my newly fabricated inspection hole in section 3 and she was ready to be re-attached to the bus. 3 days it took to clean this bloody thing. I hope it has made a difference!