14 December 2009 – Blowed up real good….

The above picture is from a plastic-tanked owner’s bike that has experienced a severe case of blowed-up-tank. The culprit? I don’t know, but I’m guessing a blocked off vent line, combined with heated fuel on a parked bike and ethanol-based fuel – the issue isn’t cropping up overseas – they don’t use ethanol…. yet. I don’t know if owners who ditch the charcoal cannister are also experiencing the issue. Kinda looks like a custom bike, doesn’t it?

I’m still buried in the fuel-injection chapter, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel — probably a train coming at me. I should be through F/I by the middle of the week. I hope…. I have a feeling the reworked valve adjustment chapter will take just as long. Ho, ho, ho.

Enjoy your week.

Monday update – upon further investigation, the tank expansion thing is no laughing matter. Owners of Multistrada, Sport Classics and S2R800 should check their tanks. The culprit is ethanol, which separates from gas and reacts with the plastic of the tank causing it to expand. Forums are trying to capture the data on the numbers involved, but I”m guessing every tank is effected to some degree. When things go bad, the mounting points can swell so much that tank removal is made diffucult. The tank flange can also warp, thus causing fuel leaks. I’m writing it up in the book, and letting MCN know. That’s about the best I can do. I don’t think owner’s groups can effect a recall due to the low number of sales of Ducatis, but if they can determine it is a bonafide safety issue, NHTSA will respond. I’ve got 3 of the damn things. I’m going to reline the inside of my tanks when I get back… if it isn’t already too late.

Monday Update 2 – POR15 doesn’t have anything that will work on plastic fuel cells. Caswell does. They’ve already had quite a few calls from Ducati owners. No etching required. Their instructions were to wash out the fuel cell with warm water and some soap, using some nuts/bolts if the inner surface is smooth and shiny to roughen up things, allow to dry by blowing air into tank or using the prep liquid that dries out water. Reline and you’re ready to go. Their liner resists ethanol. $40 of their 2-part sealer is enough for several tanks. We’ll see how it works. I’ve used Kreem before to good effect. Just don’t get any of the stuff on the painted surfaces and you’ll be ok.


  1. billg replied:

    Makes you wonder if a pop off valve would be a good upgrade.

    December 14th, 2009 at 9:12 am. Permalink.

  2. Mike W replied:

    so fuel leaking from my fuel pump flange onto my rear header or tire is a bad thing?

    as for that tank, like Sgt Hulka, “Blown up, sir”

    December 14th, 2009 at 7:41 pm. Permalink.

  3. tony replied:

    That pic is amazing. If the NHTSA doesn’t conclude this is a safety issue, I would be shocked. It is more a matter of the folks affected need to send in reports. It would be pretty damn hard for them to not find an issue.

    How is this coped with on cars with plastic tanks? Our 1996 dodge and both our current 2001s have plastic tanks. Of course, mounting points aren’t a big deal, but crazy expansion in warm climates could fark things up.

    BTW, did you see that there is a debate going on for E15. WTF? As if E10 wasn’t crazy enough. Us steel tank guys have too many fuel line problems now. This should make a nice nightmare for a lot of folks.

    December 15th, 2009 at 3:11 am. Permalink.

  4. Mike B. replied:

    From Caswells website, #7 of what else you can do with the tank sealer..
    7.Bonds to almost anything except polyethylene. Bonds to wood, plastic, rubber, concrete, metals

    Aren’t our tanks made from a Polyethylene based material?


    December 15th, 2009 at 5:23 am. Permalink.

  5. LT replied:

    Acerbis describes their tanks as “plastic” on their site, so I don’t know exact composition. Caswell stated their product would work and Ducati owners are using it. I don’t have any testaments from the monster or multistrada lists that it has worked. I didn’t recommend Kreem until I had it installed 1 year on my SS tank, so this is a long-term test at best.

    December 15th, 2009 at 5:59 am. Permalink.

  6. Mike W replied:

    Mike B – I was under the impression the Duc tanks were polywarpylene also.

    What a pain in the ass.

    December 15th, 2009 at 6:42 am. Permalink.

  7. Lance replied:

    If that’s happening to a lot of bikes, Ducati needs to step up and recall them. Will Ducati honor replacement if the owner isn’t the original buyer? Are they supposed to pay over $1000 to replace a tank because of Ducati’s screwup. You can forget about anyone buying a used plastic-tanked Ducati if this issue isn’t resolved.

    December 15th, 2009 at 10:59 am. Permalink.

  8. Philippe replied:

    Ethanol would be the culprit ?
    Strange we have it here up to 7% in gasoline without any indication of it. So most gas fueled engines on the road have had some in the tank without knowing it…..
    some stations sell 10% blend lower price sold for what it is.
    fewer stations sell 85% blend even cheaper sold for what it is.
    No sign of tank problems in the french forum.
    Our ethanol is mostly made from sugar beet, distillation of undergrade wine, and last from corn. Maybe some other product added with alcohol, ETBE ?

    December 15th, 2009 at 5:09 pm. Permalink.

  9. mark replied:

    Lance, I have a friend that is NOT the original owner of an S2R and our local dealer got the tank warrantied/replaced at no cost to the owner.

    December 15th, 2009 at 8:53 pm. Permalink.

  10. rduc3 replied:

    Is the newer Monster 696 & 1100 made of the same plastic? These are not painted but have the plastic skin covering so I’m wondering if they are made of a different type of plastic and if they will be affected.
    How long does it take for the symptoms to appear? Maybe it’s too soon to tell?

    December 16th, 2009 at 3:52 am. Permalink.

  11. LT replied:

    I haven’t seen the tanks, but I’m guessing similar material to the hypermotard tank and the Mh900e tank – plastic. Are they structurally different than the painted plastic variants? That, I don’t know. I’m not too stressed. All bikes have design issues. I’d rather have tank expansion problems than crankshaft problems. It’s all a matter of perspective. Of course, I’ve got a boatload of Ducs, so I’m kind of commited to the brand.

    December 16th, 2009 at 3:59 am. Permalink.

  12. Reto replied:

    It’s happening to plastic tanked Triumphs too. My ’98 T595 has a plastic tank made by Acerbis. The tell tale was that of the 5 screws that bolt the plastic radiator cover to the tank, only three (center and inner of the two on each side of the center)


    Thanks for the pointer to the Caswells sealer!

    December 16th, 2009 at 6:48 am. Permalink.

  13. Reto replied:

    P.S. You server’s clock is 12 hours off … :-)

    December 16th, 2009 at 6:49 am. Permalink.

  14. John Phelps replied:

    Makes me even happier about dropping the coin to restore my ’97 M750. Steel tank, AND I had it restored with POR-15 and repainted and cleared.

    Old school rocks. Flatslides, steel tank, no electronic feldercarb here.

    I think I’ll go for a celebratory ride.

    LT, you go finish that book.

    Cheers. :)

    December 20th, 2009 at 3:48 am. Permalink.

  15. ducatiz replied:

    LT, the vent line blockage is a no-go, none of the tanks I’ve personally seen had any problem at all with venting. I removed the charcoal canister from my bike and re-hosed it to Euro-style venting.

    Tanks are rotomolded and multi-layer HDPE as far as I know. The first layer is the finish and it is probably not HDPE, but the internal part most likely is.

    December 22nd, 2009 at 3:51 am. Permalink.

  16. ducatiz replied:

    I am correcting my self, the tank material is not HDPE, it is nylon, polyamide 6. Even says so on the bottom of the tank “PA6” next to the recycle symbol!

    April 17th, 2010 at 8:49 pm. Permalink.

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