Fixing Vintage Fish Tank - The Planted Tank Forum
 11Likes
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-04-2017, 05:07 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
DestinyJ's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Northwest Minnesota/Northeast North Dakota
Posts: 34
Fixing Vintage Fish Tank

I went to a thrift store recently and found a metal frame, slate bottom tank for only 5 dollars! I had to buy it even though the glass was super scratched. I'm planning to call the glass shop in town and see if the scratches can be buffed out or if I will need to replace the glass and of course the pricing on that. I've never even re-sealed a tank so replacing the glass completely will be an adventure. If anyone has some good threads or tips on fixing up a vintage tank, please tell.

Its a 20 gallon high but the dimensioms are a tiny bit different than standard now. Sorry for the bad picture, I broke the front and back camera on my phone so cheap tablet pic it is.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-T337A using Tapatalk
DestinyJ is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-11-2017, 01:04 AM
Planted Tank Obsessed
 
PTrader: (32/100%)
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Melrose, MA
Posts: 452
There are a couple of good threads on this.
I've ended up with multiple tanks that need to be resealed.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/20...rame-tank.html
SBPyro is offline  
post #3 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-11-2017, 01:39 AM
Planted Member
 
Esteban Colberto's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 291
Hey that's cool looking as well as the cart on which it's resting. Very cool. Subbing.
Esteban Colberto is offline  
 
post #4 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-11-2017, 01:58 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
GraphicGr8s's Avatar
 
PTrader: (10/100%)
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: West coast of the east coast of the USA.
Posts: 4,328
I've got a bunch of the MetalFrame tanks. I collect and refurb them. Many of mine had broken glass so I took the entire thing apart and removed all the asphaltum. As an aside, I was talking about the asphaltum with my ink supplier (offset printing) and it is actually a linseed oil product not petroleum.
Anyhow, patience is required. Along with a putty knife and a heat gun. I melted the tar and slowly put the knife in to separate the glass. It takes a while. There is a sequence to removing the glass. First the slate must come out. Then the side panels and finally the front. Installation is the reverse of removal. I bought tanks from the $1 per gallon sale and used that as replacement. It's cheaper but you do have to take apart the tank. The good thing is the glass can be a bit smaller than the frame itself. Mine has about a 3/16" gap between the panels but since it is not structural like a glass tank it is not a problem.

I tried a bunch of different solvents to get the residual tar off with varying degrees of success. Mineral spirits. Denatured alcohol. Naptha. Among others. Toluene works about the best but it requires care in handling.

Putting it back together is not that hard. I used Dow Corning 795. It is what Disney uses on their tanks and rock work and it sticks to slate.
That is important. It sticks to slate. Other silicones like the GE stuff will not stick to slate.
Lay down a good thick bed of the silicone and press the glass into it. You need a decent bed or the stainless will show through when you're finished. After all the panels were in and the slate I then go along the interior corners and give them a seal same as you would for an all glass reseal.

The biggest tip I can give you is to have patience. It will be rewarded.

I've got about 15 of those tanks and love them. Two of the 55s are in the house and I've never had to reseal them. One did leak for a couple of weeks and it is a dirt tank. As the dirt filled the voids it stopped leaking. Funny thing is when I set it up outside to test it never leaked.

I've got a 20 tall I am currently toying with for my son and since the glass is in decent shape I've scraped out the silicone put in by others and all I will do to that tank is reseal as if it were all glass but I will use the 795. First I am going to hit the tar with a heat gun. I just want to smooth out the tar I can see on the outside of the tank. I do not expect that to really hold water though. More for the aesthetics. The 795 on the inside will do all the water sealing for me.

One thing I've learned is if the glass isn't broke, and I can live with moderate scratches that may or may not be noticeable I will just hit the inside with the 795. Alas most of the tanks I've been given or collected had broken panels. So a total tear down was needed.

Dilution is the solution for the pollution.
Quote me as saying I was misquoted.
Once you get rid of integrity the rest is a piece of cake.
Here's to our wives and sweethearts - may they never meet.
If you agreed with me we'd both be right.
GraphicGr8s is offline  
post #5 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-11-2017, 02:29 PM
Planted Member
 
Esteban Colberto's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 291
Damn @GraphicGr8s that's a guide right there. Talk about some good information. How about some images?
Plantation likes this.
Esteban Colberto is offline  
post #6 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-11-2017, 08:26 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
GraphicGr8s's Avatar
 
PTrader: (10/100%)
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: West coast of the east coast of the USA.
Posts: 4,328
Quote:
Originally Posted by Esteban Colberto View Post
Damn @GraphicGr8s that's a guide right there. Talk about some good information. How about some images?
It took a lot of research to get the right stuff to do it. That's my story. The truth is I fell into the right silicone in another conversation I was having at our society meeting and that led me down to the silicone to use. The info on the old asphaltum was an accidental conversation with the guy that makes our inks and he is quite knowledgeable on the material. And that stemmed from talking about what we did over a Christmas break.
A lot of the knowledge of getting the tank apart was just by looking first, taking my time, trying different things and noting what didn't work. It helped that in the first tank I did I was trashing the glass anyway. That led to how it was put together. And that is an important point to note. The glass has to go in in a certain order.
Another thing I did was to make sure I never put too much pressure on the stainless. I am not good at metalwork so trying to straighten out any kink I could have put in would have been my downfall. I'll say this again. The MOST IMPORTANT THING ON REFURBING THESE TANKS IS PATIENCE.


Maybe on my next refurb I'll take some. I've got some shots of the before but that's about it. Maybe a video of some of the highlights if I am up to it.
It takes me a while to do the teardowns because I have limited time slots. I do the work outside because of the potential fumes and right now it's darn hot and humid down here. And I can think of many other things that need my attention to keep the ball and chain off my back.
Even the 20 I am working on now has been scraped of the old silicone and is awaiting my to get the want to finish it.


One thing I did forget to add to my post is I generally take some sandpaper and smooth out the slate a bit. I sand it dry and just enough so it's smooth and all the tar is off it. That of course is on a complete tear down. A reseal the slate is left alone.

Never, ever be afraid to ask questions. You may not get the right answers the first time. Or maybe not even the 30th time. But you'll never know if you don't start with that first question.

Here is the thread I did put together a while ago.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/12...ame-tanks.html

Dilution is the solution for the pollution.
Quote me as saying I was misquoted.
Once you get rid of integrity the rest is a piece of cake.
Here's to our wives and sweethearts - may they never meet.
If you agreed with me we'd both be right.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 07-13-2017 at 08:48 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts
GraphicGr8s is offline  
post #7 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-11-2017, 09:43 PM
Banned
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: WI
Posts: 11,794
Besides the fact that nobody would eat it.. Isn't the orig toxic (most tar is) or contains heavy metals??

Something nagging in the back of my head about that..
anyways GREAT write-up
Just a bit more..

Quote:
The hot water trick works if the tar is still somewhat pliable. After 40+ years though, most of the tar in the stainless tanks around is pretty dried out.

The Innes formula for the black goop/tar is equal parts Gilsonite bitumen (check the bay), thickened linseed oil, and heat. Thickened linseed oil isn't "boiled linseed oil". It's raw linseed/flaxseed oil that has been cooked down by about 25%. A VERY smoky, messy, stinky project to thicken linseed oil, and only do it OUTDOORS, in a disposable pot.

If you are a resto-nut and need to have the tank restored "as built", use a heat gun, a thin putty knife, and a truckload of patience to melt out the glass and slate. Don't pry, just methodically blast the frame until the tar lets the glass go. Then clean out the frame and glass with the heat gun, carburetor cleaner, and a bristle brush. This will take at least a day and you'll break at least two panes doing it, no matter how careful you are.
To use the newly mixed up tar, roll it out thin (1/4") between waxed paper sheets, and cut strips to line one pane area at a time of the frame. Blast the frame with the heat gun until the tar is very gooey, and quickly set/press the pane/slate in place. Repeat, x4 more times. Once the tar cools, trim the oozed tar from on the outside areas with a razor blade. If you did everything right, there's a pretty good chance the tank will be sealed. The bigger the tank, the harder it is to keep all the tar hot during glass setting.

FAR easier is to clean out the frame (as above), carefully measure and then chuck the old 40+ year old scratched up glass pieces, get brand new glass cut for all the panes -and- a thick piece of plate glass for the bottom, then use black silicone to seal them in place. THICK beads in the frame, and then seal all the seams, too. Save the slate bottom, sand the edges and corners round, lay a layer of thin (1/8") packing foam sheet in the bottom of the tank, and just lay the slate in on top of it. The bottom glass is now protected from any point pressure from big rocks, etc.

You can try the quick-fix by smearing a bead of silicone on all the seams of the tank, as is, an you'll probably get it to seal for a couple years. Silicone, in my experience, starts to peel off the slate after a while, though. "A while" may be a few months to a few years, depending on how clean the slate surface was before being sealed with silicone. The original sealer goop was petroleum based, and any contamination of the slate surface by it will cause silicone adhesion issues in those areas. Lightly sanding the slate where you will be adding silicone, then rinsing, drying completely, helps. Just be careful of the glass when you sand.

I've restored several dozen stainless framed tanks now, here are a few pages of tank disassembly:
http://www.rickwrenc...saquariums.html
http://forum.nanfa.org/index.php/top...aquarium-leak/

The mineral Gilsonite is categorized as a solvable material in oil solutions such as CS2 or TCE (Trichloroethylene).

Maybe it was the solvent for it...

Suspended for 30 days for being awful to other forum members
jeffkrol is offline  
post #8 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-12-2017, 03:19 PM
Wannabe Guru
 
GrampsGrunge's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Diatom Alley, Lakeside, OR
Posts: 1,453
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
Besides the fact that nobody would eat it.. Isn't the orig toxic (most tar is) or contains heavy metals??

Something nagging in the back of my head about that..
anyways GREAT write-up
Just a bit more..



Old frame aquarium leak - Advanced Captive Care - NANFA Forum

The mineral Gilsonite is categorized as a solvable material in oil solutions such as CS2 or TCE (Trichloroethylene).

Maybe it was the solvent for it...
If I'm not mistaken William T. Innes talked about sealing old metal framed aquariums in his old book, and the 'asphaltum' is a linseed oil based product. But the problems with what he was recommending for a DIY sealant based on this linseed goop, in his book: Exotic Aquarium Fish, was he was saying to add litharge ( white Lead ) or red Lead as a filler for the sealant, and that stuff is pure Lead oxides and is toxic as all get out.

So there's a chance you might encounter a DIY fixed classic with the mixture from Innes' old book. Remember that this book was written in the 1930's and Asbestos and Lead weren't considered as toxic then as they are now.

BTW the OP should NOT use that wheeled cart for the tank stand, it's far too weak for the weight of the aquarium. Please get a real 20H stand or build a sturdy one from plywood and 2X4's, if you have the skills.

Starting small, keeping it simple..(?)
250 gallon stock tank, "pond"
20 gallon H CBS Shrimp tank

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Last edited by GrampsGrunge; 07-12-2017 at 03:23 PM. Reason: ....
GrampsGrunge is offline  
post #9 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-12-2017, 07:43 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
GraphicGr8s's Avatar
 
PTrader: (10/100%)
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: West coast of the east coast of the USA.
Posts: 4,328
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
Besides the fact that nobody would eat it.. Isn't the orig toxic (most tar is) or contains heavy metals??

Something nagging in the back of my head about that..
anyways GREAT write-up
Just a bit more..



Old frame aquarium leak - Advanced Captive Care - NANFA Forum

The mineral Gilsonite is categorized as a solvable material in oil solutions such as CS2 or TCE (Trichloroethylene).

Maybe it was the solvent for it...
It could be toxic. At least the fumes from melting with the heat gun. That is why I do it outside. It also could contain lead. I bet most of us that are in the late forties early fifties have been exposed to more lead and asbestos than we care to admit. And most of us are (almost) just fine.

That right up isn't too bad. If I have the slate I am going to use it. I am not putting a piece of glass on the bottom then covering it with the slate. The DC 795 sticks to slate fine. It was made for it. (Sort of)

Having taken apart a few of these tanks that "tar" can still be pliable. No. Soaking it in warm water won't work generally. It needs to be heated in a low oven for a longer time. It will melt and seal. Hard part is knowing the right length of time so in my opinion it's not worth it. If the glass is OK as it is in my 20 I am doing I am leaving it and just using the 795 to seal same as I would do for a glass tank.

Using the linseed stuff you would put a bedding onto the stainless not the glass as he stated. You lay the glass into the bed while it is still hot and pliable and press the glass firmly into the bed to get a good seal. Let it cool a touch and them use a blade to remove excess and then a heat gun or alcohol lamp to finish the surface of the tar that shows so it is nice and smooth.

Way too much work for no real benefit.

As an aside:

Trichloroethylene was an anesthetic and as an inhaled obstetrical analgesic in millions of patients.

Dilution is the solution for the pollution.
Quote me as saying I was misquoted.
Once you get rid of integrity the rest is a piece of cake.
Here's to our wives and sweethearts - may they never meet.
If you agreed with me we'd both be right.
GraphicGr8s is offline  
post #10 of 40 (permalink) Old 08-01-2017, 11:27 PM
Planted Member
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Redmond, OR
Posts: 244
My first Aquarium was a 20 gal metal cornered aquarium that my middle school science teacher gave me because it had a broken pane of glass. I think I was about 12 yo at the time. Mine had an opaque tempered glass bottom if I recall but otherwise looked identical.

I used my fathers propane torch to remove the broken glass... but a heat gun would be better. At that time, circa 1980, they hadn't invented toxic substances and fumes yet so I had nothing to worry about. I used the regular silicone sealer of the time and the repair lasted for years... even though the replacement glass was a bit thinner than the original. :-)
Oughtsix is offline  
post #11 of 40 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 07:11 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
GraphicGr8s's Avatar
 
PTrader: (10/100%)
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: West coast of the east coast of the USA.
Posts: 4,328
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oughtsix View Post
My first Aquarium was a 20 gal metal cornered aquarium that my middle school science teacher gave me because it had a broken pane of glass. I think I was about 12 yo at the time. Mine had an opaque tempered glass bottom if I recall but otherwise looked identical.

I used my fathers propane torch to remove the broken glass... but a heat gun would be better. At that time, circa 1980, they hadn't invented toxic substances and fumes yet so I had nothing to worry about. I used the regular silicone sealer of the time and the repair lasted for years... even though the replacement glass was a bit thinner than the original. :-)
I just love that.

About as good as the "State of California has found this to be cancerous. Well I am OK then since I am not in California."

(No. No sarcasm intended. It was funny)

Dilution is the solution for the pollution.
Quote me as saying I was misquoted.
Once you get rid of integrity the rest is a piece of cake.
Here's to our wives and sweethearts - may they never meet.
If you agreed with me we'd both be right.
GraphicGr8s is offline  
post #12 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-11-2017, 06:16 PM
Aquatilium Plantarum
 
davrx's Avatar
 
PTrader: (61/100%)
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Somerset, Ohio
Posts: 1,077
OOAK Jewel Restoration

I am attempting to remove the bulb edge glass from a one of a kind 1920's Jewel Aquarium that I acquired earlier in the year. I need to remove the glass intact as it is irreplaceable. One end piece had already come loose from the frame on its own but the remaining pieces defy my efforts to remove them. I've tried every solvent mentioned that would dissolve asphaltum but nothing touches it. I know Jewel sold their own aquarium cement so it may not be asphaltum. I've tried: Acetone, Mineral Spirits, Toluene, Tetrachloromethylene, Methyl Chloride, and Xylene to no avail. I tried a heat gun with a 500 degree and 1000 degree setting and the 1000 degree just started to melt tiny bits of it but the major portion of the piece I tested remained brittle. I'm afraid to use the higher setting or a torch for fear of cracking the glass. I've been told a wire saw or PVC saw may be able to cut it out but I'm not sure how to do this but it will be my next try. If I could put it in an oven and let the whole thing reach around 350 degrees I might be able to soften everything enough to remove the glass but the tank is too large to fit in a standard sized oven.
I need to remove the glass to have the corrosion on the cast metal frame bead blasted off.
Any help would be apprectiated.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Better Living Through Chemistry
davrx is offline  
post #13 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-11-2017, 06:43 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
GraphicGr8s's Avatar
 
PTrader: (10/100%)
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: West coast of the east coast of the USA.
Posts: 4,328
Quote:
Originally Posted by davrx View Post
I am attempting to remove the bulb edge glass from a one of a kind 1920's Jewel Aquarium that I acquired earlier in the year. I need to remove the glass intact as it is irreplaceable. One end piece had already come loose from the frame on its own but the remaining pieces defy my efforts to remove them. I've tried every solvent mentioned that would dissolve asphaltum but nothing touches it. I know Jewel sold their own aquarium cement so it may not be asphaltum. I've tried: Acetone, Mineral Spirits, Toluene, Tetrachloromethylene, Methyl Chloride, and Xylene to no avail. I tried a heat gun with a 500 degree and 1000 degree setting and the 1000 degree just started to melt tiny bits of it but the major portion of the piece I tested remained brittle. I'm afraid to use the higher setting or a torch for fear of cracking the glass. I've been told a wire saw or PVC saw may be able to cut it out but I'm not sure how to do this but it will be my next try. If I could put it in an oven and let the whole thing reach around 350 degrees I might be able to soften everything enough to remove the glass but the tank is too large to fit in a standard sized oven.
I need to remove the glass to have the corrosion on the cast metal frame bead blasted off.
Any help would be apprectiated.
Should have started a new thread on that. Might have gotten more response.

Forgetting that however I would say your best bet would be to look into finding someone that specializes in that era. Maybe a restoration expert or an appraiser. They might be able to tell you the material and how to remove it. Also give advise on what NOT to do.

Dilution is the solution for the pollution.
Quote me as saying I was misquoted.
Once you get rid of integrity the rest is a piece of cake.
Here's to our wives and sweethearts - may they never meet.
If you agreed with me we'd both be right.
GraphicGr8s is offline  
post #14 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-11-2017, 07:53 PM
Aquatilium Plantarum
 
davrx's Avatar
 
PTrader: (61/100%)
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Somerset, Ohio
Posts: 1,077
I’ve already consulted with a collector with experience with these Jewel tanks but he has other people do the restoration for him. He told me that his “metal guy” suggested I use a wire saw. I’m going to get one today but still not sure how to use it with this application.
The cement is tan colored with white particles throughout and the surface is glazed black.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Better Living Through Chemistry

Last edited by davrx; 12-12-2017 at 03:00 AM. Reason: yes
davrx is offline  
post #15 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-11-2017, 09:05 PM
Banned
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: WI
Posts: 11,794
Normally screwing w/ antiques doesn't necessarily increase their value...

https://theaquaticgazette.wordpress....l-aquarium-co/

then again..
An incredible Jewel "Seahorse" Aquarium* ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

As a guess.. white lead putty... Or Scotts cement..

https://books.google.com/books?id=JZ...uarium&f=false

Suspended for 30 days for being awful to other forum members
jeffkrol is offline  
Reply

Tags
None

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the The Planted Tank Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome