Restoring A Vintage Metal Frame Tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-04-2008, 10:18 PM Thread Starter
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Restoring A Vintage Metal Frame Tank

This tank is roughly 5G. The bottom glass can be lifted out. Underneath the glass is black sealant I have no idea what it is. In restoring things sometimes the less you do the better off you are. Now that being said the glass that lifts out has part of the black stuff on it and other other remained intact with the tank. I am afraid if I start removing all of this I might make it worse. I thought about just placing it back in and silicone around it.
Advise what should I do. I filled it and even when you put the bottom in it holds water, weird. I guess the weight creates a seal. I can get some pics up in the AM if anyone is interested. It even has the light that came with the tank, I have had this for decades.
Will probably buy another light but will will have to check and see if it produces enough light for a small planted tank.

Karen / Cocobid

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post #2 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-04-2008, 11:48 PM
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Just clean the inside of the glass and reseal with silicone, put a small amount on top of the old sealer before you put the bottom back in.

Do you have the light and top with it. those old metalframe tanks look really good with all the hardware.
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post #3 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-05-2008, 12:34 AM
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I think the old tanks were sealed with tar. I'd be sure to remove all of that. Replacing it with black silicone would be really nice. I love those old tanks, I hope to run across one for myself some day.





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post #4 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-05-2008, 12:48 AM
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The sealer in those old tanks was ashphaltum (basically tar disolved in a solvent to the consistency needed) and if you do find some in a store now, leave it. It won't be the correct material. In the fifties It came in paint type cans. My father purchased it in quart containers. It was, if I'm remembering correctly, thicker than silicone sealer is today. Liquid ashphaltum is still on the market. It is used for coating etching plates.

The way tanks used to be constructed was in metal frames - which you have. The ashphaltum was used to caulk between the glass and the frame which forced the glass pieces together. There may be a bit of it between the glass pieces too. I don't recall. It was mostly used to fill the gaps between the metal frame and the glass. The reason your bottom still holds water is that the tar on the bottom and the glass have a perfect mating surface. Nick the tar and it will leak. My father made his tanks by having half inch or five eights inch angle iron frames made up locally. Glass came from the hardware store. It was all gooped together with ashphaltum 'caulking'. It worked.
post #5 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-05-2008, 02:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lauraleellbp View Post
I think the old tanks were sealed with tar. I'd be sure to remove all of that. Replacing it with black silicone would be really nice. I love those old tanks, I hope to run across one for myself some day.

That is correct, they were made with hot tar. I wish I still had some of my old tanks from the 60's. They really were cool looking IMO Black silicone after cleaning the old tar off would be the way to go.
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post #6 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-05-2008, 06:20 PM
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If the original seal material is not dry and cracking I would just leave it in place, it will support the glass fine and the silicone will seal from the inside. if the tar is cracking and falling apart, then go ahead and get it all out and rebuild with silicone.
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post #7 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-05-2008, 09:20 PM Thread Starter
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I just finished scraping out all the tar. There is a lip around the inside of the metal that probably allowed for a buildup of tar cushion. So will need to fill with silicone and then insert the glass. Should I replace the bottom glass with a thicker glass while it is out? Other than that I craped some crud out of the side corners so we are ready to go. Anything i should do while it is in this state?
Dimensions 8.5X14.5X10.5 /231=4.056G










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post #8 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-05-2008, 10:40 PM
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Looks good, what I have done is to use a tooth pick as a spacer, put a bead of silicone in the metal trough then place the glass in and use the toothpick (cut in half, use the big end) between the glass and metal, then gently press the glass down to make contact on the toothpicks. when the silicone starts setting you can pull the toothpick out. don't insert it very far or it could cause a leak, just under the lip of metal.

Brian
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post #9 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-05-2008, 11:10 PM Thread Starter
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Great idea Brian! will try to get some black silicone tomorrow.
Do need to add something to fill the void areas around the light. I saw a pic on another thread that the hood had extension metal hood flaps to access the tank. Any suggestions??
I have an idea of somehow adding a second light inside the hood, like 2 screw in Coralife's, not really sure how to go about it but I think it would improve the tanks appearance. I plan on making this a snazzy little retro tank. With complete respect to it!! That being said I could drill 2 small holes on the other end of the light and add the additional light there?? Advise anyone...
Does anyone happen to know the size of the screw in Coralife's Mini Compact Bulbs not sure if they will fit.

I am open to anything to add light would like to be at 2.-2.5 in lighting. We have this amazing half moon betta that is beautiful cobalt blue and his fins and flippers are tipped in white, just amazing.
Thank You everyone for all of the suggestions and advise I need it. Oh the tar needed to be removed it is soft in some areas and a little brittle in others!








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post #10 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-06-2008, 01:55 AM
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I'd try to find some sort of solvent to remove all the residual tar before using the silicone. You want to make sure you can get a good seal with the silicone, and it looks from the pics like there's still quite a bit of tar left behind still.

Fraid IDK what to recommend, but I'm sure someone else here will have a suggestion.

Acetate might work (nail polish remover) but I wouldn't try it w/out researching first to be sure it won't create anything hazardous when mixed with tar (fumes would be my worry).





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post #11 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-06-2008, 02:29 PM
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I wouldn't worry to much about the residual tar, I'm sure Acetone will take it off. Acetone is a good solvent to use as it evaporates completely without leaving a residue, use it inside on the glass also before you put the fillets in the corners. The residual on the frame is not a structural issue because the weight of the water will keep the silicone in compression against the frame. Won't hurt to clean it up but it's not structurally necessary if you can't get it all.

You could make a cover out of glass or find a sheet metal shop that can fab up a piece of stainless like the original. I'll see if My brother will take a few pics of his 10 Gal. it's the same style as your 5. He retrofit a CF bulb into his with a remote ballast makes a really nice package.

Brian
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post #12 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-06-2008, 04:23 PM
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Great pictures I am jealous. This project might start a retro fad!

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post #13 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-06-2008, 04:53 PM Thread Starter
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Brian that would be great this is an area where I am tech-no challenged LOL I need something that I can easily fix but also fit into the hood. Going out in a minute and will drop by LFS and check the sizes of the different bulbs. Remote ballast sounds great but then so does screw in. But it is also that 14.5 inches of surface to illuminate that I am concerned about.

die2win Retro tanks are so cool I think many years ago this tank was salt, I believe I had a small clown, some clams and sea urchin. But then this was a LONG time ago. Oh and yes and that powerful cutting edge UGF filtration system for salt tanks~~~~~~

I need a great design for the tank so any suggestions???

Karen / Cocobid

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post #14 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-06-2008, 05:20 PM
 
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I'm jealous! I want one of these now :p Any idea of what you're putting in flora and fauna wise? Shrimp?
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post #15 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-06-2008, 09:38 PM
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As a true retro he's only allowed guppies, neon tetras, sword tails, one male beta, dime size angel fish, blue or kissing gouramis, black mollies, and zebra danios.

For a filter he has to go with a Lee corner box filter. Spun glass filter floss is still available too. ;-)
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