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An Acceptable Repair or Wimping Out?

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by rardiH36, Oct 5, 2017. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. kloudie1


    Joined Nov 6, 2006
    7,850 posts, 524 likes
    Hunter 34
    US Mandeville Louisiana
    Non-removable tanks.. The H-34 tank is a poly tank and it cannot be removed without some serious de-construction.. the main fresh water tank is pretty much that way too.. Many boats are built with fuel tanks that cannot be easily removed.. a design mistake in my opinion..

  2. Stu Jackson

    Stu Jackson

    Joined Feb 26, 2004
    19,847 posts, 531 likes
    Catalina 34
    224 CA Maple Bay, BC, Canada
    :plus: These are very important considerations. And ones often "missed" by those shopping for old and even new boats. In a shameless plug, my boat has none of these problems and is one of the reasons I bought her. 8 screws opens a panel, and one can (and many have) slide the fuel tank right out and "pop" a new one in.

    My "favorite" is what I call "The Dipstick Test." If you have to do demolition derby to get to the oil dipstick, it may tell you that the PO may not have checked it regularly.

    So, capta's right: perhaps many, maybe not most, and certainly not all. Some builders DID get it right.

    Back to rardi: decommissioning: everything related to it. For example: What will you do with the "OLD" fuel fill? Don't want anyone using it in the future. Think each one all the way through.

    Good luck, sorry to hear about your issue.

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
  3. Jeff


    Joined Sep 29, 2008
    184 posts, 2 likes
    Hunter 33.5
    US Carlyle Lake in Central Illinois
    I had to replace the 20 gallon aluminum diesel tank on my 1993 Hunter 33.5 a few years ago. It began weeping as you describe. I had no access from the cockpit and ended up cutting the bulkhead in the aft berth. The manufacturer's (Etzell) label was still on the tank. I contacted them to see about a replacement. They still had the drawings to make an exact replacement. Just slid out the old and slid in the new one.

  4. Gunni


    Joined Mar 16, 2010
    5,077 posts, 959 likes
    Beneteau 411 Oceanis
    US Annapolis
    You know, I understand you have all the answers but you need to acknowledge you really have no experience to back it up. That will get you killed. I managed fuel tank demo for years and had to pick up the pieces, or peel know-it-all fk-ups off the wall because they found safe practice rules restrictive. Tank demo should be done by pros, but at the very least done by a person knowledgeable about the risks involved, how to monitor and mitigate them.

    JamesG161, Alan Gomes and Ron20324 like this.
  5. Johnb


    Joined Jan 22, 2008
    1,053 posts, 88 likes
    Hunter 37-cutter
    US Richmond CA
    Maybe you should learn something from what just happened. The combination of ignorance and assertiveness and rudeness you just displayed are pathetic.

  6. Ron20324


    Joined Jan 22, 2008
    6,105 posts, 540 likes
    Beneteau 323
    US Annapolis MD
    OH, come on, Gunni... let him throw the match- he needs the experience.

  7. jviss


    Joined Feb 5, 2004
    2,597 posts, 258 likes
    Tartan 3800
    US Westport, MA
    Other than the fact that you'd have oil contaminated water after, is there a compelling reason to purge the tank with CO2 rather than just liquid water?

  8. Justin_NSA


    Joined Jul 7, 2004
    4,579 posts, 685 likes
    Hunter 30T
    US Cheney, KS
  9. jviss


    Joined Feb 5, 2004
    2,597 posts, 258 likes
    Tartan 3800
    US Westport, MA
    I admitted I was wrong, what would you like a pound of flesh?

  10. jviss


    Joined Feb 5, 2004
    2,597 posts, 258 likes
    Tartan 3800
    US Westport, MA
    I defer to your knowledge and experience. I really had no idea. Why aren't blowers, spark arrestors, etc., necessary, as for gas engines? I suppose the conditions, and amount of heat are important for combustion, but I'd like to know more. Is it the heat from a torch or saw that can light it?

  11. capta


    Joined Jun 4, 2009
    2,434 posts, 611 likes
    Pearson 530
    na Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
    Basically, it's not the liquid that is explosive or ignitable, but the vapors. The right combination of many things and oxygen can combust. Check out spontaneous combustion online if you want to be haunted for the rest of your life by the nagging worry that your engine rags, paint thinner soaked rags, a bag of wet coal, etc will spontaneously combust one night.
    All inboard gas powered vessels are supposed to have spark arrestor carburetors, exhaust blowers ("run blower for 10 minutes before starting engine") and any electrical equipment that goes in the engine space should be certified ignition proof. It is especially dangerous on any gas boat when fueling, as that's when there are more fumes than normal.

    JamesG161 likes this.
  12. quadrille38


    Joined Apr 11, 2010
    615 posts, 53 likes
    Hunter 38
    US Whitehall MI
    Filling or flushing the tank with water is not going to help much. Diesel fuel is not soluble in water and I don't think it's actually going to help much in your effort to "clean the tank". Additionally you are going to end up with a bunch of oily water that is going to be difficult to dispose of.

    It would be illegal to put it in a sewer system. An oil reclaimer isn't going to want it because it's more water then oil.
    You might find someone who would "fix" it which is essentially using an absorbent type material to make it a solid and then finding a facility that will accept it for disposal.

    As others have suggested, I'd get as much out as you can. Use the inert gas and get a larger opening in the tank that will allow you to pump out and then remove the rest of the liquid before cutting the tank apart.

  13. Skipper


    Joined Oct 9, 2008
    1,576 posts, 255 likes
    Bristol 29.9
    US Dana Point
    He's in California. Nearly every CA public marina has onsite hazmat disposal. Oil, diesel, coolant, even rags and containers.
    We have one. It's fantastic. And free.
    One of the good things the Eco-Nazis have come up with here.
    They're not all crazy. :)

    I'm not advocating for the water treatment, but if he dumped water and diesel mixed, nobody would care. They process the waste.
    However, if he needed to drain the tank or for any other future reference, he can investigate onsite disposal, if he hasn't already.

  14. JimInPB


    Joined Aug 22, 2017
    866 posts, 240 likes
    Hunter 212 & 170
    us West Palm Beach
    When cutting fuel oil tanks, there are a few methods that I have seen used in industry. They include:
    1) filling the tank with water first
    2) filling the tank with inert gas first
    3) cutting a big vent hole with a drum deheader (looks like a giant can opener), then ventilating with forced air, then cutting with "hot tools" while still ventilating. Drills & reciprocating saws are considered hot tools.

    Choice #3 was the most common.

    Once the tank is in open pieces, cutting torches can then be used (on steel tanks) to cut the open pieces up into smaller chunks fast.

  15. jibes138


    Joined Jan 27, 2008
    2,795 posts, 107 likes
    ODay 35
    US Beaufort, NC
    Best to replace the tank versus relocation. You want the weight on the centerline of the boat. 30 gals of diesel will weigh 210 pounds or so. I replaced a tank a few years back and documented with photos on this site. I used a Moeller tank for replacement as you are thinking and a little smaller to allow fuel to cycle more frequently, and allow easy replacement. Do a forum search, lots of good info on past projects like this. I used a six gallon tank temporarily to stay operational during the project. PM me if interested in the tank.

  16. jibes138


    Joined Jan 27, 2008
    2,795 posts, 107 likes
    ODay 35
    US Beaufort, NC
    You'll probably find the cradle for the tank all oil soaked so plan on some work building and installing some support structure. An oscillating tool is invaluable for this project.

  17. JimInPB


    Joined Aug 22, 2017
    866 posts, 240 likes
    Hunter 212 & 170
    us West Palm Beach
    If a bladder tank is available in a size that fits your current tank, I think that would be my first choice in a boat that has a difficult-to-remove original tank. In the past, I have had good results from tank liner products like Tank Kreem, but they require the tank to be removed for proper preparation & application of the product, so that is not an option here.

    You may want to think about your past fuel usage to determine if the size of the original tank was a good fit for you or not. If your fuel was constantly 6-months old or more, &/or needed polishing more than once, then you might want to consider a smaller tank. If you were constantly packing the boat with jerry cans to stretch your range, then you might want to consider a bigger tank, or a second tank.

  18. jibes138


    Joined Jan 27, 2008
    2,795 posts, 107 likes
    ODay 35
    US Beaufort, NC
    How can you install a bladder without cutting an opening in the tank? Can you stuff it through the fuel fill or sender cutout?

  19. JamesG161


    Joined Feb 14, 2014
    2,750 posts, 751 likes
    Hunter 430
    US Waveland, MS
    You can do that with Liquid Gasoline too.:yikes: The match will go out.

    It takes Oxygen at the right mixture with the Vapor of combustibles to ignite.

    Good liquid fuel test is...
    If you can smell it and you are breathing....



    PS: One key is HEAT. Heat vaporizes Diesel faster.

  20. JamesG161


    Joined Feb 14, 2014
    2,750 posts, 751 likes
    Hunter 430
    US Waveland, MS
    @Gunni very clever idea using dry ice!!

    Cools Diesel and tank, no water contamination, little chance of Oxygen to burn and best of all...

    Halloween season "Spooky":cowbell:


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