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Leaking fuel tank

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Neckbone

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Well, I'm officially unhappy. I've got a leak in one or both of my fuel tanks. The boat hasn't been used in a year, so it could be worse. Now, I have to get some jerry jugs and siphon what's remaining so that work can eventually be started.

I'm the type of person that really doesn't want to pay someone else to do what I'm pretty sure I can do. How difficult is it to cut out the deck and replace the tanks? Also, should I go w/ aluminum tanks, or poly? Currently, she has two 50 gallon tanks, but I'm thinking I'll get two around 35 gallons or such. I do have a cross brace inbetween the stringers up front of the tanks that I've noticed has a little rot, so I'm kinda scared that once I get inside, I'll find more of a project than I want to take on, but what the hell, you only live once, right?

I guess I'm just rambling to hear myself ramble. Any experience and/or tips would be great. Thanks.
 

Megabyte

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I have no experience opening a deck and replacing fuel tanks, but I've seen enough project posts on http://www.classicmako.com/ that I think I would feel fairly comfortable attempting the job.

Take a look at Ringleaders Mako 261 project, as he is in the process of a tank restore right now. The project is well documented with photos, and is easy to follow.

As for your Sou`wester... You have an excellent candidate for a rebuild/restore. The hull is a tank and the underpinnings are pretty straightforward.

I took the following photos of a 25' Sou`wester being rehabilitated in a boatyard in Reedville, VA back in the summer of 2005. I wish now that I'd taken more photos, but a storm was approaching and we were trying to get my buddys Mako 261 out of the water and into the boat house before the storm hit.

Hopefully these photos will help you with your project...
If I'm reading this HIN plate correctly, she is a 1983 Parker Sou`Wester 2500













 

Porkchunker

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I believe the first step is to contact Parker Marine and get a pattern of where the stringers are located and where the cuts should be made.
 

Neckbone

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I had forgotten about those pics Kevin, thanks. It doesn't look impossible. It seems to me that the expensive part of this repair would really be the labor.

How does everyone feel about replacing the aluminum tanks w/ two new 35-37 gallon poly tanks?
 

Megabyte

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There are two things that cause aluminum tanks to fail.
1. abrasion and flexing due to failed mounting points
2. corrosion caused by long-term saltwater contact.

Poly should be OK, so long as the E10 doesn't try to melt it, and providing you eliminate abrasion by mounting it well.
Finding ready-made poly tanks of the proper size might be a challange though...

Aluminum tanks, on the other hand, can be made whatever size you want.
A fabricator can even use your old tank as a template and replicate it exactly.

My personal choice would be fabricated aluminum, prepped with zinc chromate primer and then a coat of coal tar epoxy.

Combine that with secure mounting points... and eliminating (as best you can) water intrusion by building in good drains or limber holes.
A well prepped aluminum tank should last another 25 to 30 years. :wink:

Labor will certainly be the greatest expense if you farm the job out.
Doing it yourself, the greatest expense will be the fiberglassing materials... but the experience you will gain will be huge! 8)

Good luck with whatever you decide! :)
 

DaleH

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Megabyte":1a1x6igj said:
My personal choice would be fabricated aluminum, prepped with zinc chromate primer and then a coat of coal tar epoxy. Combine that with secure mounting points ... and eliminating (as best you can) water intrusion by building in good drains or limber holes.
Mine too :) !
 

Porkchunker

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I needed to replace the tank on the little woodie my father built in 1958 (see signature below). I couldn't find a poly tank that would fit in the space to replace the old painted steel (yes steel) tank. So, I had one made from dimensions I took.

Tank is heavy guage aluminum, and is painted with an epoxy paint. Was made up by Atlantic Coastal Welding: http://www.speedytanks.com/fabrication/process.html

When I get back off my business trip to LA, I'll try to get a pic of the tank (still haven't finished refurbishing the boat, so it is still in the shipping crate) and upload it here.
 

gw204

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They guys here have already covered the tank material, prep and install, so I'll only comment on the size. You'de be wasting $$$ with two pee wee tanks. People don't want a 23' boat that only holds 70 gallons.

Put the biggest tank you can fit and afford in it. You're resale will be better, plumbing will be less complex, etc. There's no rule that says you have to keep it full. :)

It's like buying twin engines, a big single is cheaper and easier.

If you're leaving an access hatch, don't foam it. Secure it with tabs welded to the tank or with shims. But if you're glassing over the entire panel (no seams to leak), I'de foam it in.
 

Megabyte

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gw204":132g0hey said:
If you're leaving an access hatch, don't foam it. Secure it with tabs welded to the tank or with shims. But if you're glassing over the entire panel (no seams to leak), I'de foam it in.
Excellent point! :)

My personal preference would be to glass it all in.
If you prep and install it properly, seal it up so no water can mess up your hard work!
 

Neckbone

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I am planning on glassing over it completely. That's the way it is now, and I think it'd be dumb for me to try to change it.

On my current tanks, the fill is at one end, and the other fittings are at the other end. Is this normal? This requires four pancake hatches in the deck. I would think, if all fittings were at one point on the tank, that would take away two pancake hatches, and two points of water getting in.

So, the consensus is to foam the tank in after installation? Should I keep the foam an inch or so above the bottom of the hull so that any water that gets in can make it's way to the bilge pump?
 

Neckbone

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danielb":3tw0j2i4 said:
Good luck and no smoking.
That brings back a memory from my high school years. I was with a friend of mine in line to fuel up his Grady 209 at a local filling station his dad had an account with. In front of us, one of the attendants was filling up his buddies souped up Mustang. His buddy had the car running, revving the engine. He had an ash about 2 inches long on his cigarette. Needless to say, we were waiting on the other side of the parking lot. :lol:
 

gw204

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Another thing NOT to do is put rubber up against bare aluminum. Someting (I can't remember what right now) in the rubber will cause corrosion of the AL.
 

Porkchunker

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David Pascoe (a yacht surveyor...and an opinionated one at that) runs a site where comments on all kinds of construction and repairs. One article he has is about installing aluminum tanks: http://www.yachtsurvey.com/fueltank.htm

BTW, that is one great site to spend some time on. The boat manufacturers should spend more time there too.
 

Neckbone

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I asked this on Classic Mako, and I'll ask here too. Once I get to the point where I'm replacing the deck, I'll completely coat good marine plywood w/ epoxy, lay it down and glass over it. My question is this. How do I secure it to the plywood stringers?
 

Porkchunker

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Check on Pascoe's site...or the ClasicMako site...but I believe you need to put tabs (wood 1"x2" strips, soaked in epoxy) along the sides of the stringers to provide more surface area for epoxying the deck down.
 

Megabyte

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Neckbone":13epqi77 said:
I asked this on Classic Mako, and I'll ask here too. Once I get to the point where I'm replacing the deck, I'll completely coat good marine plywood w/ epoxy, lay it down and glass over it. My question is this. How do I secure it to the plywood stringers?
If the stringers meet the underside of the deck, you don't.
The deck rides atop the stringers.

Seal her wood well, and she will be fine.
 

Porkchunker

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Kevin,

I believe the problem stems from the fact that when the deck is sawed through to expose the tank, the pattern that you get from Parker, will have you make the cuts right at the edge of the stringer.

When you drop the deck back down, there is nothing for the edges to rest on...thus the need for wood strips at the top edges of the stringers.
 
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