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Old 01-12-2019, 08:35 PM   #1
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42 year old tank....

Has finally started leaking.

Hi All,

I went home with the worst possible news for my wife I think possible. While getting ready to do a service on the Northern Lights genset, I smell diesel and see red weeping out of a hole in a stinger. Went looking, thought it was coming from the genset. All tight there. Found the bottom of the port fuel tank all wet and soaked into the floor. Leaking at a rate of about a cup a month. I cleaned up this same puddle thinking it was from old lines on the genset. 😕
First thing Iím going to do next week is find someone to pump out 50 or so gallons. See pictures . Maybe someone wants a trawler with only 1 tank? 😳
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Old 01-12-2019, 08:59 PM   #2
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Sorry to hear about your tank problem. Many have had the same issue and there are just as many ways to deal with it. Replacing the tank is always the best but depending on access and cost could be a deal breaker. Repair in place or a bladder installation may be other options to consider as well as the cheapest which is to just use the boat with one tank. Good luck!
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Old 01-12-2019, 09:02 PM   #3
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Most people seem to feel lucky buying old trawlers. I did. Bought a 74 Willard w original engine and steel fuel tanks.

One tank started leaking just as we decided to move to SE Alaska. When you go to remote places there’s nothing like new major equipment. The old engine didn’t start dependably and who knew how long the remaining tank would last. The shorter range was not a real problem but full range would be desirable.

Replaced all three .. engine and both tanks. Very expensive.

Now I advise shoppers to only look at old boats w newer engines and fuel tanks.
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Old 01-12-2019, 09:42 PM   #4
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First you can try calling Felix Marine Services in Seattle. They repair fuel tanks in place. Second, you can just replace the tanks. You will most likely have to pull the engine and remove some other equipment but it looked pretty straight forward to pull and replace the tank.
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:15 PM   #5
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Yes, old tanks are an issue. I plan to replace my port tank next winter and the starboard tank the following winter. They are not leaking yet but I would rather do the replacements on my schedule than in a remote location. Good luck.
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Old 01-13-2019, 05:45 AM   #6
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"Yes, old tanks are an issue."

Sadly, because the first purchaser keyed on price not construction quality.

Today properly installed plastic box tanks might be a good cheap choice.
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Old 01-13-2019, 05:58 AM   #7
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That's exactly how I found my leak. Probably more on the order of a few gallons a month.
Total despair.
Then, I spoke to some Krogenites who put me on the path to salvation, epoxy tank sealant. If it's good enough for airplane tanks, which see temp contrasts our tanks never do , it's good enough for me and it was.

That was 3 years and 10,000 miles ago. I'm still as happy as a clam.

If I ever have the problem in the other tank, I may just do the seams of the tank, as the leak developed in the weld of the forward plates. I could have touched it from the original inspection port.
Se le vie.
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Old 01-13-2019, 07:39 AM   #8
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Search the archives and internet for Flamemaster CS3204. It has been used successfully on diesel tanks. It looks like you have assessable tank access which is a big plus.

http://flamemaster.com/wp-content/up...-rev-01-07.pdf

Here are a couple of threads.

Epoxy coating fuel tanks?

Diesel fuel tank repair - internal coating
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Old 01-13-2019, 10:41 AM   #9
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Welcome to the club. It may help your outlook to know it ain't just you.

It's safe to say that each situation is unique. Replacement, internal coatings, configuration, all play into the final resolution. Oh, yeah, and $.

I used the heck out of the TF search function, talked as you are, with the good folks at TF, and finally decided to have new Al tanks fabricated.

Expect some mission creep. I wound up replacing every inch of fuel lines from the deck fill port to the fuel pumps while I was at it. Good luck.
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Old 01-13-2019, 11:02 AM   #10
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In my case in order to try to internally seal the tank, I would still have to pull the engine. So if I am going to do all that work, I am not going to mess around trying to seal it in case it doesnít work, I would have to pull the engine a second time. I would really like to have custom built plastic tanks. There is a company in England doing them but I donít want to deal that far away. So I will go with a good aluminum tank. It will outlast me by a long time.
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Old 01-13-2019, 04:18 PM   #11
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The internal epoxy worked great for my black iron tank that started leaking. It was very reasonable in price. The tank guy cut an access port big enough to reach around and do the job right. Was still holding with no leak after 6 years
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Old 01-13-2019, 04:48 PM   #12
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Neglected to say the General Maintenance section has many threads on the subject.
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Old 01-13-2019, 04:50 PM   #13
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Yes - Many of us have been there. It's a bad feeling when discovered, but great when it has all been sorted out.

I put up with a very slow leak for a couple months until the engine failed then like Eric, replaced both tanks and the engine at once.
The tanks were surprisingly cheap to purchase but if you have to pay for labor, it may be a big financial hit.
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Old 01-13-2019, 06:33 PM   #14
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Yes indeed the labor is the killer in cost. If you DIY it isnít too bad.
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Old 01-15-2019, 09:24 PM   #15
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Hi All,

After much reading and studying, I found several "fuel cleaning, tank work" businesses in Puget Sound. Technology today is wonderful! 15 years ago, you had to chop out the old tanks. 2 businesses in 2 days told me, they cut a good size access hole oil the tank, clean it, measure the thickness of metal left (to make sure it's worth what they do), then epoxy coat the interior of the tank. They assured me they've done hundreds of these with no issues. I meet them tomorrow at the boat for estimates. Will let you know how that goes.

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Old 01-15-2019, 10:19 PM   #16
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Share your estimates and choices with us so we can learn.
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Old 01-21-2019, 11:24 PM   #17
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Leaking Fuel Tanks

I woke up one morning in the boat and smelled the distinct odor of diesel fuel. A disaster to contemplate but, indeed, the bilge was full of diesel fuel and I had to get it pumped out. The starboard steel fuel tank had sprung a small leak so it also had to be pumped out. In California that becomes a hazardous material so the boat yard was smiling from ear to ear.
In any case, I still have not found the leak and I have been filling the tank from the port tank an inch at a time and so far, the starboard tank can hold about 50 gallons without leaking.
I have been running on the port tank which holds 150 gallons.
My nephew in Kewlona, Canada, is a helicopter mechanic and gave me a type of sealant that is used in airplane and helicopter tanks to stop leaks.
I'd love to have that company from the Northwest come down and fix my leak problem once and for all. I have not been able to find anyone in the San Francisco, Sacramento Bay Area who provides that service. If you know of anyone, let me know. Thanks.
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Old 01-22-2019, 09:15 PM   #18
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Leaky tank

l had a 43 Abin and came to the same conclusion, a leak, however after removing the tank I found a fuel line was leaking under the tank, tank was ok but it was cut up to remove it. I had two tanks made so they would fit in without pulling the motor, and connected them together as one tank.
I removed the tank cutting it up with a circular saw with a metal cutting blade. Drained and flushed the tank with water before cutting.
The fuel was stored in 45 gallon drums and pumped back into the new tanks except for the last six inches since that is where all the dirt settles.

Biggest job was moving the generator off to one side. Of course this was a single engine boat.
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Old 01-22-2019, 10:06 PM   #19
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The Petro-Clean boys in Bellingham are a good bunch. When I got my 78 CHB I had them empty, clean the tanks, cut access ports and polish the fuel. I got lucky, the tanks were still good. They said if any leaks happen, they can do as you said, basically they re line the tanks in epoxy. Much less time, work and expense than new tanks. We are in the same marina, btw.
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Old 01-23-2019, 07:42 AM   #20
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Has anyone here DIY the epoxy route? My 2 aft/lazzerette tanks have leaks but they also have enormous access panels built-in already.
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