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Old 08-14-2018, 05:43 PM   #1
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Fuel tanks, Heritage East 36

We are planning on selling our 50' sailboat and buying a 2003 Heritage East 36. Had the sea trial and survey last week. The biggest problem is that the bottom is blistering and needs to be fixed. The second biggest problem is that the surveyor recommends for safety reasons to have the fuel tanks inspected. They are very labor intensive to get to for an inspection. They are not leaking at all. The fuel tanks are made from iron. Does anyone have any experience with this? Any suggestions or recommendations are welcome.
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Old 08-14-2018, 06:26 PM   #2
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A friend with a similar boat a couple of slips up from me had this problem. They began leaking and he replaced with smaller poly tanks. He did the work himself and rationalized that he was not doing any very long distance cruising where there were no fuel docks within several hundred miles. Worked well for him and at a budget price. If your tanks are not leaking I would hold off until they do. It may be years from now.

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Old 08-14-2018, 06:26 PM   #3
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I think an inspection is prudent, but judging from all the 1980's boats running around with original iron tanks, (mine included) unless there is an issue of water leaking onto the tanks or water in the tanks they're probably good for a number of years.

Ken
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Old 08-14-2018, 07:26 PM   #4
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I have 1987 fuel tanks and no leaks so far. I would not be too concerned about 2003 tanks in the nears future. I am contemplating replacing my tanks on a proactive basis.
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Old 08-14-2018, 07:37 PM   #5
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Did the surveyor say why he recommends further inspection? Did he see something that concerned him or was it a CYA move? How do the tanks look to you, up close and personal?
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Old 08-14-2018, 07:47 PM   #6
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Surely it was the surveyor`s task to inspect the tanks. If external examination did not find warning signs, I would not be concerned, it may be a self protecting standard report feature. Ask the surveyor to elaborate.

You should be far more concerned about the hull blisters,especially if they represent osmosis rather than paint incompatibility.
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Old 08-15-2018, 02:26 AM   #7
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The good news is that no boat has ever sunk from osmosis. It's unsightly and yes, it should be corrected. An expensive task but one which can be planned to be done at some stage in the future. No immediate rush.

Turning to your iron fuel tanks, they will be rusting on the inside given water is always present in diesel (hence diesel bug grows necessitating regular biocide treatments when you fill the tanks) and from condensation if tanks aren't kept full.

The bad news is that if a tank springs a leak, the smell of diesel can hang around for years even after the most extensive of clean ups. A messy and smelly task overall

My advice (for what it's worth!) is to replace the tanks before anything happens, and to plan the osmosis treatment for some time in the future.

In both cases, the price you pay for the boat should reflect these costs.

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Old 08-15-2018, 06:20 AM   #8
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"Turning to your iron fuel tanks, they will be rusting on the inside given water is always present in diesel (hence diesel bug grows necessitating regular biocide treatments when you fill the tanks) and from condensation if tanks aren't kept full."

True BUT,, a real fuel tank (not a box of fuel) will have a sump that is Servicable.

All water that is carried in with clean fuel and any condensation falls (eventually) into the sump where it can be discarded.

The use of a DE Emulsifire will speed the process , should you get a load of water in the fuel tank.

As "bugs" can only grow where there is water , the sump will contain any bug waste .

I am always stumped to why every boats first purchaser does not require genuine marine fuel tanks before passing over that big check.

Or why the error is not noticed on the pre delivery survey.
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Old 08-15-2018, 10:21 AM   #9
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I am in the middle of replacing 29 year old tanks. I wouldn't worry about 15 year old tanks. If accessible inspect for exterior water damage.
Not all blisters are the same. In some cases they point to possible delamination. I have had blisters for 5 years. They are the size of pencil eraser, some slightly larger. They haven't changed since they first appeared. A yard that wanted my money told me I had to fix with on 18 months or I would have a serious problem. This was when they were first discovered. Every subsequent boat yard has told me to enjoy the boat and monitor. Blisters can just be leverage for buyers when setting sale price.
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Old 08-15-2018, 01:17 PM   #10
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It is not difficult to inspect the tanks on your Heritage East. The inspection ports are on the top of the tanks. Remove floor sections in the cupboards on both sides of the saloon, and you will see them. As I recall, the floor sections can be lifted out without tools, but the inspection ports are held down with a bunch of bolts. There is a gasket on each, that will probably have to be replaced.

Don't replace the tanks unless they are leaking. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".
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Old 08-19-2018, 06:45 AM   #11
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Rossland, doesn't this just give you access to the topping tanks?

As to the blistering, it varies from quarter to 50 cent size and there is a fair amount of it. In talking to Osprey in Annapolis, who specialize in this, and sending them pictures it should be fixed.
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Old 08-19-2018, 09:37 AM   #12
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On our '84 FuHwa, purchased in 2016, we had the severe blistering milled and relaminated, then barrier coated. Looks like a real boat bottom three years on.


Our steel fuel tanks were glassed on the outside and bare steel on the interior. They were enclosed and inaccessible except for an inspection port on the side of each tank. One lasted until 2017, 33 years, before springing a leak. The other lasted two more months before we had it removed. New custom aluminum tanks installed having reduced the fuel capacity of each tank from 177 gal. to 81 gal. $12k.


I agree with those who say wait for the disaster. Cleanup was pretty awful, gave me contact dermatitis which was also pretty awful. However, diesel evaporates so the smell was gone in a couple weeks.
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Old 08-19-2018, 05:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bellakins View Post
Rossland, doesn't this just give you access to the topping tanks?

A
I am not sure what you mean by topping tanks. There are only two tanks on a HE 36 (1999 and newer), one on each side, outboard of the engine. The inspection ports are on the top of the tanks under the cupboard floor.

Another way to inspect the tanks is to lower a camera down the fill tubes. The tubes are straight and nearly vertical.
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Old 08-19-2018, 08:14 PM   #14
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Camera on a stick is good for seeing behind tanks. Most can be shot on the underside the same way. If deck leaks have not gotten them from the top and the bilge was not flooded the exteriors may be fine. I recently saw a post on this forum about inside out corrosion on a tank with dip tubes versus bottom drawing. Dip tubes leave free water in the bottom of the tanks which can corrode them from the inside out.
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