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Old 06-23-2018, 06:25 PM   #1
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Heritage East Nova 42 Fuel Tanks

Well, the search is back on for a sundeck trawler. Went to survey yesterday on a sundeck trawler and stopped the survey short after about 2 hours. Just too many issues. So, today was looking at a Nova 42 and my question is, what are the fuel tanks made of? The water tanks are stainless, but the fuel tanks are covered in those white, square insulating tiles. I didn't want to take a tile off and risk damage. Peering through a small hole where the return line entered, it looked as if I could see fiberglass. Is that possible? Fiberglass tanks in that vintage? Also, this model has a nice long keel. I'm assuming this should help the tendency to roll. Am I correct? As always, thanks in advance...Sid
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Old 06-23-2018, 07:40 PM   #2
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I am not sure what the tanks are made out of, but would guess that they are “black iron”. What year is the boat?
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Old 06-23-2018, 08:25 PM   #3
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It's a 1985. I was also wondering how the tiles are attached to the tanks....
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Old 06-24-2018, 02:06 AM   #4
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My 1987 chung whaa. Had steel tanks that were covered in fiberglass. But of course that didn't stop them from rusting through and leaking
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Old 06-24-2018, 06:39 AM   #5
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Almost certainly, they are the cursed "black iron" steel as almost all the Taiwan yards used it. Interesting they don't have inspection plates as most Taiwan boats of that vintages have had to have the tanks cleaned at least once.


Most of the Taiwan trawler style boats used a similar hull. Our Fu Hwa 38 had a similar keel and a 13' beam. We found it to be a very stable platform on Lake Michigan but we were fair weather boaters.
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Old 06-24-2018, 11:42 AM   #6
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Almost certainly, they are the cursed "black iron" steel as almost all the Taiwan yards used it. Interesting they don't have inspection plates as most Taiwan boats of that vintages have had to have the tanks cleaned at least once.


Most of the Taiwan trawler style boats used a similar hull. Our Fu Hwa 38 had a similar keel and a 13' beam. We found it to be a very stable platform on Lake Michigan but we were fair weather boaters.

I'm not sure if it has inspection plates or not, because of the insulation. It seems it would have to have them. I should clarify the insulation is not separate tiles, but looks something like a white pegboard. Does that make sense? I just rejected a boat because of the tanks and now I'm just being a little more cautious.

The stability is important because we tend to live on the hook six months out of the year. I inspected a Nova 36 and by standing in the middle of the sundeck and shifting my weight from port to starboard, could get the boat rolling at an alarming rate. I can only imagine what would happen in a not so smooth anchorage...
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Old 06-24-2018, 11:45 AM   #7
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My 1987 chung whaa. Had steel tanks that were covered in fiberglass. But of course that didn't stop them from rusting through and leaking
Did the fiberglass contain the leaking fuel? Did you end up replacing the tanks or repair in place? Did the fiberglass hold moisture against the tank, thus causing the corrosion?
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Old 06-24-2018, 01:23 PM   #8
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I'm not sure if it has inspection plates or not, because of the insulation. It seems it would have to have them. I should clarify the insulation is not separate tiles, but looks something like a white pegboard. Does that make sense? I just rejected a boat because of the tanks and now I'm just being a little more cautious.

We had the same white pegboard material but there was about a 12" hole on each tank for the inspection plate cover. Our tanks were also covered with a light colored paint or epoxy. The problem is you or a surveyor can't see behind the tanks, the top of the tanks or even inside of them.

I would not reject a boat solely because of black iron fuel tanks. Many of them are still going strong today. If the boat doesn't have teak decks, has o-rings on the filler regularly replaced, the filler is well sealed into the deck and the fuel is kept clean, the tanks could last a another few decades. But if you climb into the ER and encounter a strong smell of diesel, well, that is a good reason to walk.
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Old 06-24-2018, 02:53 PM   #9
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We had the same white pegboard material but there was about a 12" hole on each tank for the inspection plate cover. Our tanks were also covered with a light colored paint or epoxy. The problem is you or a surveyor can't see behind the tanks, the top of the tanks or even inside of them.

I would not reject a boat solely because of black iron fuel tanks. Many of them are still going strong today. If the boat doesn't have teak decks, has o-rings on the filler regularly replaced, the filler is well sealed into the deck and the fuel is kept clean, the tanks could last a another few decades. But if you climb into the ER and encounter a strong smell of diesel, well, that is a good reason to walk.
+1. Our boat has black iron tanks. From what I can observe they are in good condition. However I am starting to plan on how to replace them before they do start leaking.
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Old 06-24-2018, 03:30 PM   #10
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Our '84 FuHwa had the same fiberglass sheathed steel tanks concealed behind ceiling tiles, on underlayment, on 2" x 2" tropical hardwood posts. The stainless water tanks were similarly concealed. There was one 10" =/- dia access panel on each tank side, but internal baffles would prevent interior cleaning and inspection. One tank corroded through the bottom from the inside; the actual holes were never located but the fuel in the bilge was pretty telling!



The posts were simply standing on the 'glass hull w/no fasteners; they were variously toenailed, lapped on to or otherwise pretty lightly tagged onto the salon floor structure. The salon floor structure carries the floor, the house sides, side decks and built-in cabinetry and the floor beams(joists) are woefully undersized (by this architect's standards), as well as interrupted by the access hatches. Therefore, as iffy as the posts are, they're important.


We owned the boat for a little over a year before having to have new tanks installed. Over two months and $12k overall. Tankage reduced from 200 to 160 gals.
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Old 06-24-2018, 05:32 PM   #11
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We had the same white pegboard material but there was about a 12" hole on each tank for the inspection plate cover. Our tanks were also covered with a light colored paint or epoxy. The problem is you or a surveyor can't see behind the tanks, the top of the tanks or even inside of them.

I would not reject a boat solely because of black iron fuel tanks. Many of them are still going strong today. If the boat doesn't have teak decks, has o-rings on the filler regularly replaced, the filler is well sealed into the deck and the fuel is kept clean, the tanks could last a another few decades. But if you climb into the ER and encounter a strong smell of diesel, well, that is a good reason to walk.
The tanks had substantial visible rust in the corners, plus a myriad of other issues forced the rejection. Good point about the O-rings and something I overlooked in the initial inspection...
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