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Old 03-10-2016, 01:40 PM   #1
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Fuel Tanks (ugh, again!)

Hello, Well, we put the earnest money down on a Heritage West Indian 36. Here we go again.... Anyways when I looked the boat over, other than dirty and a bit age worn, things looked fairly good. So, after reading the forum here a few hours, my main concern was the fuel tanks. They are tucked up against the topsides with a stinger to the inboard. Even cutting them out would be an ordeal.

The good news is the boat appears to have spent the majority (if not all) of it's life in freshwater on the great lakes. There looks to be very little corrosion on anything. Also, the tanks are aluminum (somewhat better than steel I'd think). With glass decks the water intrusion I see in teak decks isn't an issue and things don't show water problems around the tanks.

So here's the question. Forty year old boat with aluminum tanks that seem to have been kept dry. Is there much to worry about? I had a disaster with our sailboat tank (aluminum) where a small spot in the pan that held the fuel tank laid wet and corroded thru the tank. This was in fresh water. I don't want to go thru that again. And that was only a 30 gallon tank...

We are having the boat surveyed, but I wonder what can really be done to verify the condition of the tanks. Any sage advice at this point would be realty appreciated.
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Old 03-10-2016, 02:47 PM   #2
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Certainly express your concerns about the fuel tanks to your surveyor. Check for the presence of water in the fuel and check around the bottom corners of the tanks for leaks or weeping. See if you can take a sample either from a fitting or via a clear plastic tube from the top. Check the deck fills for watertightness and check their O-rings. After that it becomes a crap shoot. Do you feel lucky?

I sold new Heritage East 36s for a while around 2001. They were a quality boat. Don't know anything about the earlier ones. I doubt they would have made such a fanfare about coming back if they were known for stinkers.
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Old 03-10-2016, 04:02 PM   #3
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I sold new Heritage East 36s for a while around 2001. They were a quality boat. Don't know anything about the earlier ones. I doubt they would have made such a fanfare about coming back if they were known for stinkers.[/QUOTE]

This Heritage Yachts West Indian was built by the sailboat company Morgan Yachts back in 1977. Later taken over by Chris Craft. Is that the same heritage you're talking about? Boat company lineage gets me a bit dizzy sometimes...
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Old 03-10-2016, 05:47 PM   #4
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If the tanks have inspection/clean-out ports built in and the fuel level is below those ports, then have your surveyor or a marine fuel tank company check them (especially the welds) for competency (pressure testing?). Also, look for a built-in drain at the lowest point in the tanks where you can collect a sample and check for water.

The above advice from others is good. I assume you can't see the bottom or back of the tanks. If that's the case then you may or may not have a potential problem.

I'm of the belief that even 50+ year-old black-steel tanks, let alone aluminum, will last the life of the boat if maintained correctly...
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Old 03-10-2016, 09:37 PM   #5
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I'm guessing by Morgan Yachts you mean Charley Morgan from Florida. He built boats to the designers specifications, and did a much better job than his Asian competition of the time (far far better). He built the first Krogen trawlers in the early 70s. Morgan was trapped between building quality boats and doing it at a reasonable cost. Knowledgeable buyers kept him in business.
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Old 03-10-2016, 11:53 PM   #6
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Your surveyor won't take anything apart to get a better look without specific permission from the owner, so YOU need to get that permission for him Tell the owner that this is your main concern and a thorough survey will tell you whether this is the boat for you or not.
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Old 03-11-2016, 07:10 AM   #7
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House fuel companies have a goop you can shmeer on a flexible tape measure and pusg down into the tank from the deck fitting.

It changes color with the presence of water.

The usual TT tank failure is from departing decks leaking on the tank top, EZ to see.
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Old 03-11-2016, 09:31 AM   #8
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Old 03-11-2016, 11:49 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tedted View Post
I sold new Heritage East 36s for a while around 2001. They were a quality boat. Don't know anything about the earlier ones. I doubt they would have made such a fanfare about coming back if they were known for stinkers.
This Heritage Yachts West Indian was built by the sailboat company Morgan Yachts back in 1977. Later taken over by Chris Craft. Is that the same heritage you're talking about? Boat company lineage gets me a bit dizzy sometimes...[/QUOTE]

No. These were definitely a far east built yacht. Their big claim to fame was that all the hardware and systems were US purchased (built?) here and sent to the boatyard by container. No weird 'hand made' door hinges and such that you couldn't buy anywhere.

Their other selling point was a true 'stairway' from the swim platform to the aft deck. These were 36' aft cabin trawlers with no ladders - all stairways. Nice touch.
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Old 03-11-2016, 12:11 PM   #10
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Al,
I believe the boat Ted is referring to is different than the boats you are referring to. It is a sedan with cockpit. I believe the boats you are referring to are sundeck models with the built in stairs.

1977 West Indian 36 Trawler Power Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com
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Old 03-11-2016, 12:54 PM   #11
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Ted,
I'm boat shopping as well and spoke with the broker a few times about that boat. I think if the survey comes back good, your getting a heck of a deal for a freshwater boat. A little elbow grease and you will have a really nice boat.
Good luck with the pending purchase. Hope it works out!!!
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Old 03-11-2016, 06:30 PM   #12
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That boat does look good! It does have that American built look to the interior. Good luck with it!
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Old 03-13-2016, 09:58 PM   #13
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Hey Folks, thanks for he replies. We hired a surveyor for the boat and another for the power systems. They both said they would have information for me the end of next week. I've got my fingers crossed that all is well.
An interesting feature on this boat that I haven't seem before is a cast aluminum bow sprit. It's a real chunk of metal. te neat thing is it won't need varnishing..... Thanks again guys.
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