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Old 01-08-2017, 09:52 AM   #21
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Barnacles,, Are you cutting the outside of the boat ? How are you going to replace the outer wall ? That is the part that is scary to me. I would not be afraid of cutting the inside walls, not sure what is between the inner and outer walls,,,, Studs of some type ?
Also,,, be careful of the 4" cut-off,, sparks, vs sawzall
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Old 01-08-2017, 10:04 AM   #22
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For a 200 gallon tank, you can probably get a roto-molded plastic insert. I have read that some owners only partially cut out the old steel tanks , then use the remaining portion as support for the new plastic tank. This approach would avoid your concern about narrow clearances while cutting. You might also consider fitting 2 smaller tanks instead of one large tank to make it easier to retrofit.
No direct experience here, just stuff picked up over time on this forum!!
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Old 01-08-2017, 10:20 AM   #23
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Fiberglass sounds good, but being a machinist, I am partial to Stainless, 304 is OK, but especially 316. .
SS is approved for diesel fuel tanks if it is 316L or 317L and minimally 0.0747" thick. 304 not so good. The L stands for low carbon, meaning it can be correctly welded. Many Al tanks have corroded out due to dissimilar metals being used, similarly the same can happen to SS. Unlike standard steel, both Al and SS need good air circulation to allow the protective oxidation process to work.

Steel tank failure can be usually be traced to lousy install or water (especially salt water, wet bilges are a no no) dripping onto them from teak decks, fill points etc.

And yes, FRP is great, especially when laid up properly as part of the hull. Surprisingly, osmotic blisters can occur in FRP tanks just like on a hull bottom and can theoretically lead to tank failure. High nickel steel like Monel is preferred by many. Back in the day, Monel tanks were a huge selling point on many boats - I had them in a Trojan woodie.
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Old 01-08-2017, 10:56 AM   #24
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Im a bit stumped in how everyone uses a sawall as I only have about a 1/2" clearance between the hull sides and bottom and the tanks themselves. Im hoping a small handheld circular saw with a steel blade can get it done.
If that doesn't work you could try a small electric cut off tool or small air cut off tool if you have access to compressed air. If you go pneumatic put a swivel between the tool and air line, it makes working in tight places easier. When searching for one these tools they are sometimes called die grinders. The two I've linked are very inexpensive, cheap enough to take 'em for a test drive and toss in the dumpster if they don't work.

An oscillating multi tool might work, the blades can be mounted to work in any position. The Fein Tool is the original, but they're spendy. Harbor Freight has a cheap version to try out. Fein or Harbor Freight I think the work will go painfully slowly and you'll spend a small fortune on blades.

The tools above are all pretty light weight and may not be up to the task if your steel tanks are thick walled. If so try a 4" angle grinder with cut off wheels. If you've never used one in a tight place practice first out in the open with easy access. To get into the tight spots you'll most likely have to work with the guard and handle off. They can kick hard when you bind them. I've got the scars to prove it.

If all else fails you can get creative. I've had to force a sawzall to make shallow cuts. Mount the shortest blade you can. Pad the foot with something of the correct thickness such that the blade barely penetrates the far side of the work on the in stroke. Make sure there is clearance on the out stroke between the work and what you're trying not to damage. Hang on tight.

Be careful. Diesel, paint, wood and fiberglass can be ignited by sparks. A welder's blanket to catch the sparks. A fire extinguishers and a charged water hose near by are all good precautions to take.
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Old 01-08-2017, 11:13 AM   #25
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Have a 86' jefferson45 . Changed tanks out to aluminum by lifting engines over other while installing new tank. Cut out old and had to reduce size of new to get thru rear window. Did it with a few buddies and yard lift. It can be done if you think it Thur and have the help.
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Old 01-08-2017, 01:23 PM   #26
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That would be fine with me,,,,,, just not going to cut holes in the bottom or sides.
Thanks, I will look at Jeffersons and Gulfstars from what I hear.

I have a line on a 41' President but so far it sounds like a hole in the side is the only way to access the tanks.
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Old 01-08-2017, 02:19 PM   #27
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That would be fine with me,,,,,, just not going to cut holes in the bottom or sides.
Thanks, I will look at Jeffersons and Gulfstars from what I hear.

I have a line on a 41' President but so far it sounds like a hole in the side is the only way to access the tanks.

That also is no big deal if done correctly.

It has been done plenty of times and I don't recall a failure.

Also tens of thousands of major repairs done through the years with only a fraction having subsequent problems...and who knows why they happened or who did the repair.

A good glass job is no different than welding in a new plate...the glass repair is only as good as the glassman...and the weld only as good as the welder.
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Old 01-08-2017, 02:29 PM   #28
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Had several yard estimate the replacement and they didn't have a clue. One wanted to go thru the side,cut ribs ,etc. I ask how he would reglass and he said he didn't know.Another wanted $30.000.00 then will talk about the tanks. . Engine lift was the only way to get tanks in. Crane came in thru Windows and lifted engines while tank came the other side window. Had to size tank so it would fit thru rear window,so I lost about 50 gallons. Don't cruise that much so no problem.Playboy marina / yard was very helpful and scheduling was easy. Think it thru ,get advice and decided what you want to do,as sometimes we know more than the experts.
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Old 01-08-2017, 03:03 PM   #29
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Are some builders still installing steel tanks in new builds?
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Old 01-08-2017, 03:06 PM   #30
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Long before I took a Sawzall to the tanks, I'd take an angle grinder and the cutoff wheels made for it. The Home Despot usually carries two brands of cutoff wheels; you want the 1mm thick ones not the 1/16" thick others. The European-made ones last longer.

Since cutting the 1/8" steel tank would be easy and fast with the angle grinder, you could afford to cut more convenient, smaller pieces at a time.

Sawzalls have their place in the Firmament, but they're noisy, shake things, blades prone to break. Use 'em where you have to.

I've used my angle grinder and cutoff wheel combo for all sorts of tasks, examples: the 1" dia SS propeller shaft in the sailboat, making SS fittings for the Flying Dutchman, making 1/4" thick SS brackets for my new flybridge ladder, removing the huge gravity feed black iron heating pipes from our basement, shaping 1/2" thick steel to fit the stone mantle.
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Old 01-08-2017, 03:13 PM   #31
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Buy a Pilgrim 40 the tanks and engine are where you can see them and replace easily if needed. If you intend to use the boat in protected waters you get the added bonus of a great boat.
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Old 01-08-2017, 06:37 PM   #32
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I encourage any owner facing the expense of replacing old, leaking "black iron" fuel tanks to look into possible insurance coverage. My policy did not cover "rust, other corrosion, poor maintenance, etc." But it did cover "hidden defects at time of manufacture." For my claim, I took a picture of the spotty sealant under the deck fill plates, noted that the tanks rusted out just below two of these poorly installed fittings and bingo, full cost reimbursement less deductible.
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Old 01-08-2017, 06:44 PM   #33
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Having tried both on my fuel tanks, I settled on the Sawzall with good blades. No sparks, not nearly the noise or dust, didn't have to worry about the glued on insulation....

Much easier in my experience.
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Old 01-08-2017, 07:29 PM   #34
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Sawsall was my choice also as I could work faster . Several blades but a better choice. Tanks were degased and no fuel or fumes.
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Old 01-08-2017, 08:16 PM   #35
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I'll be gone when my boat's tanks might fail.
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Old 01-08-2017, 08:25 PM   #36
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My vote these days for tank replacement would be for fuel grade plastic. Can be made to various shapes - basically same idea and benefits as if made from GRP when boat built, but able to be added later, whereas GRP, not really.

I have done this with my water tanks, and if and when the stainless fuel tanks die, that'll be what they are replaced with.
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Old 01-08-2017, 10:33 PM   #37
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I encourage any owner facing the expense of replacing old, leaking "black iron" fuel tanks to look into possible insurance coverage. My policy did not cover "rust, other corrosion, poor maintenance, etc." But it did cover "hidden defects at time of manufacture." For my claim, I took a picture of the spotty sealant under the deck fill plates, noted that the tanks rusted out just below two of these poorly installed fittings and bingo, full cost reimbursement less deductible.
Bingo! If our top quality aluminum tanks ever fail [currently they look really good, however they are originals I believe, i.e. 40 yrs. old now] I will pursue similar to your path... to see what I can drum up. I already have a good plan if insurance does not pan out

"... hidden defects at time of manufacture." COOL!! I'll search into the fine print for that or other statements that may induce coverage.
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Old 01-08-2017, 11:42 PM   #38
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I have just started cutting out the stbd tank (200 gls). I prefer to do it now before they do leak and my options in low cost replacement disappears. Its upwards of 18K if the yard does it. Kemah has lots of oil money and pirates...

Im a bit stumped in how everyone uses a sawall as I only have about a 1/2" clearance between the hull sides and bottom and the tanks themselves. Im hoping a small handheld circular saw with a steel blade can get it done.
I used a circular saw to cut out the black iron tanks of my last boat. You can set the depth to just cut through the tank only.
I found the abrasive blades for metal or concrete worked best. And as they worn down into smaller diameters I would save them and put them on my angle grinder to cut into the tighter areas of the tanks.
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Old 01-09-2017, 01:21 AM   #39
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I will take a properly engineered, built in fiberglass tank every time...


It is not necessarily a low cost solution.
fiberglass + topcoat piles is certainly a workable solution. steel diesel tanks has been re-built with this system and the buildings in which warming diesel sold in fiberglass tanks and are strong and also prevent the smell.
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Old 01-09-2017, 01:43 AM   #40
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This has been one of my biggest concerns too. So far I have learned that Hatteras, Viking, Gulfstar, Great Harbor, and possibly Hi Star are MY's or Trawlers that have fiberglass tanks.


Add Choey Lee to your list.
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