55 gallon drums as replacement fuel tanks?

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Check Eastern Marine..... got my Moeller tanks from them for about 1/2 the cost of Defender when Defender added shipping. They would only do freight while Eastern did UPS.

Very cool to see exactly how much fuel you have and measure your burn/refill amounts. Also no rust/simple install ranked high on my list of many upsides to the conversion.

The tanks I bought were 58 gallons (if I recall correctly) and had a large circular baffle in the middle of them. I think I paid a bit over $300 per tank with shipping but that was 10 years ago.

When you post things on the net, you will always get the whole banana from grief to pearls of wisdom. The more simple and direct the question, the simpler and less opinionated the answer.

There are people here with tons of practical experience and many without. You will be able to tell when you ask pointed questions and get specific answers and usually with supporting documentation.
 
That's what I did, I bought the biggest plastic tanks that I could fit into the engine room without moving the engine or removing parts from the engine. So now I have two 37 gallon tanks, one on each side, with room to add two more in the future. That gives us 4 days of cruising now. My only bummer is now the manufacturer doesn't do those exact tanks anymore so when/if I add two more they won't be exactly the same.
 
Insurance and resale are of no consideration.
If you don't care about resale or insurance, you have found the right solution. Majority of boat owners of a boat like this care about these factors which explains the advice you've received thus far that you are eroding the value and usability of the boat.

Best success -

Peter
 
Does anyone know if full 45 gallon drums are transported laid down? My take on using them in the upright secured position work not be a problem, but laid down is not a position I see in how they were designed to remain sealed.
 
55 gal drums are NEVER transported laid down. But, they are rated to drop from the back of an 18 wheeler trailer, full, with 600 lbs and not rupture. They are incredibly durable.

I have a warehouse full of 55 gal plastic drums, mostly hazmat, and unless you drop one on a sharp nail or screw, or from 10' or higher, they are not going to rupture.
 
We had a center console that had a 70 gallon plastic fuel tank. Since the tank was roto molded it would not have had baffles. It did permeate gas smell though it but not in an explosive concentration, apparently, since it never blew up on us. I don’t know the specifics on tank construction but they do need to be certified which includes a pressure test. If Moeller certifies the tank then I would be comfortable using it.
 
Very cool to see exactly how much fuel you have and measure your burn/refill amounts. Also no rust/simple install ranked high on my list of many upsides to the conversion.
So did you not reinstall the plywood/panels partition between the engine and the tank?
 
I am with you the OP.
I don't give a crap about insurance, liability or resale value, its all a bunch of BS. Just do it and enjoy it will work just fine!
 
So did you not reinstall the plywood/panels partition between the engine and the tank?
My boat was a single engine model and there were walkways around the engine so there never were any panels. If you have twins, heat shields might be a good idea.... but you could leave a tall, narrow oval in a spot to see the tank if the panels are considered necessary. Many diesels return a lot of fuel to the tank that heats them up so going with smaller tanks might help the whole issue and eliminate the need for panels...but I really can't say for sure.

Not sure what tanks may or may not have baffles in them. Mine were rotomolded and had a large hole in the middle which acted like a baffle. I have also seen belly tanks for small vessels that had a dozen holes or so throughout them to act as baffling and make the top/bottom of the tank more rigid.
 
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That's what I did, I bought the biggest plastic tanks that I could fit into the engine room without moving the engine or removing parts from the engine. So now I have two 37 gallon tanks, one on each side, with room to add two more in the future. That gives us 4 days of cruising now. My only bummer is now the manufacturer doesn't do those exact tanks anymore so when/if I add two more they won't be exactly the same.
So are they completely independent or do you have a way to tranfer fuel from one tank to the other?

I don't see a drain fitting on these moeller tanks. What is the procedure, just install a drain fitting to hose with a valve to level tanks, or is that frowned upon with these?
 
With diesel you can install a transfer pump setup if desired. That can use the existing pickup and return ports in the tanks, no need for a bottom connection.
 
My tanks are independent of each other. I did buy a groco 6 port fuel valve so I can switch which tank I run from. It always returns to the tank I am drawing from. I usually just switch tanks every day. Like PS said it is convenient to just be able to look at the tanks to see the fuel level. My tanks did come with sending units installed but I never did order the gauges yet. If I couldn't see my tanks then I would order the gauges, but I go into my engine room every time before and after cruising.
 
With diesel you can install a transfer pump setup if desired. That can use the existing pickup and return ports in the tanks, no need for a bottom connection.
I figured that was the solution, however pretty inconvenient if 2 tanks are installed on each side.
 
I figured that was the solution, however pretty inconvenient if 2 tanks are installed on each side.
If you have 2 tanks next to each other you could do a bottom connection to equalize them, nothing prohibits it for diesel. Depending on the size of the tanks an equalizer vs just selecting to a different tank periodically (or transferring fuel) may be convenient or it may be minor (such as if each tank contains 30+ hours worth of fuel at cruise).
 
I'm not here to argue with anybody so bored/miserable they have nothing better to do then to pry into somebody elses finances on a boat forum and tell them what to do in life.

Thanks to the people who responded to my question earnestly.

Moeller sells 50 gallon tanks that are so narrow i can slide them in without even moving my generator. Might be my best option. I will note these official USCG 50 gallon tanks have no baffles, but they are only 12.5" wide.

Seeing as it's gonna take multiple tanks per side, I can't imagine I could get custom fabricated for cheaper than $10/gallon. If there's any reason I should avoid official plastic tanks, lemme hear it.
I have used Moeller tanks on an earlier boat. No baffles needed and they are still fine 12 years later on a prior boat. They last below deck and come in many shapes and sizes. When my current steel tanks kick it, I will use Moeller again.
 
Disregarding legalities, plastic drums are very robust liquid storage containers.
They need to be installed upright, braced top and bottom, and I would not add any fittings other than the standard two bungs in the top.
I would use them in conjunction with a proper day tank that was at least capable of entirely emptying a drum, as they will slosh radically with a partial load.
White drums are vulnerable to UV damage, choose blue or black.
 
I had a great result replacing water tanks with plastic. Those ones in your link look the real deal, fuel grade. If you could slide in two each side that gives you 200 gallons all up, and for most folk, that's plenty. That's roughly 800 litres, which was plenty for me.
 
I would not install a tank that does not have a certification on it. You may get away with it but if something goes wrong and the homemade tank dumps the fuel and the bilge pump sends it overboard, you are liable for the spill. And the cleanup costs are astronomical, that is why the standard cleanup insurance covers almost a million dollars. Is it worth it to have a homemade tank and maybe loose your insurance coverage because your tank did not meet the standards? Do you think that the insurance company will not send out an investigator? Do you think that the first thing they will look for is the certification tag?

The certification has things that must be done in order to meet the standard. One of the things is a pressure test. There may be other things too. Such as thickness of the tank material depending on volume of the tank, number of baffles.

Insurance companies are looking for any reason to deny a claim, so why give them one?
Just curious, I have had boats since 1958, gas and diesel 15ft-70ft, and have never ever seen a sticker/plague showing CG approved on a permanently installed fuel tank. Now the ones you might buy from West Marine might have a sticker but I have never seen an OEM installed tank with a sticker. My latest, the 1997 MS350, just double checked, and there is no plaque whatsoever on either tank. If I were to replace any of the tanks I have had, I would just get a competent welder to duplicate or modify as necessary. I have repaired some tanks that you never would have thought cud be repaired including a aluminum tank in the MS350. But I agree with most everyone that trying to modify and use plastic 55 gal drums in a permanent configuration does not seem to be a good idea for all the reasons that have been explored.
 
One of the 40 Albins i looked before buying mine, had plastic replacement tanks. Each side installed by different boat yards.
Each side had 2 plastic tanks ( 50 gallon each?) and they had a bottom connection to equalize them. From memory they used what looked like galvanized 1 1/2 inch pipe. I dont remember seeing a shut off valve in between.
 
You're looking for a cheap solution and stated that insurance and resale are of zero concern.

Your plastic drum might survive a 24hr 3psi pressure test, with the fittings installed, and they'd be fine up on deck but not permanently installed in your engine space.

If you need to hack a solution then go with @CharlieO's suggestion and pick up some big rig fuel tanks from a salvage yard. Perhaps you can fit 2 on each side and they have rectangular shapes for more capacity.
 
Can anybody attest to what kind of bottom drain fitting is used to join 2 plastic fuel tanks? Has anybody here done it? Even the official moeller tanks only have top fittings. Obviously the fitting could only be installed from the outside.

I understand an elaborate pump/manifold system could be utilized, but would be nice to arrange a simpler way if it is possible.
 
It might be worth asking Moeller what they'd recommend. Many tanks only come with top connections because the tank is approved for use with either gas or diesel. Gas tanks can only have top fittings, while diesel tanks are allowed to have connections lower on the tank as well as sight tubes, etc.
 
It might be worth asking Moeller what they'd recommend. Many tanks only come with top connections because the tank is approved for use with either gas or diesel. Gas tanks can only have top fittings, while diesel tanks are allowed to have connections lower on the tank as well as sight tubes, etc.
Moeller tech support was useless. I inquired about a reccomended bottom drain fitting. He said there was none. I asked why and if it was for leaking concerns. He said he had no idea "that's just how they're made".
 
I had iron tanks which were built with bottom bungs into which pipe threaded can go. I have not seen any retro fit for the bottom on fuel tanks. Never mind it is not recommended, I cannot figure how a permanent connection point can be added from the outside only for fuel.
 
Just curious, I have had boats since 1958, gas and diesel 15ft-70ft, and have never ever seen a sticker/plague showing CG approved on a permanently installed fuel tank. Now the ones you might buy from West Marine might have a sticker but I have never seen an OEM installed tank with a sticker. My latest, the 1997 MS350, just double checked, and there is no plaque whatsoever on either tank. If I were to replace any of the tanks I have had, I would just get a competent welder to duplicate or modify as necessary. I have repaired some tanks that you never would have thought cud be repaired including a aluminum tank in the MS350. But I agree with most everyone that trying to modify and use plastic 55 gal drums in a permanent configuration does not seem to be a good idea for all the reasons that have been explored.
Not sure why yours does not have the certification plaque but mine do and also on previous boats. They are not CG approval plaques but rather certification that the tanks meet the standards, sorta like UL certification.
 
I had iron tanks which were built with bottom bungs into which pipe threaded can go. I have not seen any retro fit for the bottom on fuel tanks. Never mind it is not recommended, I cannot figure how a permanent connection point can be added from the outside only for fuel.
I offer this reference only for informational purposes. I have not used these.
I mainly refer to the 'Spin-Weld' tank fitting on the bottom row.
 

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I offer this reference only for informational purposes. I have not used these.
I mainly refer to the 'Spin-Weld' tank fitting on the bottom row.
Wow thank you. I would definitely want to test on something cheaper than a $500 tank, but this guy makes it sound like it is an official application.

 
For you guys that replaced with plastic tanks. What transfer pump did you install? Do you have filters on it to also polish? What was the approximate cost of the transfer system (pump/manifold/etc)?

Also for mounting a square bottom tank on a sloped stringer system, I assume you built a wooden platform?
 
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