Buying a boat with original fuel tanks...

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Fill only one tank for test , then transfer that fuel to the other tank for test.
Sounds like the owner is pretty sure there is a problem with the tanks and doesn’t want to deal with it, so they will likely bargain for it.
Adjust your bid for two new tanks.
If they won’t go for that, keep shopping, I’m sure there’s other boats that will fill your needs.
 
Lost me of being afraid to open the access ports to clean. Get the fuel high pressure polished to churn up and filter out the crap then run the boat. Then on your schedule, when the tanks are about empty, and it is your boat, pull those plates get the years of crap out. Make the insides clean, stick a probe in and look em over. Add additional inspection ports as necessary. Perhaps coat with epoxie and go another 30 years.
Make sure they are insulated from dissimilar metals, bonded and outside stays dry. Since you know you are not going to need massive amounts of fuel, if they do go south, smaller tanks can be fabricated to install w/o major surgery.
From what you say, I doubt buzzards are circling.
 
Someone said that "all tanks leak". I have build into hull fiberglass tank. To make that tank leak I will have to use a heavy hammer or a drill. My previous boat was MT34 with single engine and 2 150G tanks.Still factory original and no leaks. I had no problem to fill them up.
 
Someone said that "all tanks leak". I have build into hull fiberglass tank. To make that tank leak I will have to use a heavy hammer or a drill. My previous boat was MT34 with single engine and 2 150G tanks.Still factory original and no leaks. I had no problem to fill them up.

Do your built-in tanks have inspection ports?
 
When the tank is empty, the inspection plates are there to be removed and the tank inspected.
When closing the inspection port, reseal them carefully.
Check the seal carefully
 
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for several years and the engine room has been neglected.

Nobody wants to open the inspection ports due to their age.

The inspection ports are part of the fuel system and are meant to serve a function. The time for that function has come. Any deficiency in function should be negotiated in the sales price and planned into rehabbing the boat.

I haven't reconditioned a fuel tank in several ( to many ) years but the chemistry for cleaning and sealing tanks had been greatly improved.

Flexible tanks like in aircraft are also very good if replacement comes.

I was on one old boat that was so rusty you could see daylight through the pinholes in the bilge. When the diesel tanks leaked you just jammed some slivers off a bar of soap in the holes to stop them. Good times.


The rust in the hold of a vessel can react with all of the oxygen in the air and you go hypoxic and pass out. It has to be really bad. Don't lose any sleep over it.
 
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You guys think I should have the ports opened? That’s what you’re saying?
 
If you can't fill the tanks they are useless. Use it for leverage or prove the tanks are at least good enough for repair.
 
Man. Don't clean the tanks because that may cause a leak? Diesel is way different from gas. Good luck with the purchase.
 
yes to what Mule said. open the inspection ports and clean the tanks. First thing i did when i bought my boat was to cut inspection holes into the tanks and have them cleaned. now i know that i'm in good shape.
 
You guys think I should have the ports opened? That’s what you’re saying?
Yes, that is what they are for. I paid like $30 for a fiber probe with up to 30 foot length that sinks with my cell phone screen and the pix are crystal, has own light source. You will have to get the sludge out clean up the tanks then you can see.
Assuming you can get to the areas needed from the outside, additionalaccess ports can be added. From your pix I doubt you cannot repair those tanks if needed.
 
The hassle with a decades long Keys dock queen would be the REST of the installed systems.

Spend the time to catalog all the equipment and be sure its suitable for your desires , and see it all operate.

Swoping a dock queen outfitting to what is used on a cruiser can be costly and time consuming.

The engine could have been started once a month for1/2 hour (not good) or just ignored , never pickled or even serviced.

PH rot and deck rot would be a bigger fear than an old fuel tank.

House boats are always a big question , unless you will continue as a house boat.

Good hunting.
 
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Here’s the only picture of the tank with the inspection port. I believe there is only 1 per tank.

I don’t know if opening that port could cause problems.

That is a pretty rough looking ER. There may be far more than fuel to consider. A cheap boat may not prove inexpensive once you try using it.
 
Here’s the latest picture I have. The mechanic has been cleaning it up.

We are going to do a 2 hour sea trial on Tuesday I’ll be spending all day on the boat running the systems.

I think you guys are right. I need those ports opened. I’m just afraid of old rusty bolts rounding or breaking off causing more problems.

This boat has only been a dock queen for a few years. Not decades.
 

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"I’m just afraid of old rusty bolts rounding or breaking off causing more problems. "


a soak for a few days with PB Blaster , or your favorite might be a good investment.
 
We are moving on from this boat. Just found another in much better shape. More details later once it’s official.
 
I would definitely top them off until fuel backs up the neck. After I bought my boat I went to top it off and got fuel in the bilge from diesel leaking through holes in the top of the tank from around the fill neck.
 
Borescope/endoscope should be part of boat tool kit. $30 on Amazon. You can use it to inspect bottom of tank, side of tank against hull, area around fill pipe, and then stick it in the tank to examine inside seams. (You may have to push some sludge out of the way.)

Non-destructive, will give you a lot of information regarding surface rust (not 100%) and will also help find items dropped into the dark corners of the bilge.
 
So get this. I got a call from the broker. They finally polished the fuel and then took the boat out for a spin to see how the new fuel performed. The engines made rated power with no smoke! And that’s about when one of the transmissions blew up. Unreal. I never saw that one coming. I feel bad for the sellers, that’s for sure.

Glad we are done with it! Moving onto the next boat. Thanks everyone for all of your help!

The new boat we're looking at has the same old fuel tanks, except it hasn’t been sitting. So I’ll still get the little $30 borescope and take everyone’s advice for checking this one out.
 
Steve:
Don't have much to add to this except some pics of my 30 year old tanks in a 1987 Grand Banks 42. I bought it without inspecting the insides of the tanks and was nervous beyond belief when I had them opened and inspected while getting the bottom painted after purchase. There is some slight surface rust but I think they are about as good as 31 year old tanks can be. Got a clean bill of health from the tank guy. He removed some gunk but not too much and made new gaskets for the inspection ports. I have a ton of old documents on repairs, upgrades, maintenance but can find no record of any prior cleaning or even polishing. Just putting these up so you know it is possible to have oldies but goodies.
 

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.... They finally polished the fuel and then took the boat out for a spin to see how the new fuel performed. The engines made rated power with no smoke! And that’s about when one of the transmissions blew up....
Maybe the lesson is: don`t get hung up on steel fuel tanks next time.
 
Maybe the lesson is: don`t get hung up on steel fuel tanks next time.

Well it was the focus because it was step #1, get the only fuel out and new fuel in. That was going to be my opportunity to have the inspection ports opened.
 
Steve:
Don't have much to add to this except some pics of my 30 year old tanks in a 1987 Grand Banks 42. I bought it without inspecting the insides of the tanks and was nervous beyond belief when I had them opened and inspected while getting the bottom painted after purchase. There is some slight surface rust but I think they are about as good as 31 year old tanks can be. Got a clean bill of health from the tank guy. He removed some gunk but not too much and made new gaskets for the inspection ports. I have a ton of old documents on repairs, upgrades, maintenance but can find no record of any prior cleaning or even polishing. Just putting these up so you know it is possible to have oldies but goodies.

That’s really great to see. Thank you for posting those pictures. It’s nice to see what old tanks in good shape look like.
 
Just a quick note to all who worry about, or are faced with replacing failed steel (black iron) fuel tanks. My failures were because of water seeping past failed caulking of the deck fill plates, after 20 years. I filed an insurance claim that pointed to language in my policy that said, after saying all the things that the policy wouldn't cover, that it would cover "hidden defects at time of manufacture." My photos of very spotty caulking around the deck fill plates were proof that had the caulking been properly applied water would not have entered just above the tanks and pooled (on both sides.) Bottom line: insurance paid all but my deductible of a $40,000 bill (including new decking associated with the water intrusion.)

Since anybody involved with boats knows that most boats probably have some kind of hidden defect when built I'm not sure that policies today are written with this language but it may be worth a look at yours.
 
Not a big fan of insurance companies but... I don't know. I guess if they wrote the language and then paid for it based on their own language then ok. How is that different from submitting a claim for water damage to the interior due to clogged up weep holes going ignored for years? Weep holes were defective and not designed correctly? Cable/wire supports down below get old and deteriorated causing a just as old and deteriorated wire to fall on something causing a fire? The cable/wire supports not lasting forever is a defect? When does it move from defect to an owners lack of routine maintenance?Don't know who your insurance company is but I need their name!
 
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Just a quick note to all who worry about, or are faced with replacing failed steel (black iron) fuel tanks. My failures were because of water seeping past failed caulking of the deck fill plates, after 20 years. I filed an insurance claim that pointed to language in my policy that said, after saying all the things that the policy wouldn't cover, that it would cover "hidden defects at time of manufacture." My photos of very spotty caulking around the deck fill plates were proof that had the caulking been properly applied water would not have entered just above the tanks and pooled (on both sides.) Bottom line: insurance paid all but my deductible of a $40,000 bill (including new decking associated with the water intrusion.)

Since anybody involved with boats knows that most boats probably have some kind of hidden defect when built I'm not sure that policies today are written with this language but it may be worth a look at yours.

You got lucky dude.
 
Steve:
Don't have much to add to this except some pics of my 30 year old tanks in a 1987 Grand Banks 42. I bought it without inspecting the insides of the tanks and was nervous beyond belief when I had them opened and inspected while getting the bottom painted after purchase. There is some slight surface rust but I think they are about as good as 31 year old tanks can be. Got a clean bill of health from the tank guy. He removed some gunk but not too much and made new gaskets for the inspection ports. I have a ton of old documents on repairs, upgrades, maintenance but can find no record of any prior cleaning or even polishing. Just putting these up so you know it is possible to have oldies but goodies.



Amazing for a 30 year old boat. I think you are not the norm.
 
Hi Steve:


In case you missed it, take a look at this recent thread. The photos & description of the sludge inside the tanks next to the fuel pickup line are incredibly illuminating:



http://www.trawlerforum.com/forums/s6/fuel-tank-replacement-job-39628.html


Pea



A WORD ON PICKUP TUBES.
The pick up tubes on the 29 year old tanks were 2” from the bottom and angle cut. The fabricator told me that the old tanks were set up that way so they didn’t pickup debris. My new tank pickup tubes are a 1/4” off the bottom. The new wisdom is to pick up debris and clean it up. The condition of the sludge in my old tanks says that the tube should be as low as possible. BTW my Raycors were never dirty on my old tank with an inch of sludge in the bottom.
 
Here’s what I’m torn with. Do I have then open the tanks or not.

If we do, I know we are going to see sludge. That’s a given. So what do we do then? Have them cleaned? We all know that alone might cause a leak.

I know we are buying a boat with old tanks and the price reflects that. About $70-80k. If they are actively leaking, $40-50k. If the boat is in prestine condition with new tanks, $100k+.
Here is what I would do. Buy the boat if everything else is ok. Then hire and supervise a complete tank cleaning expert who removes all fuel and cleans with with pressure and detergent all around inside -keep track and take pics also clean lines and have the tank cleaner man filter old fuel and replace this fuel. That grunge inside will ruin your everything if not removed!!!!! I speak from experience!!!You must stay with the tank cleaner to make sure its done right. See threads here. Cost probably $4000. take a week working hard.
 

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