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Thread: Removing a fuel tank

  1. #16
    Principal Partner Jeff Asbury's Avatar
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    Looks like my fuel tank is the problem on my boat now

    Looks like my fuel tank is the problem on my boat now. Full of sludge, no fuel comes out. I am probably looking at removing and possibly replacing the tank. I am glad I did a search and found this valuable thread. As far as I know it is the original 37 year old steel diesel fuel tank on my E-27.

    A few more new questions though.

    1. My tank is steel and does not leak. It is full, about 14 gallons of diesel. Do you all think there is any possibility of saving it and getting it cleaned / polished by a tank cleaning service?

    2. I talked to my local Yanmar mechanic and he said it may be salvageable if we can remove it and clean it out by sloshing some clean fuel around in it, turn it upside down to get all the sludge out.

    3. If I must replace it, what is the logical replacement? Plastic, aluminum or steel?

    4. Does anyone know what the tank looks like inside? Are there baffles that it would make it hard to get the sludge out?

    5. I tried poking a small dowel / stick into the valve that the fuel line attaches to see if I could get it unclogged. It seems to me that there must be a pipe inside that bends down to the bottom of the tank. That would make it hard to get any kind of a small snake in there to clear it. I do have a very small drain snake that I got from Harbor Freight. I wonder if that's worth a try.

    Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated from all of you that have been through this.

    Any photos would also help.
    Last edited by Jeff Asbury; 06-23-2010 at 08:18 AM.
    Jeff Asbury Former owner of the "Pride of Cucamonga" 1973 E-27 Hull# ERY27355M73H

  2. #17
    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    Question

    Bad luck, but a bit better to have a tank problem back at your dock rather than offshore somewhere.
    As noted elsewhere here, the preferred material for a diesel tank is 5000 series aluminum.
    Steel is not recommended. Some plastics are indeed sold and used, but I have no idea what specific types and how insurers view that idea.
    I recall reading somewhere that the better polishers will put a hose with a nozzle down inside and spray pressure diesel into it to stir up the sediment while constantly drawing out diesel and filtering it. Hearsay, though, and no personal experience with "polishing."

    A clean-out port sounds like a good addition no mater what material you choose. There are past threads here on adding such a port.

    Best,
    Loren
    Last edited by Loren Beach; 06-23-2010 at 08:24 AM.
    1988 Olson 34 #8
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  3. #18
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    What to do first with my tank.

    Jeff, Contact Dwyn Hendrickson at 310.722.1283. He has a fuel polishing business and I used his services years ago. That said, I recently saw him in Marina del Rey driving around in his old white Chevy pickup. Breaking news, go to http://www.scribd.com/doc/17138240/Mariner-77Indd and scroll down to page 8, you'll see his little ad. I just called him to make 100% sure and he's the same jovial guy I remember. He'll polish your fuel with the tank in place so don't do anything without calling him first. There are baffles in your tank that he can get around and there is a pick up tube that extends almost to the very bottom of the tank. He removed all the fuel from my tank and poured in a gallon of lacquer thinner (no kidding) to dissolve all the tars stuck to the bottom of the tank and using a soft copper tube with compressed air, he dislodged the crud and bent the tube to get around the baffles. With that he removed the thinner and replaced it with the diesel at which point the polishing began. Hint: Dwyn is a very lovable, funny and chatty character with plenty of time to spend on you at the present. Do like I did, ply him with food and beverage and keep him engaged in conversation. What he estimated to take an hour or so it ended that he spent up three hours or more to do. The brownish deck-stain looking fuel ended up like mineral spirits in appearance when he'd finished. Add to that, he's a hoot to be with and talk to that you'll be tempted to double his fee just for the entertainment value. Go for it and let me know how it turns out. Glyn

  4. #19
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    Jeff,

    To properly clean your old tank, you need an access port . Sloshing
    fuel around in it won't do a proper job. The sludge needs to be
    scraped off. My advice would be to fabricate a new one out of
    aluminum and be done with it.

    Martin

    PS Sorry you had a rough day on the water last weekend.

  5. #20
    Principal Partner Jeff Asbury's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies Loren, Glyn & Martin,


    Glyn, I must say that your suggestion and optimism that it can be polished is the most comforting. Do you really think it's worth the try on a 37 year old steel tank?


    Martin, are you just talking about fabricating a new access hole or a whole new tank?
    Jeff Asbury Former owner of the "Pride of Cucamonga" 1973 E-27 Hull# ERY27355M73H

  6. #21
    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    Here's a port

    http://www.seabuilt.com/

    Back in the good ol' days of the 80's, these were an off-the-shelf item at the legendary Doc Freeman's in Seattle.
    I sure miss that boating mecca.

    Regards,

    Loren
    1988 Olson 34 #8
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  7. #22
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    Keep the old tank or not?

    Jeff, Marty brings up a good point, any sheet metal shop can fabricate a tank to your specs including an access port but I was just offering you an alternative to that in the form of at least talking to Dwyn. As an alternative to engaging his services, you might want to contact Berry Sheet metal at 949.548.3613. They made all the tanks for our boats when new and are still in business. If you're lucky, they might even have the original drawings for your tank. Good luck, Glyn

  8. #23
    Principal Partner Jeff Asbury's Avatar
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    Thanks again Guys,

    Loren, I remember Doc Freeman's very well. I am originally from the PNW. Probably 1st went in there when I was a kid in the 60's with my Dad.

    Glyn, I did talk to Dwyn. He was great fun to talk with. He gave me a estimate of $350-$400 for his service but he really recommend that I replace the tank with a new removable plastic tank that can be easily removed and cleaned. He said a plastic one would last 20 years.

    I think it's time to plan on cutting the 37 year old steel tank out.
    Jeff Asbury Former owner of the "Pride of Cucamonga" 1973 E-27 Hull# ERY27355M73H

  9. #24
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    Access port.

    Loren, Some of the later E31's came from the factory with a plastic access port, the brand name of which slips my mind, but the exact replacement was off the shelf at West Marine. Mine was horribly cracked and yellowed when I bought the boat so I replaced it with a new white one. Within months, certainly less than a year, it too was all yellowed and cracked. A quick call to the manufactured confirmed my suspicion that they were not intended for a diesel fuel environment, thus the quick degradation. I bought an 8" round, Bomar C4808 cast aluminum inspection plate, the one with the locking T-handle that is slightly larger than the original hole which I've had for years now. As to good old Doc Freeman's, I too miss the place as it once was, consignment, etc. I can't tell you how much stuff I bought from there sight unseen and was never disappointed. Dick Whistler was my contact there and a swell guy. As a matter of fact, I have a small 14" X 14" teak and holly folding table attached just forward of the galley island that I got from Dick. He told me that Doc Freeman's bought all the teak at the Ericson auction and that table was the last of them. So I have a genuine Ericson accessory table in the boat thanks to Dick that only cost me $20.00 plus shipping. Do you remember Dick Whistler, he passed away years ago? Glyn

  10. #25
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    Jeff,

    I was talking about fabricating a new tank. Nothing wrong with
    fuel polishing, but we are talking about 30 year plus steel
    tank. It may not be leaking today, but trust me, it will
    at some point. For my money, I would rather spend on a nice
    welded aluminum tank and be done with it. My .02.

    M

  11. #26
    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    Red face sigh.......

    Quote Originally Posted by Glyn Judson View Post
    As to good old Doc Freeman's, I too miss the place as it once was, consignment, etc. I can't tell you how much stuff I bought from there sight unseen and was never disappointed. Dick Whistler was my contact there and a swell guy. As a matter of fact, I have a small 14" X 14" teak and holly folding table attached just forward of the galley island that I got from Dick. He told me that Doc Freeman's bought all the teak at the Ericson auction and that table was the last of them. So I have a genuine Ericson accessory table in the boat thanks to Dick that only cost me $20.00 plus shipping. Do you remember Dick Whistler, he passed away years ago? Glyn
    I never met Dick, but Seattle guys talked about his prowess at finding big lots of boating gear to bid on. He knew a lot of people in the industry and was said to be the reason for much of the success of Doc's parts re-sale business. They used to have a separate (and crowded...) warehouse in Seattle open to the public where we could prowl the jammed isles looking thru masses of teak and hatches and lighting fixtures from production runs at Bayliner and who-knows how many other builders.
    I heard that he became ill and had to reduce his travels and finally stop working -- it was a major blow to the company. He had reportedly developed a large handshake business with a ton of builders and vendors.

    Loren
    Last edited by Loren Beach; 06-23-2010 at 12:04 PM.
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  12. #27
    Principal Partner Jeff Asbury's Avatar
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    Thanks again to all the replies from three of the most knowledgeable Ericson owners on this board. Good sound advice from all! I have decided to pull the tank out. Not sure at this point if I will go with plastic or aluminum.

    All I know is that it will be a few weeks and many bucks before I am back at Sea because I only have weekends to deal with this. Just in time for Summer.
    Jeff Asbury Former owner of the "Pride of Cucamonga" 1973 E-27 Hull# ERY27355M73H

  13. #28
    Seglare Sven's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Asbury View Post
    All I know is that it will be a few weeks and many bucks before I am back at Sea because I only have weekends to deal with this. Just in time for Summer.
    Rig a temporary portable plastic tank to get out on the water while you work on the long term solution ?

    I'd try compressed air rather than a dowel (with diesel, not gasoline !). Are you sure the tank is steel and not aluminum ?



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  14. #29
    Principal Partner mherrcat's Avatar
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    He gave me a estimate of $350-$400 for his service...
    A new tank from Berry won't cost much more...

    Rig a temporary portable plastic tank to get out on the water while you work on the long term solution ?
    I did this when my tank was out and I needed to get to the yard for a bottom job and shaft coupling work. Used a one gallon plastic gas can and cut a couple of holes in the top for fuel supply and return lines and secured it to a bulkhead with some nylon cable ties.
    Last edited by mherrcat; 06-23-2010 at 12:10 PM.
    Mark H.
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  15. #30
    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    http://www.ericsonyachts.org/infoexc...&referrerid=28

    Note that I spent a little over $500. two years ago. And that was with all fittings, two clean out ports, a baffle, and a sender unit for a new gauge.

    Loren
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