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Old 14-09-2010, 12:46   #1
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So, I Cleaned Out My Fuel Tank, Re-Sealed it, then . . .

Spent two days on it. Drained the diesel, wiped down the interior, inspected the whole thing with a mirror and flashlight, cleaned off the surfaces to apply new gasket material, and had everything set up.

I put the bolts through on the inspection ports and resealed the whole thing. All looking terrific. Job well done. Only thing left to do was re-attach the fuel sender wire.

I unscrew the sender nut one turn to attach the lead, and KA-PLUNK the sender drops down into the now completely clean and sealed off tank.

I stared down at it for a while in disbelief, shaking my head.

Then I grabbed a bolt that was roughly the same size, put some gasket material around it, and jammed it in the hole. No fuel tank gauge for me until the next tank cleaning.

Here's a picture. Note the little bolt in the middle of the small hatch with blue gasket material, and the taped off wires hanging out nearby.

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Old 14-09-2010, 12:52   #2
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Come on, confess. Certainly you did more than shake your head. Did not one, single expletive pass your lips? If not then you are a better man than I.

On another note, what process or products did you use to clean the tanks?

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Old 14-09-2010, 12:55   #3
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dang--did ye at least say one f word ?? or the sh word?? once???? i bet a nickel ye did!!!!
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Old 14-09-2010, 13:02   #4
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I wrote it all up for anyone interested, but no, no cursing or anything of the sort. I've grown pretty numb to problems like this. Actually I did the math in my head that the sender was too big to get through a baffle wall and/or jam the intake, so all it meant was no gauge for a while. That's not so bad.

Rebel Heart - Sailing, cruising, liveaboard blog and website - Eric's Blog - (final?) thoughts on cleaning out the diesel*tank

I think I spent around $10 in total for materials.

Basically I just drained it with a sports bottle, sucked up the stuff at the bottom with my oil pump, and scraped off the goo with paper towels. I put plastic trash bags inside after that so that when scraping the old gasket material off the shavings (which would get into the tank) could come out nice and easy via the trash bags. The hardest and longest part was cleaning the ports and tank tops with a wire brush and acetone. Took a few hours just go get that part done.

It's the first time I've done the job myself so I'm still expecting the worst (weeping at the gaskets, etc) but next time around I'll know everything I need in advance and can start scouting around for the nitrile gasket material that would really make this project sing.
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Old 14-09-2010, 13:58   #5
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I used to have a fuel guage as well. I just put a neoprene gasket, loctite and sealed up the inspection port.

I just go by engine hours for amount of fuel. It is accurate and reliable.
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Old 14-09-2010, 14:39   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
I unscrew the sender nut one turn to attach the lead, and KA-PLUNK the sender drops down into the now completely clean and sealed off tank.
Stuff like that seems to happen to me whenever I'm doing something mechanical, electrical, etc. I'm expert at breathing, however.
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Old 14-09-2010, 15:09   #7
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Stuff happens.
I came home last night, striped off and put everything in the washing machine.

5 minutes later, that horrible panic pain hit my tummy when I realised my phone was still in the back pocket of my jeans. I stopped the machine and had to wait an agonising 2 mins for the door lock to release and I reached in, pulled out the soaked jeans and fished the drowned phone from the pocket. I took it apart, dried it out, warmed it with a hair dryer, and although the screen is a bit misty, it works.
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Old 14-09-2010, 16:10   #8
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Inspiring info on tank cleaning; thanks. It's something I've been trying not to think about, but a photo survey around my three tanks revealed that one of them has some significant gunk.

On the sender, I can recommend the Wema units - much more robust than those wire-wound variable resistors with swing-arm float (2 of my 3 were inoperable when I bought the boat). They can mate with standard analog gauges, or be translated by a Maretron TLA100 to NMEA2000 - here's a pic of one of mine, mounted in a tank access plate.

Cheers,
Steve
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Old 14-09-2010, 16:20   #9
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I use a most highly scientific method....a dip stick!!! never lets me down.
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Old 14-09-2010, 16:32   #10
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My partner's Cal 29 uses a dipstick, which I named "Jeb" in honor of a fellow back in Eastern Kentucky at a coal-shipping company, somewhere around 1975. My business manager was a freelancer who took care of a lot of small firms who couldn't afford someone full time in that role, and the coal company was another one of his clients. The owner expressed concern that there was some fuel theft going on, since the numbers weren't making sense.

My friend decided to start at the source, and found Jeb down at the barge dock. "How do you measure the amount of fuel in the tanks?"

"Wellsir, I take this here stick, see, and I put her down in the tank til she hits. Then I pull her out and - see where it's wet there? I send that number up to the office."

"Which end of the stick do you put in the tank first?"

"What? Hell, I dunno!"
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Old 14-09-2010, 16:33   #11
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Man, I feel for you.
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Old 14-09-2010, 17:26   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Microship View Post
My partner's Cal 29 uses a dipstick, which I named "Jeb" in honor of a fellow back in Eastern Kentucky at a coal-shipping company, somewhere around 1975. My business manager was a freelancer who took care of a lot of small firms who couldn't afford someone full time in that role, and the coal company was another one of his clients. The owner expressed concern that there was some fuel theft going on, since the numbers weren't making sense.

My friend decided to start at the source, and found Jeb down at the barge dock. "How do you measure the amount of fuel in the tanks?"

"Wellsir, I take this here stick, see, and I put her down in the tank til she hits. Then I pull her out and - see where it's wet there? I send that number up to the office."

"Which end of the stick do you put in the tank first?"

"What? Hell, I dunno!"
Classic, Steve.
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Old 14-09-2010, 19:54   #13
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Would like to point out that the sending unit more than likely has tapered threads the bolt with the goo on it does not. Not sure but you might want to check.
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Old 14-09-2010, 21:35   #14
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I respect totally your work on the boat. I still recall the head story and the multiple posts as you got that system ship shape.

But I must say...

This is the difference between boats and airplanes. I am a licensed aircraft mechanic (another life) and this stuff just won't stand.

"Cap'n. Just so you know the fuel gauge doesn't work. There's a bit that dropped in the tank but I am 99.9% sure it won't block the fuel pick up. Also there is a 3/8" socket somewhere in the belly but it was a PITA to retrieve and I am also sure it won't foul the control cables. Have a nice flight. BTW - I added $3.95 to your bill for the replacement socket."

No matter how painful I would have started at the beginning and set it right.

I realize that the fuel quantity missing won't sink the boat but when's the next tank cleaning? 10 years?

Oh - PS. While you have it apart again wire brish the rust off, prep the area paint the cover plates and surrounding area...

You'll be a hell of a lot more satisfied with your work.

(This post is not meant to criticize, it's meant to motivate...)
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Old 14-09-2010, 23:13   #15
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Okay, this is how I'm breaking it down, and it's the way that I need to operate when working on a 36 year old boat (wood save a fiberglass hull). The only point of that tank is to deliver clean diesel to the engine, and not to let any into the bilge or cabin. That's it.

Tank top is dirty? Clean fuel to the engine. Sender down in there? Clean fuel to the engine. Some guy comes along and takes a dump on my tank? Clean fuel to the engine.

It's not that I don't want to have it be really clean, but if I did that on every project on this boat I'd never go sailing and would never get anything completed because while I'm making the tank look gorgeous there's a leak in the teak decks that left unfixed will rot the deck away.

A big ol' fuel sender, behind a baffle wall, is not going to clock an intake. Ever. No argument that it shouldn't be there in the first place, but I have to move on to the more pressing stuff.

Task loading!
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