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Old 24-03-2017, 22:59   #1
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Water tanks - aluminium or fibreglass?

G'Day. Recently purchased a new (to me anyway), boat and it was suggested the water tanks are made from aluminium. Can't see inside to confirm or otherwise. Does anyone know how they are constructed?

Thanks.
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Old 24-03-2017, 23:45   #2
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Re: Water tanks - aluminium or fibreglass?

Tanya,
Welcome aboard. All water and sewage tanks should be made from plastic or SS. Aluminum is commonly for fuels, but you do have to make sure you keep the water out or they'll corrode from the inside.

What brand of boat did you buy? Your water tank should be accessible from their top with inspection covers.
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Old 25-03-2017, 00:58   #3
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Re: Water tanks - aluminium or fibreglass?

Thanks for responding, delmarrey. We have a Fontaine Pajot Belize 43 2002 is the year of manufacture.

I have not found an inspection hatch, only the filler pipe which, with a torch, does not reveal anything beyond the plastic pipe disappearing into the depths.
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Old 25-03-2017, 01:30   #4
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Re: Water tanks - aluminium or fibreglass?

Stainless steel. In the Maestro (owner's version), you can see the one on the owners side through the access panel to the head valve. To get to the port one, you need to remove the inner panel in the forward berth.
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Old 26-03-2017, 09:59   #5
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Re: Water tanks - aluminium or fibreglass?

Tanys, we have also a Belize 43 2002. Unfortunately we had the aluminium tanks, even if Fountaine Pajot claimed that we have plastic tanks. Undoubtely it was Aluminium, it looked exactly like the tanks of StuM.
Finding white cristals and sludge in the water pump coming out of the tanks, I decided to dismount the tanks, because they had no inspection lids (!!). Quite a hard job....But it was worth to do it. Opening the tanks we found advanced corrosion in both aluminium tanks even a few small holes.
We replaced the aluminium tanks by PE-tanks. Take care, that you dont exceed the measures, because you have to go through the doors....
Conclusion:
- its obvious that Fountaine Pajot used aluminium in certain years
- aluminium is definitely the wrong material for water tanks
- if you use any cleaning or desinfection salts (by example silver ions) you will have the corrosion for sure
- to install tanks without inspection lids is not a proof of quality for Fountaine Pajot
- I recommend to replace the aluminium tanks. The idea that they leak during a longer passage is quite uncomfortable

P.S. StuM, Im absolutely sure, that your tanks posted are made from aluminium!
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Old 26-03-2017, 11:51   #6
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Re: Water tanks - aluminium or fibreglass?

Quote:
Originally Posted by StuM View Post
Stainless steel. In the Maestro (owner's version), you can see the one on the owners side through the access panel to the head valve. To get to the port one, you need to remove the inner panel in the forward berth.
You may want to Scratch your water tank with a screw driver to see if you can easily get a chip off of it, as it looks like its made of Aluminum.

FP has never used Stainless Steel water tanks.
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Old 26-03-2017, 15:54   #7
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Re: Water tanks - aluminium or fibreglass?

Quote:
Originally Posted by monreve View Post
P.S. StuM, Im absolutely sure, that your tanks posted are made from aluminium!
Hmm, I'll have to check closer - since they are metal water tanks, I just assumed that they were steel. If they are aluminium, that's not so good.

Edit: Yep, the surface scratched easily - aluminium it is.
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Old 26-03-2017, 17:40   #8
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Re: Water tanks - aluminium or fibreglass?

While you do have to be more careful with alum water tank maintenance, they can be very long lived if well made and cared for properly (non acidic cleaners mostly).

Definately dont want them for waste tanks.
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Old 26-03-2017, 18:15   #9
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Re: Water tanks - aluminium or fibreglass?

Corrosion from within isn't the only problem with aluminum water tanks. Unless they are properly suspended, if they sit in damp or wet places numerous pin holes can develop, causing leaks and destroying the tank for any practical use.

Years ago I had to replace a 100 gal aluminum water tank for exactly that reason.

Bottom line: aluminum is definitely not the material of choice for water tanks on a boat.

Bill
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Old 26-03-2017, 23:01   #10
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Re: Water tanks - aluminium or fibreglass?

Thanks all for your replies. Found the inspection hatch and they do look aluminium. Haven't done the scratch test yet but am expecting it will prove aluminium to be the material.

Not aware of any leakage issues, all water going in goes through a carbon filter, however I am far more concerned about aluminium leaching into the water. Not suitable for human consumption. Case in point, put water into an aluminium vessel for chickens to drink from, and they die.

In the short term we will carry drinking water separately, but I can see a major job for the future.

Thanks again all who replied.

Happy Sailing.
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Old 27-03-2017, 06:17   #11
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Re: Water tanks - aluminium or fibreglass?

Our Belize No 29 from 2001 have aluminium tanks and looks in perfect condition on the outside that's visible when removing the plywood panel covers.
I have never added anything but clean tapwater in the tank and only once flushed out some gunk a few years back, believe that was because I do not use a filling filter.

One thing to be aware of is to check the gas line above the port tank. Ensure it is properly supported so it will not touch onto the aluminium tank, dissimilar materials issue and a problem with tank corrosion and also wear on the copper gas line can be fatal if it ruptures.

Belize 43 is generally a very well built boat in my opinion and we have now lived onboard for nearly 2 years and have had no major issues and actually no minor either come to think of it!

Happy lead free sailing from Lucky
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Old 27-03-2017, 10:49   #12
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Re: Water tanks - aluminium or fibreglass?

Our Belize hull #91 has plastic water tanks....
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Old 27-03-2017, 11:07   #13
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Re: Water tanks - aluminium or fibreglass?

I had a large aluminum access port on a water tank. It grew some real ugly grey slime on it from the aluminum. Hung down in stalagtite like things. Never again.... I aint drinkin that!
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Old 27-03-2017, 12:00   #14
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Re: Water tanks - aluminium or fibreglass?

Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Corrosion from within isn't the only problem with aluminum water tanks. Unless they are properly suspended, if they sit in damp or wet places numerous pin holes can develop, causing leaks and destroying the tank for any practical use.

Years ago I had to replace a 100 gal aluminum water tank for exactly that reason.

Bottom line: aluminum is definitely not the material of choice for water tanks on a boat.

Bill
Having had alum water tanks (and fuel tanks) for 30 years, the biggest threat is not from within if treated properly, its from the outside. They cannot be sitting flush on wet or damp wood or fiberglass. Plastic or alum spacers need to be used to separate from wood where possible. A dry and well ventilated area is needed. And any contact with salt water must be flushed with fresh water regularly and left to open air or dried with fans. I know people who have covered their alum tanks with epoxy resin to keep water from reaching the metal.
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Old 27-03-2017, 17:18   #15
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Re: Water tanks - aluminium or fibreglass?

Yes they are aluminium unfortunately hull #57 .
I had mine replaced in a 2002 Belize 43 Maestro with PE-HWU tanks like these in Marmaris a couple of years ago..


Info Simona PE here



Info Tek Tanks here

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