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Old 11-10-2011, 13:00   #16
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Re: 25 Year-Old Steel Fuel Tank - What to Do ?

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I'm having the same issue with the boat I've just bought....... only mine has sprung the leak. Believe me, you don't want a bilge full of diesel - I'm not sure if I'm ever going to be able to get rid of the smell!
The smell will go away but only very gradually. Everything porous should be removed and a citrus-based cleaner lavished on all surfaces. Just clean, clean, clean. (I ended up with a bilge full of diesel sloshing from stem to stern under the sole. Ruined numerous mooring lines -- they don't wash well -- and cost many hours of remediation. A split tank is definitely not worth it, just to get another trip of two out of the tank!) Then an air freshener for a couple of years and all will be well (or at least much better than now).
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Old 11-10-2011, 13:13   #17
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Re: 25 Year-Old Steel Fuel Tank - What to Do ?

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My tank's bonded in so (because there's plenty of room in there) I'm just going to sit a plastic tank next to it for the time being.
Any experience with inserting a flexible diesel tank inside an older metal one? I'm considering this for our boat. Obviously I'll lose some volume, but that's not a problem since our other tank is 89 gallons. I'd use it for storage only, and siphon to the primary tank as needed.
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Old 11-10-2011, 13:30   #18
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Re: 25 Year-Old Steel Fuel Tank - What to Do ?

if the tank is 25 years old and rusting it should be replaced .. it will really get ugly if it leaks into the bilge. the cost of a new tank may not be the problem .. getting it into the boat can be a challenge .. and you may need to cut the old one in pieces to get it out. good luck.
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Old 11-10-2011, 13:53   #19
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Re: 25 Year-Old Steel Fuel Tank - What to Do ?

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The smell will go away but only very gradually. Everything porous should be removed and a citrus-based cleaner lavished on all surfaces. Just clean, clean, clean. (I ended up with a bilge full of diesel sloshing from stem to stern under the sole. Ruined numerous mooring lines -- they don't wash well -- and cost many hours of remediation. A split tank is definitely not worth it, just to get another trip of two out of the tank!) Then an air freshener for a couple of years and all will be well (or at least much better than now).
Thank you! It's a relief to know it'll go away.......... eventually!

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Any experience with inserting a flexible diesel tank inside an older metal one? I'm considering this for our boat. Obviously I'll lose some volume, but that's not a problem since our other tank is 89 gallons. I'd use it for storage only, and siphon to the primary tank as needed.
Nope, a flexible fuel cell was one of my first ideas (I used to work in motorsport) but a friend in the know assures me they are expensive. I haven't checked this myself but he is usually a good source of information....

If you can remove the tank then there are products that may work (depending on how bad it is)..... heard good things about this stuff..... linky
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Old 11-10-2011, 14:04   #20
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Re: 25 Year-Old Steel Fuel Tank - What to Do ?

I had to take 80 gallons of diesel out of the tank at one point, to do some work on the delivery valve. A mechanic brought over his system; a large pump, a barrel and a couple of Racor's. Pumped it all out and when the work was done, filtered it all back in.
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Old 11-10-2011, 14:11   #21
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Re: 25 Year-Old Steel Fuel Tank - What to Do ?

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Any experience with inserting a flexible diesel tank inside an older metal one? I'm considering this for our boat. Obviously I'll lose some volume, but that's not a problem since our other tank is 89 gallons. I'd use it for storage only, and siphon to the primary tank as needed.
Can't imagine why you'd want to that except that the plastic tank won't corrode and the outer metal tank will be a safety catch-all, IF you know the inner tank has chafed a hole in itself . And unless you secure the inner plastic tank it will surely chafe!
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Old 11-10-2011, 14:40   #22
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Re: 25 Year-Old Steel Fuel Tank - What to Do ?

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Can't imagine why you'd want to that except that the plastic tank won't corrode and the outer metal tank will be a safety catch-all, IF you know the inner tank has chafed a hole in itself . And unless you secure the inner plastic tank it will surely chafe!
Good point. Chafe will obviously have to be addressed. I don't see that as much of a hurdle. The benefits of not removing an integral tank seem worth it.
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Old 11-10-2011, 14:43   #23
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Re: 25 Year-Old Steel Fuel Tank - What to Do ?

Maybe if you could somehow get something like this in there??

Fuel bladder
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Old 11-10-2011, 14:56   #24
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Re: 25 Year-Old Steel Fuel Tank - What to Do ?

25 pretty old. I would start thinking of a replacement unless the thing can be tested and found not guilty.

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Old 11-10-2011, 15:23   #25
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Re: 25 Year-Old Steel Fuel Tank - What to Do ?

Just pressure test the tank, if you don't have a leak you're set to go. Drain the fuel and put it back in through a filter funnel.
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Old 11-10-2011, 15:36   #26
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Re: 25 Year-Old Steel Fuel Tank - What to Do ?

25 year old aluminum diesel fuel tank mounted on a platform should be OK. If it were embedded in foam I would be concerned but on a dry platform, again it should be OK.

With being just in the offering stage of buying and not knowing the 'rest of the story' I would think there are other issues to focus on like rigging and thru-hulls.

For my trip home I would employ two 6 gallon jerry fuel cans. Transfer what I could (via the fuel pick-up) of the 15 +/- gallons into the two JFC's, plumb a feed and a return from one and when fuel gets low, tranfer my feed & return to the second one. By removing only a portion of what is in the original primary tank you will not be picking up any unwanted contaminates from the bottom. The head pressure and potenial of any leaks in the primary tank will be reduced until you get a chance to check it out. The two JFC's will allow you to monitor your actual fuel usage per hour for future reference.

If the old fuel looks questionable when you transfer it, maybe give it a shock treatment or even blend it with some fresh fuel.
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Old 11-10-2011, 15:38   #27
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Re: 25 Year-Old Steel Fuel Tank - What to Do ?

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Just pressure test the tank, if you don't have a leak you're set to go. Drain the fuel and put it back in through a filter funnel.
Square & rectangle tanks test @ 3 psi
Round tanks test @ 5 psi
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Old 11-10-2011, 17:38   #28
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Re: 25 Year-Old Steel Fuel Tank - What to Do ?

Thank you all for your input. Replacing the fuel tank is already a part of my overall refit budget, but doing it right now is not a part of my larger schedule.

I'm planning on tearing out a bunch of rotten bulkheads and replacing the engine cover this winter which is when I would prefer to replace the tank. I need those bulkheads, in the meantime, to hold the boat together for the delivery. Hence my dilemma.

I would be interested if anyone could post a photo or provide a little more detail about the fittings they used to make a connection to a Jerry Can. This seems like something that could be a really useful set up to anyone regardless of their circumstance.
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Old 11-10-2011, 17:45   #29
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Re: 25 Year-Old Steel Fuel Tank - What to Do ?

I bought a boat with a tank like that. We scrubbed the tank and scrubbed right through the bottom. Swiss cheese. I'd either buy a small plastic tank for the trip or replace the tank now, if I had the time & money.
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Old 11-10-2011, 17:49   #30
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Re: 25 Year-Old Steel Fuel Tank - What to Do ?

I mean everyone already has a Jerry Can right? It's like a mini fuel tank you already own. Not a bladder I have to go out and buy.

Someone earlier mentioned heat from the return line possibly being an issue. Is it really? West Marine offers below-deck polymer tanks for use with both gas and diesel. So why not a plastic jerry fuel can?
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