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Old 23-03-2011, 22:57   #1
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Bought a new boat, what next?

Bought a used boat that has been unused in the water for about two years. It has a 40 gallon day diesel tank and a 60 gallon in keel diesel tank. What I really want to do is take it out and sort out what needs to be done. What I am concerned about (first) is the condition of the diesel tanks. There are no inspection covers in the tanks. So do I cut in inspection covers and pump out and clean the tanks? Take it out with a good supply of filters and shake everything up and then pump out the remaining diesel? Not worry about it and see what happens? Boat is located in the upper Puget sound.

Thanks in advance

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Old 26-03-2011, 12:47   #2
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Re: Bought a new boat, what next?

what are the tanks made of? any idea if the tanks were full while it has been standing for that period of time? if they are mild steel then chances are they may have rusted on the inside if they weren't full. i went through this a few years ago too. first thing i did was change all the filters (primary and secondary). then run it for an hour or so at the dock. then take a look at the filters. if clean then try a little trip, something safe, so choose a calm day. then check the filters again. is it a full displacement hull? any way you can rock the boat from side to side dockside to stir things up? if so, do it, then run the engine, then check the filters again. the real test, of course, is to take her out in rough seas. make sure you take plenty of spare filters with you. if the engine(s) dies, switch to new filters (keep the old ones for inspection). you could have rust, diesel bug, dirt, water, or any/all of the above. there are additives to remove the water, to kill the bug, and the filters should get the dirt and rust, but it could take time. you might also want to get the fuel "polished". i've added additives for the bug and water, and after motoring for 50 hours or so in force 6/7 conditions, and making sure that i buy high quality (clean) diesel, the tanks, as evidenced by the filters, seem to be in good shape. i considered cutting them open and installing inspection holes, etc., but went the other way with good results, so maybe worth a try that way before cutting. my advice is to carry lots of spare filters, and know how to change them under way, at sea, in rough conditions.

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Old 26-03-2011, 13:06   #3
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Re: Bought a new boat, what next?

Wow, that's a lot of fuel for a 34 ft boat. You state there are no inspection ports but how are the pickup tubes and return tubes attached to the tank. They are sometimes held down by a plate that is screwed into the tank. If so, you can remove the screws and have an opening large enough to be used to have a service come out and clean the tanks. You can also make your own fuel polisher.

This is one that a friend uses to polish and also to transfer fuel from a jerry can to the fuel tank. It consists of a Racor 500 filter, a used electric fuel pump, some wire to connect the fuel pump to a 12v source, and two hoses. A short hose dumps fuel back into the fuel fill after passing through the filter and a longer hose to lead through a port to pick up fuel from the tank. He also added a cheap pressure gauge to see if the filter was getting plugged. You need to keep the pick up hose as close to the bottom of the tank as you can and move it about a bit to try and vacuum as much sludge of the bottom as you can. He mounted the whole kit and kaboodle in a 5 gal pail just to keep things neat.

When I got my boat the fuel was really foul but being rather new and with stars in my eyes I tried to bring her home anyway. Baaaad decision, that night it got rough and I plugged up two Racor filters. Limped into Ft Meyers and it being a Sunday had to pay a premium for "Sludge Busters" to come down and clean the tanks. Also did complete rebuilds on the Racors.

Good luck,

Edit: In a pinch you can try and push the long hose (grey) down through the deck fitting until its in the tank and then push the short tube ) black just part way down the filler. Not optimal but better than nothing.
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Old 27-03-2011, 09:59   #4
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Re: Bought a new boat, what next?

Thanks for the input from both of you. I am looking for a cheap pump right now. The tanks are aluminum. I think I will pump the crud out of the bottom and then get the boat rocking to stir things up and then pump and filter, Should keep me out of trouble for a few days.
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Old 27-03-2011, 10:29   #5
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Re: Bought a new boat, what next?

That's a lot of might want to measure them, as they might have "grown" over the years between owners. If true, and depending on the boat / intended use I would even consider losing one of the tanks. or replacing with a (smaller) flexible fuel cell.

The odds are that the tanks will each have baffles - every 12 to 18 inches? if you cut an inspection hole you are not guaranteed to be able to reach everywhere inside.

I am not the man to advise anyone on cutting holes in fuel tanks but can be done, and unless reasons not to (from access) then that is the route I would take. Access to a small child or someone with 3 elbows on 12 foot arms would probably be useful as well...........
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Old 27-03-2011, 12:19   #6
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Re: Bought a new boat, what next?

Ironhorse, I know how you feel. I have a home made MS tank, the fuel out let to the engine is drilled into the side of the tank at the bottom edge. Fill and vert are just pipe nipples welded to the tank top, no access plates at all. The fuel has to be 5 years old or more, and its a 40Gal tank.

I plan on draining the fuel, perhaps polishing it, and then pulling the tank to open it up, rearrange the fuel flow pipe and clean out the insides if it isn't rusted out.

He he, that's only one part of this summers workload. Engines coming out too, rudder needs rebuilding, steering pedestal etc. Complete total refurbishment of the engine room.

SV Sabre Dance, Roberts Offshore 38
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Old 29-03-2011, 14:46   #7
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Re: Bought a new boat, what next?

Do they put fuel tanks in keels??, maybe its a cooling system tank?? Red

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