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Old 19-03-2019, 13:50   #1
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cutting stainless steel tank - best cutting approach?

I'm in the middle of replacing both fuel + water tanks in my boat. Both were original installed 1979, in Taiwan. I have fully removed the fuel tank which after a bit of trial and error a high quality Milwaukee sawzall blade was the most adept at cutting through the mild steel.

However on the stainless tank, this blade dulls in seconds and doesn't seem viable for removing a 200 gallon tank with lots of baffles. I did investigate picking up a second hand 10 gauge nibbler, but that is about $300-400 for a tool I may not use frequently, although I could resell it.

Any magical sawzall blades I could try? I'm also not close to a Home Depot so 'running into town' to try something else isn't feasible. I think the latest one I was going to try was a carbide dipped 'Diablo' blade.
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Old 19-03-2019, 13:58   #2
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Re: cutting stainless steel tank - best cutting approach?

You would likely be better off using a cutting wheel in an angle grinder.
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Old 19-03-2019, 14:13   #3
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Re: cutting stainless steel tank - best cutting approach?

Plasma cutter from harbor freight.
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Old 19-03-2019, 14:19   #4
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Re: cutting stainless steel tank - best cutting approach?

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You would likely be better off using a cutting wheel in an angle grinder.
Tried that initially but didn't get very far, but something I should try again with thin cut off wheels since I have a bunch in the garage.

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Plasma cutter from harbor freight.
I thought this might be a bad idea once I got closer to the fiberglass hull? Also seems more expensive than the nibbler.
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Old 19-03-2019, 14:21   #5
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Re: cutting stainless steel tank - best cutting approach?

I know everything has a good reason for each owner, but why remove the tank?? Leaking?

Good luck! S/S is a bear to cut.

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Old 19-03-2019, 14:42   #6
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Re: cutting stainless steel tank - best cutting approach?

Not sure if an abrasive blade would work better.. you are using a toothed blade? In the metal shop we only used Abrasive blades, but it does throw a lot of hot spark. I have a Bosch Nibbler that is a wonder if you have a starting edge to work from. Just crunches away making little oblong bites.
Can't rent a nibbler? or a plasma cutter?
Have you considered just removing the top and putting new tank inside it?
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Old 19-03-2019, 14:55   #7
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Re: cutting stainless steel tank - best cutting approach?

Tank has to come out, it leaks, it's old, PO had a bladder in there, total replacement is on the agenda. The boat is in total refit so it doesn't make sense to try and leave it in there as it's also in the way of the other work that needs to be completed.

Yes the abrasive blades are very sparky, in the dry hot weather in a construction zone with lots of oily dirt dust, etc it was a fire hazard. Not so much now - wet and damp. I have made some progress on it just not alot so there are edges to start from with a nibbler if I can track down a heavy duty one. Most of the rental places just have the rinky-dinky ones for 14-16 gauge steel or lighter sheet metal duty.

Never used a plasma cutter before so probably won't entertain that unless I am sure I won't be putting holes in the hull somewhere. Ultimately the bottom of the tank has to be cut into pieces which will be inches or less from the hull, there is very little clearance available. Pieces of the tank could be placed in the path of the cutter though to minimize that risk though.

Since I have the grinder and discs going to give that a shot first and see if I can at least make some progress.
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Old 19-03-2019, 15:03   #8
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Re: cutting stainless steel tank - best cutting approach?

Some times the easiest way to remove something is a major demo..... then repair..

Good luck!
Greg
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Old 19-03-2019, 15:06   #9
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Re: cutting stainless steel tank - best cutting approach?

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Diablo-Stee...4AAOSwRXRbcgTX
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Old 19-03-2019, 15:13   #10
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Re: cutting stainless steel tank - best cutting approach?

Thin cutting disks for grinders are the best way. Most manufacturers even produce specific stainless steel cutting versions.
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Old 19-03-2019, 20:41   #11
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Re: cutting stainless steel tank - best cutting approach?

Find a shop that sells klingspor abrasives and ask for a box of A46-tz special cutting discs. Best disc for s/s (and they are cheap at around $1.10 per disc) my shop goes through a few thousand a year
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Old 20-03-2019, 05:29   #12
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Re: cutting stainless steel tank - best cutting approach?

Plasma cutter if you can access one.
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Old 20-03-2019, 05:38   #13
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Re: cutting stainless steel tank - best cutting approach?

I have never done a stainless tank. I will relate some of my experience over time.

FWIW, Stainless is a PIA. The heat from the cutting action and then a bit of cooling causes the stainless to harden. Learned about this drilling some. Turns out you have to keep on cutting as once you stop it gets hard and you are not going any further.

There are many grades of stainless so your results with vary.

When cutting sheet metal you need to have teeth on the blade at a high enough pitch that you do not have it drop down and take to much off in one try. You also need to slow the sawsall down to its slowest speed. Too fast and it generates too much heat. You will make a smooth section on the blade.

I have lots of trial and error

Carbide blades or cut off wheels. While pricey, the dremel cam lock cut off wheels are strongly recommended to have around. They can do a lot of time saving work in small places. I have not tried using this too much, but I wonder how well one of those vibrating tools with a carbide blade would work. When cutting keep in mind if you can keep the metal being cut from moving then the blades can do more work.

Hope that helps.
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Old 20-03-2019, 07:05   #14
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Re: cutting stainless steel tank - best cutting approach?

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Originally Posted by Reefmagnet View Post
Thin cutting disks for grinders are the best way. Most manufacturers even produce specific stainless steel cutting versions.
That's what we used for all 3 of ours we removed. I did buy a metal blade from Lowes that had like diamond dust on it for cutting metal. I found it worked better than the thin cutting discs. Also, cheap harbor freight discs suck, the wear too fast. They cut a little slower than the name brand ones but they don't last very long.
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Old 20-03-2019, 07:08   #15
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Re: cutting stainless steel tank - best cutting approach?

Oh, just make sure you put blankets around to catch the sparks. If you a lot of the sparks go inside the tank if you cut in the right direction. Click image for larger version

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