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Old 24-03-2014, 03:55   #1
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I got the leakin fuel tank blues...

So it looks like I have a slow weeping leak in my SS tank. Diesel slowly builds up around the tank between it and it's compartment and gradually finds it's way to the bilge. Need to double check the inlets and outlets to the tank in case that is the cause but looks like a leak to me.

Tank is approx 100 liters and is located under the starboard quarter berth. Not the original tank I don't think and I can see old disconnected fuel lines to the old tank in the keel.

This tank just seems to be sitting in its compartment held in with nothing more than some hard foam looking stuff. This foam has the colour and look of honeycomb. I have seen stuff like it that you spray from a can. It is hard to see though as there is not much room between the sides of the tank and the bulkheads etc.

Would this be the only material holding it in place or will there be some brackets down there somewhere?

What is this mystery material and how the hell do I get the tank out when I can't even really get to the sides?

Can it be dissolved safely?

Does it mean just biting the bullet and cutting the surrounding timber away to get some access and just getting whatever blade I can underneath the break the bond or do I take the tank out one bit at a time (cut it up)?

And finally, if it comes out in one piece is it worth repairing the tank or replace completely?

Aluminum or stainless replacement?

Man, the to do list just keeps on giving.

Thanks for any assistance.

Winf
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Old 24-03-2014, 04:13   #2
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Re: I got the leakin fuel tank blues...

Is this the foam-like material?

http://weber.fi.eu.org/blog/images/P...foam_panel.jpg

The foam in the picture is the same stuff sold in all DIY stores to fill up gaps between doorframes and such before finishing. It's also a great insulator and is used to insulate buildings and boats alike.

In either case, that filled tank would weigh quite a bit, and its simply impossible any type of foam/glue would be trusted to hold it in place in rough seas. If anything, it would be well secured in the wooden "cradle" you talk of cutting away. Any other attachment points might well be hidden inside the foam though if it looks like it's sprayed in.

Assuming you can find the leak, fixing it won't be too big a concern I think, but I'm sure more knowledgeable people will give you their take on the situation any minute now
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Old 24-03-2014, 04:43   #3
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Re: I got the leakin fuel tank blues...

Lacquer thinner will dissolve the bond..... BUT is quite dangerous both from a fire/explosion and inhalation risk. Were it I, I would mechanically release as much as possible, and only resort to chemical once all possible sources of a spark were removed (including steel tools and static electricity) and appropriate ventilation and respiratory protection were in place (not to mention insurance policies paid up LOL)
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Old 24-03-2014, 04:58   #4
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Re: I got the leakin fuel tank blues...

Boy this is going to be a bugger to get out!

I'm with cap geo on this one... use the solvent method as a last resort...

Show us a pic if you can, but I'm betting you need to cut access for both the picture and to remove it...
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Old 24-03-2014, 05:59   #5
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Re: I got the leakin fuel tank blues...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orchidius View Post
Mine is more golden yellow than that with distinct air bubbles. I"ll try to snap a pic tomorrow.
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Old 24-03-2014, 09:38   #6
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Re: I got the leakin fuel tank blues...

Diesel tanks should be aluminum, not stainless.
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Old 24-03-2014, 15:24   #7
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Re: I got the leakin fuel tank blues...

Cut a bigger access panel and coat with a tank sealer if you want to prolong life instead of replacing.

Gas Tank Sealer - Gas Tank Liner - Diesel Tank Sealer - Fiberglass Tank Sealer
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Old 24-03-2014, 15:36   #8
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Re: I got the leakin fuel tank blues...

You should be able to cut the foam readily....? I cant think of a good reason a tank under a quarter berth should be leaking.... should be dry under there. If not.. neither aluminum or SS are any good.
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Old 24-03-2014, 15:47   #9
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Re: I got the leakin fuel tank blues...

The foam sounds like pour-in-place polyurethane. If diesel has soaked into this, it should be removed. It's easy to cut with a handsaw and other woodworking tools, like Sureform. And it sands off with coarse paper.

With the abandoned fuel lines, it sounds like a DIY job had been done. So it is a likely candidate to remove, then do it right. That's a pretty small tank, so it won't be too expensive to replace, if that's necessary.
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Old 24-03-2014, 16:03   #10
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Re: I got the leakin fuel tank blues...

you can try popping it out if there is enough clearance .. using a crowbar to get leverage somehow. i did this with my old tank that was foamed in place and it came out pretty easily. still had to cut it up to remove it from the boat. mine was 26 gallons too.
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Old 24-03-2014, 16:28   #11
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Re: I got the leakin fuel tank blues...

Sometimes with small tanks like that you can use a chain hoist to pull the tank, then just clean up the foam with a chisel and sandpaper.
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Old 24-03-2014, 16:39   #12
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Re: I got the leakin fuel tank blues...

Sadly that expanding foam sticks to stuff like "weetabix to a blanket". Even worse if the tank sides are slightly concave as the pressure built up when it expanded.

A garden spade with brute force and ignorance might be the only approach as the tank will have to come out or the boat will forever stink of diesel.

I had to do something similar:
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Old 24-03-2014, 16:58   #13
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Re: I got the leakin fuel tank blues...

[QUOTE=minaret;1501014]Sometimes with small tanks like that you can use a chain hoist to pull the tank, then just clean up the foam with a chisel and sandpaper.[/QUOT

The tank is probably foamed in place with two part pour in stuff. Easy to saw but a bitch get at. Sticks really well and really really tenacious to pry tank out without cutting through most of the foam, btdt. Bad idea to use this stuff around a tank. Water inevitably seeps in and the tanks rot out. Good luck
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Old 24-03-2014, 17:29   #14
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Re: I got the leakin fuel tank blues...

Steel boats are just really big tanks. When insulated with sprayed in place foam it is best to keep it dry. If you get a topside leak it can ruin your whole month. Or two.

Am there, doing it. REALLY sucks.
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Old 24-03-2014, 18:06   #15
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Re: I got the leakin fuel tank blues...

Thanks for all the responses. I will start some exploratory foam removal and see what I can see.

Quote:
Originally Posted by minaret View Post
Cut a bigger access panel and coat with a tank sealer if you want to prolong life instead of replacing.

Gas Tank Sealer - Gas Tank Liner - Diesel Tank Sealer - Fiberglass Tank Sealer
I was thinking of something like that too minaret. What is the best method to cut the stainless? Drain, clean and rinse tank then use something like a jigsaw or reciprocating saw? Also, any experience with the effectiveness of that sealer? I imagine it would be all about getting the prep right before application?

Thanks

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