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Old 03-03-2013, 23:44   #286
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Re: Nauticat 52 Refit

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Originally Posted by Exile View Post
Sounds perfect for the children, along with us childish adults of course! In a couple of years, you & your wife will be begging the kids to lend you the keys!


The crew in question. They are hard to argue with...
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Old 04-03-2013, 00:00   #287
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Re: Nauticat 52 Refit

OK, gonna broach a new project for the forum. All you cruisers with big older boats should pay attention to this one. My boat came to me with the original tanks. That's 450 diesel in two tanks, 540 water in two tanks, about 60 holding, and two grey water tanks at about 40-50 gallons each, all of them stainless steel from 1983. Potentially not good, and one of the major projects for this refit. Every single tank on the boat is much too big to be removed. Massive amounts of interior would have to come out, as well as the pilothouse roof. While I have done that on other boats before, I didn't want to get into it here, mostly because of the acres of bookmatched teak paneling in this interior, and the sheer complexity of approaching the job that way. So I pondered for quite some time as to how to approach the issue, then made a plan. Even posted that plan here, with the usual total lack of interest. Hoping some pics will bring the concept home. I know many here could potentially be facing a similar issue at some point, and this was a massive money saver I did all by myself.
We began by carefully inspecting and pressure testing all tanks. Our benchmark was 3 psi for 24 hours. All tanks were bright when cleaned and passed with flying colors, except the grey water tanks, which weren't too bad, and of course the holding tank. A thirty year old stainless steel holding tank is a big problem. It wasn't leaking yet, but there was visible pitting on the exterior at the lowest corner, and I felt it was a ticking time bomb in the bowels of my boat (yuck yuck). It had to go. So aside from the massive plumbing project I will focus on just the holding tank rebuild for a round of pics here.



I will warn you know that a few of the pics to follow are far from pretty, and may permanently mentally scar you if you view them. Some things can't be unseen. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
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Old 04-03-2013, 00:08   #288
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Re: Nauticat 52 Refit

Fwd passage to the forepeak and fwd cabins all masked up and ready. The tank in question is under the floorboards wedged in place between two massive stringers, with athwart ships framing as well to hold it in place. The port longitudinal bulkhead and sliding door to the fwd guest cabin would have to be removed, as well as two major structural bulkheads between here and the pilothouse. This tank is built in, the only way to remove it is saw it up. And the replace with what? Four small tanks that will actually fit down a companionway? Never...
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Old 04-03-2013, 00:11   #289
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Re: Nauticat 52 Refit

You really find out who your friends are when you start sawing up old poo tanks. This guys a trooper. When I took this pic I was double Tyvek suited with big rubber gloves and a respirator. My systems guy says "it's just poo"!
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Old 04-03-2013, 00:17   #290
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Re: Nauticat 52 Refit

The way this tank was designed was moronic. It had a single large inspection plate with all the dip tubes mounted on it. The longitudinal bulkhead was installed right on top of this plate, making it impossible to remove for inspection! I could see where others before me had attempted to carve out a section of timber to get it out. More serious and determined surgery was required.


I will begin to explain the process pic by pic. Here I have made my first cuts. I cut off the entire lid of the tank, leaving a 2" horizontal flange all the way around the edge. The aft edge was more complicated but I'll leave that out unless anyone is interested in more detail.

Yep, that's thirty years worth of poo tank sludge in there, never been opened due to the asinine design! Smelt just great...
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Old 04-03-2013, 00:20   #291
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Re: Nauticat 52 Refit

A closer shot just to drive home the trauma. Sorry if anyone hurled...
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Old 04-03-2013, 00:25   #292
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Re: Nauticat 52 Refit

Then the real fun begins. We hosed, used scrapers taped to a stick, etc. etc. we used the regular plumbing with the hose just stuck in the top of the tank, and an extra length of his jammed in the thru hull in the bottom going to a big plastic trash can. It took numerous trash cans worth of really filthy water to get it clean. Lots of chemicals too. Very traumatic.

Then I suited up and climbed inside. Tight fit. I ground the entire interior shiny. Rust/poo dust is gross.
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Old 04-03-2013, 00:27   #293
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Re: Nauticat 52 Refit

Cleaned up with the flange clearly visible.
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Old 04-03-2013, 00:33   #294
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Re: Nauticat 52 Refit

Now I glass the hell out of the interior of the tank. I use only 24 oz. roving and 1.5 oz matt alternating, in poly resin. This is a very cheap way to build a thick, heavy, strong laminate. Thickness is about 3/8". It takes three lay ups to build up to this. Laminating the underside of the flange is quite tricky, special methods required. First layup here, after grinding for prep.
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Old 04-03-2013, 00:35   #295
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Re: Nauticat 52 Refit

Last layup, with a space heater in the bottom. Not ground yet.
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Old 04-03-2013, 00:38   #296
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Re: Nauticat 52 Refit

Once again ground for prep. The next step begins. I carefully layout a new cut 2" down the vertical sides of the tank. Then I cut through just the steel, barely scoring the glass underneath, using a variety of tools. The Kettsaw is best but a regular cutting disc was good too, as well as the Fein saw for corners.
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Old 04-03-2013, 00:38   #297
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Re: Nauticat 52 Refit

I had to replace an aluminum 55 gal. diesel tank last year so I feel your pain . . . errrrr . . . uhhhh . . . not quite. Now I know it could have been worse, much worse!

Now what??
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Old 04-03-2013, 00:40   #298
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Re: Nauticat 52 Refit

As you can see, removal of the steel flange leaves you with a nice solid fiberglass flange exposed, as well as 2" of fiberglass tank side wall.
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Old 04-03-2013, 00:43   #299
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Re: Nauticat 52 Refit

Sidewall and flange. Note that one of the key technical difficulties here is that no part of the original tank was even close to straight or square.
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Old 04-03-2013, 00:47   #300
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Re: Nauticat 52 Refit

Then I make a thin piece of flat stock, flexible enough to conform to the curves of the original tank but stiff enough to glass to. I bond it in place and then laminate the tank lid in place, wrapping the glass down onto the exposed sidewall with a nice taper. The lid is a bit thicker than the rest, close to 1/2".
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