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Old 27-09-2017, 02:03   #1
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Boat: LeComte Medalist Mk1 33'
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Old Tank in Bilge.

The 55 year old LeComte Medalist that I have on the hard has an old fuel tank its bilge. I just discovered it when grinding back an area of delamination. It is the triangular area just above the rudder. Sorry about the small plan- why are sail plans and hull plans so small on the web?

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The boat originally had an Atomic 4, which was replaced by a far larger Volvo Md2b in 1975. A stainless tank was installed in the bilge, maybe by replacing the forward half of that rectangular shape that was possibly an old water tank, just in front of the engine. The bilge under the engine is filthy with oil deposits and is very inaccessible.

About half a gallon of water and oil came out when I drilled a couple of holes. I've been sucking out as much as I can with a Pela vacuum oil extractor. It is an airtight compartment judging from the vaccumn created by sealing both holes.

Should I just get as much muck as I can, seal the holes and then forget about it? How would oil and water get into an apparently sealed chamber?
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Old 27-09-2017, 05:42   #2
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Re: Old Tank in Bilge.

I've had good luck with using dull chisels to split the tabbing of old tanks off the hull. If the hull is decent thickness.

The blessing of a built in tank, is that most of them are molded and dropped into place rather than built in place, which means that they got decommissioned because they started leaking at their seams, mostly due to poor prep work when they were bonded in. If nobody ran a grinder near where they were bonded, the bond lines normally jump off the hull with a chisel and a hammer.

Then as you peel pieces off you can either punch through and perforate the skins so you can fold them out of where ever they are wedged, which is less dusty... Or run a mini-grinder with a metal cut off wheel over them and cut them into small enough pieces to remove. Where you cant reach with the grinder, a dremel with a cut off wheel works fine.

Cleaning a bilge is a pain in the butt, as it takes a few rounds of washing and scraping. I normally start with scraping up anything loose that can get into a bucket with a plastic putty knife, preferably one with two raised edges so it scoops a bit. Then go over with a box of rags and lacquer thinner with a stainless wire brush from the top down. Work a square foot or so at a time and keep gravity on our side... Be mindful not to pile up your rags.

Then once all the goop and old oil is lifted you can water wash and soap down with Simple Green or degreaser solvent with a soft plastic brush.

Then you can Acetone wipe until you get a clean rag over everything, sand, and paint!

Sometimes it is easier to lay a board across the bilge so you have something to lay on to get an easy working distance rather than trying to be in it... Other times you need a wood dowel and a hose clamp to wrap a rag onto, or an engine parts cleaning brush on a stick to get into the far reaches.

Cheers,

Zach
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Old 27-09-2017, 11:15   #3
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Re: Old Tank in Bilge.

Thanks Zach for the reply. The bilge under the engine is very inaccessible. I can manage to put an arm under it and put a hose of liquid vacuum cleaner down there, but that is it. I can just see inside it only through the flywheel of the MD2b engine. I can just manage to see part of the top of the old tank if I contort myself in the port cockpit locker. So I won't be touching the old petrol [i assume] tank.

The delamination I found, I believe is from water between the fiberglass tank and the hull. All I can do is inject some epoxy with a syringe between the gaps in the 4 inch hole I ground in the hull.
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Old 27-09-2017, 12:10   #4
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Old Tank in Bilge.

Kimtrang I have been in exactly the same situation with my boat.

I played around for a year trying to deal with a bladder tank that had been inserted in the same position you describe in our boat as the smell of old oil and sour water got worse and worse. I tried the vacuum pump idea, positive water pressure and the shop vac.

In the end I gave up and pulled the engine forward and did the job properly and I am so glad I did.

Treat it as a chance to clean up the engine and engine bay at the same time.

FWIW my engine weighs 420 kg (1000 pounds) but I was able to slide it forward on timber rails into the cabin on my own without much trouble. The md2b is only half that weight.
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Old 28-09-2017, 02:51   #5
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Re: Old Tank in Bilge.

Thanks GILow. I don't have a problem with the smell of oil or diesel. Maybe it's because a previous owner lined the drawers and cupboards with aromatic cedar.

I've bought some bilge cleaner and a small long handled deck brush, so I'm hoping I might be able to scrub the bilge under the engine and vacuum it up.

I've been using a Pela 14 litre oil extractor to suck out the oily gunk in the old fuel tank. I have to enlarge the holes I've made to make a repair, so hopefully I can see a little of what's going in inside. I just repair the holes then and forget about it.

I don't want to move the engine because firstly I lazy and secondly the boat isn't worth much, unlike your Swanson, which is incidentally is what I would have looked for (a 36 rather than your 42 though) if I had any money when buying.
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Old 28-09-2017, 03:05   #6
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Re: Old Tank in Bilge.

It does not smell now. It WILL smell eventually. Not of oil or diesel but instead of a horrid vomit like stink of trapped sour water.

Moving the engine is not as hard as it first appears.

But I guess you could try sealing it off if it does not have to last more than a year or two.

I'm kind of gently hinting that I tried to avoid solving this problem and I really could not avoid it forever.

YMMV.
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Old 28-09-2017, 03:16   #7
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Re: Old Tank in Bilge.

How's the access if you were to try a pressure washer or steam cleaner? You might even be able to insert the nozzle from a pressure washer into various access holes in the tank at different locations, & vary the nozzle's angle in order to clean most of the gunk off of the walls of the tank. With everything then draining out of a low point. And perhaps similar methods would work for accessing areas behind & underneath of the engine?

Before you try it though, be sure to seal up anything attached to the engine that's water sensitive. As with some bolt on accessories it doesn't take much water to destroy them. But properly sealed they're fine, & tips for how to do this are in some of the engine cleaning threads here on CF.

Another option may be to seal all but one of the holes in the tank, temporarily. Then fill it with a mix of water & dish soap, or a more potent cleaner, & leave it in there for a bit, allowing the boat's motion & the cleaner's chemistry to do the work. Then drain, rinse, & repeat as needed.
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Old 28-09-2017, 06:12   #8
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Re: Old Tank in Bilge.

UC, I tried that detergent approach. Worked for a while, but eventually the bacteria returned and so did the unholy smell. :^(
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Old 30-09-2017, 18:49   #9
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Re: Old Tank in Bilge.

I'm not really worried about my dirty and inaccessible bilge under the engine at the moment. It is that old fuel tank in the bilge. I've pumped out as gunk as I can from the small hole and have ground the surrounding fibreglass so I can fill in the holes. There is just too much oily sludge inside to be able to clean out, so am letting it dry out as much as possible. I can't wait too long as I need to epoxy the hull while the winter drought we have been having continues.

There is a bit of delamination in this 55 year old hull. It is not readily apparent, but I hoping it is limited to areas where I've found it, like this fuel tank, the hull/lead keel join where there was some water ingress and the water tank in the bow which apparent was unlined.

Thanks UNCIVILISED for this and the other thread where I asked about boom fittings. I thought about putting a steam cleaner up there, but I though it more important to be dry, rather than clean. I've been meaning to post back there with photos, but I've had reaccess my priorities/priority which is getting this boat on the water as soon as possible.
I can sort out rigging, installing winches, varnishing, the MD2B etc etc then.
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Old 30-09-2017, 20:00   #10
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Re: Old Tank in Bilge.

There's a http://www.lecomteowners.com/index.p...&id=67:lecomte site. Although it's quite stale and not actively maintained, it appears, some of the links may lead you to people who still own these boats and may have dealt with such issues. Art Karpf, who could have answered any questions about these boats, is no longer with us, sadly.
Ours (a NE38) is a bit different, and while the tank is also in the deep bilge and the bilge is dirty and inaccessible, it's not under the engine.
A friend of mine has a medalist and his PO relocated the tank to under the cockpit floor, it basically runs across from sail locker to sail locker, reducing usable storage space but not by too much. The trouble with having the tank too deep in the bilge (other than inaccessibility) is that the lift pump has to work too hard, I already burned two out, once the level gets to the bottom of the tank you are lifting several feet to the engine, which is above the salon floor level.
If this was a tank you're trying to get into, how was it filled? Can you get to it through the old fittings somehow?
Anton
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Old 02-10-2017, 03:56   #11
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Re: Old Tank in Bilge.

anton, the old tank is completely inaccessible. I can just manage to see a bit the old take off fittings if I contort myself in the port cockpit locker. I've gotten as much gunk out it as can through a quarter sized hole and have had a heater running overnight to try to dry it out. I'll seal it up tomorrow. The deck access to old tank is still there, but the connecting pipe has been removed.

The current stainless steel tank is just in front of the engine and has good access.

This Art Karpf's old address. Maybe his family still has information. I have decent copies of the sail plan and other stuff including original documation, so I haven't contacted them.

A. LeComte Company, Inc.
101 Harbor Lane West
New Rochelle, NY 10805

Tel.: 914-636-1524
Fax: 914-636-1359
e-mail: LeComteYachts@aol.com

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Old 02-10-2017, 04:37   #12
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Re: Old Tank in Bilge.

Art passed away not so long ago, and his family were not involved in this at all, from what I understand. Lecomte jr took over the marina prior to it, but I wouldnít reach out to him - he doesnít know what heís doing, and in fact he laid off Art when he took over (after Artís running the shop here for decades), a rotten thing to do. And the boats are so old - there are no plans there, from what I understand; Art could explain from his knowledge and memory how things were put together, and thatís about it.
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