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  #1  
Old 10-04-2009
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tanks in older boats

Is there a practical way of determining the condition, regarding likelihood of developing leaks, of fuel/water tanks in older(20-30yrs) boats during survey? Or is it just a matter of 'you pay your money and take your chances'? I've heard of enough instances of tanks built beneath the sole being heinously expensive to repair/replace that it's got me concerned, since this is the age range of boat that I'm shopping for.
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Old 10-04-2009
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If the tank is sitting in bilge water, chances are it will be a problem. If it's a fresh water boat, maybe less so.
The aluminum fuel tank on my E42 lasted a little over 20 years with the packing gland drip running onto the tank and sitting in other bilge water as well. PO replaced it just before I bought it in 08. I'm just about done getting all water sources stopped. So I should be good for more than another 20 years.
On my boat, estimates have ran as high as $60,000! That was BS. That estimate chose the hardest way possible to replace the tank, by removing the entire engine. It was done for much less than $10,000 with a new stainless steel tank.

One way of checking condition is to try to get a sample of the fuel from the very bottom of the tank and see if it's clean. That won't necessarily tell if the tank is leaking but if the fuel is clean and water-free then the tank likely isn't leaking. If there is crud or water, it may or may not be from a leak.
Hard to say just how easy it would be to pull that kind of sample.
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Old 10-04-2009
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Just plan on replacing it on any boat you my buy. Simple; old = replace. not a matter of if but when. The tank on my boat went when we were planning a trip to the bay last year. only took 2 days to remove the the old out and new in. Any metal tank will have sludge in the bottom unless you get really lucky and find a boat that someone already replaced the tank in. If your buying old boat it's kind of silly to not think your tank/s will leak eventually. (imho)
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