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post #1 of 7 Old 03-28-2010 Thread Starter
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New Diesel Tank -- 90 degree bend

My 30 year old aluminum tank has decided to leak. At least it did it in the winter, instead of the sailing season. I have emptied it, so it is no longer leaking, but I have yet to pull it. Assuming it is beyond repair, I've started looking for solutions. The original vendor will make me a brand new identical aluminum tank (20 gal) with new level sensor for $300 delivered. I'm not keen on aluminum, with corrosion issues. Moeller will make me a brand new plastic tank, with level sensor, in the same dimensions, for $175 delivered. Almost a no-brainer.

The only problem is the fill pipe. My current fill pipe comes out of a 90 degree elbow, avoiding the cockpit sole 8 inches above the tank. The Moeller tank is fitted with a hose barb pointing straight up. They (Moeller) don't have any recommendations.

Anyone have any thoughts? Cap it and put in some sort of new elbow fitting? Does anyone make a fuel rated "street ell" (a rubber hose over the existing barb, with a tight 90, and a new barb horizontal?) Or perhaps move my fill to the cockpit sole? Are there any other good vendors besides Moeller? Or, stop over-thinking it and buy the damn aluminum tank -- if it only lasts half as long as the new one, I won't still own the boat then!

Harry
'79 Sabre 34
Annapolis
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post #2 of 7 Old 03-28-2010
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Just buy the aluminum tank. I have smelled more than one roto-molded tank permeate despite the claims that they don't and can't..?

Besides they get filthy and need periodic replacement if you can't get to all the chambers to clean them..


These tank walls should be silver not black and they gunk in the bottom should not be there.. This tank, like yours, was 31 years old before it leaked...

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post #3 of 7 Old 03-29-2010
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I'd second what Maine Sail said about getting the Aluminum tank. One other point is that plastic fuel tanks tend to swell a bit and that could be a problem if the tank space is that tight.

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post #4 of 7 Old 03-29-2010 Thread Starter
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Ya know, there are a handful of people on here whose opinion, at least for me, counts for extra votes. So, this question has exactly two responses (so far), both from that class of members, both against my plan. Sounds like I should do a little serious reconsideration -- I think I'm likely to get an aluminum tank.

Thanks for the input, guys!

Harry
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post #5 of 7 Old 03-29-2010
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Make sure that the tank is mounted to minimize the chances of water sitting on the tank or having the tank sitting in water... mixing water and an aluminum tank is what causes most of the pinholes in a tank.

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post #6 of 7 Old 04-07-2010 Thread Starter
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Well, the tank is out. Not a terribly bad job -- less than two hours, once the fuel was out of it. And, no destructive access issues, which is a plus.

The tank corroded through from the outside. I have about 4-6 areas less than a nickle in size, that are deeply pitted. Some are under the neoprene insulator strips (including the one that leaked), but at least 2 are NOT under the strips -- must be areas that moisture dripped. One of those is so deep that I was able to work my pick through, so it was just a bad day away from leaking there as well.

A question -- since most of the tank actually looks good, is this fixable? I would give it a more thorough inspection before I took any action, but I suspect that these spots could, at least in theory, but ground out, and welded up. Maybe not good for another 30 years, but would it be good for 15? And how much less than the new $300 tank would it be?

Another question -- how to keep this from happening again? Not that I expect to be worried about it 30 years from now! The corrosion in the areas that have no contact with anything are the challenge. Can the entire tank be sanded and painted?

Harry
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post #7 of 7 Old 04-07-2010
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Yes, tanks can be repaired but usually it is wiser to simply build a new one. I am not aware of any tank supplier that will recondition old tanks and there are not a lot of welders out there good enough to do the job right. I actually learned aluminum welding for the purpose of building race gas tanks since we needed custom tanks and could not find any local welders who were good enough. Welding aluminum is not super hard but at least around here, the good welders are not working for the local shops and they don't take on projects like this on the side.

To do it right, they will need to put a lot of time into cleaning, figuring out what grade the old aluminum was, cutting, grinding, welding, pressure testing, more grinding (for most local welders at least), etc.

I don't see there being a huge upfront cost advantage to fixing the old tank and there certainly isn't a long run advantage if you plan to keep the boat for a long time.
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