Aluminum fuel tank - installing an inspection plate - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 02-24-2009
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Aluminum fuel tank - installing an inspection plate

Ahoy

I want to install an inspection plate in my aluminum fuel (diesel) tank. This means, of course, cutting a hole in it. There is an undetermined amount of diesel in the tank. I also wish to drill a hole in the tank for a depth gauge. (I might put the depth gauge through the inspection plate - still thinking about that.)

I do not wish to become a statistic.

I will be using a hole saw, a hack saw and a jig saw with a blades for cutting aluminum.

Is this likely to "go boom!"??

I would like suggestions first and foremost from someone who has done this.

Thanks

Rik
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Old 02-24-2009
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Ok- I will offer this up with every disclaimer known to man or beast - try this at your own risk!!!!!!

After re-powering a few years ago and replacing the ss fuel tank, the new tanked leaked #!%#4!! To get the leaking tank out I had to cut it into with a small amount of fuel already in it. On the advice of the tank builder I dropped some dry ice in the the tank. The resulting cloud of CO2 gas eliminated the oxygen necessary for combustion. It worked as I did not explode though as I was lying practically upside down in a sail locker next to the tank and was having trouble breathing because - duh - the oxygen for me was being displaced as well!!! I was using an offset grinder and a very coarse wheel so lots of sparks but no flames.

Good luck and you did not hear this from me - don't try this at home - not for use by children - not responsible for pretty much anything - by the way are you a lawyer?? Then forget I said anything.
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  #3  
Old 02-24-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harryhoratio View Post
On the advice of the tank builder I dropped some dry ice in the the tank. The resulting cloud of CO2 gas eliminated the oxygen necessary for combustion.
OK - other than dropping some dry ice down the diesel fill hole - how do I get it into the tank when I have not yet cut the inspection hole?

Is this a chicken or the egg question???

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Old 02-24-2009
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I can't honestly remember how I got it into to the tank but I assume it was down the fill pipe because there was no access to an inspection plate on that tank.

I do not think you will be producing sparks with a hole, hack or jig saw if you cut slowly. Remember that lots of metal cutting operations use a light oil to lubricate the cutter and don't have to many fires!

All I can say is it worked for me even in the rain of sparks the grinding wheel on stainless produced.

Again - Good Luck!
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Old 02-24-2009
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go to your local paint ball store and get a bottle of co2 for a paint ball gun. they probably would rent you one with a hose and valve, you might need to put a deposit on it. then you just put the hose down the fill, clog it with a rag to seal the hose slightly. then crack the co2 valve, you should be able to get a good burst to purge then a constant bleed for 15 mins out of a 20 oz bottle. cost should be under 10 to 15 bucks if you can rent it.
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Old 02-24-2009
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I just cut up my aluminum fuel tank this past weekend.

After consulting the resident experts here at Sailnet, and yet still with considerable hesitation, I took a cutting wheel to my tank. I needed to cut my leaking tank out to replace with a new one, and it doesn't fit through the lazarette.

Although the fire extinguisher was right next to me, ready to shoot if needed, I was greatly relieved when I found that the fuel did NOT ignite, despite lots of sparks inside and outside the tank.

So, if it's diesel, cut that sucker, and don't worry.
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Old 02-24-2009
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I realize that many people here have cut holes into fuel tanks BUT you should also realize once you do the tank certification is useless


And you do have to work hard to light up diesel but it can happen as there are still VOC fumes in the tank
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Old 02-24-2009
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The CO2 bottle idea is a great one.
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