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  #1  
Old 02-16-2010
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USCG diesel tank regulations

I need to replace my fuel tanks. The original steel tanks have developed leaks. I thought to go with stainless tanks, but I am being told that stainless is not approved by the Coast Guard for fuel. Can someone point me to the actual regulations in the CFR? Thanks.
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Old 02-16-2010
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stainless steel, aluminum, fiberglass and plastic are all allowed as long as they meet the standards, New Boatbuilders Home Page - Fuel Systems
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You can build it out of almost anything you like but fuel tanks are an area where the boat owner should be very careful. It isn't just a case of making a mess, like a holding tank, or running out of water in the case of a water tank, or sinking the boat should you run a hose incorrectly.

Fuel has fire and enviromental issues that no one wants to risk as it could take out a whole marina and not even give the crew a chance to escape.

Aluminum is preferred for fuel by many because it is often stronger than plastic.

Plastic is preferred by many because it can be cheaper.

Stainless can be the best choice of all but because it is heavy and expensive most people try to use the thin stuff.

I believe that there is a USCG restriction if using stainless for a gasoline tank. No larger than 20 gallons and it has to be cylindrical with domed ends. No such restrictions on size for diesel tanks. Maybe that is a ABYC standard?

So ask if that is the problem. You can also ask for thicker metal and better, stronger design but that cost dollars.
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Old 02-16-2010
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However, plastic doesn't have the corrosion issues that Aluminum has.
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Old 02-16-2010
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33CFR is for gasoline

I cannot find any mention of diesel tankage in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 33. If anyone knows different, please speak up.

Now, what about ABYC? Do they have standards for diesel tanks? (and don't get me started about them charging exorbitant amounts to read their "standards"--anything safety related should be free for all to study).

Thanks,
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Old 02-16-2010
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If i may jump in here... I am a Heavy Diesel tech and have been for longer than i would like to admit . It seems that opinions are all over the board here.
On a topic of tanks for DIESEL Fuel only.

1)Most are made out of aluminum on modern diesels for heat dissipation and light weight.
We offset the cooling systems by running high volume fuel through the cyl heads to reduce the size of the cooling systems in trucks.
Pro-cons.. corrosion, and condensation are the worst problems. In a large truck etc the heat generated will burn off some of the water the water filter will get the rest..
2) stainless? why? its heavy and will condensate the worst in a boat due to lower temp storage area.
3) plastic is by far the best option. no corrosion, tough, light weight, only slight condensation problem etc. Faced with all options i would stick with a plastic tank.
Just my experience and .02
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Thumbs up Aluminum...

I have always heard that the preferred material for a diesel tank is 5000 series aluminum. AFAIK that's what Coastline used when they built my new tank to my plans. Coastline Equipment, custom marine tanks.
The result was beautiful, FWIW.

For what it's worth, SS would be my choice for drinking water, and of course a rotomolded HDPE tank for waste (human waste is corrosive stuff!).
Ronco Plastics - Marine Water Tanks, RV Water Tank, Auto Detail Tanks, Water Tanks

If you wish I can send the link for the diesel tank replacement project with pictures. It's posted over at Ericsonyachts.org.

Best,
LB
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Last year I replaced a rusty steel diesel tank with a custom stainless one and have no complaints. The new tank has a bottom drain so if there is ever a problem it will be easier to clean. As far as the weight difference between aluminum and stainless there shoulsn't be much as the stainless will be thinner. Both materials work well.
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Old 02-17-2010
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I think its rare to have a drain on the bottom of the tank.
I actually thought that was not allowed for most insurance companies,
Not sure ...just what I remember hearing?
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It is allowed for diesel.
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