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  #1  
Old 04-01-2010
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30Irwin is on a distinguished road
Don't need no stinkin' fuel tank!

I've had a mysterious diesel leak in my '78 Irwin Citation sailboat for some time. I've been working my way through fittings, hoses, and ended up suspecting it was a leak in the tank itself. Unfortunately the tank was all glassed into the port settee so it was impossible to check it out without some serious surgery. It became more of an urgent matter when I realized fuel was actually osmosing through to the topside of the locker hatch lid! Every week a sheen of fuel would build on the lid--we had to get in there to see what was going on.

Well, I left the tough stuff to the shipwright and over a couple of days they removed all the glass matting around the edges of the hatch, plus the 40 or so screws, plus the calking... until they had to cut out the hatch. Then guess what? NO FREAKIN! GAS TANK!!! It's just a fiberglass settee locker full of fuel!!! There was a small bulkhead in the middle acting as a bellows I guess, to keep the fuel from sloshing. And there were supply and return fittings as well as the filler pipe. But there was no tank. It was clear that after 30 years the hatch lid had become permeated with fuel and with a full tank, was leaching through the wood and glass to the outside.

I find this incredibly strange/cheap/dangerous, that the manufacturer designed this inaccessible, unserviceable, fuel storage inside the main cabin. The Citation line is supposed to be the deluxe Irwin model, and everything about this old sailer is definitely better engineered, and of higher quality. So I scratch my head, as we cut out this 'fuel locker' and prepare to put a proper tank in its place!

Anyone experience something like this?
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  #2  
Old 04-02-2010
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LOL... I've heard of some bizarre stuff.. but this one is near the top of the list now....

Are you sure that it wasn't designed to be a fiberglass fuel tank???

Many boats were built with fiberglass fuel tanks. This caused a huge problem when the ethanol-blend fuels were introduced, at least on the gasoline-fueled boats, as some of the resins used were not compatible with ethanol and caused massive engine fouling and such.
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Old 04-02-2010
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I have fiber glass tanks built into the hull in the bilge...no issues....Im careful to not take on bio diesel....aluminum and steel tanks all get leaks eventually as well.
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Old 04-02-2010
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That is true - biodiesel will dissolve resins not designed specifically for it. That means all older fiberglass tanks should not have biodiesel in them.
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Old 04-02-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stillraining View Post
I have fiber glass tanks built into the hull in the bilge...no issues....Im careful to not take on bio diesel....aluminum and steel tanks all get leaks eventually as well.
Thanks, SD, Still and Brian, we have a f/g fuel tank and I was unaware of this limitation.... good to know. (not that I had a strong desire to chug around smelling like a deep frier..... )
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Old 04-02-2010
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As sd said. You're yet another victim of Archer Daniels Midland and the big agrobusiness companies, trying to tell us that ethanol is a good thing. It isn't. And many engines lose performance (mpg and hp alike) making the "normal" E10 blend at the gas station a cruel hoax.
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Old 04-02-2010
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HS—

AFAIK, ALL ENGINES LOSE MPG with any form of ethanol blend gasoline. Think about it. Ethanol is an octane booster and fuel oxygenator... it contains an OOH group, since it is an alcohol...this means that some of the Carbon and Hydrogen in the fuel has been replaced by Oxygen...which the engine used to get from the atmosphere, and Oxygen doesn't contribute any energy to the fuel.... it's deadweight in the fuel.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
As sd said. You're yet another victim of Archer Daniels Midland and the big agrobusiness companies, trying to tell us that ethanol is a good thing. It isn't. And many engines lose performance (mpg and hp alike) making the "normal" E10 blend at the gas station a cruel hoax.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 04-02-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 30Irwin View Post
Anyone experience something like this?
Yes, many manufacturers and owners will make "fiberglass" tanks and often they are little more than what you describe.

For years when I heard the term "Fiberglass tank" I thought they were separate tanks but as one person pointed out why do that? It would only create a double walled tank and that is wasteful and not needed.

I have seen water, holding and fuel tanks "built in". They last for many years, as you found out but often contribute to the early death of the boat. I know of at least one case where the water tank damaged the fiberglass on the inside while water was also damaging the outside. So much repair was needed in the area that the boat was not repaired.

I think it is safe to say that whenever the term "fiberglass tank" is used one can assume it is little more than what you found until you discover otherwise.
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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
... making the "normal" E10 blend at the gas station a cruel hoax.
And an expensive one paid for with tax dollars. Most, or rather all at this point, of these bio-fuel plans are little more than a hoax to get tax dollars and force others to buy a product that causes more damage to the enviroment than the option it replaces and often takes food from starving or marginal people.
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Old 04-02-2010
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And just to pile on here a little here, in their day, Irwin Citations were considered to be the better sailing of the Irwin lines, but no Irwin of that era was considered well engineered or well constructed. In thier day, Irwins were value oriented boats, basically the Hunters of their day. In fact even Hunters of this period were considered better built and better engineered. I still like these boats as coastal cruisers, but I would hard time refering to them as well built.

While fiberglass fuel tanks existed back then and are still used for water tanks even today, FG tanks were always seen as a sleezy solution. They are especially sleezy when they are not molded independent of the hull and interior appointments.

Of course the worst set of fiberglass tanks that I ever saw was on a houseboat, where they had taken a fiberglass kiddy pool. slattered the edges with caulk and screwed a lid on it. That tank eventually split and I helped replace it. We had a very hard time keeping a staight face after we cut the lid off and saw the star fish and seahorse design molded into the surface of the tank.

Good Luck,
Jeff
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