Odor elimination on a 1984 NEWPORT N27 - SailNet Community
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 11 Old 11-09-2010 Thread Starter
Junior Member
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 2
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
Odor elimination on a 1984 NEWPORT N27

Hi All: This is my first post. I'm the new owner of a 1984 Newport N27 which is beautiful except for a persistent combination of petroleum/chemical cleaner odor strongest beneath the companionway. As the boat is opened and aired out it dissipates, and I never thought it would be a problem......nothing that a little cleanup and airing out couldn't fix...... until the folks in the next door slip told me that the old owner became too discouraged with the smell and finally dumped the boat. Now I'm very worried...
Let me tell you what I've done to this point in a general cleanup of the boat, determined to cover all bases.... Beginning forward, I removed all old sanitation tubing, including about 7 feet of overboard discharge tubing, diverter valve, and hand pump. NASTY. I removed and completely cleaned the holding tank. I also steam cleaned the holding tank compartment. I replaced all tubing with the fancy $$ "odor-safe" tubing. A minor odor problem reasonably quickly solved.
On to the bilge. Each storage hold inside the cabin has a "downstream" drainage route to the bilge. With a power washer dispensing a diluted Purple Power/clorox/Dawn detergent mixture, I sprayed all of these inaccessible "tunnel" passages alternating with a brushing out with a long handled Christmas tree brush used for drier vents. The filth was amazing!! The bilge itself was cleaned the same way, and I got rid of 'tons' of algae slime and oily residue. I then meticulously cleaned the diesel engine, as well as every square inch of exposed anything in the engine compartment. It looks darn near new. The Purple Power mixture worked very well indeed.
Closing the boat up for the day with a big sense of satisfaction...... returning the next morning..... not the least bit of reduction in the petro chemical odor! Just as intense as ever. SO..... I must need better ventilation. I saw a website hawking a boat/RV ventilation system called CLEAR-AIR. "Guaranteed" to eliminate odors anywhere in the boat by snaking various sized ventilation suction lines to problem areas on the boat, and then collecting them in a 125 cfm central fan unit, finally exhausting outside of the cockpit thru a vent. $695...WAY too pricey for something I could easily build myself. $100 later, I had reverse-engineered this system using a FAN TECH centrifugal fan from EBay and some PVC parts and spa hose from Lowes, I installed it, and ran a 2" ventilation suction line into the engine compartment fuel tank area, another 2" suction line to the aft cabin itself, and a third 1" suction line to ventilate the bilge. The unit runs continuously off shore power ; the cabin air is somewhat better, but the exhaust in the cockpit stinks of this familiar petro/chemical stink to high heaven. There is big time active outgassing somewhere. I'm now convinced that the odor is originating in the area of the fuel tank, but this area is inaccessible; covered up by a plywood
"floor" for an optional unused quarter berth. This plywood is not structural. There may have been a spill of some solvent, cleaning product, motor oil, fuel... years ago; there may be a chronic leak in the fuel or breather hoses, a loose clamp, decomposing fuel sender gasket, who knows? I can't get to it. I'm currently leaning toward removing the quarter berth plywood floor to gain access to the fuel tank area to check it out. I'm even willing to remove/discard the old tank and hoses and relocate a new one to a more serviceable area if it'll end the problem. Any help from your experiences would be really appreciated. I was convinced that all stink has to be finite, but I'm beginning to think the boat is haunted by a stink with a life of it's own, that we may never eliminate.
My wife and I are really frustrated, and I can't imagine we'll ever spend a night aboard her until we get to the bottom of this. It's driving us nuts. If you have read along this far, thanks so much for hanging in with me , RON W Watkins Glen, NY

Last edited by rmwac; 11-09-2010 at 09:59 PM. Reason: misspellings
rmwac is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 11 Old 11-09-2010
Just another Moderator
Faster's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: New Westminster, BC
Posts: 18,865
Thanks: 141
Thanked 513 Times in 487 Posts
Rep Power: 10
It does sound (smell?) like a fuel tank leak - you've "gotten" everything else... wondering why there's no evidence of it in the bilges, though.

However what you describe as a petrochemical odour doesn't sound like a diesel leak... which has its own quite distinctive smell. I could see a gasoline leak creating such strong obnoxious fumes but you mention a diesel engine.

I guess it's time to dig into the tank location and see what's what.


1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"

".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)
Faster is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #3 of 11 Old 11-10-2010
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 324
Thanks: 0
Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts
Rep Power: 11
you don't really have choice other removing quarter berth and possibly sole over tank. air out the boat really well, at least whole day then put your noise to work or better still ask someone who as not been on to come on board and start at companion way using their sniffer to track down area where odor is most intense.
mike dryver is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #4 of 11 Old 11-10-2010
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 41
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
Is there any "plastic" products, foam insulation, or particleboard /wafrboard /manmade wood used to construct an aftermarket project such as refrigeration or climate control? Had some applaince experience in which the plastics took over a year to cure. That odor was chemical.
waterdog52 is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #5 of 11 Old 11-10-2010
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 857
Thanks: 3
Thanked 25 Times in 24 Posts
Rep Power: 17
Thumbs up

If this a Newport 27S model, there are only so many places for an odor to hide.
These were not a large or very complicated boat.
From the narrative, you have already done 90% of the work to clean up the interior. This was work that the prior owner was unwilling to do or have done, and is an unfortunate part of older-boat ownership.
I would not look for a "snake oil" product to somehow magically banish the odor... nothing will ever succeed like eliminating the odor at the source.

You have described a boat that has had continual water leaking in and growing "stuff" everywhere.
I betcha that there are still areas that need to be opened up and cleaned up.

This being a Newport, one thing to double check is the hull to deck joint. I used to know a Capital Yachts dealer and was told that many models had a poor sealing job done on that joint. Result is seeping of rain water and water ingress from spray.

Beyond that, most all production boats lack enough (any?) ventilators on the face of any and all interior sealed compartments to allow free air flow. I have added about ten vents to our interior over the years. We bought an acknowledged "fixer upper" with a lot of mold and mildew from sitting closed up for several years. It took us quite a while to clean up everywhere so that when we opened the hatch there was no longer any odor at all. Nowadays friends comment on how our boat is one of the few with no "boat odor" when they visit.

If you have areas like an aft berth with no access, don't be afraid to simply create a 9" hole in a surface and then install a deck plate to cover it after you clean up the enclosed area. Everywhere that the builders left sanding or fiberglass dust, count on this attracting moisture and then mold and mildew.

You are on the right track. Don't give up!

Last edited by olson34; 11-15-2010 at 10:37 PM.
olson34 is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #6 of 11 Old 11-15-2010
Junior Member
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Irvine
Posts: 18
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
Hello, I own a Newport 28 and went through something similar. When I bought the boat it had holding tank and fuel smells. My wife could stand it. The previous owner used bilge line instead of sanitation from the holding tank to the hull fitting on the boat and the bilge line was leaking into bilge. I replaced this line. I needed a heat gun to soften the lines to make some of the connections and I used double clamps.

I cleaned around the engine and found no fuel leaks around the engine. On the 28 the plywood is loose in the quarter berth and easily removed exposing the fuel tank with fuel inlet, fuel vent, fuel sending unit, and two lines to the fuel filters and engine. The fuel sending unit on my boat was leaking. Tightening the screws 1/4 turn fixed the issue. I may use sealant around the screw threads once the fuel level drops to keep the fuel coming up the screw threads. Have fun.
Donaldpeter is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #7 of 11 Old 11-15-2010
Senior Member
rdstanley's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Chocowinity, NC
Posts: 122
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 11
You may want to check your batteries. A friend of mine had an odor problem that was finally traced to old batteries.

s/v Puggin Along
1988 Catalina 30
Washington, NC
rdstanley is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #8 of 11 Old 11-15-2010 Thread Starter
Junior Member
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 2
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
Hi All: Thanks for the ideas. There are four fiberglass cabin compartments that have no access to the outer hull. So there is "dead space" between inner and outer fiberglass. I'd like to get appropriate sized deck plates and get to each area for a good power washing and airing out. I have also been able to examine the fuel tank connections through the provided tiny inspection cutouts. So far, they appear dry and free of leaks, but I can't get too good of a look yet. I will install a deck plate through the quarter berth plywood to inspect and clean the fuel tank better. I will also have to try to paint the holding tank compartment, as it still has minor odor, despite changing all the single-walled (original? sanitation hoses and installing odor-safe hose throughout. I also eliminated the overboard dump pump, diverter valve, and 6 feet of tubing... What a bear it was to get the stiff new hose connected and double clamped up to the deck pumpout fitting!!! My arm was buried to the elbow thru the miserable little 6" x 6" access door. Heat gun and a rub of dawn detergent on the fitting got it done... Even though I thoroughly scrubbed the holding tank compartment to death with Purple power/clorox/dawn mixture, there must still be matter absorbed into the glass. Maybe Bilgekote or another marine paint will render the area finally sealed and odor-free??
rmwac is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #9 of 11 Old 11-16-2010
Senior Member
QuickMick's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: California
Posts: 1,381
Thanks: 0
Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Rep Power: 8
after a good scrubbing of the storage spaces under the settee i hit them with this and it did a find job:

How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean ~ Arthur C. Clarke

Quinn McColly
Macgregor Venture
QuickMick is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #10 of 11 Old 11-16-2010
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: St. Augustine Florida
Posts: 220
Thanks: 0
Thanked 10 Times in 10 Posts
Rep Power: 9
I think that the foam in cushions begins to break down after many years of exposure to air and other polutants that you are talking about. Before spending money and time cutting the boat apart you could try removing all the cushions from the boat and let it air out, wipe the surfaces down where they were and then see if the smell is reduced or gone. worth a try anyway.

mitchbrown is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook

Quick Reply

By choosing to post the reply above you agree to the rules you agreed to when joining Sailnet.
Click Here to view those rules.

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the SailNet Community forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
Please note: After entering 3 characters a list of Usernames already in use will appear and the list will disappear once a valid Username is entered.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Head odor waterwks4me Gear & Maintenance 26 10-17-2010 04:01 PM
odor on cushions alan_21_us Gear & Maintenance 31 06-02-2009 08:01 AM
Head odor ebs001 Gear & Maintenance 9 01-26-2007 11:14 AM
Odor Control Kathy Barron Gear and Maintenance Articles 0 09-02-2003 08:00 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome