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post #21 of 22 Old 09-26-2011
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New Fuel Tank

I had an aluminum fuel tank in my boat that developed pinholes in the bottom because it sat on wooden stringers that were damp. The combination of water and lack of air circulation caused the accelerated porosity. Luthers Metal Fabrication of Bristol, RI made a new tank using thicker gauge aluminum with similar metal fittings and clear coat epoxy, so the tank should outlast me. It cost about $400, but that's better than being fined by DEM, if your automatic bilge pumps the diesel overboard. They suggested I use 5200 to attach a high tec plastic used as spacers on the bottom to provide adequate air circulation, which I did. However, an over zealous shipwright that helped me tab in the new cradle decided to inject foam around the cradle, which killed the air circulation part of the repair. I wasn't present for that part of the repair.
The biggest problem was getting the old tank out and new one in. I had to use a couple of 4x4 beams over the companionway with a chain and come-along to lift the motor up and into the cabin. That was the only way to get the old tank out without cutting fiberglass. Then I just put in new motor mounts with the reinstall. Hope this helps.
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post #22 of 22 Old 09-27-2011
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Originally Posted by emoney View Post
Take it out, put in a new one. Anything else is temporary
There is nothing temporary about a FRP fuel tank or lining. The first lining I installed in a leaking tank was in 1983 and it's still doing well. I've built numerous FRP fuel tanks since that time and have NEVER had a failure. Our record for steel, stainless steel, and aluminum tanks is not nearly so good; at 7-20 years leaks become common place, either from bacterial attack on the inside or corrosion on the outside. Inside attack is far more common and more troublesome, and I would bet most of the failures we hear about are in part internal attacks (the reason is external corrosion tends to be distributed, while bacteria drill holes). I am a licensed API tank inspector and have inspected thousands of tanks.

The trick is doing a good job. Surface prep has to be good. The inside surface must be smoothed of all sharp weldments. In a dynamic environment like a boat, the FRP must be sufficient to stand alone, 1/8- to 1/4-inch as previously suggested, with extra tape in the corners. West system products are good, but for the final veil (resin-rich inside coats, one with light cloth or scrim, one neat) you can find oil-specific tank products on-line. While not too difficult, this is not a good first project!

It takes a big opening. Whether this is easier than replacement is variable.

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