Installation of extra internal fuel tanks on a Orion 27
I have been considering adding an extra, internal fuel tank, in the bilge / keel area of my Orion 27 to extend its fuel range. I wonder if anyone else out there has done this in a PSC sailboat, and what type of tank did you use, how did you support it, how did you vent it, how did you supply the fuel to it, and did you have odor issues with doing it? Is this even a good idea? I suspect that since it is low in the sailboat, and along the center line, it wouldn't change the handling chacteristics much and I'm not so sure using jugs attached to the life line stancions outside is much safer. Any thoughts on the idea? I have heard of other manufacturers doing this with fuel and water tanks in the keel, but it doesn't seam popular with a lot of PSC sailboats I have seen for sale, or noted on other forums.
LittleWing, I can't help you there! We left New Orleans to Belize City on less than 15 gallons!! The Orion (as mentioned) are heavy on their own! I DO have a aux H2O Vetus bladder tank fwd for 20 gallons of water. Port side under the V berth boxed between the head and fwd bulkhead under berth. THat doesn't help the sailing but till I can save up for a H2O maker it works.
PSC put the tank in the bilge on the Mk 2 Orion. The Mk 1, like yours, has the tank in the lazarette correct?
I just replaced my tank this year because i figured after 25 years in the bilge, i'd better replace it before it springs a leak. I have quite a few picture of the replacement job, and i'll post them for you later tonight.
The tank in the bilge holds about 22 gallons. I'll reply again later with pics and details.
BTW, are you a member of the Yahoo Orion Group? If not I highly suggest you join. There are alot of owners, and a ton of great info. I know jknight is a member. Anyway, just follow this link and click the "join this group" button. I regularly post pictures and info of my projects on there. It really is a good resource. I'm SVJessicaAnne on the group site.
PSC Orion Group
Thanks for the information. I registered for the Yahoo site, and will have to wait for moderator approval to get access. Yes, my fuel tank is located in the lazarette currently, and before my wife and I try to do some serious coastal cruising for extended periods, we would like to extend its fuel range some.
When Pete approves your access, go to the photo section and look for my "fuel tank replacement" album. There are some decent pics in there of what the job looks like.
Also, please go to the "database" section, click on "Orion Info", then "add record". It's a simple table we have to keep track of some of the actual owners on the group site. It's nothing to crazy, just boat name, hailing port, rig type, tiller or wheel, etc etc.
Fuel Tank in the Bilge
I now have access to your tank replacement pictures on the Orion Group site. Very interesting photos of the internal part of the tank. Was the tank just sitting on those PVC pipes? Were the pipes secured to the bottom of the bilge in any permanent manner? Not sure if that was the original mounting method or not. From the texts and the pictures, I guess this was the second fuel tank, so maybe the previous owner added those. Do you have pictures of the new tank you added? How did you run the new fuel lines? Did you get the replacement tank custom made as suggested in the text, or did you end up buying one already prefabricated? Did you ever have a fuel odor smell with the tank in the bilge?
The tank sits on those PVC pipes to keep it up out of the bilge water that the pumps can't get up (the last drops). I would say they were put in by a PO because the old tank was not origional, it is stamped 1985 (2 years after my boat was made). Another yahoo member (Dick Shaffer aboard Morning Star) had an issue with his origional tank that had a hole in the fuel pick up line. That left him with only a few gallons of working fuel, everything under the hole couldn't get picked up. I don't know if this was a problem with my boats first tank or not... all i know is my first tank was replaced after only 2 years service.
All that info leads me to believe that the pipes are not origional. They aren't fastened in any way, but they don't move around at all. They certainly aren't PSC build quality:D . They don't shift around in the bilge though. There is the weight of the tank, plus the security of the tank hold down (for roll over protection) that keeps pressure on the tank and pipes.
I've never smelled fuel in my bilge.
I ran the new fuel lines the same routes that the old lines ran. This was a little tricky because new fuel lines are thicker OD than older lines.
I had the new tank fabricated to the exact dimensions as the old on. This had to be done because the dimensions of the bilge taper down as you go deeper into the bilge, and they taper down as you go aft into the bilge. This makes for a strange shape. I regret that i didn't measure the new tank before i dropped it in, i was excited to get the job done with.
If you do go ahead with this, make a cardboard mock up until you get the size right. I can't get the dimensions now that the tanks in. Also, if you don't like the PVC pipe idea and you are handy, you could build fiberglass stringers for the tank to sit on and keep it up out of the last drops of bilge water.
Okay, here are some pics with quick descriptions. I'll get some pics of the fuel line runs soon, i just can't find any good ones on my PC right now.
First, here is a pic of the old tank still in. Note the wooden brace (there are actually 2, one already out) that holds the tank down for roll over protection. This also holds it snug down on the pvc pipes. There are also 2 pieces of pressure treated lumber that are as long as the tank is on each side of the tank. These keep the tank from rocking side to side. They are cut to match the contour of the bilge walls so everything is nice and tight. Also, note the space to the left (aft). Keep room so you can access the bilge pumps. I have about 6 to 8 inches space between the aft edge of the tank, and the edge of the bilge access. You don't want to tear the whole boat apart just to replace a bad bilge pump. This space also lets you easily access the fuel supply shut off valve (important to kill a runaway engine).
Here is a blurry pic of the new tank. Note the unusual dimensions. It tapers top to bottom and also taper fore to aft. The welder complained about how many angles it had.
Here is a quick one of the bilge facing aft. This shows the 2 bilge pumps, primary and secondary(higher out of the bilge). Also, behind the two elecs is the pickup for the manual whale pump at the helm. The reason I'm showing this is the block that holds the secondary pump up. If one one the pvc pipes does come loose, it can only shift aft about 6 inches before it meets this. So... the pipes can't get too far.
Now for the fuel lines. All i have now is pictures of the where the lines come into the bilge. This pic is facing aft, for reference. To the right(port side) are the vent, pick up, and return lines. To the left (starboard) is the fuel fill. The fill line actually comes down through a hole in the oil drip pan under the engine. Everything is dressed up well when the tank is in.
This pic show where the fuel fill is. I took this to get dimensions to build a teak cubby to cover the hole left by the PO when they replaced the fill hose. This is facing aft, you can see the companion way to the right, and the elec panel over the icebox to the left (where your nav station is in the "A" layout). The fuel vent and engine raw water anti-siphon vent are nearby. So, if you are at the helm looking into the the companionway, the fill and vents are on the fiberglass step up into the companionway, to starboard. I'll get some exterior shots of this later.
I think i covered most of the questions there. I'll get some cleaner pictures of the fuel lines, fill, and vent later.
Great photos showing how your fuel tank is installed and how the fuel lines are run into the area. I appreciate you sharing the information. On my boat, the access hatch in the floor to the bilge pumps is right in front of the lift away panel to the engine, and will have to be enlarged to create an access hole to put the tank in. The interior structural mold on your Orion 27 looks like it was designed with the fuel tank access cover in mind. I am going to have to fabricate a support system for the hatch cover over the tank. Shouldn't be too difficult. Looks like there is plenty of space on the sides to create the "lip" needed.
I intend to keep the tank in the lazerette as well, so I will have to find a place for some kind of fuel manafold / valve control area to be able to switch between tanks. The fuel valve currently is accessable under the lazerette cover so I think I will try and put the valve controls there if there is room.
Does your float switch in the tank get it's position information transferred to an electronic meter, or just to a mechanical indicator? I wonder how accurate the electronic fuel level sensors are these days, especially when underway and when on various tacks?
Do you have to lift the cockpit cover to get access to a primary fuel filter such as a racor or did you locate yours accessable from the front engine access panel under the stairs? Mine is only reachable if the cockpit cover is lifted, which would be a problem if I had to replace the filter when underway. I am thinking of relocating it. I am also wondering if I should add another racor just for the tank I install in the bilge. That way there is some redundancy in the system. I guess it all depends on available space.
my Racor is accessible through the cockpit. It is mounted to starboard roughly over the tranny (well high over the tranny, space is no issue).
My bilge floor board goes back under the engine front panel about 4 inches. I will get a clean picture of that soon for you also. With the comapnionway steps in place, i have to pull up then forward to get the bilge floorboard up. I hope i described it well enough for now. i will get better pictures of the whole setup so you can incorporate it into your plan.
I don't know if you are aware or not, but a guy from Block Island solo circumnavigated his Orion, Otter. His name is Brec Morgan. His story is a big inspiration to me, and a big factor in my decision to buy Jessica Anne. Here is the link to his old site, he also had his journey published in 2003 in Blue Water Cruising as a 3 part story. He has been there, done that, and shares his gear list and stories for those interested, check him out....
Otter News, Orion Circumnavigator
PS, thanks for putting your info into the yahoo database
I will update the yahoo database info as soon as I pull the file with my Survey and get the hull number from it. I don't recall what it is at the moment. I will post some pictures later as well.
Thanks for being willing to post the extra pictures. Your input has been very helpful so far.
I spoke to another Orion 27 owner in Dana Point CA at the end of last year who just got back from a 3 year cruise down to southern Chile and back. His Orion is a 1980 as well, and he had a lot of great advice on how to set it up and what was really useful equipment wise, etc. for him and his wife.
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