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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My fuel tank has something against me. Had a bunch of algae in my tank which stopped my engines last month. So I installed an inspection port ($130) + new pickup ($30) into this freaking tank Sunday, followed that by spending 2 days in the locker cleaning it and all my fuel hoses out. Everything was looking great, hooked it back up yesterday, filled her full of clean gas-station diesel + biobor +startron. Look this morning AND THE THING IS LEAKING now through I guess a weld or a pinhole leak on the bottom I can't see any cracks but drip is there. Like 2 drips a minute ... for now.

This is a 30 year old 20 gallon aluminum tank. Of course I cannot remove (or install a new tank of same size) unless I remove the engine. I'm thinking about either trying to JBWELD the darn thing (would this work for long?), or cutting it into pieces (which at this point I would enjoy) and just installing a new tank small enough to fit into the locker (about 12 gallons). Would suck to lose capacity but what can you do.

Any suggestions?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hmm thats not bad. Going to take a while to pump out the fuel, dunno where I'm going to put it in the meantime but looks promising.
 

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Repairing a leaking tank is like putting a band aid on a broken bone. Replace it. That tank has lasted three times as long as the average aluminum tank. It will just develop more pin holes. The consequences aren't worth the money you think you are saving by repairing the tank. Get another one and amprtize the cost over the next thirty years.
 

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here is a trick to get it some what clean before a good rinse, and you probably have most of the parts.

first get all the fuel out of the tank then

get a propane deep fat fryer like this one then drill a whole about 6 inches from the top for a 1 inch or bigger thru hull. then run a over flow line to the tank from the fitting. then drop a small bilge pump in the tank and run it to the fryer. fill the tank with water and some simple green, then top off the fryer. lite the fryer and turn on the bilge pump. the simple green solution will get cycled from the tank to the fryer and get heated. you can also throw in some oil diapers into the tank to pick up the diesel that floats up. you might need to watch the levels and cycle the bilge pump to keep the levels right. if you want to get real tricky put a down pipe on the thru hull fitting to pick up the water from the fryer down closer to the bottom so when the oil starts collecting in the fryer it wont get cycled

edit use the cheapest pump you can find it might not last due to heat, but if you let it get to 150 to 160 the pump should be okay, and still useable as a back up

if you do this i would bet the tank gets almost squeaky clean and should just need a wipe down
 

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I agree with Peter. I think 30+ years is pretty good for an aluminum tank. Best to replace it and not worry for another 30 years (or more if done in stainless). First time I've heard of using a deep fryer to clean a tank though.
Brian
 

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Why wouldn't what work? The deep fryer? It probably will work. So you end up with a clean 30 year old pitted, pinholed aluminum tank. That's just the beginning. The repair might last a few years. Then again it might not. Best to replace the tank with one you don't have to worry about for many years to come.
Brian
 

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Mitiempo is right. These pinholes are usually corrosion from the inside out. You can clean it but the inside is still being eaten away and soon you will have another pinhole. A USCG study done back in the 90's showed that the average life of an aluminum tank is ten years. Three times that is fabulous. But having a leak in a gasoline fuel tank can ruin your whole day. A seperate study showed that almost all boat fires now are caused by old or poorly maintained fuel systems and replacing marine equipment with automotive. Yours obviously has been maintained or it wouldn't have lasted so long, but it's time. Get another and you won't have to worry about it. It's only your life and your boat a stake here.
 

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A friend of mine on his Panda did coat the inside of the tanks and it is still holding. Not the best solution (versus a full replace), but it is still holding. I do not know the name of the product he used, but it was gray after it was done.

- CD
 

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Save yourself a tankful of problems: replace the tank. At 30 years old, it's WAY past its usable lifetime.

All you need is for some of those pinholes to start leaking diesel into the bilge, and your bilge pump to begin pumping. Then you, your marina, the USCG, and the EPA are gonna tangle. Not worth the risk.

And, after all, new tanks aren't all that expensive. What IS expensive is your time playing with (ultimately unsatisfactory) fixes, and the potential costs if a spill occurs.

Bill
 

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My tank doesn't even leak...it just looks nasty...and I'm replacing it. Don't mess around with trying to patch a leaky fuel tank. At the least, it will be an ongoing headache. At the most, your boat will go boom and burn to the waterline.
 

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I replaced a 32 year old steel tank when I bought my boat last year because it was showing rust on top but didn't leak. The fill was through the cockpit sole and leaked.
New custom stainless tank should last several decades as it doesn't sit in water but hangs from cockpit sole bearers. Fill has been relocated to side deck to solve leak problem. If you do it right you only have to do it once in my opinion.
Brian
 

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What if the tanks are built into the boat in a manner that makes replacement not an option. Anyone use bladder liners?
 

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Bladders work, if you can find one that conforms well to the shape, and you add an anti-chafe sleeve or liner between it and your tank "just in case".

Could you cut out the existing tank, and replace it with twin tanks (each half the size) that could be coaxed in without moving the engine?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Old tank is in 2 pieces in the recycling bin now. Found a plastic Moeller fuel tank that fits, smaller at 14 gallons but at least if I have to remove tank again in the future I won't have to cut it in 2 to get it out. Thanks.

I'm worried about my water tank now, it's aluminum too but 30 gallons and unfortunately a lot harder to remove than the fuel tank ...
 

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Old tank is in 2 pieces in the recycling bin now. Found a plastic Moeller fuel tank that fits, smaller at 14 gallons but at least if I have to remove tank again in the future I won't have to cut it in 2 to get it out. Thanks.

I'm worried about my water tank now, it's aluminum too but 30 gallons and unfortunately a lot harder to remove than the fuel tank ...
Well, at least it's water and not fuel...
 
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