Pull the Old Fuel Tank

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After removing the steering system,
I could lift the tank up
and get a good look.

It smelled pretty bad.

Part of that bulkhead will need to be removed to get it out.
I used my Handy Dremel Tool
to cut a sawzall blade down,
just big enough to cut the bulkhead without hitting the tank.


November 2005 --

Here's a picture of the old fuel tank,
just after we pulled the engine.

Other LF38 owners have pulled the tank without pulling the engine, but I've saved up
a ton of projects for this winter, and want to replace that monster Perkins 4.108 anyway,
so the engine came out.

The tank is shot. After 24 years, that's not unexpected.

In this case, it's been shot for a while.
To the right, you can see the tank
sitting in a puddle of fuel and water.

For some reason, this tank was secured by setting it in polyurethane foam. That's a huge no-no for metal tanks, since the foam traps moisture
up against the tank and starts corrosion.

Once it was out and on the dock,
I let all the crud dry out
and then scraped it off.

Now I can start cleaning up!

Those limber holes need cleaning out.

Actually, I'm going to rebuild them all,
since they're not up to snuff.

This is some serious toxic soup.

After that, the tank slid right out.

After a month
of moving things out of the way,
it had *better* come out easy!

With the engine in, I could have removed the tank by sliding it down the starboard side, though that still would have required removing
a lot of stuff.

Other folks have removed it through the cockpit hatch, although I really have a hard time visualizing that.


Somebody dropped a flashlight
behind the tank, years ago.


The battery acid probably helped the problem along.

This is pretty amazing.

The polyurethane foam
that created this problem
also blocked these holes and slowed the leakage down
to a slow weep.

While I hate the foam, it protected me from a
multi-thousand dollar fine and an ecological disaster.

That hole in the back is right underneath the flashlight.

Scary, huh?

Glops of disintegrated polyurethane foam
are gooped in the bottom of the tank.

I knew that, because I saw it in my Racor.
I was changing my Racor filter every 20 hours of run time, and once a year pulled it from the boat to completely disassemble and clean it.
I'm looking forward to not doing that any more.

There's a certain artistic beauty to the patterns of corrosion. I'm going to keep the tank around for a while and stare at it to try to achieve a zen state. (grin)

This section is really just for me.

The old foam held the tank in the right location, low enough to avoid interfering with the steering.

I need to put the new tank in exactly the same spot, but will build proper (dry) supports underneath. The following pictures measure the depth of the foam at various spots
under the tank.

These measurements are straight up the centerline of the tank.

12 inches in and 12 inches over.

16 inches up,
along the front edge.


Not much room down at the lowest point.

The tank sits 1/2" back
from the forward bulkhead.

I think I'll place supports at an angle, following the line of the hull, to avoid trapping moisture against the tank.

On this 45 degree angle,
it's just over an inch deep from 4 to 16 inches along the ruler.

Now it's time to consider where to get the new tank, and to clean this area up.