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  #1   IP: 73.212.47.219
Old 01-05-2019, 08:19 PM
sdemore sdemore is offline
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Tank Cleaning

Need some advice on cleaning my fuel tank.

When I picked up this boat, it had been sitting on a mooring ball for 3 + years and the fuel tank had evaporated dry (along with the rest of the fuel system). The fuel level sensor was completely rusted out, but the tank is Monel and is still like new. The filter is one of those bronze Perko units with the washable hard filter elements. The filter housing had very hard, dried out deposits plugging all of the places it could settle, but it dissolved and cleaned up with carb cleaner. I am ordering a new filter element now, as well as a spare.

I've been having recurring problems with the carburetor fouling. When I opened and drained my filter/water separator today, the clear fuel is now yellow/orange and full of crud (rust particles, dirt, etc). The fuel that is in there is less than 2 months old and there are probably 10-15 gallons in there. I can't pull the tank out of the boat and the biggest opening is the fuel level sensor hole on one end of the tank. I can't figure out a reasonable way of accessing the interior to clean it.

I'm wondering if I could just take the output of the filter, connect an electric fuel pump with a return to the tank filler, and let it run for several hours. With winter here, I could easily find a rough day to keep sloshing the fuel around the tank and let the filter take out the contaminants. I could also throw in a couple of those disposable cheapo inline filters if that would help.

Do you think this would work to clean up the tank? If not, any other suggestions I might try?

Thanks,
Steve
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  #2   IP: 32.211.28.40
Old 01-05-2019, 09:44 PM
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Al Schober Al Schober is offline
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Steve,
You don't say what kind of boat you have. Perhaps someone has advice for removing the tank and taking it to a shop. Several years ago I had doubts about my original aluminium tank in my Tartan 30 (side galley), and removing it and taking it to a shop for cleaning and pressure testing did a lot to ease my anxieties. Yes, it meant taking apart a lot of joiner work but the tank came out in one piece.
Short of that, I don't think circulating fuel is going to do much to clean the tank. You'll get the fuel clean but the tank will still be a source of trouble. To clean the tank in place, you're going to have to pump it out then get in there with a pressure washer - likely with a hot water base alkali solution. Chemical tank ships do this sort of thing routinely.
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Old 01-05-2019, 10:57 PM
sdemore sdemore is offline
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Al,
It is a C&C 30. The tank is mounted to the bottom of the cockpit floor and I suspect it was placed before the deck was put on the hull. I had to slide it to the side (into a locker) to change the sending unit and could barely get to that. I don't think it would be possible to get it out in one piece, without cutting out a section of the cockpit and locker.
Steve
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Old 01-06-2019, 01:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdemore View Post
Al,
It is a C&C 30. The tank is mounted to the bottom of the cockpit floor and I suspect it was placed before the deck was put on the hull. I had to slide it to the side (into a locker) to change the sending unit and could barely get to that. I don't think it would be possible to get it out in one piece, without cutting out a section of the cockpit and locker.
Steve
I am pretty sure it comes out. The tank in my 35 comes out pretty well. Your idea of making a fuel polisher will work to an extent, but some of the worst crud may not come off that easily. Are you anywhere near me (Kent Island)?


* I took my tank home, filled it with soap and water, drained it, filled it with a gallon of methanol, and only then realized the filler is not at an edge and draining it 100% was about impossible. My wife thought I was nuts dancing around in the yard with the tank over my head getting the last bits out

EDIT - an idea. If your fill hose is original it is *long past due* for replacement and it might have wire in it that is adding rust to the system.
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Old 01-06-2019, 04:54 PM
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If it's a stock tank, and I suspect it is because mine also had a monel tank, it will come out through the starboard lazarette. Did this on my C&C30 several years ago for the same reason you have. I tried unsuccessfully to clean the tank in place. You can get it sparkly clean easily if you take it out. Also gives you a good chance to inspect the seams and replace fuel guage, hoses, etc if needed. Certainly not the worst job you'll have on the boat.
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Last edited by msmith10; 01-06-2019 at 04:59 PM.
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Old 01-06-2019, 05:25 PM
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What happens is that after a long period of time gas will leave a coating of varnish on the tank. Sometimes boats were left for months with half a tank etc and with mooring wave action the gas would splash around, then dry on the tank sides. After a while a slight coating develops. OK, if we had not started using ethanol gas it might never be a problem, however, once ethanol came into the picture it is a problem. Ethanol eats through this layer of "varnish" and it starts sloughing off. Then it ends up in filters and fuel lines. I have a 30 and all I can offer is to add some acetone or varsol to the tank and leave it a day...then pump it out. Then add some gas...rock the boat allot, and pump that out. You would get most of it but it will also be on the lines as well...so you might be doing frequent filter changes and carb cleanings.

Best of Luck.
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Old 01-06-2019, 06:25 PM
sdemore sdemore is offline
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I replaced the float sensor last year and had to slide the tank as far as I could into the starboard lazarette. With the curve of the hull and only having an inch or two of room under the cockpit sole, I could barely get it over far enough to access the fill tube and sensor. I couldn't see any corrosion in the tank, but the float assembly was completely rusted out and I suspect is where the rust in the tank came from (picture below). I might be able to get the tank out if i removed the steering pedestal and ruder assembly, but can't do that in the water.

Interestingly, the gas in the tank and in the filter is yellow/orange and full of crud, but the gas in the carb float bowl comes out clear. The Perko filters must be working overtime.

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Old 01-06-2019, 07:04 PM
sdemore sdemore is offline
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I may have an alternate method, if I can find something that will work to dissolve the varnish. I can slide it over into the lazarette enough to get the level sensor back out. I can drop that side and lift the other side, giving me 2 or 3 inches of incline toward the hole, across the (I'm guessing here) 36" wide tank. I can drain it and use water or something to rinse everything to the low end and figure out how to get it out though a 1 1/2" hole (siphon?). I should be able to dab out most all of the water with a rag on a stick or something and use some alcohol to dry up any residual water.

What would dissolve the varnish to get it out of there?
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Old 01-06-2019, 08:02 PM
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I used carb cleaner. Dissolved the varnish as fast as it hit it. I suspect lots of solvents would work.
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