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  #1   IP: 24.152.132.65
Old 03-26-2017, 09:56 AM
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ndutton ndutton is offline
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Tank cleaning article

I just received an article from Practical Sailor about tank cleaning. My opinion is it's short on how to actually clean and long on why a variety of methods won't work. After reading it I thought we've had better discussions on the subject right here on this forum.

As they sent it unsolicited I'll assume it's open source so no issue posting it.
http://www.practical-sailor.com/blog..._grabbag032617
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  #2   IP: 72.194.218.130
Old 03-26-2017, 10:17 AM
JOHN COOKSON JOHN COOKSON is offline
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One of the most ridiculous things I've ever read.
I've never cleaned a tank so I won't venture any ideas.

TRUE GRIT
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  #3   IP: 24.152.132.65
Old 03-26-2017, 10:25 AM
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ndutton ndutton is offline
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Yeah, as you could tell I wasn't impressed either. I'm a fan of replacement. If you're doing all that work anyway, why not have a new tank?
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1977 Catalina 30
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prior boats 1987 Westsail 32, 1970 Catalina 22
Had my hands in a few others
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  #4   IP: 72.194.218.130
Old 03-26-2017, 11:04 AM
JOHN COOKSON JOHN COOKSON is offline
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Agree tank replacement is the best way to go.
When they "build the boat around the tank" it complicates thing a bit. Removal would be a tough go and you might end up with smaller tank.
FWIW. This comes from someone who has never replaced or cleaned a fuel tank.

TRUE GRIT
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  #5   IP: 76.179.119.203
Old 03-26-2017, 12:31 PM
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The article isn't so bad, once you allow for the fact that it presumes a diesel tank and a larger boat with both physical access and a tank access cover, both of which are usually missing on boats like ours. If you could get to an access cover, run a pressure washer and drain the sump, that sounds great to me. Gas tanks are different in that CG regs don't allow a sump drain (IIRC). That means there's no gravity option for draining residue, and vastly complicates the cleaning process. That one difference between gas and diesel tanks probably makes all the difference in cleaning options. Along with the explosion factor....

I removed, cleaned, and reinstalled the gas tank on Bunny Planet. I would think long and hard about removing another 'built in' tank. I ended up in a two year project that kept me out of the water. There were other issues (including a few of my own... ) but it seemed like the thing to do at the time.

I had the pleasure of cleaning two large diesel tanks once, while unemployed, working for a friend who ran a marine services business. Without question the worst days I've ever spent on a boat. We cut holes thru balsa cored, custom molded tanks, just large enough to get a head and shoulders though. I would guess they were 500 gal each, roughly 3 feet cubed on the inside. Once we got most of the fuel into juice barrels on the deck thru a home made polishing system, we sacrificed a shop vac by sucking up the hot water/detergent/sediment at the bottom of the tanks. Obviously, not an option with gasoline.
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Old 04-02-2017, 07:04 PM
NatySailor NatySailor is offline
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I was actually looking into this recently as I have an old but intact Monel fuel tank that is absolutely buried in my boat. Either the A4 would to have to come out or the cockpit sole cut open to get to it. Paying $200-$300 for a fuel polishing service to come out and clean it seems like a pretty good option to me.

I talked to one service and, as mentioned in the article I think, they power wash the inside of you tank using the gas, which they continually run through the filters until they don't see any more sediment.
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Old 04-02-2017, 07:28 PM
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Boy, the idea of running gasoline through a power washer gives me the heebie-jeebies. Assuming I felt the need for a pressure washer with other than straight water, I'd use something like Zep Purple degreaser. Small tub of solution on the cabin top with a hose feeding pressure washer. As the fuel tank fills (tub empties), stop the pressure washer and pump back into the tub through a filter. Boat and aluminum tank are 44 yrs old - haven't felt the need for a pressure washer yet (grin).
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Old 04-02-2017, 07:55 PM
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Naty - if that service uses a high volume pump, where the pickup is placed closer to the bottom of the tank than yours probably is, and runs through at least 10 micron filters for an hour or two, and the return is wiggled around to agitate the tank sediments... that sounds like an interesting option. Check their references - a reputable service that delivers value should have many.
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  #9   IP: 98.165.208.30
Old 04-02-2017, 08:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NatySailor View Post
I was actually looking into this recently as I have an old but intact Monel fuel tank that is absolutely buried in my boat. Either the A4 would to have to come out or the cockpit sole cut open to get to it. Paying $200-$300 for a fuel polishing service to come out and clean it seems like a pretty good option to me.

I talked to one service and, as mentioned in the article I think, they power wash the inside of you tank using the gas, which they continually run through the filters until they don't see any more sediment.
Try acetone. Acetone is a great solvent for old gas varnish, plus it is water soluble, so it will accomplish both cleaning the tank and removing any water that may be on the bottom. You can suck out the acetone using a top sider or a non electric vacuum source. A monel tank is the gold standard, and should last many lifetimes.
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Old 04-02-2017, 09:12 PM
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I used acetone to clean a 2-stoke outboard tank last week..and it evaporates fast... +1
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Last edited by sastanley; 04-02-2017 at 09:15 PM.
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  #11   IP: 73.129.213.235
Old 04-05-2017, 07:17 PM
Hymodyne Hymodyne is online now
 
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I have a built in tank, 23 gallons in the Triton. I purchased the boat after it had sat 5 years on the hard, with a quarter tank of fuel. I tried unsuccessfully to clean it, twice, each time fresh gas was quickly contaminated.

Acetone is a consideration.

James
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  #12   IP: 98.209.31.214
Old 04-07-2017, 03:18 PM
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Quote:
Monel fuel tank
You have a tank worth keeping, it is ... wait for it... built like a tank!

Serioulsy though, monel is the the gold (monel??) standard of corrosion resistant tank materials.
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Old 04-08-2017, 10:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ndutton View Post
I just received an article from Practical Sailor about tank cleaning. My opinion is it's short on how to actually clean and long on why a variety of methods won't work. After reading it I thought we've had better discussions on the subject right here on this forum.

As they sent it unsolicited I'll assume it's open source so no issue posting it.
http://www.practical-sailor.com/blog..._grabbag032617
If that article is typical of their content now, they need help
Anyway, cleaning a large built in tank is one thing and small removable tanks is another. For tanks where removal is not a realistic option, a professional tank cleaning service is IMHO the only realistic choice. *After the tank is clean*, good practices and a fuel polishing filter might keep it that way, but the typical fuel pump and filter combo does not flow anyplace near enough fuel to dislodge much dirt.

For A4s, many of our boats have tanks that can be removed. I took my tank home, filled it with detergent and water, sloshed around, dumped, blasted a hose at full pressure in there, and repeated a couple of times. I then put a gallon of methanol in there, sloshed that around and dumped it. So far so good I then had about a pint of alcohol/water mix that would NOT come out. Gasoline tanks have no sump drains.... About 20 minutes of dancing around with the tank over my head turning it different angles and blasting air in the fill got it dried out. My friend's boat has a badly contaminated tank that is glassed into the boat. Even the fuel polishing service could not fix it, so we just installed another tank.
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