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Carbon steel diesel tanks

Discussion in 'Technical Discussion' started by bayoubud, Mar 17, 2017.

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  1. bayoubud

    bayoubud Member

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    Just did a walk-thru on early 2000 Grand Alaskan and discovered the fuel tanks are painted carbon steel. The tops of the tanks were visible and like they may have been repainted. The sides and ends were encapsulated with insulation and perforated material and not visible. Each of the four tanks had an area at a lower corner with welded threaded nipples where the paint had some blistering and rust. Not heavy rust, could be brushed, ospho'ed, and painted. Troubling that the rest of the tanks sides are not visible or how they were installed. I like this boat but turned off with the tanks situation. Have heard some horror $$$$$ stories about replacing fuel tanks. Thought steel tanks went away long before 2000. I realize there have also been problems with aluminum tanks too.
    Any comments on carbon steel diesel tanks?
  2. Fishtigua

    Fishtigua Senior Member

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    Steel tanks are pretty old hat these days. I used to work on commercial fishing boats 30-odd years ago where they were being cut out. The job and price$$ is all down to location and access. Talk to a good yard, they'll tell you straight if it's worth doing.
  3. RER

    RER Senior Member

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    They're fine until they're not fine. That goes for aluminum tanks too, better than steel but they don't last forever either. Typically, fiberglass diesel fuel tanks are best.

    Most pre purchase surveys include a disclaimer regarding difficulty in determining the condition of the fuel tanks, regardless of materials, for the very access problems that you describe.

    This is just one of many reasons that used boats can be bought for a fraction of the price of new.
  4. rcrapps

    rcrapps Senior Member

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    16 year old steel tanks. Take the cost off replacement of the tanks, when you make your offer.
    The boats were sold that way to keep them cheap. There is no high dollar in an used boat when purchased cheap with steel tanks when new.

    Mind you, these are not commercial steel tanks either.

    Don't feel bad making a low offer with this in mind. It's not a new issue and I have heard of enough nightmares.
  5. RER

    RER Senior Member

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    I've sold many 30 plus year old Taiwan trawlers with the original mild steel, what some call black iron, fuel tanks that don't leak. Until they do, they don't.

    All the crap they sometimes cover them with can contribute to their ultimate failure. I would remove it.
  6. K1W1

    K1W1 Senior Member

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    Steel is a good material don't be afraid of it, Get them audio gauged if you are worried about corrosion. I work on vessels that have steel tanks, hulls and some even have steel superstructures.
  7. bayoubud

    bayoubud Member

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    Yeah, I was disappointed when I saw the rusty tanks. Don't really like the boat enough to do a four tank r&r. It was obvious they had already repainted the visible top section. The broker thought they were aluminum. lol Thanks for the comments, just reinforced my thoughts.
  8. Lepke

    Lepke Member

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    I have a 1942 Wheeler with it's original steel tanks. 2000 gallons total. Besides painting the outside, keeping water out of the fuel is the best way to make steel tanks last. I've been inside mine and found some deep pits in the bottom that I welded. Otherwise in good shape. The boat has Detroit mains that circulate lots of fuel and I suppose that and Racor helped keep the water out.
  9. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    You know, it REALLY depends on the location of them. Take stainless steel, it's also now known as a tank material that is a no no. In center consoles they last 7 years usually. I managed an Azimut that had a stainless fuel tank and it was absolutely spotless on the outside and no sign of ANY surface corrosion. But it was at the front of the engine room and mounted above the top of the stringers and 22 years old.
  10. bayoubud

    bayoubud Member

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    I didn't mean to imply the steel tanks were bad and needed to be replaced. Was told they were aluminum and while poking around the er and saw some rust, oops steel tanks. The main problem was the tanks sides were covered and not visible for inspection without a lot of expense. I would not bother to go thru the process to inspect the tanks for the seller. I recently survey a boat that was misrepresented and not ready for seatrial. Doesn't take much for me to lose interest. Replacing tanks on this boat would be a major project.
  11. JWY

    JWY Senior Member

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    Doesn't take much? Surveying a boat not ready for sea trial is a big deal.

    Judy
  12. bayoubud

    bayoubud Member

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    Let's just say there were false claims by the broker. Sound familiar?
  13. JWY

    JWY Senior Member

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    Sounds like despicable if not criminal behavior from the broker. If s/he is from Florida or California, then they are required to have a license which means you can file a complaint with the State. Won't heal your wounds, but might save someone else from being wounded. Bad brokers give everyone a bad name - help to hold them accountable.
    :-(
  14. rcrapps

    rcrapps Senior Member

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    In the history of things, when asked about black iron tank boats for purchased, I have offered the same advise as above (post #4). Within a few years, I have proved correct way over half of the time.

    A few years ago, I was asked about a large DeFever. On inspection I advised the prospect buyer to walk. High price, no negations, rusting fuel tanks.
    I was invited last fall to look at an other DeFever. Turned out to be the same boat that never sold, with glassed over tank skins.
    The owner was so smart, he painted the glass job, and stained it with oil to make it match the old bilges.

    Yep, that owner knows me, the boat will never sell around here.

    Real boats & ships rated commercial or built with quality may not have these issues. K1W1 does not work on lil scrub boats, he deals with quality & commercial stuff.
    Audio readings on a Chinese boat will only show to what you can access without tank removal.

    I'm working on a Hat with an after factory cockpit extension, the after alloy tanks are sitting in a 1" bed full of water.
    Having a problem with the owner that HE WILL have issues soon.

    When it comes to fuel cells, quality tanks or a realistic understanding of what you have is important. The Chinese build a good cheap boat.
    You must understand the business mode and resources when built; cheap.

    CYA, bid low. If you don't have a problem, pass on the reality when you re-sell.
  15. bayoubud

    bayoubud Member

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    rcrapps, that is some good advise. I have to agree if the tanks are an issue now it will only get worse over time. Re-sell is also a reality down the road. I expect to have some work on a used boat, but do not want to deal with any major issues. "The Chinese make a good cheap boat". Need to remember that one! lol
  16. bayoubud

    bayoubud Member

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    That is the way I see it and will probably file a complaint when my deposit check clears. Took two emails, two phone calls, and having to fill out a "refund application" to return my deposit.

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