-E.B. White

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Fuel Tanks 101

Well, from a previous post, you know upon our return to Broulee we were greeted with the news of a fuel leak. And then the pumping out of fuel as well as how to balance the boat, like bags of cement mix and sand. A call and discussion with our friend Wayne (Take Time) resulted in his simple solution: fill the tank with water! Of course, but there's a leak in it, so, a temporary "patch".
  That's some good old gutter caulk that will stick to anything and added after an initial "cleaning" of some soft gooey deposits. Worked like a charm and lets us get on our way and for Rick to start his fuel tank education courses.  Lots of calls, reading, Google searches, Trawler World, discussions with tank manufacturers and on and on. A conversation with Minnesota friend Doug advising what oil refineries' maintenance and repair actions are in their huge above ground iron storage tanks, and lots of first hand information from friends who have gone through this on their boats or are going through it now.
It all gets down to a decision of tear it out (OMG) or repair it. And that gets down to the overall condition of the tank. So, cut some holes (sized for new inspection port closures) and inspect.

But wait, what size should the holes be?

The big one would be great but not enough room
between supports in the engine room.

OK, this will work, albeit snug, can at least see what the one arm is doing.

 3 ports cut in and sized to allow at least some access for working in the tank. 

 This is applying the "fix", but we're ahead of the story here.

What was found during the "inspection" phase?

Note the "soft" stuff on the bottom to left and then what looks like a flat section in the corner. It turned out to be a hard, crusty product that was like asphalt! Had to use a scraper to remove it. And there was a surprise under it. 

Here's a close up of the "asphalt" and the surprises waiting to be found.

 And here's the crud or "asphalt" from the bottom of the tank.

What, a hole (not surprising) and then a second hole previously repaired?! Really? Here's the bad side of that; we knew nothing of a tank repair, the previous owner was mum on that and we were never in the tank for inspection to see it. (OK, that's a significant "operator error", but never had any fuel problem and used a fuel polishing system, so why open the tank? I can answer that now.) Here's the good side of that; That previous repair lasted 14 years! What was the repair? Best guess, JB Weld or similar and done in the Philippines by the previous owner. 

So, after that discovery and inspecting the rest of the tank, the conclusion was the rest of the tank was in good condition. Some surface rust on walls above the fuel line and on the "ceiling"/top was apparent but no other holes or pitted areas were found. That, and far enough into Fuel Tanks 101 course, lead to the decision to repair. So the education continued to determine how to repair. Again, consulting "professionals" doing tank repairs and maintenance and friends who have gone the repair route resulted in using epoxy, fiberglass cloth and multi-part aircraft sealant (polysulfide compound). This thanks to another friend, Rob on Papillon, a retired FBO(aircraft fixed base operator) who suggested the product used widely in aircraft and military for fuel tank and other repairs.

After thorough cleaning (acetone), wire brushing and then final cleaning with methyl ethyl ketone (respirator mandatory), all seams sealed with thickened epoxy and the bottom pitted area with the holes covered with multiple layers of fiberglass cloth and epoxy.

Then mix up some of the stickiest, stinky stuff made.  Put on the gloves, mask and cover suit and start applying to prepped areas.

Note the polysulfide is applied to only portions of the tank. This after more discussions suggesting either complete tank coating or portions are acceptable methods of repair.

Port tank repaired and inspection plates installed. Tank pressure tested, passed holding 4-5 psi for 24 hours.  All fuel transferred to port tank and boat re-balanced (move the sand bags, etc.). Wall finish to be completed, and yes, now to do it all over again on the starboard side. Ok, no leaking there, but can it be trusted? No way without opening and inspecting. Stay tuned.

And that's enough of Fuel Tanks 101 (for now), So what else has been happening on Broulee?

On a lighter note - we have also been taking some time for fun.  A couple of weeks ago a fellow boater told us about a dog park on the island, so with Izzy in tow, we went to check it out.

And as everything else here on the island is beautiful - so is the dog park.  Izzy checking out the funny looking ducks during our walk around the lake at Mackle Park.

The off leash dog park complete with trees and grass - not normally what we experience at dog parks in Florida. 

The last few mornings we have been experiencing morning fog - the temps are above average and the humidity level is reeking havoc on my hair - seriously not complaining.  Usually by 9:00 AM the fog clears with blue skies to follow.

On Saturday our niece Leslie arrived with son Macdera and also daughter Samantha and son Devin. Once again, her father's artwork was featured at the Harmon-Meeks Gallery in Naples and they took this opportunity to come down to Florida for a little R & R.  We could hardly wait to see them - enjoying a night at the Gallery and a great dinner at the Boat House.
At this event, Don was the featured artist of the Contemporary American Masters show with a room dedicated to his watercolors. Shown here are his Sneakers, Grapes and Lifesavers (sold that night). Visit his website for more information on his work; www.donnice.com

Then with work behind us - it was time to throw off the ropes and get some sun and fun.
Leslie, Macdera, Devin and Samantha - heading to Keewaydin for a day trip.  The weather, again, was a perfect warm, light breeze, some high cirrus clouds; just the right amount of sun. Ideal for shelling, swimming and enjoying the Gulf waters. A place we had visited several years ago (2005) with no other boats, we anchored on the waterway side of the island, dinghyed to shore and walked over to the Gulf. How times change! Unfortunately no pictures of the some 50 plus boats beached and/or anchored in this previously quiet place.  The kids found sand dollars, shells and played/swam in the water with Izzy (allowed on the beach while on leash).
It was a great day and the best was yet to come on the way back to the marina. How could it be any better than to have a dolphin "escort" playing in front of Broulee's "push wave". 

 They stayed with us for 45 minutes, shortly after leaving Keewaydin until we turned into the marina through slow traffic zones and a cut out to the Gulf and back. Neighboring boats were enjoying the private dolphin show in front of Broulee. We were amazed!

Our next encounter would be the fireworks at the Naples Pier.  Plan was to meet up at Old Naples Pub for dinner and drinks.  We may have arrived just a few minutes short of parking at the 3rd Street lot.  Hurry, back and get a spot at the church down the road.  
  Reservations in - looks like a hour and half wait. Lots of people - hoping we make the fireworks.  Kids show up, change in plans - suggest quick pizza and head back to beach towels they have placed on the beach.
Patiently waiting for the fireworks, Leslie, Samantha, Macdera & Devin.  
The video to a magnificent finale. Not shown was the mile of beach with THOUSANDS of people literally side by side with beach blankets, tables set up with all food and drink (oops no drinking on the beaches) and scores of boats waiting and watching the year end display.

Oh, one more thing, before the kids left - their present for Izzy
Izzy says thanks to Leslie, Samantha, Macdera and Devin, can't wait until your next visit!

1 comment:

  1. Wowza!!! That looks like a lot of hard work!! I'm so glad you get to relax and have some fun after that project!!! Safe travels <3