FUEL TANK PROJECTS
Dana Berube, #99, JADE
I have (added an access plate) to my monel tank. In fact, I liked the access port so well- I put in two!
My tank has a baffle separating front from back. I decided that it made sense to be able to access the entire tank for clean out and for chemical sealing if that ever became necessary.
I used a 4-1/2" diameter hole saw - plenty big enough for my arm. When drilling or cutting monel - slow speed and plenty of cutting oil is essential. My local machine shop suggested brass as the material for the access plates and split retaining rings. I purchased the fuel resistant gasket material at my local NAPA store. It was easy to fabricate the gaskets.
I too wanted a fuel gauge- in order to keep things simple- I went with a Tempo mechanical fuel gauge. It mounts in the center of the forward access plate.
Be sure to use ONLY gas resistant sealant on the gaskets. NO silicone rubber stuff - silicone is not compatible with gasoline.
Dan Lawrence, Sandpiper, #129
I removed the monel tank last winter from the starboard cockpit locker and replaced it with an 18 gallon Poly tank placed on a glassed-in platform forward in the same starboard cockpit locker. That freed up a considerable amount of space in the locker so I can stow sails in there now, and pushed the weight of the fuel about 3 feet farther forward. I toyed with the idea of finding a way to put it under the cockpit but didn't because I wanted to have unrestricted access to the shaft and stuffing box, and to have that I'd have to put the tank too far aft to suit my tastes for fore and aft balance. As it turned out, I really liked the feel of the helm and the balance in the boat.
Greg, ALIYA, #277
I used the Tempo 18-D plastic tank (holds about 16 gals) and barely fits in the space behind the instrument panel. I removed the existing metal tank (had visible rust on the exterior) and after much prep work (glassed in wood support & platform, new scupper drains, etc, etc, etc) was able to fit and secure the new replacement tank. This was a very tight fit and very customized. Not sure if I would recommend this approach and have not had a sea trial yet (boat goes in this week). I now would have preferred to go with under the cockpit sole or saddle tanks. I have attached several pics which may be useful (Checkout Greg's pic's in the Project Showcase.)
Bill Bell, KIALOA, #41
Please bear with me for two bits of philosophy about the question of what to do with your tank and its gauge. According to the tenets of "Occam's Razor", you should always look for the simplest fix of the REAL problem. And, according to the Hippocratic Oath, you don't do things to the patent that might leave him worse off than before you started on him. Pros.: In dead calm conditions, the gauge will give you some indication of the tanks' contents. Cons.: The cost to you of preparing the tank for cutting and machining work before the job starts and physically cleaning up the tank afterwards. The dollar cost of all the stuff you will have to buy. And worrying afterwards: is the gasket tight, is the gauge going to be spark-free forever in a possible gassy area? The time and labor you'll have to spend to accurately calibrate the gauge for your tank. The eternal question of what the reading really means at 10 degrees heel in a stiff chop? And, after hacking up the tank, suppose you don't like it?
The "Occam's Razor" approach - which opts for the simplest solution, suggests that instead of trying to measure the level of a moving fluid, you consider determining the capacity of the tank by measuring the consumption from the tank on the basis of time. A time meter, tied in with the engine ignition will be a very accurate fuel gauge for you. I have had one for years and years and I know that in every l00 gallon batch of gas, that my engine consumes 0.58 gallons per hour. If this figure is off, I know it right away when I go to fill the tank. And my calculation of fuel on board is always correct - in any state of blow or heel! The tank has several less holes in it and no wiring near it. Once you cut into the tank and go the gauge route, you are committed for big bucks for what may not be the best answer to your question of measuring fuel on board. Once you spend big bucks, you are really stuck with an emotional commitment; few of us have the cojones to admit that we pissed away $285 or whatever it was. If you try the time meter route, you are out maybe $50 and a small wiring job.
Now, if you want to fuss about the tank a bit, I'll give you - literally - a real killer. Please check the bit of pipe between the bronze deck fill pipe and the hose that leads into the tanks. Most all boats left the factory with an iron nipple (short iron pipe) between the deck fill and the hose. This nipple is hard to see on boats with old style cockpit hatches but it can be a real problem. They get "lacy" with time and I had one on one guys' boat that I could put an ice pick through. This is one of those things that can kill - it is worth checking out.
(Ed. Note: Occam's razor is a principle attributed to the 14th century logician and Franciscan friar; William of Occam. The principle states that "Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily."
Many scientists have adopted or reinvented Occam's Razor as in Leibniz' "identity of observables" and Isaac Newton stated the rule: "We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances." The most useful statement of the principle for boaters is, "when you have two competing theories which make exactly the same predictions, the one that is simpler is the better." (Good ol KISS again ) - Thanks Bill)