Removing Seeker’s Diesel Tank

The aluminum tank, which sits happily deep in the bilge with all the sloshing bilge water, is a common problem on Bayfields. Pinhole leaks eventually appear allowing seepage of fuel into the bilge. It’s probably more of a problem with salt water boats; but after better than three decades, I guess it is fair that even fresh-ish water boats (the Upper Chesapeake) will start to have trouble. Seeker is not immune, and since I’ve owned her there has been an ever so slight amount of diesel making its’ way out of the tank. I’ve been diligent about sopping it up out of the bilge water with oil absorbing pads; but the smell permeates everything. It’s time to get the tank fixed.

DieselTankRemoval1

The fuel tank in the bilge. At this point I’ve removed the hoses from the tank and cut off the forward retaining piece of fiberglass.

I used my little Black and Decker oscillating Multi-Tool to cut the retaining piece of fiberglass off the front of the tank. It was the easiest part to cut so was where I started. In retrospect I suspect I may have been able to leave that installed and just cut off the fiberglass “wings” on the side of the tank.

There was fiberglass over the top of the tank as well which was easily removed but seemed to do little to free the tank. I cut off the side pieces with a reciprocating saw. I cut very carefully as I was more than a little nervous that I’d cut into the keel, or perhaps the tank itself. It turns out there was plenty of room next to the tank, though, and this job went quickly. It didn’t take much coaxing to get the tank out at this point.

DieselTankRemoval3The tank looks OK; but I wasn’t expecting a huge gash. I will have it pressure tested and repaired this winter.

While I’m at it I will probably also have a fuel sender installed. I’m not a fan of opening up the bilge so that I can drop a dip stick in to check the level. It’s not that it is a terribly complicated process. It is just that I really don’t like to introduce a diesel saturated wooden dowel and a wipe down rag into the cabin. I really, really don’t like the smell of diesel fuel. Not to mention that the fumes give me a headache.

The dirty bilge before I set to work with some magic orange cleaner and a toilet bowl brush to clean it up. I've also removed all the lines (fill, feed, and return...the vent is going to be tougher). They will be replaced with brand new lines when I get the tank reinstalled.

The dirty bilge before I set to work with some magic orange cleaner and a toilet bowl brush to clean it up. I’ve also removed all the lines (fill, feed, and return and vent). They will be replaced with brand new lines when I get the tank reinstalled.

For the first time in decades the bilge is fully accessible. After several scrubbings it is now as clean as it has probably ever been. It still smells a little foul; but I’m hoping that airing it out will eventually correct this. I’ll probably still end up scrubbing it out a few more times. I will have a sweet smelling boat.

Now, all I have to do is find someone who can fix the tank.