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Fuel Tank Installation

posted Aug 15, 2011, 12:49 PM by Christopher Hubbell
It's amazing to me how many "gotchas" come up in a typical project.  Even when I'm confident, I still get knocked on my butt.  Case in point is the installation of my new fuel tank.  I had only a few weeks ago removed, cleaned, and reinstalled my original tank.  I was feeling pretty confident that the new one would go without a hitch since my experience was so fresh.  Nope.

The old tank ended up being a nightmare to remove.  I had to remove cockpit locker dividers, the new starter battery on the port side, and wrestle it through the new bilge pump hoses which I haven't fully secured yet.  Not only that, but for some reason it seemed that the filler hose had grown by about a half inch as I couldn't get it out without pulling the deck fill.  Ugh.  Re-bedding a butyl seam on that filler is no fun at all.

The mistake I made in selecting a new tank was only paying attention to the tank's overall dimensions, and not the fittings themselves.  As it turns out, one of the fuel pick-ups exists right where the tank mounts to the cockpit sole, requiring that I cut a notch to allow it clearance.  You gotta be kidding me! 

Of course, this meant that the mounting bolt for the strap also had less then ideal support below, so I needed to move the strap.  Is this an ideal situation?  Nope.  But given how short our sailing season are, it wasn't worth losing 2-3 weeks to have a custom tank made.  When this tank gets close to wearing out I'll go custom.  For now though, I'll go sailing.

The good news is that this tank (RDS Manufacturing) is solid as a rock, and it's ever-so-slightly smaller dimensions are a much better fit with the new larger seacocks for the cockpit drains.  I still need to do some fine tuning to the strap tension, but I'm very pleased with the tank itself.

Were I to do this over again I would purchase a custom tank from RDS based on the stock model I selected, and simply have the extra fitting left out.  I'd also have the vent fitting set up as a rear-facing elbow, but that's not as big a deal.

I still need to get the engine controls hooked back up, and clean up the mess I made during installation.  Then I can reinstall the starter battery and locker dividers.  This will be nice as the battery and dividers are taking up a TON of cabin space right now.  Not to mention that it will be nice to have the boat usable again.  With the dividers back in place I may be able to start storing some things in them, which will free up even MORE cabin space.  Sounds nice to me!

And for the grand finale, here's the tank installed in all its shiny glory: