Westsail Owners Alliance - Thread: "Fuel Tanks"
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Thread: "Fuel Tanks"

12,268 posts on 2,444 threads   •   From Mar 07, 2004 - Jan 08, 2012


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Fuel Tanks


Well, the nightmare has happened. Lots of fuel dripping out from under the portside fuel tank Can the starboard be far behind? As you recall, Glorious/Born Free is a 1972 boat. I believe her current tanks are aluminum as they don't look like s.s. and a maganet doesn't stick. Bud, I think I am going to need a set of your plasitic tanks. Please let me know cost , ship time etc. I heard that in my case, the foot well can be removed to make this job much easier. It does look like the well is a seperate moulding set inside the deck mould. Any advice, direction would be appreciated. Now check this out, the tank began leaking when we were in route to and one mile from the boat yard and a scheduled haul out. As they say, there is a silver lining.

Terry Shoup

I had to pull my port-side tank this year, too, because of a leak. Turns out the bottom of the tank was eaten away with electrolysis. So much for aluminum. I didn't know Bud could supply plastic tanks -- if so, how much?

Bud Taplin

Terry, My poly tank maker will not say his poly tanks can be used for fuel because of the liability problem. If there is a fire in the engine compartment, and the tank melts, it will spill more fuel onto the fire.

An aluminum tank cannot sit in a puddle of salt water without getting eaten up by electrolysis. You need to set some strips of teak or plastic under the tank so that air can get under the tank to keep it dry. Coating the bottom of the tank with epoxy or automobile undercoating also helps.


My tanks are fiberglass - anybody alse have them?

Bud Taplin

They must have been made by the previous owner. I have never heard of a commercially available one.


I think they were Bud. It looks like he used 1/4" plywood for the forms....and then glassed inside and out.
I think I will replace them.

Bud Taplin

Fiberglass fuel tanks are OK if they have an interior surface made on a mold, and are completely smooth with rounded corners. The problem with most fabricated tanks is that the fuel eventually seeps between the layers of fiberglass and weeps, especially around all of the corners.


Bud: I will need two new fuel tanks for Hull #36. Will it be cheaper for me to drive down from NO CA. (and take in six flags)and pick them up vs shipping?


Just a note that after much soul searching, and use of several conflicting professional opinions, I went with Bud's aluminum fuel tanks on my 32 and am very pleased with the decision. And, yes, I did take great pains to add teak strips as spacers on the shelf on which the tanks sit. I even made sure to counter-sink the s.s. screws that held the teak strips to the shelfs. Less chance of contact with the tanks when and if the teak compresses over time. Another idea I picked up was to add a zinc to help protect the aluminum from electrolysis. Am doing that also.
Good luck.


Randy: My tank shelfs were totally rotten. I will have to pull them out. The tanks were on some foam insulation and were in great shape on the bottom but the tank tops were where the most corrosion was apprentaly from salt water just sitting there from prop shaft spray. Do Buds tanks have a flat top? Do you have a cover over the top of yours? Did you use teak for its strength or resistance to rot and will redwood work as well? The idea of adding zincs is great. Alan


Hey Alan,
Yes, the idea of adding zincs really makes me happy. What I did, so far, is build a collar of ss hose clamp around the joint of the bronze deck fill pipe (Groco) and the aluminum tank with copper wire running to a good zinc. I am have two zincs, one per tank, to hook up. Intend to mount them on the aftermost bulkead/lazarette.
My tanks were apparently original galvanzized tanks with lead soldered joints. Plus, showed no signs of leaking after sitting around awhile. I had a lot of corrosion on the port fuel tank, top and bottom and think there might have been some tiny leak on the port tank, but I dunno. I don't have to worry about it because, despite serious professional contrary professional opinions that I highly regarded, I went with other serious professional opinions that I regarded equally highly, plus my own.

The way I see it, the ultimate question is:

"After all that work and mild steel fuel tanks that are 34 years old, are you really going to reinstall them?"

My answer was no. I suppose each of us will have to answer that question for themselves.

If you would like to purchase Satori's old fuel tanks they are available and looking pretty darn good.
My fuel tank shelves are fine. I can stand on all of them. No problem. Satori's are redwood plywood. Would hate to have to try to find replacement material of that grade.
No, I have no cover over my new fuel tanks, except I do KNOW that I have a waterproof seal at the fill fitting and o-ring (I believe both to be extremely important). We do have automotive undercoating plus several layers of industrial enamel paint (Rustosomething) on the new tanks.
I think Bud's tanks have a flat top.
What I can say I have heard from some reputable people (and I have no knowledge personally, ie. rumor) is that using the old steel tanks as a form for a fiberglass overcoating may work if:
1) one uses foam or something to make the seams invisible to the fiberglass edges (at the for and aft ends of the original steel tanks); and
2) the resin used for the fiberglass is not the typical boat laminating resin because it is not effectively resistant to diesel fuel (I dunno), and that one of the more expensive fiberglass resins may be.
Whoo. I'm beat dealing with fuel tanks.
Thanks Bud.


I can't imagine how zincs would do anything unless they were immersed in or in contact with the same water that is in contact with the steel tank. And if that happens, the boat is surely submerged. For zincs to work they have to be part of an electrical circuit that is completed by the electrolyte (salt water). Maybe someone would please correct the error in my thinking...

Bud Taplin

Alan and Sue,
To make up new tanks I have to be sure of the size of the existing ones. Most of the early W32's used a tank that was shorter in height than the 23" high ones used on later W32's. I will send you a drawing of the old tank design to compare.

Terry Shoup

My twin brother (now THAT'S a scary thought!!!) is a full-time motor-homer, and when we were together the last time, he told me that the fuel tanks in his diesel pusher motor home were metal (steel, I think) and then lined with some sort of plastic, so if there was water in the bottom, they still couldn't corrode. This sounds like something that might be worth looking into for our boats!

Bud Taplin

There was a time when steel fuel tanks were made, and then a rubbery material was poured into the fill fitting, and the tank rotated to line the inside with the material. I do not know if that is still done.
If no electrical wires are attached to an aluminum fuel tank, and it is not allowed to sit in a puddle of salt water, and no SS fasteners are touching it, then it should not corrode. You can always use an auto undercoating paint to protect the exterior of the tank.


Bud: My tanks do not match this drawing. It does appear that the design you sent will work. Mine are 18.5 tall 36.5 long and 20.5 wide without the taper towards the bottom. The fill appears to be in the same place.I will need to build/reinforce/add to the board that they were on so the 16 height is better and other modifications are possible. Do you have any in stock new or old that may work?

Bud Taplin

Alan, Since all of the tanks I have made are done at the time I place the order, there is no problem or change in cost to have them made at some different dimensions. Just send me a drawing of what you want. Use the drawing I sent as a guide, and mark up the dimensions you want. Send it to my email address.

I do have one of the sizes used on the early boats available. I will send you a drawing of that one.


Bud, my fuel tank was installed by you. Can you give me the details of the tank and the installation. I have no idea if it is sitting on any cross pieces. There is a piece of wood going the length of the tank at the inboard edge... It does not appear to be 'raised'.

Any details you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Bud Taplin

When I help do an engine instllation, I advise the owner to check, and if necessary, replace the fuel tanks prior to the engine installation.

The piece of wood visible is to hold the tank in place. You would need to remove it to be able to see the underside of the tank and determine if anything was installed under the tank to keep it from sitting in a puddle of water.


Bud, I believe you provided the fuel tank. I wondered if you had any records of the make up of the 'custom' tank and any details of your installation...This was in conjunction with a repower that you did. I thought I had noticed from past posts of yours that you kept notes from past jobs. If not, my mistake...

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