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

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


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Fuel Tank

Debbie Maidman and Chris Burger

Believe I have leaking portside fuel tank, evidence of diesel fuel in bilge and streaking of what appears to be fuel on tank support shelf. Upon inspection, I believe tank to be aluminum, as it is a light silver color (all welds that I can see appear to be perfect) and I do not want to go through entire process of removal if not necessary. Is there a method to test the tank to determine if in fact it is leaking outside of filling it with fuel? Could it be some of the other components related to the tank and if so, how do I test them considering some of them are hidden from view? Best Regards, CB

Michael Dougan

I was hoping others would comment as I have a similar problem. I believe my tank is the original stainless and I suspect that I'm going to have to replace it, but as it's still mostly full I've been waiting to run it down a bit.

I've heard people say that over-filling the tank can cause a leak, particularly if you experience some large heel shortly thereafter... and this might apply to me, as I did fill it to the brim prior to a long voyage after which I first noticed the streaking etc. I would imagine that this would either be out of a vent or perhaps through the fill hose if the clamps are not tight enough.

But, the stainless tanks do go after a while... so, there is the possibility that it has corroded on the backside or on the bottom. One idea I haven't tried yet is to take a digital camera with a flash and hold it behind the tank and shoot a few pictures... it's a great trick for looking at places you can't quite get your head into!

Michael McDiarmid

I believe that I heard that the original fuel tanks were black steel. The replacements are made of aluminum. We developed a leak in the Starboard fuel tank of Namida (W32 #645) this spring. It didn?t take much to determine that indeed the tank was leaking. I was not able to actually see the location of the leak until the tank was removed. The leak was on the bottom of the tank where it set on the ledge almost directly below the fuel take-up tube. It appeared that the tank did not rot from the outside but rather from the inside out. After removing the tank I was able to plug all of the ports and pressure test the tank (with low pressure air). The source of the leak became very obvious. Bud did a fantastic job supplying a replacement tank. I?d like to be able to tell you that the job of replacing the tank was a breeze?. Actually it was not too bad. It took a couple of hours each way. I had to remove the air intake from the Perkins and move the cockpit drain lines. It?s a tight squeeze, but it comes out.

Good luck,

Bud Taplin

Some of the early Westsail 32's had stainless steel fuel tanks. Most had steel fuel tanks (called black iron, but don't believe it, they were mild steel). The later boats had aluminum tanks, but I could not tell you at what date Westsail started using aluminum. I only use aluminum for fuel tanks.

aj sailon (Guest)

I just replaced my starboard aluminum tank in a W32 due to suspected leaking. Prima facia evidence was that slight discoloration of the shelf from the color of diesel, a slight sheen to the bilge water and the odiferous evidence of diesel.
Upon removal, it appears that the leak emminates from the inside due to the sludge mixed with a little water from condensation and it all sits in the bottom of the tank picking up a little galvanic charge to start the very fine pin holing effect resulting in the leak.
Airplane tanks are kept full while parked on the tarmack because the condensation affect adds water to the fuel (not good). Keep this in mind when storing your boat for long periods, especially where the humidity is high! or the temperature change is great.
The amount of condensation is reduced because of less airspace.

Bill and Linda Kenner

I once had a fuel tank on an old Cape Cod catboat that begin scaling and stopping things up. I could get it out of its resting place enough to rotate it but not enough room to remove it without major surgery to either tank or boat. I found an airplane product, Slouch-and-Seal. Cleaned the tank by pouring a solvent in and then put the S & S in for a number of spins. Poured out the remains and it worked better and longer than I expected. It coats the interior with a rubber/plastic film that protects the surface from oxidation. Don't know if it will work with diesel fuel tanks or not. Check with the manufacturer.

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