Hells Bay: Prolonging the life of your aluminum gas tank..

Discussion in 'Boat Yard Basics' started by Snookdaddy, Jun 15, 2013.

  1. Snookdaddy

    Snookdaddy Well-Known Member

    I spoke to Tom Gordon recently when I was looking at a 2002 Hells Bay Waterman.  I'd heard that a number of older Hells Bay skiff were requiring fuel tank replacement due to corrosion..  Tom gave me some information about increasing the lifespan of aluminum tanks.

    First of all, most of the tanks that are having problems are the ones that Hells Bay bedded with some sort of "putty" to help prevent vibration issues.  When you take a wave over the bow, which happens at times when posted up for tarpon in very windy conditions or keep wet anchor lines in the bow compartment, the water will creep in between the putty and the tank and sit there for years. This will eventually corrode the tank and cause leaks..

    Tom Gordon said:

    Whether you have your tanks puttied in or not (my HB is not puttied in) you should rinse out the front compartment every 6 months or so..

    1) Disconnect and remove any batteries in the front compartment.
    2) Get a 5 gallon bucket and fill it with soapy water (warm soapy water is best, so let the bucket sit in the sun for an hour).
    3) Pour 5 to 10 gallons into the front compartment. ** NOT INTO THE TANK **
    4) Raise the trailer jack as high as it will go and rock the boat back and forth and side to side for a few minutes.
    5) Lower the tongue jack all the way down and scoop out as much water as possible, followed by a shop vac or towels to remove as much water as possible.
    6) Keep hatch open until it is dry.  A fan directed into the hatch speeds up the process..
    7) Crack a cold one...  Your done!

    Tom said that this should easily double the life of your fuel tank..

    I hope this helps.  I know that I'll be doing this twice a year from now on..

    PS...  Does this boat look familiar? ;D ;D ;D

  2. Sheremeta

    Sheremeta Well-Known Member

    Yes that's all true in theory however if this maintenance has not been done from day one, doing it now will not make a difference.

    Once aluminum begins to pit the corrosion is like a cancer. The best way to protect a bare aluminum fuel cell is to weld angle aluminum mounts to lift it off the floor and ground it. As long as air can make contact with aluminum it will not corrode to the point of pitting. As for failure from vibration I do not have any experience with that.

    The best way to protect your tank is to not foam it in place and either powder coat or better line x and support it on small neoprene pads.

    Congrats on the skiff. It's a beauty.

  3. Ckirk57

    Ckirk57 Well-Known Member

    I've been doing that for quite awhile but I think the warm water may be a bit overboard.
  4. Sheremeta

    Sheremeta Well-Known Member

    If you have a utility sink in your garage you can run hot water through a garden hose. How water dissolves salt faster.
  5. Snookdaddy

    Snookdaddy Well-Known Member

    I agree, I just use water warmed by the sun.. I don't see myself breaking out the gear for a low country boil, just to wash the front compartment of my skiff... ;D
  6. breakin70

    breakin70 I Love microskiff.com!

    Boat doesnt look familiar to me, but she sure looks pretty!
  7. Dillusion

    Dillusion devilray snob

    I wonder if this is a good regiment to start with one a new skiff with an open bulkhead and mounted aluminum tank in the bow...
  8. Creek Runner

    Creek Runner Well-Known Member

    It is a good idea for any boat that has an exposed tank. I always tell people to once a year rinse the outside of the tank the best they can and try to leave the hatch open for all the compartments even the bilge area you will be suprised how much it helps.

    This just takes it a step further which won't hurt!
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