Cleaning the tanks requires that I cut two holes, as
large as possible in the top of the tank. There's a baffle running athwartships which is the reason for 2 holes. My first step was to go to the welding shop down the road and rifle through their cut-off pile for a couple of aluminum plates the right size. If they have to cut the plates, there's a $20 minimum charge so I looked for plates that were pretty close to my chosen dimensions (8" x 9" and 12" x 9") and darned if I didn't find a couple that were REALLY close (8-1/2" x 9" and 12" x 8-1/2"). Close en
ough and only $6.00.
Next to Englund Marine (the repository of many, many, many of my dollars) for some neoprene for gaskets. Then back to the boat to cut the holes. And here they are:
Now to pump the fuel out. I brought 3 empty 5-gal jerry jugs with me, hoping they'd b
e enough. When I opened the tank and saw how high the fuel was, I was kind of concerned. But, since the tank is goofy shaped, the majority of the fuel is on the top. I managed to empty it into the 3 jerry jugs and a 5 gallon pickle bucket. Probably about 19 gallons all told. The first 10 gallons went fairly fast. I was using a little plunger pump that worked better than I expected. Until, that is, the plunger handle came completely out of the pump body on one of the upstrokes. It came unscrewed from the piston apparently. Couldn't get it screwed back in without taking the pump apart. But that was going to be very messy. The pump already leaked some so I already had some mess to contend with.
But in the end it didn't really matter because I managed to knock the plunger into the tank which was still deep enough that my surgical gloves wouldn't protect me. I had considered buying one of those little pumps you hook u
p to a electric drill but chose the hand pump instead. Now I decided the drill pump was the way to go. Off to the store to get one. Struck out at the first 2 stops but scored at the 3rd.
The drill pump was the way to go. It pumps up to 6 gallons per hour so filling the last jug and the pickle bucket didn't take too long. I decided this would be a great way to transfer fuel from jerry jugs to the main tank at sea. No spilling.
Once the tank was empty I started cleaning it out. I used paint thinner as a solvent and a LOT of paper towels. Here's a picture of the sludge I found on the bottom. It wasn't really all that bad considering it had been in use since 1976. Some of the sludge is aluminum from drilling the screw holes and sawing the access holes.
I scrubbed out the inside and scooped up the settled sludge as well as I could. It was
a very awkward job as most boat jobs are. I had to contort myself into an uncomfortable position, reach down the full length of my arm to the bottom of the tank, wipe stuff up without being able to see what my hand was doing, and then try to get the rag back out of the tank without spilling the sludge, and get it to a wastebasket conveniently located just out of reach. And then repeat. Took me well into the evening but I finally declared the tank clean. There's still a teeny bit of gunk that I just can't get at, but nothing like when I started. I'll watch those fuel filters pretty closely for the first few hours.
I put my nifty new covers on the holes and buttoned thin
gs up. I'm waiting for Englund to get a Baja filter for me. It's supposed to be in on Friday. This is a fuel filter/water separator/funnel for use when taking on fuel from dubious sources. After cleaning the tank I don't want to take a chance on reintroducing dirty fuel so I'm waiting until the filter arrives to pump the fuel back into my tank. I also devised a port where I can stick a dipstick in to the tank the determine how much fuel is left. This boat is 33 years old and, until now, as far as I can see, the amount of fuel in the tank was always a mystery except right after a fill-up. Amazing what one can get used to.