Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's Not Over 'Til It's Over - The Port Engine Fuel Tank

I last wrote that the port engine fuel tank problems were all behind us. Well, Murphy was listening and laughed at us. Upon arriving in Marsh Harbor, Abacos Bahamas, Mike and Gee reported a diesel smell in their cabin (port, aft). Mike investigated and found a small, but steady diesel leak under the tank. We unbolted the tank and supported it with blocks to get an idea of what was happening.

Port fuel tank with corrosion on the bottom
The bottom of the tank was encrusted with salt. With a light and a mirror, I was able to see a couple of drips off the bottom of the tank. It was time to empty the tank and remove it. We pumped fuel into the starboard tank using a drill pump, pulling it from the Racor output so that it was like polishing the fuel.

Upon cleaning, we found that the tank had two small holes and several places where there was severe pitting. The tank was deteriorating from the outside. We speculate that the salt came from a water leak from the ports or from when the port engine heat exchanger failed.
Mike took the tank to CJ's in Marsh Harbor, Abaco Bahamas. They did an excellent welding job, spot welding the holes as well as adding new plates across the bottom of the tank. They recognized the tanks immediately, making a comment like "looks like South African tanks."
Port fuel tank after new bottoms are welded
If CJ had not been available to do the welding, we were going to drill and tap the holes and seat a machine screw in each hole, sealed with Permatex Form-a-gasket until we could get to a place where we could have it properly repaired.

We have been told that the starboard tank had a repair done several months prior to our purchase of LUX. One of the things that should be done on survey or phase-out of a Leopard cat is to unbolt and the fuel tanks and check for salt under them. If salt exists there, then require that they be removed and checked. It also makes sense at survey time to check for gunk in the bottom of the tanks and have them cleaned if any gunk is found.

Hopefully, this is the last you'll hear about fuel problems on the port engine.

To read about all our fuel problems and the eventual solution, click on the 'fuel' and 'engine' links in the tag list to the right of the blog.

Here is a useful link about the sources of gunk in diesel from Marsh Marine:


No comments: