Well the biggest job of the project is now complete. Was a pretty big undertaking and took a bit to get done, but did go very well. I have heard horror stories of other vessels having to pretty much tear the boat apart to get the water tanks out and of then having them built and then not fitting correctly, leading to more work, time and money.
We pulled the tanks out about three weeks ago and took a full days work to get them both out. What we had to do was to pull up the teak and holly flooring to get to the furniture mold below and then we cut an access hole big enough to get both tanks out of. We were able to pull the bigger aft tank out first and then slide the forward tank back and bring it up and out of the same hole. The biggest problem we encountered is that that larger tank did not fit through the hatch to get it out of the boat, so we decided to cut the tank in two and have two tanks made instead joining them up once installed.
I got Phil and Unique welding, here in St. Pete Florida to do the tanks for me and have been really happy with the work he has done. He’s actually working on about another three projects for me at the moment as well. I decided, after talking to a few people, to make that new tanks out of 12 gauge stainless steel, and to use flair fit fittings for the hook up and plumbing, these are a compression type fitting and from all reports work really well. The fact that we had to cut the large tank in half turned out to be a good thing as I didn’t realize how much extra weight the 12guage stainless would be. If we had to try and maneuver the large tank it would have been an absolute mission.
Phil brought the tanks down to the boat before putting the lids on for a trial fitting and we discovered that the sheet metal guy, who had bent the steel for him was short and inch and a half, we had a chat and Phil was quite happy to make it right by welding a box section on top, but I decided against it as it was a lot of work and should not lose that much volume off the tanks. Also it gave a bit of room for error and ensured that the tanks would fit. Once the tops were on I headed up to Phil’s shop to witness the pressure test, pressing each tank to 3PSI, to check for leaks and have a final look over before the install. I ended up having to wait for a few days as the flair fit fitting were on back order and wanted to have everything good to go to knock off the install in one big day.
While the tanks were out I installed a flange of 1-inch aluminum to the existing flooring and drilled and tapped it to secure the cut out section too, and ground out the old fiberglass taping the held the old tanks in place, laying in the bilge grinding on fiberglass is not a job I particularly enjoy, was quite happy to finish that day. On a side note, if your covered in fiberglass, tired and hungry and you have a shower up at the shower block and forget to bring your towel, it takes about 12-15 paper hand towels to dry yourself off.
On the day of the install I got up early and had everything prepped for when Kev, who gave me a hand pulling out the tanks as well, arrived. We got stuck into it and had the first tank in pretty quickly, and the second not long after that. The third however, took some working. The floor below was not quite level and with the increased space of having the two tanks instead of one we had to do a bit of modification to sure up the tank and get it all secure. To join the two tanks we had a one-inch hose joining them and that way they would equalize through and essentially work as one. It was another long day and was around eight by the time we finished up and took me another couple of hours to get Kuhela back to normal. Still had a bit of work to do the following day, filling the tanks, checking for leaks and putting the teak and holly flooring back in, but this I could do on my own. I’ll tell you what though, I was sore after the install, wasn’t moving with the greatest of speed.
I filled the tanks and got a rough measurement of about seventy five gallons, a bit less than I would have liked, don’t think that the original tanks were the one hundred gallons listed on the brochure though, I seriously doubt I lost twenty five gallons with the tanks being and inch and a half shorter. Oh well I was happy, tanks fit, there were no leaks, and I had running water again. No more having to tote water to the boat. Ill put captions on the photos to show the sequence of events and give an idea of how we pulled it all off. With this job done, I shouldn’t have to worry about the water tanks for the next 30 years. Funnily enough, when we cut the old tank open, we found the inside to be in pretty good shape, but no way to know without opening it up.
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