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Close off, fill, or re-purpose keel holding tank?

flightlead404

New Member
Hi

I’m in the process of buying an M384. I believe this boat has the integral holding tank in the aft part of the keel

I plan on installing a composting head and getting rid of all the toilet plumbing etc

What should I do with the holding tank? Is it worth considering repurposing it, e.g. for fuel? Should I just cap it off? If so, how? Should I consider filling the void with something first?

Thanks
 
I redid my plumbing last winter, and upon consideration came to the conclusion that I think some others have as well that the old holding tank is best left empty. Unless you are going to fill it with something very solid and do a good job sealing to keep water out, you will just end up with waterlogged stuff down there. After all the top of the holding tank is the bottom of the bilge. And then if it ever freezes you could end up with a big problem.
Fuel is an interesting idea, maybe put a bladder tank down there? Again I'd worry about water intrusion long term.
 

flightlead404

New Member
So do you glass over it to keep bilge water out? Or simply cap off fittings?

I had considered repurposing the deck pump out as a vent if needed, otherwise simply leaving as is.

I'm headed to survey next week. I understand these tanks can be damaged with improper blocking when on the hard. What should I look for?
 

jimcleary

James M. Cleary
Flightlead404

Your handle makes you sound like the leader of a Spitfire squadron over London in 1940. You can't be that old so there must be another explanation. We'd all love to hear the story.

Speaking of stories, this is one that is not so good. Years ago a man purchased a used LeCompte 38 for 60K from a dealer in New Rochelle, NY. There was a strange noise in the engine and the owner of the dealership offered to check it out. He took the boat out for a test run to diagnose the problem. He must have been paying too much attention to the engine noise and promptly run the boat up on some rocks outside the harbor. The keel design on the LeCompte was similar to ours with a void aft of the lead ballast. In the case of that boat the void was open to the bilge and hidden under water tanks. The boat had crashed down on the rocks on the aft end of the keel opening up the void to the sea. The guy in the boat couldn't get under the tanks to work on the leak and the boat sunk on top of the rocks. The insurance paid off the 60K to the new owner and a good friend of mine purchased the wreck from the insurance company for 13K. He put about 15K into rebuilding and they sailed the boat for another 15 years including a journey from NY to Bermuda.

The moral of that story relating to the Morgans is that the holding tank area is vulnerable to a catastrophic event. If the tank is still functioning as a holding tank it will be watertight and basically sealed off from the rest of the boat (except for if the bilge floor tabbing is fractured as many are). If the tank is not being used as a holding tank then it might be best to leave it sealed and empty as insurance against that catastrophic event.

When we abandoned the keel holding tank in favor of a much larger tank in the V-Bunk, the two PVC pipes entering and leaving the old tank were capped with PVC fittings, one of which has a threaded cap which can be opened to pump out any water. At least if the back of the keel is damaged, there will not be uncontrolled flooding.

I hope this helps you make a decision regarding the tank and that I didn't scare you.

Jim
 

flightlead404

New Member
Thanks Jim. I also read some folks used SeaCast in there. I’ll see what we find at survey

lol no spitfires but I do fly an RV-8 which is a fully aerobatic tandem seat tail dragger. i flew on an air show team for a while and have been flying and teaching formation for 20+ years. Bought my first airplane the year after college and been at it ever since

my actual call sign is Flame Out. In case you don’t know, most call signs refer to a time you screwed up lol. In my case I was #2 in a flight of four heading to a formation seminar. So there were 50 formation pilots on the ground watching and waiting to “critique” us. In echelon on initial for the overhead approach (YouTube it) right as Lead gave us the pitch signal out my engine quit. Everyone’s eyes got real big, real quick and the guys on my wing were pulling their throttles out as fast as they could trying to stay in position.

got it relit but never lived it down lol
 

jimcleary

James M. Cleary
Flame Out

Do you have a real name? Does your wife call you Flame Out? I think an aerobatic tandem seat tail dragger deserves a posted photo.

My thought is: why bother spending the money on SeaCast? Just leave the tank empty and as watertight as possible with maybe a plan to open it at the end of the season to see if there is any water in it. Do you keep the boat in a place where you will have to be concerned with freezing temps?

Jim
 
I second the call for a pic or two. An aerobatic tandem seat tail dragger sounds pretty darn cool. Much cooler than a nasty 40 year old bilge/holding tank at any rate!

I capped mine and left the fittings in place to allow for pumping out on occasion, same as Jim. If the boat has been blocked incorrectly in the past you might see some evidence on the outside of the keel (I saw this on one unfortunate Morgan), but much more common is that the bilge floor tabbing fractures as Jim said. If it is still plumbed as a holding tank, the easiest way to test this is to close off or at least restrict the air vent, pump some water through the head and have someone watch for air bubbles escaping the top of the bilge floor through the delaminated tabbing. Seeing that is what put me over the edge to replumb. You could probably accomplish the same thing by removing the hose from one of the fittings and blowing air into the tank.

Keefer
 

flightlead404

New Member
Ok pic coming. boat will be in warm waters, the whole point is to have somewhere warm and sunny to go to. I’m in Atl, boat is currently nr Merritt Island, FL. Plan is to meander south and then north again in 2021 while we’re still working remotely. May get as far south as KW we will see. As it warms up we will head north again, idk where we will summer.

assuming survey is good this will be my first boat that I couldn’t put on the roof of my car. It’s going to be a learning platform for us. I’ve chartered and day sailed but ofc that’s no substitute for owning or cruising longer term.

I'm Martin. No wife, but my girlfriend can call me anything, as long as she calls me :cool:. Nice to meet you guys!

Keefer, I’ll add that inspection /test to our survey to-do’s. I do like the idea of leaving it available for inspection. I’m just concerned about odor, but as long as its clean it s/b ok.

Any other unique things we should look at with this boat on survey? I've already noted to check for companionway leaks, esp checking the headliner and aft bulkhead. Also the sheaves and mounting plate for the steering.

initial projects will be electrical system upgrades, meaning more batteries and more solar, the above mentioned composting head, and a windlass. Definitely need an electric windlass.
 
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jimcleary

James M. Cleary
Martin

Hope the survey goes well for you. Those planes are way cool. Great photos.

The Morgan 38s usually survey well. A good surveyor will know what to look for in a boat of a particular age. Don't go cheap on a surveyor. Get a bunch of recommendations and be prepared to spend the better part of a day with him looking at the boat.

If you read in recent threads posted on this board, you'll find that most of us owners feel the boats are undervalued. Which means you get a lot of boat for the money if it is in basically good shape. A plus for these boats is this board where you will find information and help for any project you are planning to tackle. There isn't much that hasn't be repaired or remodeled by someone on the board. Just don't be afraid to ask questions.

My wife and I looked into those composting heads a while ago. The issue we found was the height of the units. My wife, Bonnie, is 5'1" and her feet would be dangling in the air when sitting down. We have friends with an air head on a Catalina 40 and they love it.

Good luck with the survey. Don't flame out.

Jim
 

flightlead404

New Member
This surveyor is a "her" actually. And she's got 382 experience, apparently her mother owned one. She's well recommended. I've also engaged a diesel guy separately for the engine. I'm good with spark engines, esp aircraft and air-cooled Porsches, but a diesel is unknown territory to me.

Ah, interesting point on the head. My lady is 4.92' tall :). Perhaps I could build a platform.
 
Good luck, and great pics, thanks! Morgan 38s really are a good quality boat for the money, but like any old boat you never quite know what you will find when you start digging in. Will keep fingers crossed for you :)
 

jimcleary

James M. Cleary
Martin
Investigate the space you'll have in the head to build a platform or steps to be able to sit on the throne comfortably.

Jim
 

Tim Eichel

Member
This surveyor is a "her" actually. And she's got 382 experience, apparently her mother owned one. She's well recommended. I've also engaged a diesel guy separately for the engine. I'm good with spark engines, esp aircraft and air-cooled Porsches, but a diesel is unknown territory to me.

Ah, interesting point on the head. My lady is 4.92' tall :). Perhaps I could build a platform.
One area I have found issues with my current 383 and also a formerly owned 382 is the anchor locker bulkhead. It was not glassed over completely from the factory which allowed moisture from the anchor rode to penetrate the wood and rot the bulkhead. I had to replace the bulkheads on both boats.
 
Tim,
I found the same issue on our Sonata, a 383, 029/030. There was a leak that I first attributed to the inner headstay which is aft of the bulkhead. The stay continues to the bulkhead via a solid tension rod, thru bolted at the deck.
There were drips from that rod's intersection at the bulkhead, if that makes any sense. But, I found the floor of the anchor locker had only been glassed along the hull sides. No rot is evident at this point, but I glassed the floor/bulkhead joint completely and no more leaks.
Mitch
 

williwaw

Tom Kluberton
We implemented the solution posted by S/V Pilgrim and had no regrets. The Todd Tank fit beneath the sink cabinet in the head like a glove and the ability to have the three stages of bilge pump was a valuable design - never did install the third stage pump, but never needed it. I would recommend using a diaphragm pump for the lowest stage of bilge as they are self-priming. We used a Whale that had an integral filter which was invaluable for keeping the inevitable crud that finds it's way to the bottom of the keel at bay.

I will admit that our friend gravity has a way of propelling anything you drop to the bottom of the keel, but we had a cheap 3' tweezer from the Box Store you would use to get paper towels off the top shelf in the kitchen with.- Using that and a flashlight we recovered anything that found it's way to the bottom without problem.

I learned not to worry about having weakened the keel. Having the boat in the FL panhandle Williwaw was no stranger to the bottom. We never had a slip that didn't leave her standing on bottom during low tides and northerly winds - that's just Florida. We cut many a trough through the sand getting into bays and bayous (Destin and Crooked Island are famous for that) and no harm came from those contacts. If I was sailing her in rocky bottom water, I'd be way more careful.

The ability to pump out at sea is wonderful, and we could flush directly overboard while making crossings, as well as being pumped-out at the marina. A Whale Gulper pump did the heavy lifting without complaint.

See the excellent entries for SV Pilgrim for details. Be sure to use the best sanitary hose you can buy - we used Raritan and it is much more flexible and the diameter far more consistent than the cheaper hoses that begin to let stink permeate much sooner. Not a place to scrimp.
 
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