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Fuel Tank Cover

schlepper

John m. Harrison
This past weekend was our first on the boat in it's new Marina home, Snead Island Boat Yard at the mouth of the Manatee River in Palmetto, FL. I was all excited when i got there on Friday afternoon after a grueling week at work. Not long after I got there, the bilge kicked on, and ran for it's 5 seconds as is typical. I was headed to the car to get the rest of my stuff and smelled raw diesel.

I saw a sheen on the water, figured it was from my bilge and opened the floor panel to peer down in there. Sure enough, there was a red, off road diesel floating around in there... I started looking for a likely source... Racor filter under sink, dry. drain hole in forward part of bilge from under tank and mast, dry. I pulled up the tank gauge inspection panel, all appeared dry. I looked on engine, and the parts of the hoses I could see, all dry. Hmm.... I then thought the small plastic cashew tub I keep some diesel in under the sink may have gotten knocked over and drained out so I righted it, noting it was dry though... hmmmm....

So I got out my small suction tank (like what is used to change oil), pumped it up and started draining the bilge of all residual water and diesel. There wasn't much in there, but it doesn't take much. I poured that all in a bucket and went and disposed of it. Poured Dawn soap and several buckets of freshwater down in the bilge and let it sit for about 2 hours (had the float switch off)... mopped all of that up with paper towels and forgot about the problem...

Curiosity got the best of me and yesterday, I took out the drawer under the forward facing seating of the salon and started looking at where the fill hose and vent hose, return lines and fuel line all come in there... i noticed there was a considerable amount of 'grime' under the fill hose and all underneath there. It is amazing how much dirt, hair, debris collects in the floor cracks of a boat... so I commenced trying to get all of this out. I noticed that there is about a 4"-6" wide detent in the molded fiberglass area where the hoses sweep down from above and to the metal tank cover and fittings. The grime previously mentioned was moist with fuel..I think I found my culprit, or at least part of the problem anyway. The fuel fill hose looks like original equipment. There is no cutout in the cabinetry to access the deck fill hose clamps... I cleaned it all up as best I could but I am still confused... is it the hose, is it the tank elbow or the plastic flare fitting the hose clamps to? It's not leaking now... I assume it leaked when I filled it up last weekend and had fuel coming out of the transom vent... the high volume diesel pump in Clearwater did a number on me, despite my trying to be very easy on the handle.... given the pressure on the tank top, I am concerned my tank gasket might have been compromised. If nothing else, getting things cleaned under there should further help with odors in the salon... fixing the wood rot in the anchor locker and sealing that off has helped immensely, the mast step is dry as a bone now...IMG_7653.JPGIMG_7658.JPG
 

dave_a

Dave Ahlers
I'm not much help. I'd guess it was the overfilling working past the gaskets. Your gauge reads 2/3's now (?) so there's no pressure on the gaskets and the leak stopped which all makes sense. I always filled from 5 gal cans and a syphon hose so I never tested the gaskets. But I did put a new gauge and gasket in (and cleaned the tank). I was reluctant to pull the cover off as I was afraid I couldn't find a new gasket. And the hoses looked like I'd need a Sawsall to run new ones. I chickened out.
There is a fuel tank sealing goo I've used with good results, but you'd have to take the cover off. At that point you may as well clean out the tank thoroughly.
https://shop.advanceautoparts.com/p/seal-all-contact-adhesive-and-sealant-380112/7010007-P

Maybe putting one of those fill whistles in the vent hose might help prevent overfilling.
https://www.defender.com/product.jsp?id=848503
Good luck John
 

stnick

lee nicholas
i always fill fuel from 5 gal cans also . The random fuel stops while cruising are full of trouble, so all my fuel goes thru my Baha filter. So a 5 gal can and my fuel pump mounted on a board with 15 feet of 12 volt cord and lighter plug in with a off on switch . Takes about 7 min per 5 gallon of fuel with very little spills. The hose into the 5 gal tanks gas a 3 OZ lead sinker on it so it always hits bottom .
The filter is stored in a large plastic bag than a back pack the pump is in another plastic bag than a different back pack. all stored under the captain seat one each side ! 10 gal takes 30 min with setting up and putting it all back. Electric fuel pumps are the way to go !
I dont ever put there fuel nozzle in my fuel Diesal cap !
 
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schlepper

John m. Harrison
Thanks Dave and Lee... I am thinking i might need to eventually get that tank plate off but talk about skeered! It looks like I'd have to do some drilling in the floor or cabinetry... add this to the list of things on these boats that I scratch my head about... why not move the whole thing forward on the tank, put a teak/holly plate there and make it serviceable?? You'd think the built into the keel holding tank was enough!
 
John,
I had a similar problem with my tank leaking. See my post on pg. 2, "fuel leaking into bilge sump" Feb 2016. Maybe you can use some of this story, although it involved no hose problems.
Best of luck!
Rick Noddin
 

1lostbouy

Member
Hi john:
When I first got my 382 I do quite a bit of work on everything below the waterline. I dropped it on the water filled it with fuel and went to head for home. Filled it using 5 gallon cans still overfilled the hose because the gauge was not working. Right away I could smell fuel. I check the hose everything looked fine but when I looked again I could see wet spots. I touch hose and it was deteriorated. Fuel was seeping through it right where it dipped under the cabinet. I replaced the fuel gauge and never put more than 3/4 In the tank. Then when I had some spare time I replaced it was pretty simple. 12 feet of hose 4 hose clamps and a $20 oscillating saw from Harbor freight. Open the cabinet right above the dry storage and just cut out the top square on the little shelf. You can stick your hand in and grab the neck of the fuel filter. unscrew the clamps work the hose free.then before you pull the holes down under the cabinet stick a snake down through the middle of it so when you pull the hose out the snake will already be down the back of the cabinet for you. The hose is tough to bend in there. Feed it up through the cabinet first then work it down under the floor next. If I get to my boat soon I'll take some pictures of the cabinet can't even tell it was cut .
 

schlepper

John m. Harrison
I am thinking it could be the hose there where the fitting is at the tank top...if not the top seal of the tank itself. I will be keen to see any photos you might have!
 

terry_thatcher

Terence Thatcher
My fill hose got old and started weeping fuel, but never as much as you describe. Removing the metal panel in top of the tank will require removal of the cabinet that forms the athwartships part of the settee, I think. And while we are at it, I have always wondered what the two wires attached to the gauge are for. Anyone have an answer? (I gave up on the old gauge and installed a tank tender. Seems to work, but calibration is not exact unless you empty the tank first, which I have never done.)
 

1lostbouy

Member
Go to the lowest point on the hose clean it up. Then slowly pour in a gallon of fuel and see if it seeps through the hose.
 
Schlepper John,
Another test for leaks could entail pressurizing your fuel system via the vent line. You could use your vacuum cleaner by connecting its exhaust port to the tank vent port using some duct tape and a makeshift fitting of plastic hose. Set it up with a way to adjust the pressure via a hole in the fitting that could be variably covered with tape, so you don't rupture anything. With some positive pressure in the system. You could dig out the soapy water and brush it on the suspected areas. Air pressure would keep any soap solution out of the fuel. And it would help clean things up.
Rick
 

schlepper

John m. Harrison
thanks guys, i will be back on the boat next weekend and will have a closer look at that fill hose, the likely culprit. in examining all of the photos i took, i think the wood flooring just before and at the hose clamps shows sign of light
fuel oil stain even after cleaning with mild soap. suspect the fill pressure when full caused it to leak, not necessarily rupture...
 

tfrere

Thomas McNulty
I had the same issue a few years back. I filled my tank and topped off into the hose and it seeped out of the hose under the sink and on the top of the tank. The hose was badly deteriorated.
 

stnick

lee nicholas
If a boat is 30 years old plus you should take steps to update hoses , Pumps and drains before going cruising . Have spares of everything. every day cruising takes a toll on old boats.
The Morgan hulls are solid as SEARS used to be. Its all the drains wireing and hoses that cant be expected to last for ever. Even the rubber gaskets around fuel and water fills should be changed or they could leak water in in your fuel ! Rebuild the fuel pumps. have spare water pumps. have the injectors redone. Carry spare belts ! always be boyscout Ready
I'm about to Rydalime the engine to clear the rust from inside and have her run cooler
 

Tim Eichel

Member
Hi John, I replaced the gasket under my fuel tank cover a while back to stop the leaking on my previous 382 model (now have a 383). It requires drilling a couple holes in the cabin floor to remove the last 2 screws, easy enough to plug later and barely noticeable. I pumped the tank out and then cleaned with rubbing alcohol while I had the cover off. I The alcohol melted the diesel deposits amazingly! Plus any leftover evaporates quickly. When I got done the inside of the tank was white and slick like a bathtub. I used a garden sprayer to get to the parts back behinds the built in baffles. I bought rubber gasket material at Goodyear in St Pete, formulated to withstand fuel and created my own gasket. Clean tank/no leaks.
 

schlepper

John m. Harrison
Tim, now that I'm berthed at Snead Island, I will have to sail up to where you are in St. Pete and have a look at your boat. Lee tells me amazing things you have done to it!! I get virtually no debris in the bowl of my racor fuel filter and never have any water in it either... I don't know if the detritus in the tank would ever make it up that far, surely it would... in any case, I think i am going to stick with the hose theory and work from that back to the tank top to figure out where the leak came from. I stuffed an absorbent diaper under all the hoses in the event that I get any leakage before I nail down the source... it is amazing, I'd bet that the amount of diesel in the bilge was maybe a half a solo cup, maybe much less, but the smell was very strong until I got it all cleaned up. I did notice a large amount of dirt like coating under the hoses and around the tank top which I cleaned out. It had a bit of a diesel smell to it so I think it could've been contributory to an unsavory smell inside the cabin (that goes away once the boat is opened up). Eliminating the wood rot and sealing the anchor well seemed to help with interior odors as well... a last question for you, how far forward does the fuel tank go? Does it go all the way forward to just aft of the mast? How do you see to clean that far forward??? Was the interior of your tank really nasty??
 

Tim Eichel

Member
Hi John, would be good to see you, let me know when you sail over and I'll take a day off.

The tank does go all the way to very close to the mast. I took a car duster tool with a short handle and soaked it with alcohol and slid forward all around over and over again until it came back clean. I sprayed alcohol with a pump sprayer as far back as I could reach. All liquid flows back down to the low point (right to the access panel opening and fuel pick up area) so it was easy to clean out.
My tank was really dirty!
 

1lostbouy

Member
John this is a picture of the cabinet that I cut out the back of. Oscillating saw at Harbor freight if you look closely you can see where I cut it and the glue remains to put it back in. You can reach everything from there.IMG_1013.JPG
 

jimcleary

James M. Cleary
John

In your first photo of the tank gauge and hoses, I noticed that the shut off valve handle is broken. While you are down in there doing work, you might want to replace that valve. If you ever experience a run away condition with your engine, that valve become rather important for shutting down the beast. Nice to know it's there ready to stop the fuel flow.

Jim
 

schlepper

John m. Harrison
John

In your first photo of the tank gauge and hoses, I noticed that the shut off valve handle is broken. While you are down in there doing work, you might want to replace that valve. If you ever experience a run away condition with your engine, that valve become rather important for shutting down the beast. Nice to know it's there ready to stop the fuel flow.

Jim
Jim, good eye!! The valve tab just dropped off one day.... weird.... but the remainder is easy to open and close.... so i still use it to close when changing Racor filter, etc....
 

kenk

Ken Kurlychek
Hi,
I've scanned the posts but have not seen the answer to this question: what is the fuel tank in a 38-4 made of?
Thanks,
Ken
 

kenk

Ken Kurlychek
Thanks Jim. After I posted my question I found a post that said that. We're getting an insurance survey and the surveyor wasn't sure. Didn't want him drilling holes to find our.
Thanks again, Jim.
Ken
 
Hi Ken
My 384 has a fiberglass tank. The cover has two bolts under the sole where the two access holes are. A socket wrench gets them out now.
The access plate was sand blasted and painted with POR15. I made a plate gasket from a sheet of 1/4" thick butyl rubber, 40-50 durometer, I think. You need some give in the gasket to fill any low spots on the tank top.
The tank top goes forward to the bulkhead just aft of the mast step. I'm thinking that there is room to create a forward location for a new access cover, but I think that routing hoses would be an issue. It depends upon whether or not the gap between the tank top and the cabin sole is large enough. I think there is a pretty stout structural assembly in the area of the mast, so probably not good to compromise that. The tank fwd wall is pretty close to it.16039962588798481286541718100078.jpg
 
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