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Aluminum Gas Tanks

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I have been looking at various used flats and bay boats for quite some time.  Many years back, I owned a Pathfinder and loved it, so I have been focusing on various Maverick, Hewes and Pathfinder models, but also other manufacturers as well.  My budget is such that I have been looking at older boats, a lot of them in the 1999-2005 range.  I'm learning more and more the problems that come with boats of this age and how big some of the expenses can become. 

Aluminum gas tanks and the associated costs are now scaring me a lot.  Having to cut apart a boat to switch them out is now one of my primary concerns.  I'm seeing more and more of these in older boats and obviously it looks to be a big and expensive job.  I wish the design was such that it was not so involved or I could attempt it myself, but having to cut apart a boat or lift the cap or whatever would be too much for me, and I couldn't afford to pay someone else with used boat prices these days.

Can anyone point me to where I find info on the various Maverick, Hewes and Pathfinder models and when aluminum tanks stopped being used in them?  Or if they are still used when the tanks were coated or something to prevent the corrosion and leaking?  While shopping for various models this would be extremely useful information as I dive in to investigate a particular boat.        

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Aluminum tanks are still very much normal in todays boats. The plastic tanks, like in the Pathfinders have their down falls as well.

Its a bit of a mystery to me how some tanks develop a leak and some won't. My dad has a 1976 Seacraft Master Angler, with the original tank, no leaks no issues. Maybe some use lower grade aluminum, or possibly its some boats spend more time in the salt environment. Maybe hull leaks and saltwater sits on the tank.  Either way, if the boat is decent condition and cared for I would think the tank to be in good shape.

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unfortunately most of the flats boats with no bilge to speak of have some water sitting around the tanks.  It's not the best environment for anything to sit in.  As long as it is mostly fresh water it should not cause trouble for quite a while.  If there is salt water from small leak it will be an issue.

If you trail the boat make sure the stern plug is removed and drain any standing water as a first way to prevent corrosion of the tank. My boat is a 20FT LT 2008,no trouble YET!!! but I'm nervous from all the posts about the troubles.

 

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Gabe, is your Dad's  SeaCraft's tank "foamed in"?? That seems to be the kiss of death on aluminum tanks, the foam gets wet and holds the moisture against the aluminum and speeds up corrosion. I would much rather not have my tank foamed in, which in my case it was foamed in by the previous owner when he had the new tank installed  Just rolling the dice......that it does not leak. My brother's SeaVee had many leaks on his foamed in aluminum tank and it was a smooth $5,000 to replace. Break Out Another Thousand....BOAT.

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The owners of the various models can answer your questions.  I have not seen a summary by make / model and tank composition..

My '04 Pathfinder 1900 had a Poly tank.

Mod-1

 

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Having similar problem with my grandsons 1985 MA 18. Initially we thought a screw had penetrated at the front deck step up. but unfortunately that's not it. We've inspected fill hose, vent hose, vent hose connection, primer bulb, water separator. They are all either in good shape or had been replaced by some previous owner.

Anytime it;'s filled past 1/4,(it's 50 gal I believe, mounted under forward hatch), it leaks into bilge. Not a lot but enough to stop using until we identify and fix the problem. There is a 1/4 inch fiberglass baffle factory mounted to the floor and it is  raised up to receive the rear portion of the front deck cap/hatch. I'm going to cut that out and gain access to the rear of the tank and hopefully bottom and sides. The tank is coated with a grey coating and from the top looks good. I can see some foan on both sides,(iphoning through the top pie plates).

I'll post some pics and progress reports in the next few days..hope to find leak and maybe J&B weld leak. Taking of the top cap is not something we want to think about.

Later,

Par8head

 

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11 hours ago, DonV said:

Gabe, is your Dad's  SeaCraft's tank "foamed in"?? That seems to be the kiss of death on aluminum tanks, the foam gets wet and holds the moisture against the aluminum and speeds up corrosion. I would much rather not have my tank foamed in, which in my case it was foamed in by the previous owner when he had the new tank installed  Just rolling the dice......that it does not leak. My brother's SeaVee had many leaks on his foamed in aluminum tank and it was a smooth $5,000 to replace. Break Out Another Thousand....BOAT.

I don't know, he/we bought it used about 15 years ago, and there are no signs or mention from the previous owner of tank replacement. There has never been a reason to investigate the tank, no leaks, no gas smell, nothing. Its a 20 foot model, we redid the transom and raised it to a 25", hung a Yamaha 150 on it. Been a great boat, there are many soft spots on the floor, but its old so it is what it is.

You have an older Seacraft, right?

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Thanks for the replies everyone.  I thought this would be information I could easily get on these boats but unfortunately that is not the case.  This has definitely changed my shopping strategy.  I'm retired and not able to pay the top dollar being demanded for these old boats, with the risk of having to then turn right around and drop so much on such a big project.  Heck even if I could afford it I wouldn't want the time and headache to have it done and hope it's done to my standards.  Back to square one I reckon. 

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If you find a quality brand boat around 10 years old I would not worry to much about it. The main problem will be the effects of ethanol on the system unless you find a owner who avoided it 

if you do find a boat your interested in wait till late afternoon when it's the hottest and open up a  inspection plate and see it there is a gas odor. 

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10 hours ago, hurricane said:

I don't know, he/we bought it used about 15 years ago, and there are no signs or mention from the previous owner of tank replacement. There has never been a reason to investigate the tank, no leaks, no gas smell, nothing. Its a 20 foot model, we redid the transom and raised it to a 25", hung a Yamaha 150 on it. Been a great boat, there are many soft spots on the floor, but its old so it is what it is.

You have an older Seacraft, right?

Sounds like your Dad did it exactly like it should be done!!! Yes Sir a 23' Superfish, she just turned 39 years old in July. Going Tuesday to have a new engine put on the old clunker. After a few visits to boat shows over the past few years a new boat is not in my retiree budget!! I guess I have not figured out how people afford $75k skiffs/bay boats or $100k to $400K CC triple engine boats, maybe tonight's lottery will help.

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Yes it seems installation is biggest factor. Foam, bad drainage whatever holds moisture against it. My Hewes tank was aluminum and very accessible and well ventilated but it had carpet on a couple areas.  I’m guessing to dampen sound. There was pitting starting around and obviously under when I removed it while rest of tank looked great. 

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So we cut the fiberglass vertical riser which gave us limited access. You can see the foam creeping around the front. When we scraped it off note that it had removed whatever coating they used on the tank in 1985. Also of note, and as mentioned by many others, in well ventilated, non foamed areas the coating is in place and still doing it's job of protecting the aluminum.

We abraded and cleaned the two screw holes and patched with original JB Weld. Filling up the tank and a water test to see if these two holes were the problem is next............wish us luck.

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Yes Sir good luck with the JB weld! I have seen where people will etch the tank and put many coats of barrier paint or something like Line-X on a new tank and then foam it in. I guess that is OK, however foam directly on aluminum is not the best option, especially below deck.

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On 11/2/2017 at 8:17 AM, daygator said:

I have been looking at various used flats and bay boats for quite some time.  Many years back, I owned a Pathfinder and loved it, so I have been focusing on various Maverick, Hewes and Pathfinder models, but also other manufacturers as well.  My budget is such that I have been looking at older boats, a lot of them in the 1999-2005 range.  I'm learning more and more the problems that come with boats of this age and how big some of the expenses can become. 

Aluminum gas tanks and the associated costs are now scaring me a lot.  Having to cut apart a boat to switch them out is now one of my primary concerns.  I'm seeing more and more of these in older boats and obviously it looks to be a big and expensive job.  I wish the design was such that it was not so involved or I could attempt it myself, but having to cut apart a boat or lift the cap or whatever would be too much for me, and I couldn't afford to pay someone else with used boat prices these days.

Can anyone point me to where I find info on the various Maverick, Hewes and Pathfinder models and when aluminum tanks stopped being used in them?  Or if they are still used when the tanks were coated or something to prevent the corrosion and leaking?  While shopping for various models this would be extremely useful information as I dive in to investigate a particular boat.        

I would't give up on a boat just because of the tank. Mines OEM 1996.

Good place to start for research perhaps: 

 

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