If you remember, the first part of the project ended with the fittings being bought for the new tanks including a fuel supply and return selector switch. The idea was that we could draw fuel from either tank and return excess fuel to either tank as well.
Our first few days back from the UK were spent doing odd jobs to get the boat back in the water. Unfortunately, as the travel lift was out of operation for 3 days when we were due to get put back in the water, we had to install both the new tanks while on the hard. This meant Debbie and I used a gantry to lift the tanks the 9 feet from the ground over the lifelines and down into the boat 😦
The tanks were a tight fit through the companionway and a perfect fit into the existing spaces vacated by the old tanks. First in was the diesel tank. We placed a strap under the tank before we dropped it in so that we could still remove it if required during the installation phase
I had already plumbed in the 2 three-way valves for the pick-up and return lines for the fuel tanks. I placed these under the inspection hatch for the original fuel tank and simply tied into the pick-up and return lines from the old tank. This simplified the plumbing and still had all fuel going through the existing filtration system.
This plumbing was then attached to the new tank. The diesel vent was tied into the existing vent in the engine room roof to ensure that there could be no crossover of fuel between tanks in a seaway. Several years ago I removed a 15 gallon holding tank from under the starboard settee as we plumbed the aft head directly overboard. I used the old deck fitting for the new diesel tank fill.
Next was the water tank. As it was a straight swap with regards to fittings so there was less to do there.
Once both tanks were in, I sprayed insulation foam around each corner to hold the tanks firmly in place. Then it was time to replace the struts that ran over the tanks to add support to the floor. These were made from Douglas fir as it’s a wood with good rigidity. The trim to support the new subfloor around its edges was then epoxied and screwed in place.
I measured the position of the fittings in the new tanks, fore and aft, and marked those locations on the starboard settee front so that once the new subfloor was laid down I could mark those positions on the top of the floor for the inspection hatches. As I was using the original inspection hatches for the new sole, the position of the hatches athwartships was restricted by the teak and holly pattern that would be on the new sole and the existing hatches. As the new sole would tie in with the teak and holly of the old sole, I stretched a thread from the teak and holly pattern in the galley to the forward cabin. I then used this taut thread to mark the old hatches position athwartships so that the pattern would align. This had to be done as the inspection hatch holes would be cut in the new subfloor before the ¼” teak and holly ply was epoxied down to the subfloor.
With these holes cut I then cut, epoxied and screwed in trim to support the hatches.
After the subfloor was epoxied and screwed down I enlisted the skills of Rick Vogt of Vogt Yachts to install the teak and holly ply on top of the subfloor. He used a 1” strip of teak athwartships at either end of the new floor so that any minute inconsistencies between the new and old floor would not stick out. He also ran the new teak and holly ply under the edge of the port settee so that it would be easier to get a clean edge. He therefore had to shave ¼” off the height of all the vertical settee pieces that had been removed to facilitate the floor removal.
Once the teak and holly ply was epoxied in place he routed out the inspection hatch holes and the small holes for the plates that accept the table legs.
He then replaced the vertical sections of the settee. During the deconstruction of the port settee I managed to tear some of the teak laminate of the front of one of the pieces. Rick epoxied a new piece of teak laminate to the old board.
As the new subfloor was visible under the port settee, I floated it with epoxy to remove any joins and screw holes. I then sanded and applied 2 coats of EZ Bilge to the complete floor of the inside of the settee.
I moved the boat back to New Bern and on the way there I swapped the three-way fuel valves back and forth several times to ensure that fuel supply was maintained. No problems arose. Debbie and I then spent the next 9 days sanding, cleaning, filling bung holes and varnishing the complete sole, 8 coats!
It is good to have the boat back in a condition where we can move around freely and another major project is completed. As the old fuel tank had no pitting I feel secure in the knowledge that the new aluminum tank will outlast the boat. As the new water tank is polypropylene, there should be no issues with longevity there either.