Ian Elliott, #377, Sanctuary

On my WC Triton the old (gasoline) fuel tank was a glass fiber tank installed under the cockpit sole. I had changed the engine from an Atomic 4 to a BETA diesel a number of years ago and for me, 27 gallons of fuel was far too much but worse than that, the fuel tank restricted access to the stuffing box.

I had a new aluminum fuel tank custom made for me by RDS of Miami (surprisingly economical). The tank is 19” X 14” X 8½”, RDS part # is 69467. At 9 gallons it provides adequate diesel capacity for my needs. The mounting location is vertically on the port side bulkhead. I made a cardboard model before ordering the tank because it is a very snug fit (an extra ¼” will prevent the installation).

Installation was straightforward through the port side locker. The tank has a fitting at the top for diesel return, a 1½” fuel filler port that uses the existing deck fill port, and two couplings. The lower coupling has a fuel tap and a tee (diesel feed line and sight gauge), the upper coupling has a tee (top of sight gauge and air vent). I connected to the original tank air vent. Connect all the pipes, fill it up, bleed any air from the engine and it works.

The photo is the view from inside the port locker. There are four angle brackets welded as part of the tank that are not seen here in the photo. The 2” pipe rising along the left is the engine exhaust, you can see the filler pipe from the deck, the fuel tap/sight gauge, the engine fuel feed and the diesel return pipe. The angled fiberglass seen on the right is the drain off the locker cover. If I were to do this again I would probably put the sight gauge in the middle of the tank and increase the coupling size on the tank to ¼” (I used 1/8”), but other than that I am quite happy with it.

The second part of the project is to remove the old glass fiber tank. The tank is “tabbed” to the cockpit sole. I sawed the top of the tank as close as I could either side of the cockpit sole leaving the top still connected to the sole. Keeping the top of the tank tabbed in place maintains the stiffness in the cockpit sole. Cutting up and removing the remainder of the tank is a tedious, tough job and you will use all the saws in your inventory; jig saw, hand saw, a small trimming circular saw, everything you have got! After the two initial cuts either side of the sole which I did with a small circular saw, I probably used the jig saw and a small, 12” carpenters saw the most. Whatever you have that is small. The fiberglass is about ½” thick but is double around the top edge and is about hard as oak so allow about six hours of hard work. You must wear a mask over your mouth and goggles for your eyes. Long sleeves, a hat and a collar will minimize the itchy stuff that you will need to shower off each time. With all that covering, I suggest doing this work on a cool day! The tank comes out in numerous, fairly small pieces that you need cut to give yourself access to cut out the next piece. After all that hard work, it is very satisfying to properly get to the stuffing box.

I still need to figure out a simple method to prevent the equipment in the lockers from falling into the bilge but that should not be difficult.