A Little Help From Maritime Classics – I Smell Old Gas

Fellow Woody Boater Gary Gondek's Award winning 20 ft custom

One of things i love about Woody Boater is the info that our fellow Woody Boaters send in… It’s random and yet always timely and fun to read. One of our long time Woody Boaters Mike Green from Maritime Classics. had such a calling yesterday. The Woody Gods called on him to tell us about his gas…tanks.. ( gas joke here.. ya, its juvenile, but a good gas joke always makes me smile..)
Here is the story in Mikes own words…

That wonderful gas tank coating

While de-winterizing boats this late spring (by late I mean it came late as always) in northern Michigan I came across a bit of a smelly situation. Like always when I get a boat ready for the season I go through all the systems to make sure that they are in excellent working condition. This includes a inspection of the fuel system and all fittings, no fuel leaks is a good thing. I decided to look onto the fuel tank to see how much fuel was in the tank. I would usually dip the tank with a fuel stick but I just happened to have a flashlight in hand and what I found was disturbing. Not only did the fuel tank have only about 8 gallons in it (at $4.00 a gallon that’s disturbing enough) but I saw the liner of the tank was failing. Someone in its earlier years may have had some debris or some rust in the original tank and while out, took it into someone to have it cleaned. This is not the first time I have seen this and on every restoration I do I clean the fuel tank or have it replaced. I have used businesses before that coat tanks and clean them, while I believe there intentions are good in my mind coating is a temporary and costly fix to the problem. So while doing that restoration on the boat you love think about replacing the tank. I buy mine through Rayco as most do and always been very pleased with the service. Less that $400 gives you piece of mind and a tank that will last the rest of your life.

The old tank, looks nice from the outside..

And the sparkly fresh Rayco "it wont clog your fuel lines" tank!

16 replies
  1. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    If there were no ethanol in the gas I would be very happy with a new aluminum tank. I would probably be happy with one as long as I knew for certain we would stick with E10 and not have E15 or E20 shoved down our throats in the near future. Since that is not the case, I would suggest owners and restorers do more research into the problems with aluminum and ethanol before making a decision.

    At $400, the aluminum tank will last at lot longer than $400 worth of gas so the expense of having to replace it again in the future is not that big of a concern. More the piece of mind comment. Higher concentrations of ethanol will eat through the aluminum tank from the inside, and if you are not aware that this can and will happen, you won’t be looking for it and that leads to unpleasant surprises. Even E10 can attack aluminum, especially if it gets water in it, so internal tank condition should remain part of your regular inspection routine even with a brand new tank.

      • m-fine
        m-fine says:

        I live in the wonderful state of NY. We have a few marinias that still have real gas, but it is getting harder for them to get it and it is getting to be pretty expensive. I would be surprised if there are any left here in another few years.

  2. mark edmonson
    mark edmonson says:

    Riverside Tank St. Clair MI make original fuel tanks for about the same price and good turn around time

  3. Mike M
    Mike M says:

    That’s quite a finish on the new tank! Do you wet sand before you hit it with the final coat of paint?

  4. Brian K
    Brian K says:

    The fuel system is very often overlooked in these old boats, but will usually be the first thing to go bad from neglect. Treating the fuel with products like Startron will help. If you’re at the point of needing to have it coated on the inside you’re obviously at the point of really needing a new tank. In the long run it will save you money.Also remember that what you see in your tank will be comparible to what’s in the rest of the fuel system. Fuel/water seperating filters can be your best friend and should maintenanced yearly. Ther is some debate as to leave your tank full or empty over the winter or for long term storage. With all of the ethanol used today empty may be the best bet. At $4 a gallon who wants that stuff to go bad anyway?

  5. RF
    RF says:

    When doing restorations, how do you get rid of old gas? And by old, I mean really old stuff probably not used in 20 years. I heard from somebody that said to put it in your car (about a quart per fill up). Then I heard from somebody else that tried it and his idiot light came on. Any suggestions?

    • Brian K
      Brian K says:

      It is not cheap to dispose of old fuel properly if you do it a lot. A lot of communities have hazardous waste drop-offs several times a year. You might want to do an internet search in your community for that sort of thing. We need to keep that stuff out of our ground water and I wouldn’t put it in my car. Modern fuel injections probably don’t gobble that stuff up like old carburetors do.

  6. Alex
    Alex says:

    Ok, I’m late to add my comment here.

    I already scheduled to have water separators installed on all boats this season.

    Re putting gas out to evaporate, that’s a neat idea I must try.

    However, be sure to keep such trays elevated — away from where kids and pets could access it. And away from combustible things. Like kids and pets.

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