A day of liquids storage maintenance

by Glen

Tue 1 Jun, HHN day 49: Deep bilge cleaned. Diesel fuel tanks polished, hydraulic oil renewed. Hot water tank out, again.

You know, there is great merit to having a boat with no engine (no diesel tanks), no hydraulics (no hydraulic oil) and no hot water system (no H/W tank). If we owned such a boat, which we actually did before Cloudy Bay, I could have relaxed with my feet up all day. But instead, it was a crazy busy day from dawn till midnight.

First off is the hot water tank. Now, I haven’t written much about this tank for a few weeks, frankly because I am still totally peeved that following all my effort to re-plumb the fittings its only gratitude was to spring a small leak. I’ve actually been trying to forget about it, and kind of hoping it would miraculously seal itself. But of course, leaks never do, do they?
Yesterday I tried the quick and silly fix. I removed what I thought was the leaky joint without removing the tank. But in doing so I disturbed several other joints which are now spitting water at me whenever I dare to look under the tank. So today I do what I should have done 2 weeks ago. Take it all out again.
By midmorning I get to the point of actually lifting it off the wall, when I have to stop.

My attention is diverted to the diesel tanks. Today, Trevor and Andy of Shoreline Fuel and Marine Services are coming to polish our diesel and I need to prepare for their arrival.
I take up half the floor in the saloon to expose the tops for the two diesel tanks. Lying in between these tanks is the deepest part of our bilge, where all the various bilge pumps suck from. And also where all the crap ends up gathering.

I could not help but take a look down into it, a temptation which I should have resisted, because it is quite dirty and I cannot abide dirty bilges.
Dirty bilges = smelly boats. And smelly boats = lonely single male sailors. The good women of this world don’t like bad smelly things, let alone living in them! So you gotta keep them bilges clean guys… both yours and your boat’s 😊
I spend an hour flushing and cleaning. Then using my long pincher tool I get all the debris out: screws, washers, bolts, loads of tie warps and all manner of bits and pieces. Just where does all this stuff come from? It must be Oana, because I never let my nuts out of my sight.

Trevor and Andy turn up midafternoon and haul up their long hoses. I’m a bit concerned with diesel hoses in the saloon, but I quickly realise these are true professionals: clean, careful and courteous.
We are a little worried that the diesel tanks might still be overfull and back up the fill pipe. But luckily, they are a fraction below the sender unit where we open the tanks. Maybe 1cm down on the main tank and mere millimeters on the backup tank. Nicely judged, Captain!
But this also means they need to remove 15 gallons of diesel from each tank, otherwise the agitation would make it over flow. So a bit of a double whammy: we lose 30 gallons of fuel, and we have to pay $3 per gallon for them to dispose of it! But it’s worth it to ensure we have clean tanks and good fuel.

They polish one diesel tank at a time. Two hoses go in. One with a big bore for sucking out, and the other small bore to jet it back in at 30psi. This agitates the tank, getting any debris or microbes (diesel bug) into suspension, which then get sucked out and passed through a large 15 micron filter, which Andy monitors outside.

To be honest, I didn’t expect any major problem in our tanks. I take diesel samples regularly and they are always clean, but it’s a peace-of-mind thing. Dirty fuel can cause you serious headaches at sea. In fact, my expectation are perfectly matched.
The main tank, which gets mildly polished by returns from the engines, is very clean. And the backup tank, which is never recycled through any filter, is slightly more dirty. As we compare filters from each tank, Andy puts an example of a filter from a seriously dirty diesel tank next to ours. Quite a difference.

While they are polishing the fuel I have an idea. Maybe they could suck out our hydraulic reservoir and dispose of the oil for me. I have 5 gallons of new hydraulic oil, but really didn’t relish the job of taking out the old oil. For sure it would have ended in a mess and oil in the bilge.
Trevor agrees, so I take up the floor boards in the mid cabin and remove the oil filter to get access to the reservoir. There is only 4-5 gallons in there, and they suck it out in no time.

After they depart, I set about getting the saloon flooring back down, but first get some water in the bilge and check the manual and emergency bilge pumps for operation. All good there… except I drop the hose end into the bilge, which was challenging to retrieve!

Then I move to re-filling the hydraulic oil tank. As I carry the 5 gallon container of new hydraulic oil into the saloon, I can’t help thinking this could all go badly. I and oils and diesels don’t have a good record. You’d never believe I was in the oil industry, would you! But using my siphon hose I manage to fill the tank without spilling a drop. 4 gallons in, 1 gallon spare. Outside, I transfer that last 1 gallon to a container, which I will keep as spare/top-up in my oil storage.

It’s now 7pm and the hotwater tank has been waiting patiently all day to be removed. I really don’t have the energy to do it, but I am absolutely determined to finish it tonight so that I can reinstall tomorrow. And that’s what I did, until 11pm.
My previous method of using both 3M5200 and Loctite 275 on the threads did not work well. 5200 maybe fine on through hull fittings, but it’s clearly not up to the 3.5bar pressure of our water system. The joints with more Loctite in them seem to have held better.
Anyway, I take them all apart, clean the threads and rebuild. This time only with Loctite-275. The Hallberg-Rassy way. As I put the final fitting back onto the tank, I swear to myself that if this leaks again, I will buy a total new set of fittings from Hallberg-Rassy Parts, and braze the damned things in place!

So that was my day. Ending and finally sending the blog to Oana at 1am. What a day.
I am totally drained, but also happy to have some good jobs ticked off… I just hope that the hotwater tank can be shaded green on my to-do list, at long last. I’m not going to even bother crossing my fingers on this anymore. It will be what it will be. Let it be all in the hands of the Loctite gods!

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Juliana and Francisco June 3, 2021 - 9:16 pm

Hi Glen!
We are anxious to watch your next video servicing Cloudy. When does it come?

Glen June 9, 2021 - 8:32 am

Hi Juliana and Francisco,
I’ve just arrived back to Bucharest and have nearly 800 video clips to edit. Once I’ve relaxed bit, I’ll start on the video editing again. Likely the first one will be in about a month.

Tony June 5, 2021 - 2:21 am

Just curious, have you ever tried an on demand hot water system? I see it on some boats.

Glen June 9, 2021 - 8:34 am

No, not tried that on a boat. Infact this is the first boat I’ve owned for a while that actually has a hot water system! But I dont intend to change the current system that HR built. At least … not yet!


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