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Project Log:  Wednesday, October 27, 2010

For some time, I'd been inwardly debating the fate of the forward water tank, located just aft of the chainlocker bulkhead.  Clearly I couldn't just leave it be, with the condition of the  tank unknown as it was; there was not an inspection port fitted, and one of my thoughts was to cut an opening and install such a port.

I suspected there was a bit of water in the old tank, but thought it had to be minimal; after all, I'd cut the supply hose long ago, and other than a persistent dribble that trickled through the bilge over time, there was no other evidence of water.

One of my concerns was that I was unable to reach the connection of this supply hose to the tank; it was hidden behind a bulkhead at the aft end of the tank.  So I started off my work session by removing some old support cleats still on the bulkhead, and then removing a support block at the bottom edge, which block had been part of the cabin sole support in the original forward cabin.  I hoped that this might provide sufficient access to the hose connection, but unfortunately I still couldn't do so.  In fact, I found that I couldn't even find evidence of the connection when I reached blindly up through the opening at the base of the bulkhead.

At a minimum, I needed access to this connection.  So I decided to cut out the bulkhead, which I hoped would give me the access I needed.  With  a cutoff wheel in my angle grinder, and then a reciprocating saw, I cut the tabbing and removed the bulkhead easily.

I was surprised to find that the tank wasn't shaped as I'd thought; I'd expected it to fill more of the space down to the hull.  However, its size and shape did mean that it appeared the tank would indeed fit through the various openings in the bulkheads, which would allow the tank's removal; earlier, I'd feared that the tank may have been installed at an early stage of the boat's original construction, and that I'd not be able to remove it in one piece (which, in turn, had led to my thoughts about keeping it in place).

I was further surprised--and unhappy, in a "why would they do that" sort of way--to discover that the water supply fitting on the tank was still hidden beneath a plywood platform on which the tank partially rested.  What a dumb way to plumb a tank; all hoses eventually require replacement, so why would any builder ever  install a hose connection in such a completely inaccessible location?

This made my decision easy:  that tank had to go. Fortunately, it was easy to pry the tank loose from the expanding foam that surrounded it.

At this point, I discovered that the tank seemed to be nearly full of water; it crashed down into the after part of the cabin with considerable force, and I found it was nearly immobile thanks to the weight of its contents.  Clearly, there was something clogging the hose, as the tank should have drained long ago, what with the hose right in the bottom of the tank.

With additional work plans inside the boat, I decided to leave the tank alone for the moment, as I'd have to drain its contents into the bilge, and I didn't want all the water in there at the moment.

I turned my attention to the engine room.  Beginning at the turn of the bilge, I worked for a few hours to remove old tabbing left over from some of the bulkheads I'd remove and to grind, sand, and clean up the various surfaces to prepare them for future steps--more of my "bulk sanding" process.  I worked my way up on each side to the underside of the sidedecks, removing old paint and adhesive and smoothing rough areas as needed. 

I cleaned up the faces of the remaining bulkheads, and worked my way aft as far as the leading edge of the cockpit.  The old fuel tank--contents unknown--still resided in this space, and removing its contents (and then the tank) was on my immediate to-do list, but not today.

As always, I found this process somewhat therapeutic, if dirty and nasty.  Later, I'd continue my way  up the sides of the wheelhouse and remove the old adhesive and such, but for the moment I'd done enough.




Once I'd cleaned up from the day's sanding efforts, I returned to the water tank.  I removed the hose from the bottom of the tank, which freed up the clog and allowed the water to drain.

Once the bulk of the water had drained through this small opening, I turned the tank so the larger fill pipe faced downwards, which allowed the remaining contents to drain quickly.  Large globs of gross algae came out along with the water, so I was glad that I'd decided to remove the tank.  I left the tank inverted to drain overnight, and to allow the water in the bilge to drain out through the drain holes I'd made earlier.


Total Time Today:  3.25 hours

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