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Project Log:  Saturday, March 5, 2011

I cheated when I decided not long ago to "end" Phase II of the project and start Phase III.  Technically, I still had two new tanks to install--tankage being of the main focuses of Phase II.  I'd completed everything but the actual installation of the aft center fuel tank beneath the cockpit, constructing and installing a new platform for its support, but had yet to truly address the forward water tank.

Semantics aside, I next wanted to focus on the installation of the forward water tank.  As it turned out, this ended up being quite straightforward.

To begin, I drew a level line across the chainlocker bulkhead, using the shadow of an old support cleat to locate the line; the old cleat had originally held the forward end of the V-berth platform, and to the extent possible I intended to keep the height the same.

From this one reference point, I made a series of marks, more or less level, along the sides of the hull leading aft, simply to give me a visual reference for where the V-berth platform would end up.  I needed to know this so I could ensure that the forward water tank was properly positioned.

Of prime importance in the tank's positioning was the fact that  I'd redesigned the tank so that all fittings were on top of the tank, with none entering the sides.  Therefore, I'd need a bit more clearance above the tank top to allow for the fittings, particularly a worst-case scenario for the large fill pipe.  To that end, I temporarily installed an old 1-1/2" sweep elbow I had on hand, which represented the most bulky type of fitting I'd conceivably use. 

With this fitting installed, I held the tank in place against the hull and leveled it side-to-side and fore-and-aft, then eyeballed the height of the sweep fitting against the height of the mark on the chainlocker bulkhead, confirming that the fitting would be lower than the platform by extending the level forward.  I also allowed space for the hose itself.


With the tank loosely held in this position, I made a series of reference marks on the hull so I could reposition it easily.  From beneath, I noted that the edges of the tank bottom more or less contacted the hull along their lengths, which meant I could use the tank bottom as a pattern for a support platform.  While most of the weight of the tank could bear along its edges, the plastic tank required additional support beneath to prevent the possibility of distortion, and a basic support platform would achieve this.

With the tank removed to the main cabin, I created the paper pattern.

To take advantage of the availability of materials on hand, I decided to build the platform from two laminated layers of 9mm Meranti plywood, giving me a total thickness of 3/4".  Using the pattern, I cut out the first section, adding 1/2" in length at the aft end to provide a place for an after vertical support bulkhead to rest later.

I added the same length to the forward end as well, but during my test-fit in the boat I discovered that the platform extended too far forward and wouldn't provide a natural limber for the passage of water beneath, so I made a mark on the new platform to reduce its overall length by about 2" (not shown in these photos).


Satisfied with the shape of the platform, I used its bottom edge (the sides were beveled) to pattern the second layer, which I cut out and then epoxied and screwed into position, laminating the two layers together.  I held the bottom layer short of the forward end, partly because that's the width of the plywood I had remaining, and partly because I saw no reason to bother cutting an additional piece for the narrow forward end, which wouldn't require the strength.

Once the lamination was complete, I applied epoxy all over the bottom side and edges of the platform.

Before installing the platform in the boat, I applied a coat of gray bilge paint to the space beneath, leaving unpainted the bonding area near the platform itself.

I installed the platform with epoxy around its edges, and created a small fillet between the platform and the hull.  Once the fillet had partially cured, I installed 6" tabbing along the edges to bond the platform securely to the boat, and coated the center part of the plywood platform with epoxy.


Moving to the engine room, I vacuumed and solvent-washed the fuel tank platform and adjacent areas.  The epoxy securing the platform had had plenty of cure time, so it was time to paint out this area, the only task standing before the final installation of this tank. 

I applied a coat of gray paint over most of the area, leaving a section on the port side aft of the saddle tanks there, where I thought I might be building a platform for a water heater, or storage shelves, or something.  Access and available space in that area was good, which is why I thought it'd be a good location for something. 

The starboard side was laid out differently, with the closed-off propane locker (original) above, and I didn't anticipate any installations here, so I painted all the way to, and including, the aft end of the starboard saddle tank bulkhead.


Total Time Today:  3.75 hours

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