Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I was filling the water tanks when I heard the Bilge pump.

Here is the 85 gallon aluminum water tank that I removed after spending a couple of days removing flooring and trim. I borrowed a sawsall from my neighbor Mark to cut it in half to get it out of the companionway.

Here is a pic of the forward tank removed and just aft is the top of the 65 gallon tank that is built into the keel of the boat.

This is the leaking corroded tank. All of the little white spots are bits of corrosion where pin holes are that either were leaking or about to start leaking.

This is the bilge area under the tank I removed,the center section is the top of the keel.

Here you can see the Fuel tank just under the sink. It does notleak but it is time for it to go since we have everything out of the way.

This is Gatewoods near Rockport and boy am I glad they are close by and we do not have to take the boat all the Kemah to get this project completed. They come with high recomendations from the locals.

The water tanks were getting low so I attached our Water filter to the hose and began filling the forward water tank. It holds 85 gallons and takes a while to fill so I left the hose in the deck fill and started some other little task. I got busy and forgot about the water and when I remembered the fill had just started to run out the top into the cockpit. No problem though as the cockpit scuppers would take care of any overflow. As I reached down to turn off the water flow I heard the bilge pump go off. A previous owner had installed a bilge pump alarm so anytime the bilge pump was working you can hear a distinctive beeping sound in and out of the boat. This of course is an indication of water entering the bilge. I was just hoping that it was a connection and not a leaking tank. I searched around the access panels in the flooring near the tank to try and determine the source of the leak. The problem is that most of the connections are not visible and I would have to remove all the flooring in the salon area to figure this one out. It would be quite a bit of work to remove all the flooring as there was also a sub floor that had to be removed as well. I put it off as the leak had to be minor since the bilge pump stopped soon and the tank appeared to be holding just fine. About a week later the tanks were low again and so this time I began filling the aft water tank that held about 65 gallons. Same scenario, but this time I could see water leaking from the top area of this tank. I knew we would soon be replacing both of our water tanks. All the tanks in Endeavour sailboats were made of aluminum. Marine grade tanks of 5020 aluminum with a thickness of .125 inch or 1/8" thick. We new that when we bought the boat the tanks were an issue with this particular type of boat since some of the tanks are built into the keel of the boat and sit in the bilge where they can be exposed to bilge water. Exposure to bilge water is not the only problem as electrolysis can occur from stray electrical current increasing the rate of corrosion. We had already spent a lot of time in October cleaning corrosion wherever we found it and also removing electrical lines that were no longer being used and cleaning up electrical service lines. There had been a recent issue on the docks that was eating up zincs so we had a Galvanic Isolator installed as well as a preventative measure to keep from being the victim of such electrolysis from either the docks shore power, from a neighbors boat who could have electrical issues and spread their problem to surrounding boats, or even our own boat. The marina manager Peter actually came down and checked out all of our circuits with his special instruments and gave us a clean bill of health. His inspection did spot some minor corrosion's issues that we immediately cleaned up. But the corrosion our tanks had suffered was not from anything recent; they had issues when we bought the boat. The marine surveyor we used looked me right in the eye and stated " these tanks are an issue!". I consulted the Endeavour Owners web site and several E40 and E42 owners had reported problems with the tanks and discussed how they went about replacing the tanks. Our broker reassured us since he knew the boat well and knew of it's maintenance history. He said the tanks were never allowed to sit in a wet bilge and the previous owners had taken good care of the boat, blahh, blahhh, blahhh. I began to discuss with the Admiral a time to replace the water tanks. She had to go up and visit her mother soon and I felt it would be a good time for me to start the project since she would be off the boat for several days and give me a chance to remove all the flooring and get at least the forward tank out. We looked ahead at a calendar and being in November close to Thanksgiving and Christmas we knew that we might have to move off the boat for a while and into our rental condo during part of this project. She insisted that I begin immediately since we would need the time to get the tank/s out and find replacement tanks, get them installed and the boats interior back to normal. I really did not want to start tearing into the boat yet but I agreed it would be best to get it done as soon as possible. So on October the 26th I began removing the flooring. The first layer was simple to remove. But then came all the trim work around and it was slow and tedious to remove as all the screws were cover with teak wood plugs and some screws where not very cooperative. I have the proper tools to remove such screws but when they resist it can really slow down a project like this. On the 28th I borrowed a Sawsall from my neighbor Mark and cut the 85-gallon tank under the salon floor in half so I could get it out of the companionway. All the tanks had been built in prior to the deck and this tank would require two tanks to replace it since a tank that big just could not get through the companionway. I realized that I would need some professional consulting before I went much farther with this project. I called Don Glandt of Gulfstream Marine and he said he would be glad to work with me in any way to get the job done. So we met the following Monday and after looking at the project he declined saying he just did not have enough staff for the job and he had to much work at the moment, he did not want any part of it. Holy Mackerel... even though several Endeavour owners said this was a DIY (do it yourself) project, there were a few things that I was just not willing to go forward on without some professional help. For one thing there was a structural stringer that had to be cut to get the aft water tank out. I certainly needed a professional to reinstall and glass in the stringer. And if I ran into any problems removing the tanks in the bilge area I would want some professional assistance. Don suggested I either call Gatewoods in Rockport or take the boat to Kemah to one of the big boat yards there. I was really hoping I would not have to go all the way to Kemah but if we had to we would get the boat there. We went to Rockport to talk to the guys at Gatewoods who specialize in tanks and engines, I showed them some pics of the project and they said they could do the job no problem. This meant they would take over the project once I brought the boat to them, I would not be able to work on the boat in their yard. We spoke to a couple of other yards in the area where I could work on the boat and get professional help when it was available, the catch was when it was available meant whenever they were not working on some other boat. Another consideration was whether or not this job was an in the water job or one that required the boat to be hauled and put on "the Hard" or resting on jack stands. After consulting with several professionals and not so professional people it was clear this was an in the water project as the hull would be best supported in the water and not just on 8 jack stands. All of the Endeavour 42 owners who I was able to reach by email did this project on the hard since they lived in the Northeast and their boats were out of the water all winter. They do all their projects in the winter so they can enjoy their relatively short sailing season.

We returned to the boat to consider our options. I had the subfloor back in place so we could still stay on the boat, we just would not have running water. I spent 15 hours the first two weeks of November removing more stuff so getting at the bilge tanks would be easier for whoever took them out. We knew now that we would also remove and replace the fuel tank as it was the same age as the water tanks and it was near it's life expectancy as well. It had to be replaced now since it was behind the water tanks and since they would be out of the way this was the only time to replace it. It was clear now that it was best for professionals to complete the work so we called Gatewoods to schedule Wand'rin Star. The next phase would be to get the boat to Rockport and they would remove the two remaining tanks. We would measure everything and order new tanks from a tank builder in Florida. It would take a few weeks to get the new tanks and Gatewoods did not have room to keep our boat there so we would have to take the boat back to Corpus while the tanks were built and shipped to Rockport. They would installe a temporary fuel tank for us to get the boat back to Corpus.
This will be at least a four part blog as the project continues on!

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