Little Bear Westsail 32 refit: Tank Template Blog #162

Arrrrr me hearties. Welcome aboard.

Back on track. It’s fuel tank time. I have the styrofoam template mock-up complete and I will try to fit the whole thing into the tank hold. The trick with doing this is the material that the mock-up is made of.  It’s styrofoam.  If I push too hard it will bend and I’ll be able to fit it but metal will not bend so I have to be very careful.  If I push even harder it will break – not good. Not good at all. Bad even.

At the end of the expedition, I did manage to get the mock-up positioned correctly in the hold. Making a template based off of the large end proved to be the correct idea. The template fit just as sweet as sweet can be.

Now that i know I have a workable mock-up, I can take it back to welder-dude and we can start on the real thing. The aluminium tank. I will be using 3/16 5050 grade aluminium. This is suitable for  the marine environment and probably a bit thicker gauge than necessary but I want these puppies to out-last me. Fortunately for who ever owns this boat after me, the grunt work of replacing the tanks has been done. It’ll be pretty straight forward to create new ones.

As always, fair winds following seas, and God bless.

Little Bear Westsail 32 refit: Le Mastgate Vlog # 161

Arrrrr me hearties. Welcome aboard.

Annnnnd another small project with which to stall the important project.  This small project is necessary, but not too important. It’s self explanatory really.  When I refit the mast and boom I didn’t want to have to disconnect and drop the boom to take the mainsail off. Now I know that the number of times that I’ll have to remove the mainsail will be few. But the prospect of disconnecting the boom under what may be rough circumstances seems a bit daunting.

The solution? Simply to cut a slot in the sail track through which I can remove the sail lugs. The challenge with this is that with an open slot, the lugs tend to want to fall out of the track under normal use. This will not do. Not at all.

The slot in the track is about 2″ long and I need a graceful and elegant cover for the slot. Fortunately, there is an outfit in the US that specializes in mastgates. Yes, that is what such a solution is called: a mastgate.  So I bit the bullet and purchased a custom mastgate for my specific mast to accommodate my specific lugs.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work. the mastgate is about 1/16th of an inch too thick to allow the lugs to pass comfortably.  The manufacturer is quite willing to reconfigure to fix it but that would be $10 shipping handling which is more than I’m willing to spend on top of what I’ve already spent.  I’ll have to fix it myself.  :/

As always, fair winds following seas, and God bless.

Little Bear Westsail 32 refit: Franken Tank Blog # 160

Arrrrr me hearties. Welcome aboard.

Winter has set in. Rain, cold, wind. Not a good combination for working on a boat! Fortunately there are things I can do to move the project ahead. Things that I don’t have to be on the boat to accomplish.

In a previous blog / vlog, I mentioned that I had created a tank template out of cardboard for a test fit. That was a massive fail. But I generally fail my way to success so there was no great frustration or disappointment.

In order to get an accurate assessment of what the new tanks would have to look like I needed to reassemble the old tanks.  When I took the old tanks out I was pretty brutal with them. I gave no thought to careful cutting and removing. It was more of a hack and slash job. I just wanted them OUT!

Once I realized that I would have to reassemble them, I thought “huh”. Oh well, onwards and tankwards.  In this episode my friend who also  happens to be a professional welder volunteers to give me a hand in fabricating new tanks.  Step one: reassemble the old tanks.

It is more or less like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. Satisfying once finished.  Now we have the ‘originals’ from which we can make templates. Right?

Well, almost.  Because they have been welded back together from pieces, the corner angles and precise dimensions are a bit off.  This will come back to plague us as we cut and assemble the new tanks. But as always, we overcome, we conquer and attain victory.

As always, fair winds following seas, and God bless.

Little Bear Westsail 32 refit: Glorious Sanding! Vlog #159

Arrrrr me hearties. Welcome aboard.

Procrastination.  Oh boy, the killer of progress. Yes it is. focusing on the necessary over the important only delays the important. The important still has to be done, but now it’s later than anticipated.  What am I talking about?

The weather is beautiful so I chose to work on the deck. Do a little sanding. Pretty easy, needs to be done. But at the expense of moving the fuel tank project forward.  Oh well. It’s only time right?

There is always a consequence for putting things off. You’d think at my age I would know that. And in reality, intellectually, I do. But I still do it. Do you? Ok, I know you do, so don’t get all judgy on my butt.

I did get a lot of the sanding done albeit not in time to paint before the cold and rainy weather set in. Winter on the west coast is wonderful.  No now to shovel. 🙂

As always, fair winds following seas, and God bless.

Little Bear Westsail 32 refit: Bilge Water Blog #158

Arrrrr me hearties. Welcome aboard.

This post is a bit out of order. I filmed this right after I discovered that the fuel tanks had been leaking and before I started removing the old tanks. My big concern was to get the contaminated water out of the bilge.  I need to have a functioning bilge pump, but I can’t allow the pump to engage when there’s fuel in the bilge. Nope, wouldn’t be good.

I used a hand pump to pump out the bilges into jerry cans. With that out of the way, I used some oil absorbent pads, and some eco-friendly grease cutter to clean the mess up. I am pleased with the result. It was a quck job and not as gross & messy as I had anticipated.

It’s good to have clean bilges, dry and tight. With this little job done we can move on to building the new tanks.

As always, fair winds following seas, and God bless.

Little Bear Westsail 32 refit: Clean up & Test fit Blog #157

Arrrrr me hearties. Welcome aboard.

Both tanks are out, so now it’s time to start the replacement phase of the project. Step one is to get all the old expanding foam and assorted hardware removed to create a nice warm, welcoming spot for the new tanks to inhabit.  There really wasn’t much technical about it – peel off, dig out,  the foam cut out the old straps and viola! Done. Well, mostly done. The tank holds are now ready to do some test fitting of a new template tank.

The first rendition of the tank template was made out of cardboard.  It was designed from the  blue prints of the original tanks. The modification that was made was to remove about 6″ from the bottom of the tank in order to make it fit. I don’t believe there exists such a beast as a modular tank. The new tanks will have to go in, in one piece.

Spoiler alert: The cardboard template didn’t fit.  The reason was not what I suspected. In the vid. I stated that there was an old exhaust hose that had been routed up & around the tank and a couple of metal straps, and some wiring.  Well none of that was the reason the tank would not fit.

The reason was the width of the tank across the top. The space in the hold is 16″ wide. The tanks are 23″ wide. So….. how to reshape the template to make it fit?  I don’t want to kill the volume of the tanks. They were designed to hold 38 Gallons of fuel. If I lose 5 or  10 gallons I could live with that but any more would be unacceptable.

Like most projects I undertake, I figured it out. But if you want to know … you’ll have to wait till next week. 😉

As always, fair winds following seas, and God bless.



Little Bear Westsail 32 refit: Port tank out Blog #156

Arrrrr me hearties. Welcome aboard.

After the disappointment of missing the year’s sailing season due to the leaky fuel tank problem, I get cracking on removing the fuel tanks.  When I created this vid, I had already removed the starboard side tank.

The port side tank presented a different challenge – it was full of fuel. Well, not ‘full’ but it had about 20 gallons of diesel in it. Good thing the leak wasn’t too bad. I would have HATED to have 20 gallons of diesel sloshing around the engine pan & bilge. That would have been a major bummer. Colonel Bummer? Certainly General Bummer.  I digress…

I bought a couple of gizmos to facilitate removing the fuel. One worked the other did not. That may have been more user error than anything but the mission that I chose to accept was accomplished. I got the diesel fuel out.

Now then, having removed the fuel I realized that it was quite contaminated. Water and years worth of accumulated dirt. It wasn’t really ‘sludge’ like you’d expect from an old tank but it looked like black, finely ground graphite powder mixed with the fuel which then settled to the bottom.  Oh well, time to get rid of it. No problem.

Problem: what to do with contaminated fuel? It’s not as easy as it would seem.  At least not around here. What’d I do with it?  Well I’m not telling you because the enviro-weenies would lose their minds. But let’s just say a certain gravel / dirt road has a nice water-proof coating on it now. You’re welcome.

Once the fuel was removed and disposed of in an environmentally responsible way, I got to removing the tank.  I used a ‘zip-disk’ on my angle grinder to accomplish the task. I just LOVE appropriate tools.  The right tool for the job makes all the difference in the world between a frustrating and grumpifying day and a happy we-got-er-done day.  In this instance we got `er done.  😀   Yeah, so I basically cut the tank into bite sized pieces.  The opening through which the tank needs to come out is approximately 16″ wide.  The tank, at the top, is 23″ wide. Problem.

No problem, zip disk to the rescue.  Ting tank walla walla bing bang. A bit of sweat, some gymnasty contortions and that bad ol’ tank was sliced, diced, and removed. Yep. End of day – no more fuel tanks.

It’s fall now and winter is coming. I want to get the majority of the work done so that when the nasty weather arrives I can keep Little Bear buttoned up and dry.  Well .. onwards!

As always, fair winds following seas, and God bless.