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oops, here is the rest of the article

August 31 2006 at 4:14 PM
EH  (no login)

Response to Aluminum fuel tank information

I didn't realize I only posted part of the article, sorry. Here's the rest.


The most important consideration with the use of a permanently installed aluminum fuel tank is being careful to make a good installation:

Aluminum as a fuel tank material can be very good if special care is taken to choose the proper aluminum alloy, the proper welding rod, and the method of installation. Aluminum is a very anodic material, and the basic fuel system in a boat consists of copper and bronze.

Aluminum and copper, in the presence of moisture, always create a very bad galvanic cell and special efforts must be made to avoid any direct contact. This can be done by inserting a 300 Series stainless steel fitting between the aluminum tank and any copper or brass fittings.

Aluminum tanks must be carefully installed so as to avoid any condition that will entrap moisture against the tank because aluminum in direct contact with salt water will corrode. A tank should be installed so that water will drain off quickly.

The aluminum alloy must be a salt water resistant alloy such as 5052, 5083 and 5086, which have very low copper content.

The aluminum surfaces must be prepared carefully and thoroughly (degreased and primed or etched) to assure a bond of the foam to the tank, prevent attack of the aluminum by the substances in the foam and to preclude moisture.

The foam must meet certain requirements concerning cell structure, moisture resistance, and density such that the foam will bond without voids, there will not be damaging water absorption and there will be a certain inherent strength to preserve the bond to the tank.

Examination of the data received from participants in the UL survey, as well as research into marine aluminum alloys has confirmed the existence of certain problems with aluminum fuel tanks in recreational boats, primarily due to failure to install them in accordance with recognized safety standards. The increased growth in the availability of polyethylene fuel tanks shows that they are realistic and effective alternatives to the use of aluminum. The use of thicker aluminum sheet for the tank construction, combined with a protective coating may be a temporary solution to the problem for both existing and newly constructed boats. The shortcomings of aluminum fuel tanks in recreational boats are mainly controlled by the environmental parameters in the bilge.

The crucial point is that permanently installed metallic tanks are assumed by the general boating population to be safe and reliable throughout the entire service life of the boat. The UL report indicates that the general boating public needs to become more educated about a product which many take for granted. Boat owners need to take an increased initiative in the inspection, care and maintenance of their boat's fuel system.

A Study on Problems With Aluminum Fuel Tanks in Recreational Boats is available from the National Technical Information Service, 5285 Port Royal Road,
Springfield, VA 22161 (Tel: (703) 487-4650). The price is $21.50 and the document accession number is PB95191664.

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