2012-08-13 Fuel Tank Debacle

Last winter while Magnolia was on the hard Annette and I discovered a small amount of fuel below the galley. I used to completely freak when it came to anything about fuel which I think my friend Greg still looks on with some humor. As I have spent time and learned more, yes fuel issues are not good but freak out? Nah, not anymore, keep it on the boat (we actually carry oil spill insurance) and get it cleaned up, not the end of the world, but I digress. We cleaned up the fuel and started our search for the leak. Nothing looked likely, so went away for a week. On our return we found some more but a much smaller volume. The only part of the system we could not examine was the tank. Consequently we pumped out the 25 gallons of fuel in the 50 gallon tank. Moving the fuel over to our other tank so we could eventually remove the tank and have it repaired or replaced. You have to remember, in the 80’s and 90’s they installed the tanks and built the boat around the tank so we were not even sure we could easily get at it. Thankfully this summer with ugly hot weather was the time to do it. So after removing about 50 screws we were able to expose the tank.

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After another 50 screws, 4 hoses (Vent, Fill, Feed, Return) and 8 hose clamps we had her free.

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The tank is amazingly light but bulky!


Our mechanic took the tank pressurized it and reported he could not find a leak! WHAT? As an additional test he put some alcohol in which is less viscous than diesel fuel and easier to leak out, all to no avail, no leak! Crap! Oh well can’t find the leak unless the tank is installed and fuel in it. So before re-installing we cut an access under the galley sink so we can observe the tank better than we could before. We followed that up with a fresh coat of paint in the tank compartment.

Well with the tank installed where does that leave us? About where we started but we now know how to get that tank out when it does fail, and it will. As far as the leak, well we chase after it when it comes back. Its diesel fuel, its nothing to freak out about!

2012-08-02 Auto-Pilot Install (Remembered the Linear Drive)

When we purchased Magnolia she had an older Raymarine Autopilot installed that we used to get Magnolia home from Florida, well almost. The Autopilot is really only useful in open water so as luck would have it the installed unit died about one day before arriving the Intercostal Waterway in North Carolina. Since then Magnolia has been hand steered but with our imminent departure next summer it was time to get an appropriate Autopilot installed.

The linear drive was the first item to be replaced. This is the top of the rudder post and the drive unit moves the rudder as directed by the Autopilot computer. We were able to reuse the rudder indicator from the previous Autopilot.2012-06-23_13-23-27_559

The original Autopilot computer was installed in the engine room. That always seemed like the one of the crazier things we had ever seen. Why would you put a sensitive piece of electronics in the hottest space on the boat? Beats us so we relocated the new computer to the aft cabin where it will rest comfortably!


Final Autopilot computer installation in the Aft Cabin locker.


The Fluxgate compass was mounted in the forward cabin locker and cabled back to the Autopilot computer in the aft cabin.

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Next electrical power cables were connected from the Autopilot computer to the main 12volt distribution panel in the engine room.


The Autopilot control head was plugged into the boat wide Raymarine bus cable and instantly came to life.  Annette and I completed the in-port commissioning procedure without incident so all that’s left is get underway and complete the underway commissioning procedures hopefully this Saturday.