Every vessel needs a means of carrying fuel but there are a whole host of options out there that all entail their own benefits and maintenance needs. Thankfully, there are guidelines, as established by the American Boat & Yacht Council, regarding the design and installation of those fuel tanks. That makes maintaining those tanks, and understanding what their specific benefits and maintenance needs are, much easier. Take the time to read on below and find out more about the most common materials used for marine fuel tanks so you can better maintain your boat.
Aluminum Fuel Tanks
Aluminum is the most common option out there and it’s a material widely used in the marine industry as a whole. This is in large part because it’s so inexpensive and can get the job done for cheap without sacrificing on quality. It’s a strong, durable material that is still easy enough to cut and weld and, when installed properly, it’s resistant to corrosion. There is still some risk of corrosion though, especially galvanic corrosion which occurs when an incompatible metal is attached to the tank—copper alloys are particularly problematic and can quickly cause problems.
Steel may not be as light or corrosion resistant as aluminum is, but there are still some big benefits like its durability and low cost. However, steel has an additional problem that anyone familiar with steel knows about: rusting is an all-too-common issue. This is why steel fuel tanks are typically made with thicker plates to account for rust; there’s a minimum requirement of .0747 inches of thickness and the material must conform to ASTM A653/A 653M-02A. It’s important to note that if steel is used for a gasoline fuel tank, it must be galvanized both inside and out—for diesel, however, only the outside of the tank must be galvanized.
Fiberglass is typically found in older vessels but is still an acceptable option for diesel applications, just not modern gasoline blended with ethanol. Ethanol will slowly destroy the structural integrity of the tank as well as leading to contamination.
Polyethylene is a fairly safe bet as far as corrosion and structural integrity goes. Thanks to the manufacturing process wherein the tanks are rotationally molded, it creates a seamless design that won’t end up leaking on you. This does come at the cost of being difficult to modify though.
Stainless steel wasn’t typically used as an option for fuel tanks but in recent years, the ABYC has developed requirements for stainless steel tanks. It’s a very durable material that will be sure to last a long time. As far as maintenance goes, just regularly check that the tank is dry on the outside and exposed to oxygen. It must also be made of type 316L or 317L stainless steel.
Reach Out to Tidewater Today!
If you’re in the greater Baltimore area and are in need of boat services, contact Tidewater Yacht Service at 410-625-4992 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our location is at 321 East Cromwell Street Baltimore, MD 21230. Get in touch with us today! Whether you need hauling, systems repaired, or storage, we have the experience and expertise to help. We’ve been providing our services to the Chesapeake Bay for over 30 years and know how to properly handle your vessel with care.