More Tank Talk with the Sea Dreamer Project

There seems to be a lot of interest in discussing the do’s and don’ts of building plywood and epoxy diesel and water tanks. The conversation continues this week as back yard boat builder, Scott Smith, shows us how he is building his Diesel Duck’s fuel tanks. Scott isn’t worried – in fact, he’s confident in his work and is happy to explain away any worries of the naysayers. This particular boat was designed with the home builder and big box stores in mind – so Scott’s method’s aren’t that of traditional boat builders. Scott doesn’t mind any of that – he’s set out to build a boat and is determined to take that mantra all the way to the diesel tanks that he would much rather build than buy.

What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below! 

TotalBoat does not recommend making your own fuel tanks with epoxy unless you are confident in your own skills and research. Scott Smith has done extensive studying on this building technique.

10 responses to “More Tank Talk with the Sea Dreamer Project

  1. an important item in fuel and water tankage are Baffles. Do you have a plan? I myself in years past built a plywood/glass water tank and most recently a ply/glass waste holding tank. Like yourself with these methods I can custom build units that fit my boat exactly and I can overbuild as I see fit. Have over 50yrs into refitting boats and i like your channel———-Mikey

  2. More thoughts—I dearly hope you are planning access ports for cleaning and servicing the tanks. These will be necessary in the near and far future!!??——Mikey

  3. You will be using many gallons of epoxy to build this boat. If you continue to work in what I would call an ‘unclean’ fashion, it’s only a matter of time before you become sensitized to the epoxy and develop a dermatological reaction. Sanding & cutting recently cured epoxy without taking the proper precautions is an invitation for trouble. I suggest you wear long sleeve shirts, dust respirator, long pants etc. I’m 70yo and have used epoxy for the past 45 years for every manner of repair, building, laminating, gluing, barrier coating etc. It wasn’t until 7 years ago that I developed a nasty rash & welts because I hadn’t worked clean.

  4. As an engineer and a sailor 40+ years, I still do not agree with building fuel tanks. The risk of a tank cracking and leaking or even rupture in the middle of say the Atlantic, or any location, is building in a risk that is not called for. No cost saving is worth you life or others.

  5. A visit to insurance co and coast guard would possibly help him realize that the “system” is rigged against bad ideas that can affect the public via the environment.

  6. There are professionally custom built commercial fishing boats with plywood/fiberglass fuel tanks…the idea is not unheard of.

  7. I worked in the 70`s making insulated rail joints with epoxy. We went thru many workers there because epoxy is like poison ivy. Some could not stay after a day and some lasted almost a year before they were sensitized. A few could not even breathe the fumes without getting an immediate rash. Use full clothing, gloves and a respirator all times and that will extend your ability to use it without too many issues.

  8. Think about joining the tank panels with: fillet, 1″ glass tape, 2″, 3″, 4″, 5″, 6″; and the outside corners of the tank, too. And glassing the outside surfaces of the panels, and sealing all edges, and the outer tank box, too. And baffles. And a cleaning port. And make the inner tank removable (maybe).

    Use thickened epoxy, (add fumed silica), for the final fill coat, to prevent runs.

    Cutting and sanding without PPE is a bad idea.

    All laminate (glass+resin) cutting/sanding of any kind should have vacuum pickup of dust within an inch or so of the cutting, or should be done under running water.

    Get a squeegee and bubble roller (finned), not a foam roller.

    Apply all layers to the panels in one sitting (wet, not green).

  9. I have a 40 year old sailboat with fiberglass tanks. They originally had bulkhead fittings for the fuel line connections which leaked. I bonded in fiberglass couplings cut in half to replace the bulkhead fittings. The couplings have internal pipe threads so standard brass fittings can be used. No more leaks. I recommend you do the same.

  10. As a builder of USCG inspected vessels, I am opposed to integral fuel tanks (made as part of hull structure) in non-inspected vessels. As you seem determined to stay the course, please pressure test your completed tanks at about 1/2 psi. Build a water tube to do so. There should be no pressure drop over several hours. But you need to do this test with constant ambient temperatures or you’ll get false results.

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