This is part 3 of my fuel system related posts, the previous post being about the part selection and through hull work.
Now that all the fittings were installed and ready to go it was time to install the actual tank, pump(s), filter, hoses, and do the electrical work to hook everything up. I fit the tank in through the less than roomy opening to the lazarette that was about to become my prison and personal hell for the next two days. The tank fit through the opening with hardly any room to spare, just as I had designed it to, and slid down into the lazarette behind the rudder post without much trouble at all. I climbed down into the lazarette for the first of far too many trips climbing in and out of there during the installation process.
Once I positioned the tank where I wanted it, I used a wet rag and cleaned off the area under the mounting tabs on the tank of the dust dirt and crap that has slowly covered the lazarette over s number of years, and made the mental note that I’ll need to clean all of this sooner or later, and it will almost certainly need to be sooner. With the surface wiped clean of dirt, I used my Dremel Multi-Max with some 120 grit sand paper to rough up the surface of the gelcoat (yes the inside of my lazarette came from the factory sprayed with gelcoat not paint, not sure if that is common or not, but that’s how Hunter did my boat), and then cleaned and prepped the fresh surface for epoxy work.
Once the surfaces were cleaned and ready, I repositioned the tank and put two of the Weld-Mount studs through the predrilled holes in the tank and traced their exact position against the hull with a ball point pen. I then cleaned the base of the studs with a good acetone wash to make sure they were clean to ensure a good solid bond.
I chose to only do 2 of the 8 studs initially so that I could install the first two studs and ensure the tank was in the correct position before marking the stud positions on the other side (which required climbing out of the lazarette, and back in on the other side of the boat). This pic is when doing the remaining studs on the other side of the tank
Since I only had the 5 mixing tips that came with the Weld Mount kit, I also installed 1/4-20 x 1″ studs for the fuel filter on the first round of stud installation.
The vertical surface mounts required a piece of tape applied to keep them from slowly sagging while the epoxy cured, I believe this is a result of it being on the cooler side since they claim it shouldn’t sag, and it did take almost twice as long as expected to set (about 10 minutes vs. 6). Later batches set faster, which was not unexpected since it had warmed up a little, but I still held or taped the studs on vertical surfaces to ensure they stayed in place.
After a quick lunch waiting for the epoxy to set I put the first set of nuts and washers on the two studs and slid the tank onto the first two studs and realized that the slight curvature of the hull was going to be a bigger problem than I expected. The curvature of the hull meant that the top of the studs were too far out of alignment to fit through the holes when positioned properly down on the stud, and thus prevented the tank from fitting onto the freshly cured, and more or less permanently installed studs. It was an easy enough fix, I just drilled the holes out a little larger. I had already intended on putting large flat washers on anyway, so the larger hole wouldn’t compromise anything. After drilling out all 8 holes I went and marked the remaining stud positions and installed the studs.
I ran into a similar issue with installing the fuel filter, it fit over the ends of the studs since I had test fit it after putting the tape on the studs since they had moved slightly, but the filter would not fit all the way down against the base. A slight widening of the back of the hole with a 1/4″ drill bit allows the filter to slide easily onto the studs.
The pump installed without any issue, although I did have to wrap the pump housing in a couple of layers of electrical tape to prevent it from turning in the mounting bracket it came with (which I’m pretty sure will turn to rust in no time anyway, I think I am going to have to come up with a better mounting strap). To hook up the electrical connections for the sending unit and the pump, and also the auto pilot that I am hooking up, I used the #8 x 1/2″ Weld Mount studs to provide mounting studs for a Blue Sea 8 position terminal block. The block is removable since it is bolted on, should the need ever arise, but more importantly, like almost all of these studs it was installed against a highly visible or critical bulkhead without the need to drill any holes through the hull. Below is the terminal block with everything connected except for the wires that NMEA wires that still need to be ran to the chart plotter. The terminal block has it’s own dedicated ground directly back to the main ground buss.
The fuel pump is connected to the choke circuit on the ignition switch, the logic being that the only conditions where you would be needing to choke the engine are the same ones where you would need more fuel pressure, so engaging the pump at the same time as the choke seems the obvious way to turn the pump on exactly when needed, and never when it isn’t.
The fuel gauge power comes off the accessory circuit of the ignition switch, and by splicing into the power feed already running nearby for the stern light, the gauge backlight will come on whenever the navigation lights are turned on.
To help prevent overfilling I added a fuel vent line whistle, It installed extremely easy, and appears to work well, although I won’t know for sure until I fill the tank. I did test by blowing a little air into the fill line with everything hooked up and it was easy to hear the whistle from on deck, so I think it should be useful to have, if not it only cost $25 + two hose clamps.
The final piece of the installation was to use the extra Weld Mount wire tie studs to create places to attach and secure all the hoses and wires to so everything was properly supported and stable under way. I’ll have to update this later with photos of that since I forgot to take any, but I used the large mounts for things like the fuel hoses, and the small mounts for small wire runs. I also took the opportunity to attach some mounts to better secure the wire from the solar panel after it comes through the cable fitting into the lazarette on it’s way to the controller.
All in all the installation would have been pretty easy if I had a second set of hands to help with everything. I did all of this myself over the course of 3 days at the boat, which of course was only possible as a result of the countless hours of thought, research, and contemplation I put into how I was going to do all of this, as well as even more hours figuring out which parts to buy and where from. I ordered the first part on January 4th 2013, and had been steadily building up a pile of things over the last 4 months to prepare. When I look at the finished product, aside from how dirty everything in my lazarette is, I am quite happy with the results.