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Cleaning Aluminum Tank Before Welding

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  • Cleaning Aluminum Tank Before Welding

    I have a 200 gal diesel tank on my boat. I will be welding from the inside. This is the only way. Tank is dry and wiped clean at this point. Next I am thinking about a water based cleaner with a mop and sponges on all sides. A soft wire brush would be next. I will need to remove a baffle with a jig saw before welding. I will be ventilating at 1500cfpm and I will be using a hookah for breathing. Does this sound good so far. Come welding time I plan on using the hookah for air. Do you see a problem with using co2 to purge the tank before and during welding. Boat is in the water and the tanks are built in and are part of the hull and bulk head. Everything is .250 aluminum.
    Kevin

  • #2
    http://www.breathingsystems.us/

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    • #3
      My first suggestion would be....Pull the boat out of the water...your job will be much easier and safer too....If you have problems and the boat is in the water.....Think about it....

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      • #4
        Is there any way to work blasting caps and running chainsaws into the act?

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        • #5
          You're a braver man than me. That said don't overlook the fact that no one without breathing equipment can come in and get you with the tank full of inert gas should the need arise. I would say don't work on this alone and use a reliable extraction harness when you are in the tank. Arrange a signal system with your tender so he/she can verify that you are still conscious and okay.Lotsa luck.---Meltedmetal

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          • #6
            How do the PROFESSIONAL WELDERS do a job like this. In or out of the water should make no difference. I would like to do this the same way as a PROFESSIONAL does. I understand the problems I am facing. This is a 44' sport fisher with a value of $225K. without full fuel the boat is worthless to any offshore use. Does anyone here know the proper procedures for welding inside the tank.
            Kevin

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            • #7
              I have never done a job like this, I do on a regular basis inerting big gasoline tanks from the outside, I have never once in my life done a job wearing a breathing apparatus in a deadly environment. However, there are those who do so, hopefully they can pipe up. Only other thing I can offer, never once, EVER, did I do a fuel-tank job based on what somebody told me on the internet,,,,,,that's just stupid.

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              • #8
                I was an operator in an oil refinery and we did tanks daily. It was my job to make sure they were clean and properly sniffed with a meter and all of the paperwork (confined space, fresh air, hot work permit) before anyone did anything. The cleaning crew used soap and water and a steam purge to rid the tank of all oils and vapors. Then after checking everything incl the paperwork you could begin. Yes you will read on this forum that all doesn't need done but thats your choice. You will need for a confined space rescue equip like a rope tied on a persons leg if they are just crawling into a space or tripod lifter crane is needed if going down into a manway to get the person out if needed without someone else going in and getting him (thats how 2 people die) Then you will need an outside attendant to watch the guy inside in case he is overcome by fumes, heat both the welding and the weather. You should have a fresh air fan at least sucking out if possible. Then if everything checks out and the people and equip are in place weld away. I worked in a marina welding on gasoline river barges and they are set up for the exact type of work that you are asking about maybe you should just run it to one and have the work done saving lots of headaches, just sayin. Good luck...Bob

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                • #9
                  If you were considering a product like Simple Green to clean the tank out here is some good information to read from the maker of it.

                  http://www.simplegreen.com/solutions...query=aluminum

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                  • #10
                    I am a professional weldor when it comes to Fuel tank welding on boats.....That is why I will recommend to you that you take your tank repair to someone who is a professional...It is obvious that you don't have the experience necessary to do this job....and also why I won't school you on how to do this job via the interweb......The very first thing should be, for who ever does this job....to get that boat out of the water...Safety is the biggest reason and of course convienience.....Have you considered what would happen if you had an emergency and the boat was in the water??? Have you considered how you would see to weld inside the tank???? With a breathing apparatus your vision will be limited to start with (By the way, I have never needed to use a breathing apparatus for tank welding) and without a turbine type fan and ducting to pull the smoke away from the weld area, you will be blind from smoke in a few seconds...you will need to cut a LARGE HOLE in the tank for access...You will need helpers ..... There is another way.... Is it possible to cut the deck and drop a replacement tank in from the top???

                    You haven't said why the tank is leaking....Is is from a bad seam weld?....Is is from damage like a hole poked in the tank???? or is it from (UGH) corrosion??? If it is corroded, You should consider tank replacement... Good Luck on getting you boat fixed...I wish you well and please be safe.....
                    Last edited by bayweld; 06-08-2013, 09:09 AM.

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                    • #11
                      I would think anyone that can afford $225.000 fishing boat would/should be able to take the boat to a reputable business that specializes in that kind of work. You will need some kind of breathing equipment to clean the tank out.....I don't think a hookah is the proper choice.

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                      • #12
                        Co2? Wow, just wow.

                        You are kidding right?

                        Hookah? Wow, just wow.

                        You never elaborated on the reason for welding. Please do so. Is there a fracture? Corrosion?

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                        • #13
                          I have welded 2,000 gal steel fuel tanks from the inside on tugboats but they were properly cleaned, sniffed and had the hole watches in place. If you should ever need breathing air then something wasn't done right and please don't fill the tank with CO2 and go in a weld. You might not have a next post here...Bob

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                          • #14
                            Great, Looks like I have some welders that know what needs to be done. First one week ago when the boat was hauled for bottom paint is seems that the yard guys did not block the bottom right. One block was offset on only one side of the 12" wide flat bottom, rather than spanning the 12" bottom. This was right at the rear bulk head, common with the fuel tank. The crack is very small, 1/2 gal in one week. The tanks are built into the hull on this boat. I still have 500 gal up front. This is an offshore sport Tuna boat and I need all 700 gal. The shipyard are the same guys that also run the aluminum welding at the ship yard. I do not know if they have ever welded on the inside of a tank. There is a 24" access hole for cleaning. The boat is in Coos Bay Oregon. I will supply everything needed. All I need is someone that knows the right way to do this. Any takers.
                            Kevin

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                            • #15
                              Too far away for me...Bob

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