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Subcool

1980 Robalo R236 “slickcraft”

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Just bought this boat and there is a gas smell in the cuddy cabin. Previous owner said the fill neck is deteriorating and that’s the problem. I was excited and said ok I can fix that easy. Now that time has gone by and the excitement has worn off I’m scared the gas tank may be bad. I haven’t had time to look at anything since the boat is at my place at the shore. Anyone know what kind of tanks these boats have in them and what the chances are the tank is good and it is just the fill neck. Or did I make a huge mistake buying this boat! Please help!!!

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Hi Subcool and welcome to the forum!

Don't panic yet!  Is the odor only present immediately after refueling?  How much gas is in the tank?

There should be an inspection plate in the floor directly over the fuel sender, fuel fill hose, and fuel hose that runs back to the motors.  Remove the hatch and do a quick visual inspection of the top of the tank for any signs of pitting from salt water and also the condition of the filler hose.  If the hose looks bad, I would be concerned if trash has got in the tank from the hose deteriorating.  If the hose looks good at the tank, check it at the fuel filler neck.  If questionable, change the hose out and use new clamps when re-installing.  

Next source of gas odors is the fuel sender.  Over time, the screws that hold it in place can work loose, allowing fuel to slosh out of the tank.  Re-tighten the screws VERY CAREFULLY!  The tank is aluminum and not very thick metal.  It does not take much torque to strip out the threads in the tank.  If that happens, time to re-tap the hole and go to the next larger size machine screw.

Aluminum tanks have a typical lifespan of 10-15 years.  As long as they stay relatively dry, they last longer.  It is when they are wet and the moisture gets trapped between the tank and either the hold downs for the tank (or foam if foamed in place), corrosion can occur. If the visual inspection does not give a definite answer, the next method to test it is seal off all tank openings where hoses are attached, then pressurize with air to a max of 3-5 PSI.  Do not go any higher as fuel tanks are not designed to hold internal pressure and any more can cause bowing out or rupture a weld.  Remember, that is a big surface area the tank encloses and it is constructed of either 1/8" or 3/16" aluminum plate.  Think of a tank like a balloon, they are good at holding air up to a point...too much air and the balloon cannot hold the higher pressure.  Same with a fuel tank.

Hope this helps. 

 

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Sub Cool,

                    As 2-N Tow said, I wouldn't panic at all.   Agree with what he says and would add.....  If it was Me and I just bought the boat, knowing there is a problem somewhere with the fuel system.  First thing I would do is remove the Coffin Cover (Cover in the floor that covers the fuel tank), that way you can get a look at EVERTHING concerning the tank.

There is a gasket between the fuel sender and the top of the tank that I would check first, they tend to get old and compressed after time an start leaking. These are inexpensive and easily changed.  Also, make sure that the connections to the sender are nice an clean  especially the ground. If not, your fuel gauge may work sporadically...

Then while you have it all opened up, (which is not hard to do just remove the screws holding the cover down)  I would, since the boat is old and you don't know if anybody has EVER serviced the fuel system. I would change the fuel filler to a self venting cap style , change the main fuel fill line and vent line.  Also while it's open change the fuel line to a Coast Guard approved MARINE fuel tubing going back to the motor.   While open you can also check around the tank area to see if there is any liquid in the coffin area, if there is and it is gas, then you know the tank may have a leak, if not just close it back up and you have piece of mind that all is in good order.

I have a  R-236  1975 model   that I bought 24 years ago from a guy that was lucky he could spell boat...….   One of the first things I did was go thru the fuel system like this and put my mind at rest that the fuel system was up to par !   If the tank is OK then the cost of changing those few things and the little work it takes is minimal.

Band aiding a fuel system is not something you want to do....

Dr.Ann-Pearl River.JPG

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Thank you both for the helpful hints. There is going to be a break in the weather finally here in the north east and I will be able to get to investigate more thoroughly hopefully. Asboats I would like to ask does your 236 still have the original gas tank or has it been changed???

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It has the original aluminum  tank,  82 gallons as far as I know.   Strapped down , no foam.   Tank is in very good shape, only thing I had to do was empty it and clean out some tarballs, I guess from previous owner using Cheap oil...….    When I did that I also changed out all the hoses and added the self venting fill cap....   No more overflow out the hull side vent running down the hull side an sometimes getting you on the way out......

I just mention this ,in case you need to clean yours up....  When I got mine, the windshield frame was just bare aluminum an had some corrosion pits...  I first cleaned it with acetone on a rag, and then used a 320 grit wet/dry sandpaper to clean it.   (Used acetone first, so that any oil etc that may have been on it got cleaned off first) because if you sand it without cleaning, you can actually rub in the oil and then maybe have problems with paint not adhering later.

I then taped off all the glass areas and any adjacent decking areas,  and painted mine flat black.   I HIGHLY recommend if you do paint it to use  Rust Oleum Industrial paint in the spray can. Don't use the cheaper regular RustOleum spray.   Industrial is only about $1.00 more, but that paint is pretty remarkable in holding power !  That paint you see in the picture is the original job I did 23 years ago !! Honestly.. I have never had to paint it again.      But remember, anytime you paint...…  Preparation is Everything !      

I am in Louisiana, so I fish and boat in Saltwater.

Don         "The Dr. Ann"

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Hey, Sub Cool

I forgot to ask because I don't remember seeing any,,,,,,  You got any pics of your boat ??

 

Don   "The Dr. Ann"

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