Keel Tank Removal-Part 2

Okay so the tank won on the 2nd day as well. All in all I spent 7 hours working on this project today. Why so long? Let me explain.

In order to cut the tank in half so that it can be removed I needed to get rid of the last of the sludge in the bottom of the tank. This process involved standing inside the tank and using a scoop to fill 5 gallon buckets. But before that I am missing the part about cutting the top off.

Cutting the top of the tank off, well at least the portion from the old inspection plate to the back was very simple and went really quick. Sawzall and good quality Dewalt metal cutting blades did the trick in minutes. Unfortunately there is not enough room between the tank and the keel to be able to cut it in half with the sawzall. That would have made things a lot easier. once the top was off, I could get down inside and clean it out a lot better.


Unfortunately, as I mentioned yesterday, the entire tank is sitting in a puddle of water/diesel/grease and god only knows what else. The inside of the tank had a water mixture with what looks like beer fermentation foam on it. All of this had to be scooped out into 5 gallon pails, carried up on deck, down the ladder and dumped into a 40 gallon drum. And this process had to be repeated as I cut down the sides of the tank and all of the other goop poured in.

In order to cut the tank in two, I had to stand inside of it and cut it with the grinder and a good cutting blade. This process in itself isn’t really all that time consuming with the exception of all the liquid on the outside of the tank. Every time I cut the side down an inch, I had to wait until the liquid drained down to that level. This is what took so bloody long. I could not simply cut it in two as I was standing in the liquid using power tools. Not my idea of a fun day to electrocute myself removing a keel tank.


I am not sure how anyone can possibly do this job without standing inside the tank. It is a long way down to the bottom and would be impossible to cut the very bottom without standing inside, bent over and doing it with a grinder. To speed it up a little bit, I drilled a series of holes in a straight line across the bottom and finished it with the angle grinder. Of course, the grinder only fits so well into corners so I had to do a fair bit of screwing around right at the bottom.

I am not sure of the exact depth yet, but there is a fair amount of space underneath the tank itself. I thought I might be drilling into the keel, but nope.

For anyone who reads this blog and is contemplating the same job here in a nutshell are things I learned today. Bending over cutting an aluminum tank while standing in it sounds like a lot of fun I know, but it is cramped, which means you are cramped, which means you are bent over for hours trying to do this. Also, make sure the angle of your cut is in the correct direction. Mine ended up being in the wrong direction needed to remove the back half of the tank first, which meant I had to go back in and cut v notches into the tank wall.

Buy good quality blades, Dewalt worked great for me.

Whatever this mess of liquid is stinks up to high hell and even after a 30 minute super hot shower with lots of soap, you can still smell it on yourself.

The success for the day is that the tank is officially in 2 pieces now and the back chunk should come out now.

This is definitely one of those jobs that make you ask yourself why. Why rebuild boats? I am so sore this morning it is nuts (I work in software, not physically demanding jobs) Sure we could pay someone to do this but it would be expensive and it would take all the “fun” away.

I am going to try to finish this job today, but I have to return to work tomorrow and I would like a little bit of relaxation this weekend so I am not sure how far I will get, and of course I feel like I was hit by a train.

Did I mention I am sore?

Total time to actually cut the tank, including a 1.5″ x 1.5″ hole to attach the winch to get it out – 2 hours



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