My Cape Dory 28, being an early production fiberglass boat, came out of the factory with many effective but unusual features.
You can see the tank mount jutting into the left of the frame in this photo (from when we painted the lockers). New tanks, of course, are not cheap, especially when they must be custom-made to fit an unusual mount.
With thee tanks cleaned out I called up a metal fab friend of mine and while she agreed to weld them we eventually decided this was a poor idea. With this in mind I decided the only repair I was comfortable with was an epoxy and fiberglass coating which covered the tanks entirely, giving both the chemical bond of the epoxy resin to the fiberglass and the mechanical bond of epoxy to aluminum.
I started by ordering a quart of Gluv-It, a proprietary Marine-Tex epoxy meant for sealing and barrier coating, and by reading everything I could find on the subject, including this useful repair report from West System. On the (first) day of the repair I sanded each tank by hand and with a random orbit sander using 80-grit paper while my friend Libby cut out light fiberglass cloth to fit each of the tanks. When I returned I found that while the repair seemed effective the curing fiberglass had sprung up in places, creating air bubbles.
When both tanks were fully cured I went over them carefully with a marker and utility knife, opening up any bubbles and marking spots where bare aluminum peeked through. I then mixed a batch of thickened West System epoxy and 406 filler and carefully gooped this into all of the spots I had marked. The end result is two aluminum tanks which are coated completely with epoxy and fiberglass, in effect creating a tank within a tank. I am in the same situation but with a 90 gal tank, 900.00 to renew, so I am looking in to repair options.
Photo 2—Left, a coarse 3M® Roloc™ Bristle Disc did a good job of removing paint around the repair after it was hammered back into shape.
For the patch, we cut a single piece of 745 (12 oz) Episize™ Glass Fabric for the outside and three pieces (in diminishing sizes) for the inside.
We started with the single layer outside patch, applying it to the hull centered over the hole and smoothing it into the thickened mixture (Photo 6). Photo 6—A single layer of glass was applied to the outside of the hull and smoothed into the thickened epoxy. Photo 7—Three layers of glass were laid in position on the inside of the hull and lightly squeegeed to remove trapped air. Last December I shared the story behind a mystery alcove located just outside my master bedroom doors. When I placed the chest into the alcove, I thought how great it would be to have a lamp in this dark corner of the hall.
The long upstairs hallway has three overhead lights like the two visible in the photo below, taken when I was preparing to hang wreaths on the exterior windows one Christmas, but what a waste to turn on three lights in the evening to navigate down the hall. So I called a contractor who occasionally does work in my home and asked him to install an outlet in the alcove.
One day, many weeks after the outlet had been installed in the hallway alcove, I was in my dressing area searching for something in the first closet on the right that’s just barely visible in the photo below. I moved some things I had stored on the top shelf  around and my mouth dropped open at what I saw.
I was really wishing I had noticed this while the contractor had been here because he would have gladly repaired it.
The first thing you need to do when repairing a large hole similar to the one I had in my closet wall is to cut away the damaged wallboard protruding outward from the hole.
I held it up alongside the hole just to verify it would be big enough to cover it and it was. I placed the sticky side of the patch down over the hole and it stuck very securely to the surrounding wallboard.
I took a photo when it was partially dried so you could see the difference in how it looks when dry and when still wet. Once the first coat was dry, I donned a dust mask like  this one and got busy sanding with my drywall sanding sponge.
The drywall sponge I used was great because one side was slightly courser than the other one, allowing me to switch between the two sides as needed.
After sanding the second coat, I could still just barely see and feel the mesh in a few spots. After one more coat of joint compound and more sanding once it was dry, I finally had a nice, flat, smooth surface ready for painting. In order to link up, you’ll need to include a link in your MM post back to the party so the other participants will have an opportunity to receive visits from your wonderful blog readers.
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After the area around the leaky rivets is cleaned and well scuffed, heat the area with a propane torch to drive off moisture and warm the metal. Please Select Username to appear on public areas of the site like community and recipe comments.
Nail holes in aluminum and vinyl siding are tough to repair without replacing the entire piece, but a squirt of color-matched caulk from a siding supplier will solve the problem for a lot less money and aggravation. Find caulk colors to match dozens of different siding colors at suppliers that sell to siding contractors. Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
The issue was the mounting brackets, or, more specifically, the material used to get a tight fit on the tanks. Concerns were both the safety of welding around any residue left from the old fuel and worry that areas which were pitted but not actually leaking would continue to corrode. I did a lot of online research and found that this sort of repair is normally attacked from one of two angles. The most common technique here is to coat the damaged area with a liberal application of a specialty thickened epoxy.


I gathered fiberglass cloth, sandpaper, and all my other standard epoxy tools (cups, chip brushes, etc).
This was done in three pieces, with circles for the top and bottom and a rectangle to wrap around the body of the tank. I had earlier called the West System Helpline and confirmed that there should be no bonding issues between competing brands of epoxies. These were especially prominent at the edges between body and ends and on the end I had left resting on the floor. I skipped the 406 filler, which for some reason was very difficult to mix into the Gluv-It, and instead just waited to apply the epoxy until it was the consistency I felt would best paint on thickly without running. I took particular care around the edges of where the tank is tapped for fittings, trying to get a seal which will not allow any moisture to creep in between the fiberglass and the tank underneath. With a bit of luck these should last the life of the boat, and the repair cost me well under $100, a fraction of the cost of new tanks. Required fields are marked *Comment Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. John Kennedy offered his old 15' Michi-Craft canoe, saying he would bring it down from his cabin at the end of hunting season. The metal had yielded, so we cut away enough of the torn edges to allow the aluminum to lie fair.
Stopper holes were drilled at the end of each tear, and the surface was prepared by wet sanding with 80-grit. Working away from the canoe, we stacked up the three inner patches and squeegeed them to make sure there was no entrapped air. When my contractor entered the attic to fish the wall for the outlet, he made a surprising discovery. I was baffled for a few minutes trying to figure out how I had lived here for so many years and had never noticed this big hole in the closet wall. I made a mental note to myself to fix it one day, then closed the closet doors and promptly forgot about it. I searched how to repair a large hole in a wall and the videos I found online were really complicated and involved cutting out a big square hole in the wall and using wood braces or shims to recreate a place on which to nail more wallboard, etc…  I had a feeling there had to be a simpler solution and there was! It will just get in the way of the repair patch and cause it to bump outward instead of laying flat. I had measured the hole but it’s best to double-check before adhering the patch to the wall. You absolutely need to use joint compound and not spackle or something similar because spackle will crack and doesn’t work well for repairing large holes in sheet rock. I used the less-course or finer side most of the time so I wouldn’t sand away too much, too quickly. This is how it looked right after I applied it before I used the joint knife to spread it out nice and thin.
I had to place my dusty-from-sanding flashlight near the repaired area in order to get my camera to take the picture below.
They haven’t ever been painted and still have the original paint on them from when the house was built so many years ago. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. Well, the occasional bug will find their way in but I do have someone come out and treat around the exterior of my home quarterly. I finally corralled them all into my tool chest recently…trying to be more organized. I was quite surprised to find that every aluminum boat owner I talked to said they had some sort of leak.
The heat initially thins the epoxy, allowing it to seep into the smallest crevice, and then speeds the gel time. It is equipped with two cylindrical welded aluminum tanks of approximately 7-10 gallon capacity each (I haven’t bothered to measure them) which rest one to a side on custom fiberglass mounts in the cockpit lockers.
Each tank is held to the mount with two steel straps using some sort of synthetic fabric between the painted steel bracket and the tank. Despite the corrosion and pitting they were in surprisingly good shape for having spent all this time in a damp environment.
Both tanks were gunked up with a couple pounds of solidified diesel which, fortunately, was not the rust I had initially taken it for. The most common is to coat the tank from the inside by pouring in a specialty epoxy which is designed to coat interior surfaces as you roll the tank around. For a superior mechanical bond I wet-sanded the neat epoxy into the aluminum using 120-grit paper. If these bubbles were to trap water rather than air they could be disastrous so I resolved myself to repairing them once the other tank was ready.
Not smiling, he asked a few weeks later “just how big a repair we could handle.” It turned out John jack-knifed his utility trailer on an icy road, punching a fist-sized hole in the stern quarter of the canoe (Photo 1).
Cut up and placed in the green city recycling bins, the canoe could be gone the next trash day. A hammer and an auto-body bucking dolly gave us reasonable control in getting the hull close to its original shape.
Finally, we mixed 406 Colloidal Silica with the residual adhesive in our cup to make a thickened mixture suitable for filling the holes and cutaways in the canoe (Photo 5). We then centered the stack of patches over the hole on the inside of the hull and carefully laid it into place (Photo 7). This “toughened” fairing compound smoothed the outside for better hydrodynamics and the inside for cleanliness and additional scuff resistance. Then it hit me, this must have happened when my contractor was attempting to fish the wall because this is where the header of the old bedroom doorway is located.
It was easy to forget since the hole is almost always hidden behind tons of pillows and cushions I keep on the shelf. The dropcloth worked great for protecting the clothes and shelf against any stray pieces of joint compound but it doesn’t hurt to cover things a bit better for the sanding that comes later.


Just as it’s better when spray-painting something to use several thin coats of paint rather than attempting to cover the surface with one thick coat of paint, repairing a large hole with joint compound produces a better result if the compound is applied in several thin coats.
Be sure and go slowly because joint compound sands away effortlessly  and you can remove more than you wish before you know it.
I really liked how this one was especially made for drywall and had two different grit(s) in one block. To reduce the possibility of destruction or distortion, I tilted the boat and only filled one end at a time since filling the boat up entirely might have done more damage to the seams.
Heat  the repair area with a propane torch (a heat gun will work) up to 180–220°F to dry out the repair area. In true Cape Dory style these mounts are quite beefy and have stood admirably to the test of time. This fabric has a feel similar to that stuff that goes under carpets and, not surprisingly, seems to have held some moisture. This was easy enough to clean up as all I had to do was shake them and pour out piles of brown flakes.
Despite the tenacity of modern epoxies I read multiple accounts where this mechanical bond had failed over time.
I then mixed up half my can of Gluv-It and added some West System 406 Colloidal Silica Filler as a thickener and strengthener. The only other difference from the first tank was that instead of leaving the tank on end to cure I rested it horizontally across a box and attended to it while it cured, pressing down bubbles as they appeared. As always, I’m open to criticism from anyone who wants to poke holes in my technique!
Checking the mental Rolodex for the friend with the TIG welder and the associated skill to weld such wounds in thin gauge aluminum was another option.
We drilled stopper holes at the end of each tear to reduce the potential for crack propagation. He had accidentally punched through the back closet wall (while attempting to fish the wall) since the header was unexpectedly in the way.
Recently while I was cleaning out the closets and revamping my summer wardrobe, I saw it again and decided to fix it once and for all. You want as thin a layer as possible and it should be nice and smooth without any grooves showing. I decided that was probably a good sign, a sign my repair was looking as it should if the camera couldn’t find anything to focus on. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments. You can buy the chemicals and treat yourself but I prefer to let the pros do it since they know the correct way.
It seems to have been not only an effective repair but one which I have not found a great deal of information on, either on the web or in print. Over the past thirty-seven years this fabric created a path for moisture to contact the tank and the end result was that my pressure testing and a close inspection revealed a band of corrosion where each strap contacted the tank. The first was that this is a generally used to repair interior corrosion and I was uncomfortable with my seriously pitted tanks being repaired only by a thin layer off epoxy on the inside.
The fuel tanks, more so even than water tanks, are an area where I am not willing to take any risks.
As it cures epoxy gets progressively less malleable and stickier, making it easier to hold the fiberglass down where it wants to spring up. I also found that this will remove bottom paint as well, just put it in a garden sprayer and keep the paint wet for about 30 min. Or perhaps finding another friend, who is convinced that a torch and brazing rod in the hands of an artist will solve almost anything. We then checked the outside of the hull to make sure that the pressure on the adhesive in the holes was not pushing the outer patch out of fair. For a those of you just curious about the boat it’s probably a bit long and dry but I hope the lack of brevity will be useful for anyone attempting a similar repair. Even with a sealed epoxy liner I didn’t like the chance of existing pitting trapping water and leading to further corrosion of the tank structure. While BP can get away relatively unscathed after releasing 4.9 million barrels of crude into the Gulf there have been incidences of sailors losing their boats (over cleanup costs) after entirely accidental releases of mere cups of fuel through leaking tanks and automatic bilge pumps.
We used a coarse 3M® Roloc™ Bristle Disc to remove paint both inside and outside, giving ourselves plenty of bonding surface area around the hole (Photos 2 & 3).
When satisfied with the patch placement and fairness, inside and out, we let the patch cure overnight. I was also worried that the interior surfaces were still not sufficiently clean for a proper epoxy bond.
The thickened Gluv-It would not have be as effective for wetting out fabric which is really a job for neat resin. Complete heating and filling each rivet or seam section before moving on to the next to avoid too much heat loss. This cloth was applied over the still-wet Gluv-It and carefully smoothed down, removing all air bubbles. I then made my first mistake, which was to set the tank on end and leave it for the epoxy to set up. By this point I had the tanks in the backyard of the bicycle shop I work at and had started started rambling aimlessly around the shop looking for anything that might help. Then I rolled and shook the tank all around the backyard until I thought I might pass out from the heat. Tip: if you ever try this, only us ferrous metals so you can pull it all back out with a magnet instead of shaking out the stainless ones one-by-one. With nice clean tanks I was very pleased to find almost no interior corrosion – it seemed the only serious damage was the exterior pitting.



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