Generally speaking, if the access to your thru-hull fitting is
too small, it’s best to cut a larger one through the inside liner or
deck and cover it with a larger access port. You can find access
ports at West Marine, Jamestown Distributors, and other
retailers. They’re normally not difficult to install (just use a
sealant and screw them on, assuming a flat surface). If you have
any doubts, get a pro who has the tools and familiarity with the
job. Issues would be cutting wire runs and the hoses themselves
and, of course, not cutting through the bottom!
Remove the hose from the thru-hull fitting. Attach your
new hose to the old hose with a PVC union (avoid the unions
with rings in the middle that are wider than the hose itself)
and pull the new hose through, using someone to pull and
someone else to push. Don’t attach the hose ends to the PVC
fitting with hose clamps, as they may not have clearance. You
could also simply leave the old hose in place and pull through
a new one alongside the old one using a fish tape (also called
“electrician’s snake”). If you push the draw wire through, you
can attach a line or even the hose and pull it back.
If the hoses have been foamed in, scoop out the foam
around the hose, take care of the problem, then replace what
you’ve lost (if it’s significant) with new closed-cell foam. These
foams come in cans for small jobs.
Grit and proteins
I have a 1968 Columbia sloop. I removed the top of the
freshwater tank. The inside of the tank is the same gelcoat as
the rest of the interior furniture of the boat. There are hairline cracks and a lot of very small chips in this gelcoat, all of
which are blistered with an ugly growth that’s easy to remove
and clean. Can I recoat this potable-water tank with gelcoat?
I want an FDA-approved product. David S. Rehring Sr.
Spring City, TN
TOM NEALE: I’ve checked several suppliers and haven’t found
a product specifically recommended for what you want to do.
Read what West Systems has to say. Search “wood/epoxy composite tank guidelines” and “potable-water tanks” on the company’s site. Most potable-water tanks today are made with a
plastic that is supposedly safe (see ABYC Standard H- 23), but
check the specifications. Most old fiberglass tanks are going to
get gelcoat cracks and crud. (The crud is probably just “marine
growth” and, as you say, you can clean it off.)
If it were me (speaking now based on common boating
experience, not as a health or medical expert), I’d tackle this
in two steps: First, clean the tank and add a water freshener/
purifier specifically made for the purpose. Find one at West
Marine, Jamestown Distributors, or Defender, and follow the
directions carefully. Second, buy the best potable-water filter
you can find and install it downline of the tank or at least
upstream of the faucet from which you get your drinking water.
I got mine (body and elements) from Home Depot and Lowes
(the elements start around $40). They’re for houses, but this is
OK. You want to buy one that filters out the most impurities
and chemicals. Read the specs when you buy. It’s amazing what
you can filter out.
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