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Water Tank Painting


katie_hannah
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Hello again! 

 

We bought a boat but the integral water tank needs some work.  I have read about liners and such but we are on a budget so we'll be doing the unpleasant sounding job of cleaning and painting. ?

 

As far as I understand the process is something like (do correct me if I'm wrong!):

  • Scrape and sand away rust back to metal
  • Prime 
  • Paint

 

I'm going to buy a scraper and some wire brushes but I'm not sure what to coat the tank with, I've heard about blacking, epoxy, and vatcan, what would you recommend? Any advice would be much appreciated, thanks! 

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2 minutes ago, katie_hannah said:

Hello again! 

 

We bought a boat but the integral water tank needs some work.  I have read about liners and such but we are on a budget so we'll be doing the unpleasant sounding job of cleaning and painting. ?

 

As far as I understand the process is something like (do correct me if I'm wrong!):

  • Scrape and sand away rust back to metal
  • Prime 
  • Paint

 

I'm going to buy a scraper and some wire brushes but I'm not sure what to coat the tank with, I've heard about blacking, epoxy, and vatcan, what would you recommend? Any advice would be much appreciated, thanks! 

Scrape, wire brush, Vactan then bitumen. Wear a face mask when wire brushing. Have fun?

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Its easy, scrape, shift any scaling rust to, clean metal, then get the tank really dry,  stick a heater or an incandecent bulb in for a while and whilst it is still warm and free from condensation get a coat of water tank bitumen on. Don't miss anywhere! Avoid breathing in the tank, it will form condensation and the fumes are bad for the lungs.

You could Vactan it but I have never found it to be an advantage.

Its a warm weather job, cold causes condensation and will prevent the bitumen sticking properly.

Let it dry for a day or two and repeat with the warming and recoat till you have 3 full coats on, let it cure for at least a week and its done.

Proper tank bitumen is easily bought from paint suppliers, not B&Q or Wicks, theres' is likely to be water based these days and useless.

 

Do it all again in 10 to 15 years !!!

 

TD'

Edited by Tracy D'arth
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It's not easy but you can make it slightly easier: Scrape any muck out and dry the area with old towels, use an angle grinder with wire wheels to scurf out the rust as doing it with hand held wire brushes is a waste of time. Doing it that way will either take you weeks to do properly, or you just won't do it properly. You must have good PPE when using an angle grinder in a confined space. Eye, protection, mask, ear defenders and leather gloves. You'll probably need a work lamp in there too. Avoid getting the cables anywhere near the wire wheel end of the grinder and if you need to change wheels then unplug the grinder first.

 

Dust and vacuum out all the debris, and then paint with your coating of choice. Personally after all that work I chose the best and longest lasting coating (which is a water portable epoxy) because I don't want to do it again anytime soon.

 

Edit: Vactan is a shortcut to getting rid of the rust by converting it, but from what I've seen and heard it means you'll be back down there within a couple of years doing it again. It's a water based product after all so you wouldn't expect it to last very long underwater.

Edited by blackrose
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52 minutes ago, ditchcrawler said:

@dmr on Vox Stellarum found it easy

 

Yes, have done the water tank, gas bottle locker and both side lockers, all taken back to bare metal and done with surface tolerant epoxy primers.

 

The secret is to find a good competent man who is in need of money.

Water tank done by a very skilled man just setting himself up in the boat repair business so willing to take on unpleasant work at a reasonable price.

Gas locker done by a member of this forum, paid in cash, beer and endless games of chess.

Did the side lockers myself, still hard work but much easier access.

 

A friend is looking for somebody to do her water tank but now everbody has learned what a horrid job it is so no takers.

 

...............Dave

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I can confidently state that cleaning the rust from the water tank on my boat was the worst job I have taken on . You say 'we' so hopefully the other person is smaller than you so they can be the one to get in the tank . They need gloves . hat , goggles and mask and will emerge rust coloured and after about three showers should revert to their original skin / hair colour with most orifices dust free. I used a wire brush in a drill to get the worst rust off and used Vactan rust converter and then Bitumen paint suitable for water tanks.  On mine the pipe from the tank needed cleaning as well as that had built up a layer of rust . I wish you well.

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9 hours ago, blackrose said:

It's not easy but you can make it slightly easier: Scrape any muck out and dry the area with old towels, use an angle grinder with wire wheels to scurf out the rust as doing it with hand held wire brushes is a waste of time. Doing it that way will either take you weeks to do properly, or you just won't do it properly. You must have good PPE when using an angle grinder in a confined space. Eye, protection, mask, ear defenders and leather gloves. You'll probably need a work lamp in there too. Avoid getting the cables anywhere near the wire wheel end of the grinder and if you need to change wheels then unplug the grinder first.

 

Dust and vacuum out all the debris, and then paint with your coating of choice. Personally after all that work I chose the best and longest lasting coating (which is a water portable epoxy) because I don't want to do it again anytime soon.

 

Edit: Vactan is a shortcut to getting rid of the rust by converting it, but from what I've seen and heard it means you'll be back down there within a couple of years doing it again. It's a water based product after all so you wouldn't expect it to last very long underwater.

Well I would use a hand held wire brush (after scraping loose rust off) and Vactan. Vactan needs surface rust to react to. Using a grinder in such a confined space is VERY dangerous. 

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10 hours ago, blackrose said:

It's not easy but you can make it slightly easier: Scrape any muck out and dry the area with old towels, use an angle grinder with wire wheels to scurf out the rust as doing it with hand held wire brushes is a waste of time. Doing it that way will either take you weeks to do properly, or you just won't do it properly. You must have good PPE when using an angle grinder in a confined space. Eye, protection, mask, ear defenders and leather gloves. You'll probably need a work lamp in there too. Avoid getting the cables anywhere near the wire wheel end of the grinder and if you need to change wheels then unplug the grinder first.

 

Dust and vacuum out all the debris, and then paint with your coating of choice. Personally after all that work I chose the best and longest lasting coating (which is a water portable epoxy) because I don't want to do it again anytime soon.

 

Edit: Vactan is a shortcut to getting rid of the rust by converting it, but from what I've seen and heard it means you'll be back down there within a couple of years doing it again. It's a water based product after all so you wouldn't expect it to last very long underwater.

I think you mean Potable water epoxy ie, for drinking water.

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3 hours ago, jenevers said:

Well I would use a hand held wire brush (after scraping loose rust off) and Vactan. Vactan needs surface rust to react to. Using a grinder in such a confined space is VERY dangerous. 

 

Really? People who work on boats in yards do it all the time. It's not dangerous if you know how to use a grinder, but of course if you don't then don't do it.

 

As for vactan, as I said, I wouldn't use vactan unless you want to be doing it again soon.

2 hours ago, Captain Fizz said:

I think you mean Potable water epoxy ie, for drinking water.

Yes, it think that must have been predictive text on my phone, but the epoxy is portable too! ?

Edited by blackrose
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12 hours ago, Tracy D'arth said:

 

Proper tank bitumen is easily bought from paint suppliers, not B&Q or Wicks, theres' is likely to be water based these days and useless.

I'm not sure there are many brands of bitumen paint that are approved by the manufacturers for use with potable water (although there used to be before the rules tightened up). Can you name a specific brand which is still available?

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2 minutes ago, David Mack said:

I'm not sure there are many brands of bitumen paint that are approved by the manufacturers for use with potable water (although there used to be before the rules tightened up). Can you name a specific brand which is still available?

Its been a while but the last I bought was from a Johnstones Paints trade outlet.

Epoxy potable water paint may now be easier to source, ask Sherwin-Williams, Bolton.

TD'

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13 hours ago, blackrose said:

It's not easy but you can make it slightly easier: Scrape any muck out and dry the area with old towels, use an angle grinder with wire wheels to scurf out the rust as doing it with hand held wire brushes is a waste of time. Doing it that way will either take you weeks to do properly, or you just won't do it properly. You must have good PPE when using an angle grinder in a confined space. Eye, protection, mask, ear defenders and leather gloves. You'll probably need a work lamp in there too. Avoid getting the cables anywhere near the wire wheel end of the grinder and if you need to change wheels then unplug the grinder first.

 

Dust and vacuum out all the debris, and then paint with your coating of choice. Personally after all that work I chose the best and longest lasting coating (which is a water portable epoxy) because I don't want to do it again anytime soon.

 

Edit: Vactan is a shortcut to getting rid of the rust by converting it, but from what I've seen and heard it means you'll be back down there within a couple of years doing it again. It's a water based product after all so you wouldn't expect it to last very long underwater.

I hate all water based finishes with a passion. However, as I understand it, Vactan reacts chemically with the rust and is based on tannic acid so the fact that it has a water content seems irrelevant to me. There are other makes and Jenolite – https://jenolite.com – is my solution of choice. Over the years I've used many litres of the stuff, for a wide variety of projects and the results have never disappointed. It is no substitute for removal of all loose material, however. Jenolite sell an interesting and useful range of products (direct) including, even, a hand sanitising solution!

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2 hours ago, ditchcrawler said:

Worth noting from the first of those links...

"Legislation has resulted in the withdrawal of the Water Research Council’s approval of bitumen for use in water tanks and equipment for all public services. This means that bituminous solutions are no longer approved by the WRC, but their continuing use on existing bituminised tanks is permitted under BS3416 on boats. If your boat has a water tank already coated with bitumen, you can use Water Tank Coating to maintain it. New water tanks must use two pack bitumen-free coatings (such as Epicol SF)."

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1 hour ago, Up-Side-Down said:

I hate all water based finishes with a passion. However, as I understand it, Vactan reacts chemically with the rust and is based on tannic acid so the fact that it has a water content seems irrelevant to me. There are other makes and Jenolite – https://jenolite.com – is my solution of choice. Over the years I've used many litres of the stuff, for a wide variety of projects and the results have never disappointed. It is no substitute for removal of all loose material, however.

I used Vactan on the more-or-less-permanently wet engine bilge on WotEver, overcoated with Danboline.  It stayed rust-free for the years we had her.  I'm aware that Blackrose never hesitates to criticise it at every opportunity, but I'm not sure if that's from personal experience or not.

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16 hours ago, Tracy D'arth said:

Its easy, scrape, shift any scaling rust to, clean metal, then get the tank really dry,  stick a heater or an incandecent bulb in for a while and whilst it is still warm and free from condensation get a coat of water tank bitumen on. Don't miss anywhere! Avoid breathing in the tank, it will form condensation and the fumes are bad for the lungs.

You could Vactan it but I have never found it to be an advantage.

Its a warm weather job, cold causes condensation and will prevent the bitumen sticking properly.

Let it dry for a day or two and repeat with the warming and recoat till you have 3 full coats on, let it cure for at least a week and its done.

Proper tank bitumen is easily bought from paint suppliers, not B&Q or Wicks, theres' is likely to be water based these days and useless.

 

Do it all again in 10 to 15 years !!!

 

TD'

Thanks for the advice! 

16 hours ago, blackrose said:

It's not easy but you can make it slightly easier: Scrape any muck out and dry the area with old towels, use an angle grinder with wire wheels to scurf out the rust as doing it with hand held wire brushes is a waste of time. Doing it that way will either take you weeks to do properly, or you just won't do it properly. You must have good PPE when using an angle grinder in a confined space. Eye, protection, mask, ear defenders and leather gloves. You'll probably need a work lamp in there too. Avoid getting the cables anywhere near the wire wheel end of the grinder and if you need to change wheels then unplug the grinder first.

 

Dust and vacuum out all the debris, and then paint with your coating of choice. Personally after all that work I chose the best and longest lasting coating (which is a water portable epoxy) because I don't want to do it again anytime soon.

 

Edit: Vactan is a shortcut to getting rid of the rust by converting it, but from what I've seen and heard it means you'll be back down there within a couple of years doing it again. It's a water based product after all so you wouldn't expect it to last very long underwater.

Thanks, we'll suss out an angle grinder and the epoxy! 

15 hours ago, Troyboy said:

I can confidently state that cleaning the rust from the water tank on my boat was the worst job I have taken on . You say 'we' so hopefully the other person is smaller than you so they can be the one to get in the tank . They need gloves . hat , goggles and mask and will emerge rust coloured and after about three showers should revert to their original skin / hair colour with most orifices dust free. I used a wire brush in a drill to get the worst rust off and used Vactan rust converter and then Bitumen paint suitable for water tanks.  On mine the pipe from the tank needed cleaning as well as that had built up a layer of rust . I wish you well.

Unfortunately I'm the smaller one so it's probably going to be me in there ? 

3 hours ago, ditchcrawler said:

Thank you, I'll check those out! 

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5 hours ago, blackrose said:

 

Really? People who work on boats in yards do it all the time. It's not dangerous if you know how to use a grinder, but of course if you don't then don't do it.

 

As for vactan, as I said, I wouldn't use vactan unless you want to be doing it again soon.

Yes, it think that must have been predictive text on my phone, but the epoxy is portable too! ?

 

Its not the power tool it's self that is the problem, it's the dust created in a very enclosed space with limited ventilation. 

 

Bod

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I re did mine again last year after doing it for the first time a few years before that. The first time was a horrible dirty job getting all the muck up, second time was a breeze didn't take much to do it.

I got the bituman paint from the marina, wore old overalls, long marigold gloves taped up, shoe protectors and a shoe protector fitted over my hair (I've got short hair), and wore a proper breathing mask with filters in which helped with the smell. 

I used a combination of brush and roller several coats leaving a few days between each coat and because we don't live on the boat I left it for a few weeks to cure.

Gave it a good rinse out before I re filled it again.

I will probably do it again in the next few years while its easy to do. 

 

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1 hour ago, Bod said:

 

Its not the power tool it's self that is the problem, it's the dust created in a very enclosed space with limited ventilation. 

 

Bod

if you are average size then using even a small angle grinder can result in unsafe postures.   

anyone who has done training on how to use an angle grinder will understand that it will be exceedingly difficult to use it safely in all positions in a confined space. 

correct posture, PPE (hands, arms, face, legs), ventilation and a guard properly installed in the correct position are all essential.

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2 hours ago, Murflynn said:

if you are average size then using even a small angle grinder can result in unsafe postures.   

anyone who has done training on how to use an angle grinder will understand that it will be exceedingly difficult to use it safely in all positions in a confined space. 

correct posture, PPE (hands, arms, face, legs), ventilation and a guard properly installed in the correct position are all essential.

Agreed. I wouldn’t do it.

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