Diesel stalling, about to Give Up - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 11 Old 07-31-2013 Thread Starter
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Diesel stalling, about to Give Up

Ok Sailnet, you're my last hope. We bout a Hunter 33, and on the sail test it stalled. The mechanic said it was because the Yanmar fuel pp was taken out and replaced with a cheap automotive hack job substitute. We've since replaced it back to factory fuel pump. We enjoyed a few days trouble free, but the stalling and losing RMP reared its ugly head again. The boat sat for two years, and the fuel in the tank is a tank that was full sitting for two years, less the small amount we've used, plus what we've topped up. Am I overly optimistic that removing all the fuel and replacing us the solution? Any other ideas?

Hunter 33, Tranquilo

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post #2 of 11 Old 07-31-2013
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Re: Diesel stalling, about to Give Up

Check the vent first. Have experienced those exact symptoms twice (on my own boat and on a delivery).

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post #3 of 11 Old 07-31-2013
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Re: Diesel stalling, about to Give Up

Loss of RPM can be many things, most likely air leaking into the fuel. It could also be poor quality fuel. I doubt it was ever the pump. I have a yanmar 44, it doesn't even need to have the electric pump turned on to run, the mechanical (cam driven) pump runs it fine.

What's the status of the filter?

I would change out the filter - if there is a lot of water in the bowl, drain it. Make sure the entire fuel system is bled of all air.
Then fire up the pump (just the pump, not the engine) - and again check the filter, just look through the clear part and you should be able to see fuel swirling around. Let that run a hour or so - it's just 'polishing' your fuel (pulling from the tank and returning it via the return line.
Check the filter - look specifically for air bubbles. I'm assuming you have a clear portion on the filter, check for water in the drain bowl. If you don't have bubbles and don't have water and the fuel filter itself isn't a crud covered mess start the engine and bump it to 1500 rpm, let it run until your RPM drop thing happens, or if it doesn't then let it run for as long as you need to be confident you've found and fixed the problem.

Do the bubble/water check every time (turn on the pump when you get to the dock and let it run until you are ready to pull out, then check for bubbles) before you go out until you are happy. Properly filtered and dewatered diesel should be fine after two years.

If you become convinced you must drain the fuel get a jerry can, disconnect the fuel return from the tank and fill the jerry using the fuel pump. Me, I'd toss in a additive and go sailing.

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post #4 of 11 Old 07-31-2013
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During my delivery days, I came across quite a few boats that had sat for a while. Almost without exception, they had a problem with the fuel. Algae will grow in a tank and then when the boat moves and bounces around, the algae breaks free and clogs the fuel line.

Someone with an electronic fuel pump, filter and hose might be able to feed that hose down the fill tube, run the diesel through the filter and clean the fuel of algae. Of course that doesn't fix any algae still clinging to the sides of the tank.

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post #5 of 11 Old 07-31-2013
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Re: Diesel stalling, about to Give Up

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Originally Posted by chucklesR View Post
Loss of RPM can be many things, most likely air leaking into the fuel. It could also be poor quality fuel. I doubt it was ever the pump. I have a yanmar 44, it doesn't even need to have the electric pump turned on to run, the mechanical (cam driven) pump runs it fine.

What's the status of the filter?

I would change out the filter - if there is a lot of water in the bowl, drain it. Make sure the entire fuel system is bled of all air.
Then fire up the pump (just the pump, not the engine) - and again check the filter, just look through the clear part and you should be able to see fuel swirling around. Let that run a hour or so - it's just 'polishing' your fuel (pulling from the tank and returning it via the return line.
Check the filter - look specifically for air bubbles. I'm assuming you have a clear portion on the filter, check for water in the drain bowl. If you don't have bubbles and don't have water and the fuel filter itself isn't a crud covered mess start the engine and bump it to 1500 rpm, let it run until your RPM drop thing happens, or if it doesn't then let it run for as long as you need to be confident you've found and fixed the problem.

Do the bubble/water check every time (turn on the pump when you get to the dock and let it run until you are ready to pull out, then check for bubbles) before you go out until you are happy. Properly filtered and dewatered diesel should be fine after two years.

If you become convinced you must drain the fuel get a jerry can, disconnect the fuel return from the tank and fill the jerry using the fuel pump. Me, I'd toss in a additive and go sailing.
Never seen a diesel loose RPM due to an air leak. A leak will stop the engine not slow it down. Dropping RPM is almost always fuel starvation which in itself can have several different causes.

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post #6 of 11 Old 07-31-2013
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Re: Diesel stalling, about to Give Up

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During my delivery days, I came across quite a few boats that had sat for a while. Almost without exception, they had a problem with the fuel. Algae will grow in a tank and then when the boat moves and bounces around, the algae breaks free and clogs the fuel line.

Someone with an electronic fuel pump, filter and hose might be able to feed that hose down the fill tube, run the diesel through the filter and clean the fuel of algae. Of course that doesn't fix any algae still clinging to the sides of the tank.
Algae cannot grow in diesel or without light. Various types of bacteria both aerobic and anerobic can and will grow at the water fuel interface if there is water in the tank.

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post #7 of 11 Old 07-31-2013
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Drain tank, change fuel filter. Inspect tank for organic growth. If growth is in the tank, get a professional to clean it or get a new tank. I would consider changing lines as well if growth is found, but that's just me. The "good stuff" to clean organic growth in diesel can kill or injureyou if mishandled. Don't do it yourself unless you're trained to use it.

If the tank looks good, fill her up with a few gallons and see how it does with good, fresh fuel.
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post #8 of 11 Old 07-31-2013
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Re: Diesel stalling, about to Give Up

Many tanks have a screen on the end of the take-up line. It always gets clogged sooner or later, causing loss of rpm, and stalling if demand exceeds what can pass through the clogged end. They are usually pretty easy to get out by unscrewing the tank fitting if you can get a hand on it. When you get it out, either remove the screen completely or poke much bigger holes in it. Your primary and secondary filters will handle anything that makes it through to them. When the fitting is off, it's also pretty easy to siphon out any gunk from the bottom of the tank. An outboard squeegee attached to a hose inserted down to the bottom of the tank can remove a lot of the nasty stuff. If you can't get at the fitting to get it out, blow back through the line toward the tank from where you can get an end free to try and remove any blockage.

It's helpful to have a 5 gal container of clean fuel and a piece of fuel line handy as an emergency method of getting clean fuel right to the fuel pump.

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Last edited by smurphny; 07-31-2013 at 09:27 PM.
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post #9 of 11 Old 07-31-2013
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Re: Diesel stalling, about to Give Up

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Originally Posted by smurphny View Post
Many tanks have a screen on the end of the take-up line. It always gets clogged sooner or later, causing loss of rpm, and stalling if demand exceeds what can pass through the clogged end. They are usually pretty easy to get out by unscrewing the tank fitting if you can get a hand on it. When you get it out, either remove the screen completely or poke much bigger holes in it. Your primary and secondary filters will handle anything that makes it through to them. When the fitting is off, it's also pretty easy to siphon out any gunk from the bottom of the tank. An outboard squeegee attached to a hose inserted down to the bottom of the tank can remove a lot of the nasty stuff. If you can't get at the fitting to get it out, blow back through the line toward the tank from where you can get an end free to try and remove any blockage.

It's helpful to have a 5 gal container of clean fuel and a piece of fuel line handy as an emergency method of getting clean fuel right to the fuel pump.
Happened to me!

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post #10 of 11 Old 08-01-2013
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Re: Diesel stalling, about to Give Up

Yes, happened to me as well a couple of months ago. Someone mentioned this problem in a previous thread quite a while ago, so I immediately knew where to start looking. Fortunately, all I need to do on my boat is unscrew a panel and can easily access the top of the tank to remove the fitting. I was able to siphon out quite a bit of fott and opened up the screen. There was enough fuel still making it through so that I could maintain idle rpm and get to a spot to anchor and pull things apart. I like the general idea of a screen there (as long as it's accessible) but it needs to be more than just that little piece across the end of the tubing. It's such a small area that even a small bit of black goo can effectively block it. I'd like to see a larger screened area that would be less prone to clogging by the inevitable stuff that gets in tanks. I guess using a Bahamian filter every time would tend to solve the problem but that's a PITA and usually makes a mess. I'm sure most of the debris comes right from the pump stations and not from growth occurring in the boat's tank. I've seen plenty of debris go right into 5 gallon containers that were absolutely clean before filling at a pump.

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