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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Engines > Diesel
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Diesel This is a forum dedicated to diesel engines and their applicable accessories.


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Old 09-03-2010
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Cleaning out fuel tank

My primary fuel filter recently clogged after less than 10 gals of diesel fuel passed through it, making me suspicious of the state of the fuel tank.

I have been scrupulous about where I buy my fuel, keeping the tank topped up, especially during the winter layup, and adding biocide with each fuel addition. But the POs of this boat may not (this is a charitable view of the POs ) have been so careful, so who knows what crud is at the bottom of the tank.

Is there a way to clean a diesel tank without removing it? I would REALLY like to avoid removing it. It is a real PITA job.

Thanks for any suggestions.
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Old 09-03-2010
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Yes, look up "fuel polishing" in your area. They will come and pump your fuel through a few filters and squirt it back into your tank, cleaning it all over until it's clean.
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Old 09-03-2010
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Unfortunately, fuel polishing will only get rid of the stuff floating in the fuel. It generally won't get the stuff that is adhered/growing on the sides of the tank. It is often that stuff that dies off or gets shaken loose in heavy weather and causes the fuel problems. Steam cleaning the tank is really the best idea if you've got fuel contamination issues.
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Old 09-03-2010
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If you have inspection ports on the tanks and physical access, you can also empty the tank, remove the ports, and scrub it by hand.

Get it as clean as you possibly can, THEN do the fuel polishing thing. Properly done, fuel polishing nozzles are moved around the tank, squirting fuel on the tank walls during the polishing process. This helps to clean the tank walls, as diesel fuel itself is a fairly decent cleanser.

Thereafter, the biocide or other additive is a good idea, but the real solution is to install a fuel polishing system integral to the boat. Not hard to do, and it makes light work of keeping the fuel clean.

Bill
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Old 09-03-2010
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If it's an old tank all the money you spend on polishing, filters, and more it would be cheaper to change out the tank. (imho) REALLY! Been there done that! After agonizing over my tank that had pinholes weeping it came out in less then a hour! The new one is smaller and I can actually remove it myself without help now. 20mins.
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steam cleaning

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
Unfortunately, fuel polishing will only get rid of the stuff floating in the fuel. It generally won't get the stuff that is adhered/growing on the sides of the tank. It is often that stuff that dies off or gets shaken loose in heavy weather and causes the fuel problems. Steam cleaning the tank is really the best idea if you've got fuel contamination issues.
Can steam cleaning be done with the tank on the boat?

What access is required to the inside of the tank? There are no inspection ports on my tank. Just the fill, the two connections to/from the engine, the gauge, and the vent.
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It depends on the access to the tank, and whether the tank is baffled or not. Most tanks don't have decent access/inspection ports, and they should have them added IMHO.

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Originally Posted by pegasus1457 View Post
Can steam cleaning be done with the tank on the boat?

What access is required to the inside of the tank? There are no inspection ports on my tank. Just the fill, the two connections to/from the engine, the gauge, and the vent.
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I have to agree w/Denice, after 30 years, you probably have some major issues. Hard to find pin holes. Stainless doesn't last forever.
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Old 09-03-2010
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most of those older tanks were aluminum I think.. mine was. thank you Sailor 50. I just don't understand how strongly people think they can "save" old tanks. New, off the shelf tanks are really quite cheap
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You are right Denise, most of the tanks were made from aluminum, much less noble than stainless. We had a new one custom made out of stainless. When we pulled the old aluminum one out - it looked like swiss cheese! We can now visibly see the tank as we relocated it to a better site.
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