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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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  #1  
Old 04-10-2012
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Replace Diesel Fuel Regularly

I went to a diesel maintenance seminar and they made a recommendation I had not heard before. More than anything the mechanic presenting sees issues with fuel and fuel systems. This has gotten worse with the addition of biodiesel mixtures. They recommend at least every couple of years to drain all the fuel from your tank and start with completely fresh fuel. This is especially true for sailors since we don't burn through a whole tank, I only do half a tank on average. I add more fuel and the "bad" fuel just stays and gets diluted somewhat. I have not had any fuel problems and really don't want any so thinking it makes sense. The old fuel won't be wasted, just go into home heating system where it definitely will be burned. Thoughts??
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Old 04-10-2012
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Re: Replace Diesel Fuel Regularly

This is what fuel polishing is for although I haven't done it. I try to use my diesel in the year, but not always. I use a water separator when filling and use a Racor filter and have not had any issues in the past 7 years.
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Old 04-10-2012
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Re: Replace Diesel Fuel Regularly

We've got a 160 liter tank, and burn about 2 l/hr at cruise if motoring. Last year put 100 hours on the engine, so used 200 liters. If that's typical I think we're putting the fuel through the system.

We did clean the tanks and 'polish' the fuel when we bought the boat a few years back (oops... did the math... 7 years back)
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Old 04-10-2012
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Re: Replace Diesel Fuel Regularly

I think the advice might be good. I also understand diesel fuel is now made by "cracking" instead of "refining". Not quite sure of the difference but I understand making by cracking leads to more unstable fuel.

When I bought my boat two years ago I had all kinds of fuel issues due to filter clogs. Even the fuel strainer in the tank was clogged. I pulled the 12 gallon plastic tank and drained the fuel then cleaned it. There was a lot of sediments (bacteria?) in the bottom of the tank. After two years I now see these same type of sediments forming (I do use stabilizer and biocide when I add fuel). I only use maybe 20 gallons fuel per year. My plan is to pump out all the fuel, clean the tank best I can, filter fuel and put back in the tank. Maybe do this every two years. For me with a plastic tank I shine a flashlight on the side and look through the open fill port to see what is in the bottom of the tank.
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Re: Replace Diesel Fuel Regularly

I know from experience that stuff grows faster in a translucent water tank .Maybe the fuel eating bugs do too.Any condensation in the fuel tank sure enhances their growth but the fuel itself should be good for a long time It's not like the new gasoline which cross links its molecules in a season .Bad smell and jelly in the filter/carb.
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Re: Replace Diesel Fuel Regularly

I'm aware of fuel polishing systems but for my boat it isn't really needed I think. I have a 12 gallon tank and on average use maybe half of it give or take in a season. My motoring needs are minimal, just a couple miles down the river to the ocean and then back. Once out on the ocean I do very little motoring. If I were to burn through my fuel this wouldn't be an issue. If I had a much larger tank then a polishing system would make sense. Replacing all of the fuel every few years in that case wouldn't make sense. If I only need to remove 2 fuel canisters at most each time it is certainly feasible. It seems to be a pretty simple thing to do, best at the beginning of the season I think, that could prevent all kinds of problems later. Nothing wasted, just a little time to pull the fuel out and then put two canisters back in.
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Re: Replace Diesel Fuel Regularly

Quote:
Originally Posted by maccauley123 View Post
I'm aware of fuel polishing systems but for my boat it isn't really needed I think. I have a 12 gallon tank and on average use maybe half of it give or take in a season. My motoring needs are minimal, just a couple miles down the river to the ocean and then back. Once out on the ocean I do very little motoring. If I were to burn through my fuel this wouldn't be an issue. If I had a much larger tank then a polishing system would make sense. Replacing all of the fuel every few years in that case wouldn't make sense. If I only need to remove 2 fuel canisters at most each time it is certainly feasible. It seems to be a pretty simple thing to do, best at the beginning of the season I think, that could prevent all kinds of problems later. Nothing wasted, just a little time to pull the fuel out and then put two canisters back in.
Found this article from Don Casey- he seems to agree with you.
Fuel System Maintenance by Don Casey

I have a 12 volt electric fuel pump with a filter and associated hose. I plan to put the hose in the bottom of the tank and pump the tank dry (along with the sediments). Then filter the fuel with a water seperator funnel filter (like what West Marine sells) then put it back into the tank.

Last edited by casey1999; 04-10-2012 at 08:49 PM.
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Re: Replace Diesel Fuel Regularly

Yeah... if your sailing/boating routine is such that the only motoring you're likely to do is in/out of the marina then you're not going to be using a lot of fuel and a small tank is a good thing.. no long term retention of any significant amounts of fuel, so none of the concerns, really, mentioned above.

In our case our summers tend to be light air affairs and we spend weeks/months cruising around, by necessity doing a fair amount of motoring so a large tank is much more convenient esp when you get yourself removed from easy refueling situations. Again as long as you use the fuel in reasonable time I think you're OK.

It's not unusual to have fuel issues in a 'new to you' boat, esp if that boat hasn't been actively used for a few years.. disuse and lack of care and attention by the disinterested owner is a sure setup for problems. Fortunately once dealt with you're usually good to go for some time.
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Re: Replace Diesel Fuel Regularly

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Originally Posted by Faster View Post
Yeah... if your sailing/boating routine is such that the only motoring you're likely to do is in/out of the marina then you're not going to be using a lot of fuel and a small tank is a good thing.. no long term retention of any significant amounts of fuel, so none of the concerns, really, mentioned above.

In our case our summers tend to be light air affairs and we spend weeks/months cruising around, by necessity doing a fair amount of motoring so a large tank is much more convenient esp when you get yourself removed from easy refueling situations. Again as long as you use the fuel in reasonable time I think you're OK.

It's not unusual to have fuel issues in a 'new to you' boat, esp if that boat hasn't been actively used for a few years.. disuse and lack of care and attention by the disinterested owner is a sure setup for problems. Fortunately once dealt with you're usually good to go for some time.
Faster,
I probably burn through a tank (12 gallon) or more per year and still see this slime type sediment at the bottom of my tank. I do not think it is alge or bacteria. I think it probably is some type of heavy carbon molecule coalessing in the bottom of the tank (probably due to the way a lot of diesel is made now- by cracking). It gives me no problem as long as it stays on the bottom (the tank suction tube about 1 inch off bottom). What I would be concerned about is the sediment getting churned up while sailing then when I go to start the engine it all clogs the filter. I have primary and secondary so probably will not happen. But I could see it clogging the screen that covers the suction tube (this is what happened when I first bought the boat). I have heard it might be best to remove the suction screen so that the sediment goes to primary filter, which hopefully it would not clog compeletly.
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Re: Replace Diesel Fuel Regularly

Interesting arcticle:
Marine Diesel Fuel Contamination Problems & Solutions
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