I bought a new to me boat last November and ran into a problem this holiday weekend during my first real trip. While going through Beaufort Inlet in NC the waters were quite rough. Apparently this kicked up a bunch of "sediment" in my fuel tank (which I did not know was there and had never heard of before). The Racor filter ended up getting plugged and starved the engine of fuel.
I was towed back to a marina, changed out the primary and secondary filters, had the air bled from the fuel system (I didn''t know how to do this part) and things run fine now.
It has been suggested that I should have the fuel "polished" now. However, I''ve also been told that this may not get the sediment out and it is a waste of money.
I''m inclined to try it, but was wondering what opinions are here.
As an engineer who primarily now does filtration, polishing the tank without actually getting inside and scrubbing the walls to loosen up all the agglomerated crud will probably be a waste of time. Polishing will indeed clean up the oil but wont touch the debris thats adhering to the walls. Such attached debris is subject to come loose the next time you encounter a heavy sea state.
First, remove most of the fuel (use in you oil burner at home) then If its a removable small tank, simply take it out and do the cleaning work outside the boat; if large or has a large inspection port, simply get in there with a long handled stiff brush and scrub until all the junks is in the bottom, then ''sop it up'' with towels - then burn.
How to keep a tank from particulating: only keep on board the amount of fuel that you ''need'' plus an amount for ''emergency'' reserve. Fuel has a relatively short ''shelf-life'' and will begin to ''grow''/ agglomerate particulate because its ''old''. To keep particles from old fuel from forming you need: a clean tank, buy only from a high-turnover source (one that pumps a LOT of fuel), ..... and then consider to add an onboard recirculation/polishing systm to keep the tank clean.
Hope this helps
I''d offer two different views from Rich''s.
First, let''s be clear that fuel can be contaminated by both crud in and delivered with the fuel by the vendor AND by bugs that grow in the tank. Rich''s advice about buying from a high-volume vendor is a good one, altho'' I''d suggest two add''l criteria: one with a big storage volume and one that proudly shows his hicap filters at the fueling station (or will show them to you), hopefully sporting clean bowls. This will eliminate most of the crud and your system should handle the balance.
That leaves the bugs. These grow at the interface of the water and fuel, which is why one should try to leave a tank full rather than partially full. Air holds moisture and that moisture will condense over time due to temp changes, and as the water begins to collect the bugs have a larger home in which to grow. Better to minimize this by keeping the tank topped, most especially during those more dormant periods like winter. Having a way to occasionally suction out the very bottom of the tank - to go ''fishing'' for the water collecting there - is another helpful step.
Diesel does lose some of its punch as it ages but, unlike gas, you can bolster older diesel fuel with an additive; these are available most anywhere and are inexpensive. Consider using one of them if you usage level seems to warrant it. OTOH I''ve burned fuel several times in WHOOSH that I know to be several years old (at least) with no noticeable sign of poorer performance...so how much the fuel is harmed by long term storage remains a question in my mind.
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