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mathislaw1 04-04-2007 02:00 PM

Automotive Diesel
I know this is probably a stupid question, but is it safe to use automotive diesel in a marine engine?

I don't have a diesel gas pump near my boat slip, so I thought it would be just as easy to buy a couple of 5 gallon diesel cans and fill up my boat everytime I visit, instead of motoring 4 miles everytime I need gas.

I have a Yanmar if that makes a difference.


eherlihy 04-04-2007 02:10 PM

Safe - Yes
Expensive - also yes! - although in the US, you will be paying for the highway taxes (about $0.75/gallon) that Marine diesel is exempt from.

I beleive that you can also use home heating oil (although this is probably illegal).


Idiens 04-04-2007 02:14 PM

We used to be able to buy "red" diesel fuel for pleasure craft legally - i.e. heating fuel . But no more. From Jan this year it's "white" diesel or else. I hate paying road tax on a vehicle that is not used on the roads.

cardiacpaul 04-04-2007 02:49 PM

depending on your local, you may be able to get rebates from the "parks" or "wildlife" department in your state Fuel Tax Refund Information

hellosailor 04-04-2007 03:00 PM

But if you don't pay for the highway taxes (buying at a regular gasoline station) you may pay even more when you pay "marina prices" and add in the eight mile round trip to fetch it.

eherlihy 04-04-2007 03:26 PM

Ok - you got me interested enough to Google it...

there are a lot of interesting facts and figures on Diesel use in the US HERE: L2_1_1_rf

Here is the pertinent section;

A variety of fuels are available for marine diesel engines. There is a set of four marine distillate fuels, some of which contain small amounts of resid,6 and a set of 15 marine residual fuels in which resid is the majority constituent. Since resid increases viscosity, these fuels range in viscosity from less than one centistoke (cSt) to about 700 cSt at 122F (50C). The higher viscosity grades are preheated during use to bring their viscosity into the range suitable for marine diesel engine injection (8-27 cSt). Marine fuels also contain more sulfur than on-road diesel fuel. The maximum sulfur content specification varies from 1% to 5% mass for different grades.

Several organizations issue marine fuel specifications. Standard 8217 of the International Standards Organization (ISO) is the primary standard. ASTM maintains a parallel specification, D 2069. "

sailortjk1 04-04-2007 03:32 PM

Not sure why you woldn't just motor the 4 miles. Thats not very far. Nice sail over fill up and sail back, no big deal as far as I'm concerned. Second of all, How often are you really going to need to fill up? Sounds like your more into day sailing than cruising, if thats the case, a full tank of desiel should last a long time. Depending on your tankage and if you are doing mostly day sails, I would think that a full tank would last several weeks, maybe more. But you'll have to figure that out yourself.
Also, your marina may frown apon you filling your boat with jerry cans at the dock. Most marinas are very enviornmently friendly these days and they don't want you spilling diesel into the water. And remember your responsible for any large spills.

cardiacpaul 04-04-2007 03:32 PM

"the slow speeds (60-200 rpm) of the large marine engines allow more time for combustion to occur"

Bub, they're talking about diesel engines with pistons the size of your head or a pumpkin. not the yanmars, ok? :)

hellosailor 04-04-2007 03:33 PM

Sounds like "the shipping industry" means the folks who buy by the lighter full not the jerry can, and their definition of "marine diesel" means "bunker fuel for ships". Not at all what small craft owners need to deal with, or be bothered by.

rcarr 04-04-2007 04:01 PM

Check with your engine manufacturer. Auto diesel has a much lower sulfer content than marine diesel. Even today's marine diesel has a much lower sulfer content than marine diesel years ago. Sulfer acts as a lubricant. Your engine manufacturer may recommend you add a lubricant additive even with the marine diesel


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