Cleaning Out a Diesel Tank - Page 4 - SailNet Community
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post #31 of 52 Old 04-03-2008
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I would offer a different suggestion....

The one issue that gas versus diesel boats has is the issue of varnish / algae.

There are plenty of diesel gasket materials (as for gas) that you can get at NAPA - to do such larger inspection / washout ports... Unless you are a constant motor-sailor this is a real issue.

Having known my Atomic 4 damage was a result of varnish... and now going to own a diesel with even less run times.. it is more prudent to do what you can to clear the problem on a visual inspection versus wondering what to do and $$ after it occurs... inspection windows that couple as access ports - priceless...

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post #32 of 52 Old 04-03-2008
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Jody-

Diesel doesn't form varnishes or gum up AFAIK. The biggest problem with diesel is bacterial slime growth at the water/diesel interface.

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post #33 of 52 Old 04-03-2008
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Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
Jody-

Diesel doesn't form varnishes or gum up AFAIK. The biggest problem with diesel is bacterial slime growth at the water/diesel interface.
Duh I stated that SD... that is what varnish / algae denotes (the slash)...my english is bad tho I forgive.. been getting lessons from a Portuguese...

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post #34 of 52 Old 04-03-2008
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Gasoline is a witches brew of often up to SIXTY fractions and components, including things like heptane and butane which literally boil out of it within days or weeks. So varnish doesn't form, so much as it simply "Drops out of suspension" as the lower fractions gel out while the higher ones evaporate. It may or may not all be the same (I won't argue that one[g]) but it certainly isn't all made the same.

"Pump" fuel, diesel or gasoline, is typically designed to be fairly stable for 60-90 days from the date of manufacture, and whether you use gas or diesel you will have problems with "stale" fuel. Depending on the storage, the oxidation, the condensation, the temperature...you will have problems, usually around the six month point. For many of us, who think the "iron genny" is a god best worshipped infrequently, that can mean a good part of the fuel in this year's tank is last year's fuel, and tossing in a couple of bucks worth of biocide/stabilant is a terribly inexpensive precaution to take if you're not "driving the bus" and burning that old fuel out on a regular basis.
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post #35 of 52 Old 04-03-2008
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Gasoline is a witches brew of often up to SIXTY fractions and components, including things like heptane and butane which literally boil out of it within days or weeks. So varnish doesn't form, so much as it simply "Drops out of suspension" as the lower fractions gel out while the higher ones evaporate. It may or may not all be the same (I won't argue that one[g]) but it certainly isn't all made the same.

"Pump" fuel, diesel or gasoline, is typically designed to be fairly stable for 60-90 days from the date of manufacture, and whether you use gas or diesel you will have problems with "stale" fuel. Depending on the storage, the oxidation, the condensation, the temperature...you will have problems, usually around the six month point. For many of us, who think the "iron genny" is a god best worshipped infrequently, that can mean a good part of the fuel in this year's tank is last year's fuel, and tossing in a couple of bucks worth of biocide/stabilant is a terribly inexpensive precaution to take if you're not "driving the bus" and burning that old fuel out on a regular basis.
Please explain? I have about 40gal of Diesel in the tank and will be adding 40gal more; I have no access ports into the tank. I have 8 new fuel filters on standby; I leave for a long trip off shore what should I add to the fuel????

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post #36 of 52 Old 04-03-2008
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HS--

The more recent ethanol blends of gasoline have noticeably shorter shelf-life than the older MTBE-based gasolines. This is because the ethanol will come out of solution with the gasoline once the water content of the mixture reaches 1.5% or so. This will leave you with a layer of contaminated "alcohol" and a layer of gasoline that is roughy 82 octane or so.

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post #37 of 52 Old 04-03-2008
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On my old Catalina 30, I was able to remove the tank and I went to a self car wash and blasted that puppy clean.
If you cant remove, then RichH is right. If you cant scrub the tank of all crud, then its useless to just clean and change fuel.
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post #38 of 52 Old 04-03-2008
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Simon-
Any chandlery or auto supply store will have a rack of "fuel treatment" bottles from different makers. And any brand name product should work reasonably well. They contain additives designed to make the fuel (gas or diesel, whichever they are for) more stable for long-term storage. For diesel they will include a biocide to keep critters from growing, and probably a cetane booster because diesel loses power as it ages, and I'm not sure what else. For gasoline, the additives are designed to keep things in suspension, and prevent/compensate for the evaporation of high end fractions. Exactly what each one is and what it claims to do, is not my department.[g] But for fuel that will be STORED unused for long periods (i.e. 6-12 months or longer) they all seem to make a big difference in how well that fuel burns and how it causes fewer problems.

If you are going offshore with the intent that your fuel may be stored and unused for over 3 months, pick a brand name that you recognize (one of the petroluem companies or chemical makers as you please) and use the product according to the directions. With no access ports you are limited as to being able to inspect or clean, all you can do is hope you've got enough filters and the tank itself is clean to start with.

Personally I think anyone who builds a marine tank without inspection access ports should be keel-hauled, the old fashioned way without antibiotics on a fouled bottom. And having heard a "reliable" diesel sputter and die once too often, I no longer trust the fuel from ANY pump, I want to see it pumped through a "baja filter" or other filter strainer which absorbs moisture and dirt, and lets me watch what is coming in with the fuel.

But that's just me--I hate bleeding diesel fuel lines, I hate the smell of diesel, I have zero tolerance for anything "diesel" that is less than 110% reliable. I'd rather wait for the seasons to change and a breeze to come up.[vbg]

SD-
Ethanol. Gasahol. I can't wait for the history books to finally write about the greatest agrobusiness boondoggle of the 21st century! Good point, the ethanol can be problematic, as much as the changeover to lead-free fuel was. I want gasoline in my gasoline, not vodka! Aside from the damage it can do, I can't think of any reason for it unless you own Archer-Daniels-Midland stock, because whatever it gains, it immediately loses since you need to burn 10% more of it to make up for the lower energy content. And for this I pay taxes?!

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post #39 of 52 Old 04-04-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post

Personally I think anyone who builds a marine tank without inspection access ports should be keel-hauled, the old fashioned way without antibiotics on a fouled bottom. And having heard a "reliable" diesel sputter and die once too often, I no longer trust the fuel from ANY pump, I want to see it pumped through a "baja filter" or other filter strainer which absorbs moisture and dirt, and lets me watch what is coming in with the fuel.

But that's just me--I hate bleeding diesel fuel lines, I hate the smell of diesel, I have zero tolerance for anything "diesel" that is less than 110% reliable. I'd rather wait for the seasons to change and a breeze to come up.[vbg]
AMEN BROTHER!!!! This all started because I was having a *%&^!! of a time bleeding my engine and I decided that I plan to own this boat for a long time and I want to do it right and do it as few times as possible.

I appreciate the suggestion not to cut holes, but I really do want inspection ports. If I start consuming filters years from now after taking on dodgy fuel in Tarawaga-nonga I want to be able to see what's living in my tank. I'm not really worried about metal shavings as I'm sure I can remove most all of them and the ones I can't are likely to be spun out by the Racor and if not they should be larger than 10microns and caught by the filter paper. Besides with a shiny clean tank I have to have SOMETHING for my Racor to do.

I made a pilgrimage to one of the only good hardware stores left in the Seattle area. They talked me into a high-carbon 5" hole saw. An expensive tool but any engine work is expensive.... I'll report tomorrow on how it goes.


SimonV. Please DO NOT PUT BIOCIDE IN YOUR TANK! I wouldn't put any additives in your tank if your engine is running well. If your fuel is really old you can add "cetane" (diesel's equivalent of octane) which degrades with time.

If you've never added biocide before you "may" have algae in your fuel and it "may" increase the rate of filter usage but I guarantee you that if you do have algae and you put biocide in there you will suddenly have a HUGE clump of algae that will cause big problems.

To give you an example when I bought my first boat I had a 7 gal tank for the heater and a 55gal tank for the engine. I heard about algae and decided to try the additive in the 7gal tank first. The next day I had about 1.5 cups full of coffee ground like dead algae in the bottom of the tank. Clogged up the 1/4 inch fuel line and was a huge headache. I decided not to add any to the large tank. I motored that boat quite a bit over the next 6 years and only changed the filters once (preventative). Yes there was some visible growth in the bowl and I'm sure there was some in the tank but it was doing me less harm clinging to to sides of the tank than all dying and clogging up my lines and filters at once. Tank access in the old boat would involve cutting the boat in half.

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post #40 of 52 Old 04-04-2008
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Thanks for the reply, but your advice on the algaecide flies in the face of the majority consensus. Now I am more confused, as your advice seems to have merit.

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