Dinosaurs in the gas tank - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 20 Old 07-26-2007 Thread Starter
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Dinosaurs in the gas tank

I have been having problems with my A4 not starting. I have trouble-shot it to particulate matter that has gotten into the gas filter, and into the after-market electric fuel pump which I installed (okay, HAD installed). We cleaned all of the filters and she is running fine now. The question: Is there a way to clean out the OEM stainless steel gas tank, to get the mung off the bottom, or should I just cut the suction feed off an inch shorter every few years until the tank is full of crap? Thanks for any input.

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post #2 of 20 Old 07-26-2007
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or should I just cut the suction feed off an inch shorter every few years until the tank is full of crap?
I don't think you'll hear many support that strategy, but I like the way you are thinking.

Problem is, the sediment will move around when you sail...you do sail don't you? And so it won't just stay at the bottom of the tank. Clean or replace the fuel and have the tanks cleaned is my suggestion.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things y%^&*.....oh never mind. 90% of the people on sailing forums already use that as their signature! I'm not a conformist.
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Bardo,
Somewhere on this forum I read of someone placing a couple of large ball bearings in the tank. This kept the sludge off the bottom. It also required frequent fuel filter changes for a while. I have no idea if this is a good idea or not, but it's a novel approach.
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post #4 of 20 Old 07-26-2007
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I have used the spray carb cleaner to clean tanks before with some success. You have to use lint free rags to get the liquid and gunk out and then you have to dispose of those carefully - lay them out in the hot sun to dry completely before throwing them away. I used a wooden dowel to push the rags around inside the tank and I carved a little barb at the end to snag the rag and pull it back out.
There was a story in one of my magazines (I think it was Family Handyman, where they have blooper stories at the back) about a guy who used his shop vac to empty a gas tank. Fortunatey he was using a long hose and was not injured in the explosion...
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post #5 of 20 Old 07-26-2007 Thread Starter
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PamTraveler,

Yes, I try to sail her at least weekly. I am currently pursuing the de-fueling strategy. My plan is to use an automotive hand pump (for oil removal) to remove the last few gallons of gas that I have in her. But then what? Should I just refuel with clean fuel and keep purging and cleaning until I have the gas cleaned up? Or should I pay to have the tank cleaned?
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Depends on your access to the tank - You may need to create an access point to the tank. But I would think gas would be cleaner than diesel and if you can pump the tank dry you could probably avoid the cleaning.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things y%^&*.....oh never mind. 90% of the people on sailing forums already use that as their signature! I'm not a conformist.
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post #7 of 20 Old 07-26-2007
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I pulled out my monel tank and gave it to a pal and replaced it with a Tempo tank 2/3rds the original size. I replaced all the fuel and vent lines and put in a fuel/water separator and a fuel line shut off well away from the carb side on my A4. Problems went away.

I have to say as well that while my range has been reduced to 60 NM or something, it's hardly an issue when I get 30 NM of range per five-gallon jerrycan. Three jerrycans and a full tank to start allow me to circle Lake Ontario under power, so it's academic anyway.

The only proper way to solve this is to have the tank with an accessible sump beneath the pickup...think like your "cup" filter on the A4. If the goo collects, it goes into this sump...drain it and you get the goo out. If the pickup is visible, you can even reach the pickup screen...there should BE a screen on that pickup tube...and clean the crap off it as well. Other than that, if you don't have a four-inch access cover on the tank top, I'd just get a new tank for a hundred bucks. I was reduced to gravity feeding from an outboard tank at one point and that was not to spec, to say the least, and the job of replacement took less than a day.
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post #8 of 20 Old 07-26-2007
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No screen on the pickup tube. It will get clogged and you will have to remove it to clean. Put a filter between the tank and the pump.
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Valiente,

Replacing the tank is the best solution, but there are 2 factors at play: First, the tank on the Bristol 29 will not come out without removing the engine first. In and of itself, that does not look like a gigntic job, but it does add a level of complexity. Then a new, and probably smaller tank would make great sense. the second factor is that I am looking to upgrade to a larger boat (see my inumerable posts asking probing questions about everything from dinghies to super-yachts). I think my heart is set on movin-on-up, as they say. So I'm seeking the middle ground.

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post #10 of 20 Old 07-26-2007
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OK, then. Does your tank have a sender plate? It might make sense to siphon out the gas and stick a well-secured series of rags on dowelling down there to wipe up the most egregious crud. Then, run the gas through a Baja-type filter into jerrycans, and then pour back in.

All this good stuff depends on access of course, plus the ability to pump out the gas without blowing yourself up.
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