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Old 06-11-2002
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Oily Bilge

Hi Folks,

When draining my oil about two litres ended up in the bilge, which is very deep and cant be reached by hand. Any suggestions on how to clean it out?
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Old 06-11-2002
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Oily Bilge

Long plastic tube or plastic tube to copper piping "wand" on hand oil pump. Works on pumping out fuel tanks, too, particularly the copper tubing, which you can move around to get everything. 25 gallons later I had arms like Popeye. You probably need an oil change hand pump anyway.
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Old 06-11-2002
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Oily Bilge

Get yourself several "Bilge Oilsorbers" or 3M Oil-sorbant (West Marine Cat p.321). These are oleophillic (oil will absorb into the polypropylene fiber structure) .... place in bilge for a few days then remove. When most fo the visible oil has been absorbed into the oilsorbers, then take a strong caustic based detergent (- sodium phosphate based, etc.) and pour several quarts into the bilge and let sit, the more the better. Spray the same detergent onto the sides of the bilge at the ''scum-oil'' line - let sit. Wait a few days and respray the sides of the bilge with the same detergent - if you can use a long handled scrub brush to loosen the ''goop'' - all the better. Take a hose and wash everything into the bilge..... there will be enough caustic detergent solution to put all the remaining oil into an emulsion/solution. Continue to blast everything with water. Add more detergent if necessary to prevent "emitting a sheen on the water" when you pump the bilge.... will cost you a heavy fine if you emit ANY oil sheen to the water - VERY IMPORTANT.
If available and cheap to rent etc. ... get a recirculation fuel pump/filter set, fill the filter housing with shredded 3M oil-sorbant sheets (using a full sheet over the exit and before the exit nozzle), **slowly** pump the bilge water overboard, any remaining oil emulsion will be trapped by the polypropylene fiber in the filter housing. Pump slowly so that there is enough contact time of any remaining oil to absorb onto the absorbant material; if there is ANY ''sheen'' from oil on the water .... STOP immediately - but this usually works if and only if you pump real SLOW through the Polypropylene fiber.

Next time ..... use the 3M Oil-sorbant sheets under your engine to catch any drippiing oil.

Hope this helps.
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Oily Bilge

What also works is to use an industrial vacuum cleaner in combination with kitty litter. The litter is cheap and very effective at trapping the oil. The only trick is to ensure you''ve spread it real well and that you can reach it with the hose/nozzle.

There are oil/water filtration system on the market. I use one for our engine bilge as a matter of environmental responsibility. They cost at least $100 and will only absorb minute quantities of oil (i.e. you first have to get the big gunk out).

We use oil absorbant sheets during oil and filter changes. They are cheap insurance and easy to clean up. Just be sure to remove them afterwards.
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