Dirty fuel, cannot remove tank - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 06-14-2008
supernoob
 
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Dirty fuel, cannot remove tank

I have been reading up on what to do when a boat has been sitting for a while, in this case about 5 years. I have read about pulling the tank and cleaning it out etc. We got the boat for free and now we are trying to fire the engine, but I know better than to try and start it with dirty fuel. We were going to just pull the fuel line and put it in a jug of clean diesel to try just to get the engine started but upon further investigation we realized we have copper fuel lines so that isn't going to happen, also the fuel tank is tabbed into the hull so removing it is a huge pain in the ass and it's aluminum. I have included pictures that have the fuel line circled the first one is going into the fuel filter, I thought about maybe buying some rubber fuel line and just putting an inline fuel filter running into a jug just to get the motor fired, also, what are suggestions for cleaning out the tank, are there any chemicals we can use since pulling it is really not an option?

Here is the picture of the copper into the filter with the rubber line out of the filter

here is the tank tabbed


here are a couple angles of the fuel line out of the tank and whatnot
this shot is looking from port

this shot is looking from starboard
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  #2  
Old 06-14-2008
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You could get yourself 2 racors, and install a 30 and a 10 micron filter into them. Go to a wrecker and find yourself a inline fuel pump. Connect the fuel line and return line and turn it on. after cycling your fuel, change the filters to a 10 and a 2 micron sizes. If you have an inspection port on top of your tank, you could pump all the fuel out into a barrel, and then clean the tank out by hand. But from your photos I cannot see a large cleanout. the fittings I see are the same as mine, and they are flare fittings. You need a tubing flaring kit to make these, dont buy a cheap flaring kit, they usually dont hold the copper tight enough to make a proper flare. Practice a few times first before you tackle your project. After you hook up the new lines I would do a leak down test to ensure no leaks. To do this attach a vacuum gauge and seal off all lines, pump up the vacuum and wait to see if the pressure remains. If you just want to fire the motor you could remove the fuel line at the engine like you had wanted to and put it into a fuel container at the engine. If your motor hasn't run in 5 years I would suggest you pull the injectors and squirt some oil into every cylinder, and turning her over first by hand to lubricate the dry combustion chambers and piston rings. After you turn her over a few times by hand you should be good to use the starter to turn her over and build up the oil pressure before you fire it up. Fun Fun Fun
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Old 06-14-2008
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sounds like a lot of fun, thanks for the info. Unfortunately there is no inspection port, this tank is just in horrible place and I feel like it was just set up this way to annoy the hell out of me. I think I'm gonna prep the motor like you said and then fire it up before I redo the lines. Hearing the motor fire up will give me a lot of motivation to keep on the grind haha.
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Old 06-15-2008
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I know the feeling, I am redoing a Tayana 42.
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Old 06-15-2008
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Rockter will become famous soon enough
The same old c**p.
A builder that gave no thought for future maintenence, leaving you with a monumental headache.

Pump out the tank, then fill it to the brim with water to mitiigate the risk of fire. Draw a circle on the top of the tank in preparation for the fitting of an inspection hatch.

Drill a hole in the top to allow you to start the jig-saw cut, and cut the hole in the top.

Clean out tank, then fit inspection hatch with seal.

Over-engineer it.... it really must seal.
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Old 06-15-2008
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"Polishing Fuel"

What Capnblu has sugested can and does work, but is five year old fuel worth the risk and quite frankly the expense? You will go through a number of filters, and you are really not addressing the problem of the cakes on the bottom of the tank that will only dislodge when you are pounding away in heavy seas, most likely between two jetties when loss of an engine becomes an "uh Oh?" The commercial services that do this, call it "fuel polishing" and often access the tank where the sending unit for the fuel gage is located. They then pump out the tank and spray some fuel back into the tank under pressure to lossen up the cakes on the bottom. Obviously without good access it is hit or miss to get it clean, and next to impossible to get around the baffles in the tank. Creating an access port(s) is the best alternative to assure that you are getting it clean, but you may need more than one due to the baffles. If done correctly it will be something that will be useful over the years. Not fun, did it lasy year.
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Old 06-15-2008
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Rockter, thanks for the info, but I really have no access to the top of the tank since it is only a few inches from the bottom of the cockpit. I really have no room for any sort of sawing or fabricating in there. I'm really just trying to avoid pulling the tank. We are going to try and pump it out. My buddy found a link to some chemical that when poured in the tank breaks up the fuel cakes, bnow I can't find the link, has anyone ever heard of anything like this?
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Old 06-15-2008
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Try gasoline, it's pretty good at dissolving oil.

Trouble is, you have to be able to see into the tank once its drained to assess the remains. I guess you could borrow one of the fibre-optic thingies (whose proper name I forgotten) to look into the tank via the filler.
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Old 06-15-2008
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i dont know very much about this but i have a small tank that i really want cleaned for peace of mind and which has no inspection port so i have decided to do the "fuel polishing" service that was previously mentioned by wdtracey. a local mobile unit accesses via the fuel fill and pumps out/back in repeatedly through filters.

i dunno, maybe its spitting in the wind but its pretty cheap, fast, involves no tank removal/modification and hopefully is better than nothing.

good luck
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Old 06-15-2008
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Success!!

I'm not sure what route was taken, I had to drive back to Orlando to finish summer school, but today my buddy that I'm working on the boat with and his father pumped out the fuel replaced the batteries and the motor fired up on the first try!!! Tommorrow all the filters are being replaced etc and we are picking up a manual for the motor to change the oil and whatnot. This is so frickin exciting, I just can't wait to get finished with school so I can get back down there. Thanks for all the input!
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Pratt: Sir, there's an old sayin'. "White water in the morning."
Edwards: Yes?
Pratt: That's it.

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