Fuel Starvation in rough water - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 09-13-2008
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Question Fuel Starvation in rough water

I have a Jeanneau 43 DS with a Yanmar JH series diesel engine. The model is 4JH3(C)E 56 HP and it has run for only 600 hours.
I have had a recurring fuel starvation problem with the motor for the past 9 months.

In smooth water she runs like a dream.

In rough water the engine coughs, sputters and dies. It will start again and runs for a while but dies again. The engine runs for shorter and shorter periods between stall.
I have cleaned out the plastic 200L tank which had some sediment but no stickey gooey material. It is now clean as a whistle.

I changed the primary Racor filter which had some contamination but no water before setting out today, and during the time the motor was misbehaving. There was a slight improvement after the filter change but starvation and failure soon occurred again.
There was no water or other contaminants visible in the bowl.
I also changed the secondary filter on the motor.
This problem has me flummoxed. Everything is clean. So why the problem? The motor is "self bleeding" and has never been a problem before.
What should I do.
Cheers
Chris Morris
SV More Magic
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Old 09-13-2008
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Maybe the rough weather heel is causing an airspot in your fuel tank or there may be sediment or something blocking the intake on the tank when you are at certain angles.
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You might try running a pressurised fuel system using a 5 psi Stewart Warner fuel pump. It's about $80. There is an added fire risk with it, but not so much risk as repeated motor stops.
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Another possible solution might be to have a fuel line running from the main tank to a small day tank. This might also be a good trouble shooting measure, since it would tell you if the problem is related to the existing fuel tank or not. If you don't want to go through the complications of installing a day tank, then I'd second Rockter's idea...since it's a pretty good one, and not that uncommon on diesel fueled boats.
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Another risk of a pressurized fuel system is a run away engine. If your mechanical pump develops an internal leak (such as a hole in the diaphragm) the crank case can fill with diesel. This can cause the engine to run away at max RPM with no way to shut it down other than removing the air source (with a plug, or shooting a CO2 fire extinguisher in to the air intake).

I'm not saying a pressurized system is a bad idea, but I would have a CO2 extinguisher on hand and know how to use it to shut the engine down.
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can't imagine that the engine sucks air with full tank where is the inlet positioned in the tank? how high form tank's bottom?
you could make 1 more inlet on the opposite side of the tank so no more heeling problem.
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Will the engine run at full power when it is calm? If not then I would guess there might be a screen at the end of the pick up tube that is still clogged. If it does run fine in calm water I'm stumped. I would bleed the engine (completely) in any case.

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A wee temporary gravity-feed supply... even an upside-down bottle or something would show you if there was a fuel problem. Just pull the line off the filter and rig a temporary feed. Even at the dockside it could be tested. Just have a friend replenish the temporary feed every few minutes while you load the motor in gear when tied up. If it runs OK, then it's a tank problem.
Perhaps try the pressurised fuel idea for $80.
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Old 09-13-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rockter View Post
A wee temporary gravity-feed supply... even an upside-down bottle or something would show you if there was a fuel problem. Just pull the line off the filter and rig a temporary feed. Even at the dockside it could be tested. Just have a friend replenish the temporary feed every few minutes while you load the motor in gear when tied up. If it runs OK, then it's a tank problem.
Problem is - if she "runs like a dream" in smooth water, she'll probably run like a dream alongside in the marina.

I have run from a canister directly to the fuel filters when I had a contaminated fuel tank and it runs perfectly well. Perhaps a properly secured jerry can while the water is rough will isolate the problem? And it doesn't have to be gravity fed - the lift pump will pull the fuel through. If it doesn't, that may be the place to look.

Andre
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If the fuel pickup is rubber on the pickup end and if things are just right - copper, in rough weather - could be sucking itself to the bottom of the tank when healed. My first instinct is to say sediment from the bottom is mixing with good fuel but I have experainced a fuel pickup sucking itself to the bottom of the tank in a non-marine enviorment. A garden sprayer filled halfway with diesel fuel, pumped up and attached to the lift-pump would confirm if all went well, that the problem is in the tank. I like gravity feed and a day tank.
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