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  #1  
Old 05-10-2009
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Fuel Tank Blues. Gas dryer?

Hello!

Some may have noticed my thread about buying a Catalina 27 and asking for advice. Thanks to all who helped me with that!

I ended up buying her and am getting her ready to be launched. One problem I am having is that the tank appears to have some water in it somehow. The boat has an Atomic 4 which runs smooth as silk for a minute or two and then begins to sputter and stall. If I try to restart, it will restart and repeat but with no consistancy with the amount of time it will run before it stalls.

I have a fuel/water separator temporarily attached (it is a clear one) and I can see that there is water getting trapped in there so I know that there is some water in the tank. The tank is pretty much empty (it is now sucking air on the primer) so I am wondering if it would be a good idea to put a bottle of HEET in the tank and fill her up to try to get whatever water is left removed.

I am also suspicious about the float sticking as the running for a few moments and then stalling seems like a fuel starvation issue although I believe it was just risidual water in the fuel lines from before the water/fuel separator was installed. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to try running it long enough to sufficiently flush all of the lines in the loop. The previous owner also stated that she had this issue unless she was attached to an external tank where it would run perfectly fine without a hiccup.

My question is if anyone has used HEET before and if it is safely applicable to marine use or with the A4. Any thoughts or ideas?

Last edited by Adam1986; 05-10-2009 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 05-10-2009
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I have a working A4 from 1967 in our Tartan 27.
I was told by the PO not to let the tank get too low (it is not like a car) as there can be crap or crud (technical name) at the bottom of the tank that will do worse things to your carburator or engine.
That said, it sounds as if your fuel tank could stand to be drained, cleaned out and aired out. They sell a liquid pump that attaches to a drill that you could use to extract the bottom of the tank. Repeated soakings with a little clean gas and/or Marvel Mystery Oil may help to get the crud out from the bottom.
I have never used HEET in our tank but the A4 is basically a tractor engine and could probably handle a bit of this stuff dissolved in gas. We routinely put some MMO in our gas and oil supplies and the engine does not seem to mind this, in fact it is a recommended practice by A4 guru Don Moyer. Speaking of Moyer, have you found his website yet? It is invaluable resource for all A4 owners. Moyer Marine Atomic 4 Community - Powered by vBulletin
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Old 05-10-2009
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Please do not use gas drier if you are using e-10...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam1986 View Post
Hello!

Some may have noticed my thread about buying a Catalina 27 and asking for advice. Thanks to all who helped me with that!

I ended up buying her and am getting her ready to be launched. One problem I am having is that the tank appears to have some water in it somehow. The boat has an Atomic 4 which runs smooth as silk for a minute or two and then begins to sputter and stall. If I try to restart, it will restart and repeat but with no consistency with the amount of time it will run before it stalls.

I have a fuel/water separator temporarily attached (it is a clear one) and I can see that there is water getting trapped in there so I know that there is some water in the tank. The tank is pretty much empty (it is now sucking air on the primer) so I am wondering if it would be a good idea to put a bottle of HEET in the tank and fill her up to try to get whatever water is left removed.

I am also suspicious about the float sticking as the running for a few moments and then stalling seems like a fuel starvation issue although I believe it was just risidual water in the fuel lines from before the water/fuel separator was installed. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to try running it long enough to sufficiently flush all of the lines in the loop. The previous owner also stated that she had this issue unless she was attached to an external tank where it would run perfectly fine without a hiccup.

My question is if anyone has used HEET before and if it is safely applicable to marine use or with the A4. Any thoughts or ideas?
Because e-10 is 10% alcohol, and that is all the gas drier is. They would pull gas drier off the market, if they were honest.

The reason the engine will run but stumble is that the "water" is water/alcohol mix.

The trouble with e-10 is that if it gets ANY water near it it separates. See this EPA doc. http://www.epa.gov/oms/regs/fuels/rfg/waterphs.pdf

The only cure is:
* drain the tank. Get ALL of the water.
* make sure you have no water leaks. that is the probable cause in 90% of the cases.
* always keep the tank full. water absorption accounts for the other 10%.

The HEET will only make the problem worse, as it is alcohol and will join the water phase. It will not dissolve the water.

(I tested a bunch of additives for Practical Sailor, so I believe I am very solid ground here)

And keep draining the separator before every trip until the problem is cured. Good luck!
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Old 05-10-2009
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I would either call a fuel polisher or just replace the tank. Also make sure the gasket / o-ring on the filler cap are in good shape you are not letting water in they way.
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On my "other" (powerboat) forum, guys say that MDR's E-Zorb works, but I think it really depends on how much water has gotten in and whether or not phase seperation has already occured. I think fuel scrubbing is the way to go if the gas (and water) has been in there for a long time.
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Yes, the fuel cap is the first place to look.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveInMD View Post
I would either call a fuel polisher or just replace the tank. Also make sure the gasket / o-ring on the filler cap are in good shape you are not letting water in they way.
However, if the boat was unused for a long time. e-10 separation is common.

If the tank were leaking the gas stink would let you know. Just MT the tank. Unlike diesel tanks, sludge is very unusual, so polishing is probably pointless. Try simply draining the tank first.
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Old 05-10-2009
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Thanks for all of the advice guys!

I'm familiar with Moyer. I bought their tune up kit before I even started trying to get the A4 running.

I'm pretty sure the tank is about empty because when I pumped the primer it is sucking air. Their might be a little residual water/gas in there but it can't be much.

If the ethanol is disolving into the water, why can't it just run through it? Sure ethanol requires a vastly different A/F but shouldn't it be able to run though a few bits of it?


I'm thinking that my best bet right now is to drain the bowl of the carb and all fuel lines after the separator so I can be sure that only clean gas is going to make it to the engine.

I believe the source of the water is from where a PO tried to install a fuel line to supply an outboard if installed. The line goes right back to the tank and looks suspicious to me. I intend on removing this line as I can't imagine it is to "code" and it is just an added liability for problems.

As for the fuel water sep, it has drains on the bottom to purge the water out of it. When running I did see some water accumulating in there (definitely enough to cause serious stumbling) so, as instructed, this should be checked periodically.

I plan on picking her up this coming weekend. For the trip home I am going to use a portable tank that I know is clean. Once she is home I will tackle this job right away. I think popping the tp hatch off of the tank for a visual inspection of it's condition and contents would be a worthwhile endeavor.


Thanks again for the advice guys!
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Last edited by Adam1986; 05-10-2009 at 09:48 PM.
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Old 05-10-2009
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By the way, anyone have any recommendations for replacing the tank? I am not a fan of steel or aluminum tanks, especially 32yr old ones. I'd prefer a plastic tank for cleanliness and resistance to corrosion. Any thoughts on this?
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Old 05-10-2009
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Try the MD Zorb in a jar and judge for yourself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quickstep192 View Post
On my "other" (powerboat) forum, guys say that MDR's E-Zorb works, but I think it really depends on how much water has gotten in and whether or not phase seperation has already occured. I think fuel scrubbing is the way to go if the gas (and water) has been in there for a long time.
You need to add the chemical in equal parts to the water and mix.

So, that mean if you have 5% water separation you will be burning 5% soap along with the gas and water.

Suit yourself, but I tested the material and wouldn't touch it with 100 foot pole. Scary.

In fact, if you can work the water layer out, there is no reason to replace the gas. Top-off with high test ( to compensate for the alcohol loss) and get on with it. I've done this in a number of sever cases and it worked just fine. ALL the water did was strip some alcohol.

I also promise you that the refiners do not through gasoline away if a tank is phase separated. I work with them. They get the water out and boost up the octane.
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Old 05-10-2009
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What do you mean by top off with high test? Higher octane?
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