Diesel tank dirty, clogging filters, 3 days to fix ... best options? - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 06-13-2009
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Diesel tank dirty, clogging filters, 3 days to fix ... best options?

My engine died on me for the first time 2 days ago. Fuel filters were filthy, switched them out and got running again but then engine died AGAIN about 2 hours later, in a really bad spot ... no more filters, luckily a canadian good samaritan towed me out of trouble and to an anchorage in Nanaimo.

I was running on fuel that had sat all winter. I pumped out all the old fuel, suspended black things in what I pumped out. Tank has no access port but through the fill hole I can see that bottom of tank is dirty with black stuff. Had to get off anchor and to a dock so I filled tank with new fuel (ferrying between boat and fuel dock with dingy), replaced all filters, and engine ran fine for the 20 minutes or so needed.

I have to get back out on the water in 3 days, and I want to fix this as best as I can so I can continue cruising without issues. What would you do?? I have a fuel polishing guy coming monday ... he says this will help (@ $150/hr of course) but I dunno if he'll be able to scrub that much gunk out if there isn't an access port ...
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Last edited by FishFinder; 06-13-2009 at 01:11 AM.
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Old 06-13-2009
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I have dealt with this before.
Since there is no access port, you have to expect that the tank has never been cleaned out
The best solution is to cut the access hole and fit on a cover. You would install nut plates underneath the circumference of the hole with rivets, so you could attach the cover. You would have to clean out the tank very well to get all the metal shavings.
But sounds like you may not want to get into this at the moment.
So, if you agitate the crud on the bottom of the tank, before and during the polishing, you will get a lot of it.
Take lots of extra filters, because it will come back.
A third way to more or less solve it is to install a "day tank" above the engine. The day tank can have a big access port for cleanout. You pump the fuel from your regular tank to the day tank with a fillter in between. Then you have a new, clean tank which you know has clean fuel. You can take a wood dowel and mark it as a dipstick so you can check the tank level.
By switching hoses around, you can use the new filter you installed to polish fuel yourself.
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Old 06-13-2009
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Sounds like you need to get rid of the water in your fuel tank. If you've got that much "algae" growing in the tank, you've got a fair bit of water in the bottom of it. I hope the Fuel polisher will remove the water as well as polishing your fuel. If not, you have to drain off the bottom of the tank.
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Old 06-13-2009
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This is an argument for NEVER putting fuel in your tank without adding stabilizer and algae treatment.
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Old 06-13-2009
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I always use a filter as well when filling up my tank. It takes a little while longer because you have to wait for the fuel to go through the filter and through the funnel so it adds time. Also some people call it excessive but I would rather be excessive and have water free tanks! Also it is a sailboat so so it's not like we are filling up every week
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Old 06-13-2009
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Had a similiar problem. My wife, and I pulled both tanks, and all lines. Cleaned the tanks by hand, and blew out all the lines with a compressor.....i2f
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Old 06-13-2009
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rig up a portable metal tank with a hose connection that you can gravity feed the engine. then you can work on the tank problem later. (imho)
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Last edited by deniseO30; 06-13-2009 at 02:56 PM. Reason: quess it was too easy a suggestion
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Old 06-13-2009
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I agree about the access ports needing to be installed, but in the short run hopefully the polisher will get you going. They are not cheap but I would consider putting a Racor dual filter set up on, that way if one clogs you just flip the handle and you are up and going again. You can then change the clogged filter when convenient. They always clog at the worst time, the peace of mind is worth the $$ to me.

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Old 06-13-2009
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I looked today, there is clearance above tank to get a drill and jigsaw in to cut a 6" access port, if I can get my hands on a saw and a port (I guess I need a metal one?) I could put one in quickly, scrub away and then the fuel polishing guys could come in and clean out all the shavings etc. My understanding is tank has to be completely drained and vented for a while though before cutting ...
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Old 06-13-2009
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Well do what you will... We changed out my tank in 2 evenings total of about 4 hrs work! out with the old in the new! Love your old tank/s???

IMHO I'll never understand why we are all so attached to old tanks! good luck.
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