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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 03-26-2010
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11 Year Test Report - Star Tron / Sol Tron

I am in the process of replacing my fuel tank and wanted to share my findings regarding Sol Tron / Star Tron. I cut open my 31 year old fuel tank to examine the insides yesterday and was quite surprised at the findings..

This boat & tank has had three owners. The original owner had her from 1979 until 1982, then the PO, a friend of mine, bought her and owned her until we bought her in 2007. The PO to me claims to have always used a biocide and in 1999 switched to a biocide and Sol Tron. At the time Sol Tron was not available in the US but he heard of it bought a case of it while off cruising. He claims to have used the two religiously and never had a fuel filter issue.

To his credit I have also never plugged a fuel filter either. Of course I am just now finding out that I was plain lucky or that the Racor turbine filters ARE everything they are cracked up to be? I continued to use Star Tron, the marketing name for the US, since purchase and have even shocked the tank twice at the suggestion of the manufacturer.


The claims:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Star Tron
This same enzyme package, cleans the fuel delivery system and combustion chambers, stabilizes fuel chemistry and reduces engine emissions.

The enzymes contained in Star Tron can actually "repair" old and fouled diesel fuel by increasing cetane and eliminating sludge, varnish & water.

Sludge / Growth:
To make a long story short I am shocked at how dirty this tank was after the "treatment" it has received. IMHO Sol Tron / Star Tron does nothing to "clean the fuel delivery system". Of course I don't know how bad it was before it began life in this tank prior to 11 years ago but if it looks like this now then it is awfully slow at cleaning the fuel delivery system.

It should also be noted that this tank was "polished" in 2003 at the time they installed the new engine. It is clear to see that with the baffles they could have only ever polished the first chamber. Even then there is NO WAY you are getting the algae and growth off the tank walls..

Grade: I give Sol Tron / Star Tron a "F" in the "cleans the fuel delivery system" department.


Water:


The tank however had ZERO water in it. I was rather surprised by this to be honest. I am a believer in condensation just not boat tank condensation. Some winters I try and leave it empty, and others, like this one, it sits half full. Still, zero water in the tank.

Grade: I give Sol Tron / Star Tron a hesitant "B" rating for water dispersion. I say hesitant because at 31 years old it should have been bound to have some water in it but did not. As we say in Maine "hahd tellin' nawt knowin'"....

Cutting Hole In The Tank With A Plasma Cutter:


The First Sampling From the Tank Walls:


The Tank Inside:


Why My Fuel Gauge Was Never Accurate:
:doh:


This is the last bit of fuel from the tank. It is filthy because I sucked it off the bottom with a turkey baster. The metallic flakes at the bottom are just that, pieces of aluminum from the plasma cutter. The key here is no water! The fuel in the Racor bowl NEVER looked this bad, perhaps because the tank pick up was about 2" off the bottom of the tank.




Despite it's utter failure to "clean" my tank I will continue to use Star Tron on the new tank but the new tank will have a dedicated fuel polishing system from day one that will turn the tank over twice per hour. I do think much of these treatments. and the claims. are snake oil but some things seem to be somewhat true.

All in all, the hype about this stuff "cleaning" your fuel system is a borderline criminal false claims IMHO. After all, it had 11 solid years to clean this tank, but failed miserably. Perhaps in another 31 years I will be able to report on how well Star Tron, in conjunction with a dedicated fuel polishing system, works....

With all that said I still believe my engine runs cleaner and this motor, @ 3000 hours of use, has never had an injector rebuild or replacement nor any fuel system issue.

If you want to buy this stuff to clean your tank, don't, but if you want to buy it to do other things go for it..
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Old 03-26-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
... the new tank will have a dedicated fuel polishing system from day one that will turn the tank over twice per hour.
Maine,

Good stuff. Interesting to peak inside a tank like that. I actually was expecting much worse.

Tell us more about the proposed fuel polishing system?
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Old 03-26-2010
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We dont put anything in the tank without using are BAJA-FILTER as we you would be supprised what gets through the pumps filters and stoped at the BAJA-FILTER
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If a dirty bottom slows you down what do you think it does to your boat
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Old 03-26-2010
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Originally Posted by tommays View Post
We dont put anything in the tank without using are BAJA-FILTER as we you would be supprised what gets through the pumps filters and stoped at the BAJA-FILTER
I use the Racor RFF15C pre-filter but it's does not stop algae growth. It also has the same exact final micron rating as the Baja Filter at 74 microns...

I rarely if ever catch anything in it except debris from where I store it on the boat.

I got frustrated and called Parker/Racor about this and asked why it was not trapping anything as I thought it might be defective. Their answer was if you are in the US, you should never catch anything except perhaps water, because the mandatory filters on fuel station pumps are usually in the 10-30 micron range. Pre-filtering to 74 is not going to catch much unless your marina sucks and they don't use on pump filters, or you're in a third world country.

I still use it just in case of water..
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Old 03-26-2010
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My tanks....

Thanks Maine Sail, great report as usual.



This was my stbd tank after 30 years. Not sure is an additive was used.

My keel tank had other issues;






My new tanks are now installed and I have added this from

KTI Systems



And I will be using Star Tron or similar.
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Old 03-26-2010
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Wow that keel tank is a gem! It actually had fuel in it?
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Old 03-26-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnRPollard View Post

Tell us more about the proposed fuel polishing system?
It is actually going to be quite simple. When building the new tank I had three sets of supply/return fittings installed.

Supply/Return #1 Engine

Supply/return #2 Polishing System

Supply #3 Cabin Heat (future expansion for when I add the Webasto)

I have not yet decided on which filter I will use for the polishing system. It is between;

a Racor 900MA



the Seaboard Marine "Double Double"




or a Shelco filter housing with a standard industrial cartridge. No pics, sorry..

Price is not the concern but I really like the ability to see the bowl with the Racor, however the Seaboard system is pretty sweet. The Seaboard system has more capacity and finer filtration, sooo I still have many choices....

I already have this (LINK) Carter fuel pump.



It will be very, very simple - Tank pick up 1/8" off bottom / shut off valve / filter in / filter out / fuel pump / back to tank. There will be an on/off switch w/idiot light on my engine panel and it will be flipped on when the engine is running...

The engine filtration will remain 100% separate and is a Racor 500..





My custom, all aluminum (similar metals ) tank fittings just arrived via UPS so I'm off to the barn...
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Old 03-26-2010
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Maine,

That is a nice set-up you have planned. Good thinking about the heater supply.

Is there any concern about creating foam as the fuel comes back into the tank from the polishing system? Particularly when the fuel levels are low?

I know there is always a return from the engine, but I expect the polishing system will be moving a much higher volume of fuel than an engine return. Or will the return be down to the bottom of the tank too, so no worries?

P.S. I see what you mean about the clear bowls on the racors, but I really like the size of those "double doubles".
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Old 03-26-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnRPollard View Post

Is there any concern about creating foam as the fuel comes back into the tank from the polishing system? Particularly when the fuel levels are low?
Already covered, the return for the polishing system will return on the other side of the baffle and will have it's own dip tube and will have a slight bend to create circulation/movement in the tank..


These are the fittings that just showed up about ten minutes ago:



You'll notice that I have four with swagged on nylon dip tubes, one is for the return of the polishing system to avoid foaming.

Bud at Luther's Welding, the folks who make all of Morris yachts tanks, set me up with these all aluminum fittings. No dissimilar metals connected to the tank any more...
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Old 03-26-2010
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Wow, those are beautiful fittings. He does nice work.

Glad to hear there's an easy remedy for the foaming concern.
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