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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 04-30-2011
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Diesel tank cleaning

We are going to be draining the fuel tank and installing an inspection / cleaning port. It is an aluminum 22 gal. tank. the hole for the sending unit is only about 1.5" dia. While we have it empty we want to clean the inside of the tank. What is the best products and procedure for this other than hiring a pro.? I know it may not matter but the boat is a Person 36-2 Diesel. Any thoughts would be great. Thanks
Peter
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Old 04-30-2011
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Hope I havn,t misunderstood but if you are installing a cleaning port shouldn,t you be able to clean the inside with a strong absorbent lint free cloth? Don,t forget the gloves.
I generally empty the tank into a 5 gallon plastic drum using a manual oil pump.
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Old 04-30-2011
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What size is the tank, and how easy would it be to remove/reinstall?
POR-15 products are great for cleaning and coating fuel tanks, if you can remove them.
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Old 04-30-2011
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I have done 2 tanks in the last few years and my best results after getting all the gunk out was to pour acetone in and slosh it around for a bit, then put gloves on and get a rag and scrub all you can reach. most of the buildup I found was in the sump area but there was some in other spots. My tanks had baffles, so I made a brush extension from some wood and screws to scrub as best as I could where I could not reach. This took me from replacing fuel filters every few hours of operation to lasting for a year on 1 filter, and when I changes it for winter storage, it was still clean enough that I could have ran it for much longer with no issue. It is a messy job, but well worth it.
DD
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Old 04-30-2011
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If you are installing a cleaning port there should not be a problem cleaning the tank - you will also have to remove the metal shavings from cutting the hole. If the tank is baffled there should be a cleaning port in each section, large enough to get your arm in at least.
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Old 05-01-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitiempo View Post
If you are installing a cleaning port there should not be a problem cleaning the tank - you will also have to remove the metal shavings from cutting the hole. If the tank is baffled there should be a cleaning port in each section, large enough to get your arm in at least.
I agree there should be a port on each side of the baffle, but neither of my tanks had one, and I did not punch a new one in. Maybe the next time.......
DD
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Old 05-01-2011
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I had to remove my 42 gallon aluminum diesel tank because of a leak in a seam. No problem having it welded, but was advised to have it flushed/boiled out.

Took it to a radiator repair shop--$75 later it is like like new inside.
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Old 05-02-2011
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All good advice. My experience has been that running a high % biodiesel has left my tanks utterly clean, not to mention nice smell and happy engine (have been doing this for 5 years and 600 hours). I changed my Racor and secondary filters every 100 hours or so for the first year or two, but they soon became so clean it was pointless. I don't have an inspection port, but I recently had to replace my sending unit and so took the opportunity for a little inspection.

I looked in with a bright light and seemed to see the bottom clearly. I then inserted a clear hose down to the bottom and plugged the top to see what it brought up, and it was pure fuel. I then agitated the heck out of the bottom of the tank with a long stick and sampled again, and it was pure fuel.

Before this I had also self-polished the fuel by putting the output from my fuel pump into the tank and let it run while I agitated the bottom of the tank. This let all the fuel go through my primary Racor 2 micron filter. Nothing really showed up in the bowl or filter when I changed them afterward.

So I don't have any experience with cleaning the tank other than what I describe here, and enthusiastically agree that all efforts at clean fuel are worthwhile. It is an irreplaceable peace of mind to not worry at all about plugged filters or fouled injectors.

Good luck with yours.
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Old 05-02-2011
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All the methods posted work exceedingly well ..... get inside with a long handled scrubbing brush, etc.

Caution with so-called 'biodiesel'. Many of the 'biodiesels' are not chemically compatible with the old standby neoprene / buna rubber compounds. Much of bio-diesel has a lot of 'reclaimed', etc. cooking oils, etc. and they 'may' have a high % of oleic acid which will soften and attack neoprene/buna. So, if you use biodiesel that contains 'organic acids' keep a careful watch on your gaskets, rubber hoses, etc. etc. etc.

Last edited by RichH; 05-02-2011 at 11:52 PM.
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Old 05-02-2011
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Thanks for all the great responses. the tank is 22gals. and is not in a very covenant location to remove. We will look into the Biodiesel option and will consider replacement of the fuel lines. Give us something to do on a rainy spring weekend. Thanks
Peter
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