When is Diesel Bad? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 14 Old 06-09-2011 Thread Starter
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When is Diesel Bad?

I removed my fuel tank, pumped it dry, then did a poor man's polishing by putting about 1/2 gallon of fuel in, sloshing it vigorously until my back shot fire out my neck, then pouring the tank out through a baja filter into a container.

It took me about 2 hours, but eventually the bottom of the tank was about 99% clear and the stuff I poured out was consistently going through the filter cleanly. It wasn't as bad as some of the horror stories I read here, but there was definitely a layer of nastiness.

The first few iterations were pretty nasty with sediment, possibly some kind of algea? I don't know... What I'm wondering is, should I filter the 10 gallons I have and pour it back into the tank, or is it more likely contaminated beyond re-use?

More background information: The fuel sat for about 2 years during the refit.

I'm not trying to be cheap, I just don't like the idea of disposing of 10 gallons of toxic stuff if it's ok to use. Any thoughts?

Thank you,
Chris

CS27 #1254 ~ Ravat
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post #2 of 14 Old 06-09-2011
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The fuel doesn't go bad.. it's the stuff that grows in it and the water that sits in the bottom,that makes it bad You should be able to use the fuel if you really do filter it. not just strain it. I'd suggest you get an access plate for your tank..because the fuel itself is not able to really loosen the crud. or just replace the tank. They are not that expensive and you may already have pin holes in the bottom.

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post #3 of 14 Old 06-09-2011
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Chris,

BE DAMN CAREFUL! I agree with Denise. There are services however that will "polish" fuel.....membranous filtration to restore it to usefulness.

Empty fuel tanks, even diesel, and extremely dangerous when polishing or refurbishing. Ask anyone who's been around, and they can recount horror stories of empty fuel tanks exploding. We just had a man die here in western Pa from a bulldozer tank exploding while he was grinding a fitting off.
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post #4 of 14 Old 06-09-2011
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Since you've gone to all that trouble with cleaning the tank start with fresh fuel. If it's 2 years old in your tank & only 10 gallons I'd say get rid of it. Not worth the forty bucks. Diesel will go bad but it takes _years_. Denise is right about the main problem being critters that grow in the oil.

Every fall I drain whats left in my tank and put it in my home heating oil tank. Wipe out the tank in the spring and start fresh.
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post #5 of 14 Old 06-09-2011
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Denise, Bristol PA, Oday 30. On Tidal Delaware River, Anchor Yacht Club.
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post #6 of 14 Old 06-09-2011 Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dnf777 View Post
Chris,

BE DAMN CAREFUL! I agree with Denise. There are services however that will "polish" fuel.....membranous filtration to restore it to usefulness.

Empty fuel tanks, even diesel, and extremely dangerous when polishing or refurbishing. Ask anyone who's been around, and they can recount horror stories of empty fuel tanks exploding. We just had a man die here in western Pa from a bulldozer tank exploding while he was grinding a fitting off.
I was pretty careful. I was in an open and well ventilated area (garage door open on a windy day). The fuel was all in jerry cans when pumped out, and I used funnels when pouring to control spillage.

I knew my tank wasn't in horrible shape because I could see the bottom. I saw critters suspended in it, but the metal of the tank bottom was clearly visible, so I didn't think the cost of a polishing service was justified. In my case, the boat is gutted, so removing the tank completely was very simple. I don't even have batteries on the boat, so no really chance of an errant spark.

By sloshing the tank I stirred everything up and was able to get it out and strained. When I say sloshing, I mean tipping the tank back and forth worse than any seas I've seen about 50-60 times, then pouring and filtering, then repeating until the stuff coming out is clean.

The baja filter I used is the West Marine model which Practical Sailor rated #1, so it's quite a good cleaning / water separation. During my first two passes the fuel was so contaminated that the filter stopped passing ANYTHING after about 5 seconds. I had to keep clearing the Teflon screens to keep things moving. It was very effective, and looking at the bottom of the tank I can see it's 100% better now than when I started.

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post #7 of 14 Old 06-09-2011
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Chris

I hope yours is in better shape than mine was!

The tanks CS used were fairly thin steel. My tank didn't leak but I bet it was close to leaking. I replaced it with a custom stainless tank with a bottom outlet with a valve for draining it if I need to. In the CS27 the tank is strapped right under the cockpit sole so an access port will not help with the tank in place, only after it is removed.
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post #8 of 14 Old 06-10-2011 Thread Starter
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Fortunately, our tanks are fairly easy to remove when compared to others! I didn't end up needing an access port. In proper lighting I could see all I needed through the fill hole and the sending unit hole.

My tank didn't look anywhere near as bad as yours, so I'm going to keep it for a few more years. A few spots has some light rust, and a few places have paint worn off where the straps slide, but overall I think the tank is still solid.

I would love to put in a new custom SS tank, but that would mean more time to research the deck fill location, mounting system, etc. I need to get this refit done and save some projects for future years!

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post #9 of 14 Old 06-10-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cghubbell View Post

I would love to put in a new custom SS tank, but that would mean more time to research the deck fill location, mounting system, etc. I need to get this refit done and save some projects for future years!
If you do go for a new tank make it out of aluminum, not stainless. It's cheaper, lighter and just as good with diesel.


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post #10 of 14 Old 06-10-2011
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Not much cheaper - the labor is the same either way. And external corrosion is a larger problem with aluminum.

Chris
I relocated my fill to the starboard side deck as that was the reason the tank was rusty. The cockpit sole fill over the tank had leaked for years before I purchased the boat. With people's weight on the cockpit sole a fill there can have issues.

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