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  #1  
Old 08-27-2012
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OOPS! Diesel Tank Full (FULL) of Water

A couple of days ago we tasked Eli, our 15 year old, with filling the water tanks. He made a small mistake. He unscrewed the diesel fill instead of the water fill (they're clearly marked) and dumped about 20 gallons of water in the diesel tank. Fortunately he didn't put the cap back on (did I mention that he's 15?) and I noticed it on the deck.
It is pretty easy to fix. We just unscrewed one fuel line and it's long enough to reach way down into our lower bilge, the one that's down in the keel, and it siphoned really well. It took a couple hours until we reached diesel. We let it run for an extra bit of time to insure that we had all the water out. Today we ran the engine for awhile so that the Racors could get whatever water got picked up and it appears that until we get some rough seas and we're under power we're in good shape. I'll pour some fuel treatment in as well to try to integrate any leftover water into the fuel.
All in all, not a big deal.
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Old 08-27-2012
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Re: OOPS! Diesel Tank Full (FULL) of Water

Man, this is the kind of scenario that makes me start designing a dual racor fuel polishing system aboard.
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Old 08-27-2012
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Re: OOPS! Diesel Tank Full (FULL) of Water

sww,

Which tank -- the original or the one you replaced?

The reason I ask is that one of my discoveries when I pulled both of ours was that the forward ends of the tanks were about two inches deeper than the aft ends. Making it worse is that the middle baffle is forward of the inspection port and therefore getting to the very bottom of the tank was really not possible without major contortions. The discrepancy wasn't noticable until I got the cabin sole removed and the tanks pulled.

Since the fuel pick-up is located about 2/3 of the length of the tank aft, you may still have a pretty good amount of water in the tank. You may want to run a siphon hose down the fuel fill hose since these fittings are at the forward end of the tanks just to make sure your got the majority of the water out.

Of course your pilothouse design may make your tank configuration a little different than ours...

Last edited by PorFin; 08-27-2012 at 11:52 PM.
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Old 08-28-2012
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Re: OOPS! Diesel Tank Full (FULL) of Water

mmm...some water may remain suspended in diesel for a day or
two...suggest trying to syphon again after few days.
Does tank have baffles? May prevent some water from finding
its way out. Do you have access panel? Should be several water
absorbing products that are made to sit on bottom of tank...
try water wick ...but some may not work with certain fuel additives.

Depending on how many gallons and if you want to put your son to work...you can have him make a simple water trap out of pvc pipe
and slowly pump your diesel through it.
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Re: OOPS! Diesel Tank Full (FULL) of Water

I'm confident that we removed all of the water that can be removed using the fuel pickup in flat water. The threads in the tank that retain the inspection port are pretty bad so I don't want to open up that can of worms unless it's really necessary. Fortunately Racors are (allegedly) designed to stop flow if they fill up with water so if that happens I can switch to the other Racor in about 10 seconds or less. Meanwhile we'll keep a close eye on the clear fuel bowl and drain the water off the bottom as needed.
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Old 08-28-2012
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Re: OOPS! Diesel Tank Full (FULL) of Water

Quote:
Originally Posted by sww914 View Post
I'm confident that we removed all of the water that can be removed using the fuel pickup in flat water. The threads in the tank that retain the inspection port are pretty bad so I don't want to open up that can of worms unless it's really necessary. Fortunately Racors are (allegedly) designed to stop flow if they fill up with water so if that happens I can switch to the other Racor in about 10 seconds or less. Meanwhile we'll keep a close eye on the clear fuel bowl and drain the water off the bottom as needed.
I guess the real point I was trying to make is that if the water wound up in the original tank (and not the one your replaced), and if your original tanks are the same as in our trunk cabin Vag 39, then you may still have a several gallons of water remaining in the tank.

The problem is that that the bottom of the fuel pick-tube is actually 2"(+/-) above the real bottom of the tank, and it is aft of the baffle. Until you get into choppy conditions, the water's just gonna sit there and never it make it close to the pick-up much less into your Racors. While slumbering in the tank, it's gonna remain a breeding ground for microbes in the tank and if the tank's your remaining original steel tank it's gonna be bad juju for rust prevention.

If you can snake a garden (or smaller) hose down your fuel fill hose, you should be able to access the forward end of the tank, which is the deep end when the boat's laying on her lines.

Just a couple of thoughts that might be worth mulling over...

All the best,
PF
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Re: OOPS! Diesel Tank Full (FULL) of Water

I can probably feed a garden hose down there and get some more out. I can fill the water tank on that side with the other empty and move a few heavy things around and get it to heel over some too. The fuel fill is on the outside so it will make the water go that way. Good idea, thanks. Fortunately it's the stainless tank.
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Re: OOPS! Diesel Tank Full (FULL) of Water

For me, all the fuel comes out, the tank gets dried and then refilled. How much remaining diesel was there? You could recover the fuel by filtering it outside the tank. I would probably do that just to avoid finding somewhere to dispose of the hazardous material. It isn't just catching the water before it may get to the engine, its the potential for rusting and bacterial growth that would worry me. Water settled to the bottom of the tank, could be there forever.

Your call.
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Old 08-28-2012
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Re: OOPS! Diesel Tank Full (FULL) of Water

As noted, the fuel pickup is a bit above the bottom of the tank. The only way to get that remaining water out is to open the tank and insert a hose and pumping it out. Leaving it in there and hoping for the best is not a good option.
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Old 08-28-2012
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Re: OOPS! Diesel Tank Full (FULL) of Water

Last summer, the dockhand who filled my tank left the cap up about a thread or two. I didn't notice until washing the deck and saw water run into the tank! I, too, hoped it would be caught by fuel filter etc.

I was off and exploring coves and put on probably 40 hours on the engine with no problem. On the long trip home, we got into a little chop and the wind died so on goes the engine... until it died.

*snip* story of how we got back to port *snip*

Upon inspection of the fuel in the tank it was completely filled with yuck. The growth turned my whole tank of diesel into a cloudy mess that resembled the bottom of a frying pan after cooking a few pounds of bacon. About 20-30 litres of black chunks and murky fuel had to be pumped into jugs and disposed of. I went through many filters trying to clear out the system, and lots of biocide.

Keep in mind,I didn't fill my tank with 20gallons of water, only a little seeping in through a few loose threads!

Moral of the story is to make sure you not only clear out the water, but use biocide to stop the ticking-timebomb of a mess that is waiting to happen.
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