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post #11 of 25 Old 09-18-2012
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Re: Cleaning a fuel tank

I had some crud in my tank and cut inspection ports in the tank to clean it out. Once the ports were cut I found FIST-FULLS of alge. It would have taken 1,000 racor filters to clean it out. I haven't heard good things about fuel polishing and considering how much stuff I had stuck to the walls of the tank I don't see how it could have worked.

I have to say that cutting inspection ports into the tank was THE best thing I have ever done for the boat. Messy to be sure, but worth it.

The only thing I would do differently is I would use a hole saw that matches a pre-fab inspection port rather than using any old size and making my own (crappy) port covers out of plastic. Something like this is what I would do if I could do it over.


I also ignored all the well meaning advice to pull the tank out of the boat. I couldn't see how manhandling the tank out of the boat was going to help any. I cut the holes in the top of the tank and cleaned it out with a toilet brush, then polished with paper towels. Now, 4 years later, when I look in the tank I can seem my ugly reflection off the shiny polished bottom of the tank through the crystal clear fuel.

Here is the thread where I document some of the project:
Cleaning Out a Diesel Tank
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post #12 of 25 Old 09-18-2012
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Re: Cleaning a fuel tank

I just pulled one of my tanks that did not have an inspection port. I put in some mineral spirits, shook it around, drained it, did this several times, then let it sit over night, did it a couple more times, then rinsed with diesel a few times. Hopefully got most of the crap out....


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post #13 of 25 Old 09-18-2012
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Re: Cleaning a fuel tank

I had this same question last yr and of course the sailneters had the answer. a product called Marine Clean by POR-15 POR15, Inc. - Stop Rust Permanently - Repair Gas & Fuel Tanks We had an aluminum tank that we were able to remove and cut an access port in the top that spans over the baffle. The tank looked brand new when done. use per the directions other wise you may pit the tank. We used an over sized Al. plate with a fuel gasket and rivnuts to secure.

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post #14 of 25 Old 03-26-2013
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Smile Re: Cleaning a fuel tank

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Originally Posted by RichH View Post
Not at all !!!! Most of the build-up is sequential layering of filamentous matts of living, dead, and dying microorganisms mixed with bacterial slimes --- if bacteria are a prominent component of the 'mix' in the massive 'colony' (calcyx). The chief contaminant of most 'fouled' diesel tanks is usually a fungal - Cladosporium Resinae or similar species of which most all are 'resin formers'.

Eventually when the underlayers of dead cells begins to decompose/putrefy and there isnt significant 'asphaltene', etc. (the cellular poop that these resin formers 'excrete') to hold/'glue' everything together .... then during a heavy seastate you have a fairly good chance of whole sections breaking loose and starting an overwhelming 'particle storm' to your Racors, etc.
Each typical small Racor only has a 'dirt capacity of approx. 35-50 grams (1 to 1-1/2 oz.!!!!) of 'crud' before they 'choke'.
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post #15 of 25 Old 03-26-2013
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Re: Cleaning a fuel tank

About four years ago I installed an 8-inch inspection port into the top of my 20 gallon aluminum tank. I purchased it at Seabuilt - Access Plate Systems over the winter I plulled and cleaned the tank using a scrub brush, scotch brite pad and shop paper towels. I used small amounts of acetone to help with the tough spots. I just reinstalled it this past saturday. For me this is less expensive than a fuel polishing system or to have a professional do it.

For me a pressure washer was just to powerful, I thought spray would go everywhere and damage the tank. Local radiator shop couldn't touch it due to environmental regs. If you go with the post above saying putting a chain in the tank be careful with the float/sending unit that tells you how much diesel is in the tank. I too, love the biology, very cool RichH!
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post #16 of 25 Old 03-26-2013
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Re: Cleaning a fuel tank

I think Medsailor has hit the nail on the head. The only way to really clean your tank is manually and that requires a big inspection port or two so you can get in with a brush and rags. As my tank is integral to the hull I can't remove it for cleaning. I have a big inspection port (I can get my head inside!) and I can reach every corner of the 280 liter tank. I clean mine the following way: (1) remove and dispose of old fuel in tank. (2) remove any solids with hands and paper towels. (3) Add some kerosene and go at it with a scrubbing brush. (4) wipe out the tank with lint-free rags and refill with new fuel. Like Med Sailor, my tank is still squeaky-clean after 3 years and my Racor filters never have any water or sediment in them. I think the investment in inspection ports is really worth it.

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post #17 of 25 Old 03-27-2013
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Re: Cleaning a fuel tank

OK, I understand how to clean it, but how do you keep the gunk from coming back?

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post #18 of 25 Old 03-27-2013
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Re: Cleaning a fuel tank

Use clean fuel from a known source and add a biocide to keep the gunk from growing again.
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post #19 of 25 Old 03-27-2013
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Re: Cleaning a fuel tank

Is there any reason why the majority of the inspection ports are round? I am going to add a port to my tank top. The top is rectangular and it would be easier for me to fabricate a rectangular hole and plate than a circular one.

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post #20 of 25 Old 03-27-2013
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Re: Cleaning a fuel tank

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Originally Posted by Captainmeme View Post
Is there any reason why the majority of the inspection ports are round? I am going to add a port to my tank top. The top is rectangular and it would be easier for me to fabricate a rectangular hole and plate than a circular one.
I've seen them all shapes & sizes. Oval ports seem quite popular on tanks. I'd make sure that any "square" corners were rounded somewhat to avoid creating stress risers that could propagate cracks. Drilling holes at each corner prior to starting the straight cuts is all that is needed.

I, myself, personally intend to continue being outspoken and opinionated, intolerant of all fanatics, fools and ignoramuses, deeply suspicious of all those who have "found the answer" and on my bad days, downright rude.
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