EEK! They've taken the sulfur out of Marine Diesel! - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 22 Old 01-30-2013 Thread Starter
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EEK! They've taken the sulfur out of Marine Diesel!



I was talking with a marine diesel mechanic and he told me that they've now taken almost all the surfur out of marine diesel. I knew that the on-road stuff was low sulfur now but I thought us (off-road) boaters were still polluting. Apparently not!

He told me that since diesel fuel is the primary lubricant for the high pressure fuel pump and parts of the injectors that those are the parts wearing out rapidly now. He said that Seattle Injector has had to hire more staff to deal with the increased demand of suddenly worn out $3000 injector pumps.

His recommendation was to add a lubricant additive to the fuel. He likes the biobor brand but says many other brands work.

Read more here:
Locomotive, marine and non-road diesel fuel standards begin at later dates. - Clean Diesel Fuel Alliance

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post #2 of 22 Old 01-31-2013
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Re: EEK! They've taken the sulfur out of Marine Diesel!

not that I want to spend 3000 on a new pump... but are there any retro kits to allow for low/no sulfer fuel?

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post #3 of 22 Old 01-31-2013
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Re: EEK! They've taken the sulfur out of Marine Diesel!

When they switched over cars the main failure mode was that the seals in the pump would shrink. Years of using high sulfur fuel had caused them to swell and then the low sulfur fuel (and biodiesel, which is naturally low sulfur) would allow them to shrink, destroying the seal. There were replacement seal kits made for popular pumps (like the VW TDIs that are everywhere in Seattle) that would let you replace only the seals and do a light rebuild and get it working nicely again. Of course the dealers and many mechanics didn't offer this and would only replace the fuel pump, but many of the independent shops were doing the rebuilds.

I expect that it is primarily the same failure mode at play here, but don't know if there are replacement fuel pump seal kits available for the popular engines (like the Yanmar 2GM20F on my boat).

One fixed the fuel pumps worked just fine and lasted a long time. It also wasn't universal, at the time of the switchover my wife and I had two VW TDIs and I was helping friends with 5 or 6 more of them. 2 required fuel pump service, the others never had a problem with the switch.

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post #4 of 22 Old 01-31-2013
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Re: EEK! They've taken the sulfur out of Marine Diesel!

Here is an independently funded diesel fuel additive lubricity test which may be of interest as everyone has to deal with ultra low diesel fuel these days. I came across this research some years ago and use their recommendations.

Click here for test results

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post #5 of 22 Old 01-31-2013
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Re: EEK! They've taken the sulfur out of Marine Diesel!

hasn't europe had low/no sulfer fuels for a while now? How did their boat diesels survive?

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post #6 of 22 Old 01-31-2013
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Re: EEK! They've taken the sulfur out of Marine Diesel!

I always add Mystery Oil to my tank.

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post #7 of 22 Old 01-31-2013
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Re: EEK! They've taken the sulfur out of Marine Diesel!

I used to own a small trucking company, and when they removed the sulfur from the on road diesel fuels roughly 10 or 15 years ago we were also concerned about fuel pumps and injector problems, but thankfully those problems never became a reality for us. The biggest issue we had with the ultra low sulfur fuels were clogged fuel filters. An apparent side effect of removing the sulfur is that it causes years of built up crud and gunk in the fuel system to break down. The first few months after the switch, we were having trouble with trucks, especially older ones, breaking down with plugged fuel filters, we began changing fuel filters early, and after a few months everything was back to normal. My advice is to carry several spare filters, and change them a little more frequently than you normally would. Better safe than sorry.

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post #8 of 22 Old 01-31-2013
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Re: EEK! They've taken the sulfur out of Marine Diesel!

that is a good point. I used to drive commercial, but got out just before the switch in fuel.. so I never had to deal with that

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post #9 of 22 Old 01-31-2013
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Re: EEK! They've taken the sulfur out of Marine Diesel!

We've had Ultra low sulphur fuel in Canada for a few years now.
I was concerned about it in my Yanmar 2GM20F.
Result of my searches was that Transport Canada specifies that an additive is put in the fuel to counteract the lose of lubricity.
But some of my research was a bit contradictory - so I bought a lubricity additive from NAPPA - big bottle for $18 - lasts a long time.
Just in case!
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post #10 of 22 Old 01-31-2013
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Re: EEK! They've taken the sulfur out of Marine Diesel!

Been running it here in California and I've had no problems, however the fuel dock I use dispenses Valvtect fuel which is "pre-treated". There was more crap in the fuel filters for a short time after switching.
ValvTect - Valvtect Marine Diesel
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