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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Engines > Diesel > Clogged fuel filter woes - advice
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Topic Review (Newest First)
08-12-2014 09:48 AM
Maine Sail
Re: Clogged fuel filter woes - advice

Sounds like it is time to physically clean the tank.

Beyond that install a drag needle vacuum gauge and then you will know when the primary filter is in need of replacement. The drag needle can be looked at any time as the pointer stays at the highest vacuum...


In 2009 I replaced the fuel tank in our boat and put in tappings for a dedicated fuel polishing system.. Amazing to say the least. The inside of the tank is still 100% spotless & shiny.

Our primary and secondary filters are now in their 5th season! Just checked them on Sunday when checking the polishing filter and they are still beautifully clean and showing 0 vacuum.... Normally I would replace them annually but I just want to see how long I can go...
08-12-2014 09:38 AM
Group9
Re: Clogged fuel filter woes - advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by deniseO30 View Post
Also don't forget to clean the pick up tube that draws the fuel from the tank.. How do I know?
I had a stoppage coming into Nassau Harbor, and had to sail in. When I finally took everything apart, I had what looked like a piece of seaweed (about an inch long) that had got caught in a 90 degree elbow in the fuel line between the tank and the Racor filter. Amazing what can grow in diesel.
08-11-2014 10:50 PM
deniseO30
Re: Clogged fuel filter woes - advice

if at all possible replace the tank.. even with a smaller one that is easy to remove. Used a 19 gallon plastic moeller to replace the 26 gal tank I had in my old boat. warning, (seepage) pin holes are highly likely to magically appear after cleaning!
Also don't forget to clean the pick up tube that draws the fuel from the tank.. How do I know?
08-11-2014 10:39 PM
erps
Re: Clogged fuel filter woes - advice

I learned the lesson about keeping your tanks full during the winter the hard way this spring. Nikko carries 100 gallons of diesel in two tanks. We ran one tank down to where we believed it had about 10 gallons left inside then switched over to the other tank for the rest of the winter. In May, we got to a point where the tank we had been running on was getting close to empty by our reckoning, so on our way home from an outing, we switched to the other tank that had been mostly empty all winter. Then the motor died. Pulled the cover to the Racor, saw it was full of water and drained it and then ran a hand pump to prime it and just got more water. We eventually made it home.

Later, I pumped out both tanks. I eventually got five gallons of water out of that lower tank after all the five gallon buckets settled out at home in the garage. I was pretty impressed at how much water had accumulated. Working through the 1.5" fitting for the fuel hose, I was able to swish some hot soapy water around the bottom of the tanks with a long stick then used a small diameter shop vac hose to suck it back out. Tanks aren't absolutely clean, but they're good enough to last another thirty years.
08-11-2014 08:39 PM
RichH
Re: Clogged fuel filter woes - advice

There are several 'indicators' used for a well designed and maintained boat fuel system:

1. Calendar --- scrub out the insides of the tank about every two years regardless of fuel quality.

2. Vacuum gages on all fuel filters. Here's how to set up for YOUR system:
a. Clean the tank, put in NEW fuel and NEW filters
b. Run the engine at near/below wide open throttle - WOT, read and record what you see on the gages ---- this is the 'benchmark' pressure/vacuum for a new/clean system, you'll probably see 'nil' vacuum on the gages.
c. Have an assistant standby on the tank valve, engine running below WOT; at your signal the assistant slowly closes the tank valve while you monitor the 10ÁM filter's vacuum.
d. RECORD that vacuum value where the engine starts to 'stumble' due to fuel restriction - This is your fuel system MAXIMUM vacuum value read at 'any' filter.
e. Multiply that max. value by 0.80 --- this is your new 'its time to change the damn filters value'. When a filter has consumed 80%+ of its 'dirt capacity', the time to full shutdown is exponentially quick ...... meaning with respect to gallons or time remaining, you probably only have 5-10% reserve capacity remaining in the filter before clogging.
d. option - usually the 10ÁM filter is the one to clog first, even if preceded by a 30ÁM which is installed to extend the in-service life of the 10ÁM. Get a fuel oil compatible 12vdc operated vacuum/pressure switch with adjustable 'set point', wired to an alarm. Adjust the 'set point' on the press/vac. switch so that the switch closes and turns on your alarm at the 80% value of where your engine begins to 'stumble' at near WOT.

tank --> 30ÁM --> 10ÁM --> 15-17ÁM small engine 'guard' filter ---> engine.

Note: if youre plugging filters and you cant get inside and clean the tank ... ADD a 30ÁM filter to extend the service life of the 10ÁM. If that's not enough in-service time increase, then add another 30ÁM in parallel to the first 30ÁM and run them BOTH at the same time. Nutherwords, if your system is always plugging, increase the SURFACE AREA of your filters and your prefilters.
If youre plugging even occasionally, ultimately you will have to get inside and clean the tank.
08-11-2014 06:50 PM
Group9
Re: Clogged fuel filter woes - advice

The other option is just keep changing filters. When I bought my boat, it had been sitting up for about a year without being sailed. Once I got going on my cruise in it, and shaking things up, I was changing out fuel filters every week or so. It was annoying but, after a few weeks and lots of fill ups, I guess I got the gunk out and fuel filter changes resumed to more normal schedule.
08-11-2014 05:31 PM
T37Chef
Re: Clogged fuel filter woes - advice

I never had fuel problems but I did have my tanks cleaned by a professional after the boat sat for two years, and before running the newly installed engine...very glad I did as the algae growth was significant. I don't have an inspection port so they went through the fuel pick up tube, screen wasn't horrible but did need cleaning. They shocked the tanks then came back two later, removed most of the fuel (yes that hurt, 50 gallons, but it was time), cleaned it with a high pressure wand then removed the remaining fuel and any deposit on the bottom.

I installed a fuel polisher by Racor that is also a back up filter when I set the valves (total of three). Remember your engine returns some fuel to the tank when its running so that in itself is a "polisher" so to speak.

That said, your injection pump of injector could be clogged? or malfunctioning. If changing the filters this many times hasn't solved the running of the engine, I doubt continuing to do so will fix it.

What micron primary do you have, maybe that getting clogged, perhaps a different size would help...

Hard to say, going to be somewhat trial and error I think...but I'm no mechanic just a over the shoulder wanna be
08-11-2014 05:02 PM
dabnis
Re: Clogged fuel filter woes - advice

I have seen pictures of fuel pumps that have a fine screen built in, may be worth checking?

Paul T
08-11-2014 02:05 PM
Multihullgirl
Re: Clogged fuel filter woes - advice

What copacabana said. A 30YO tank is going to be lined with goo clinging to the walls, if my 20YO tanks were any indication. I had to cut ports into mine to get to it, but it was worth all the effort. BTW, based on what I found, I don't have any faith in "fuel polishing." I can't imagine this crap coming off without manual effort.

The crap in there is fairly stable until you get into some rough water, and then a little gets stirred off the sides and bottom, clogs the filters probably when you need the engines to run. But not all of it comes off, so it never ends. Just take the medicine and clean the tanks.
08-11-2014 12:30 PM
copacabana
Re: Clogged fuel filter woes - advice

Dave, thankfully there is a simple solution for this- clean your tank and fill it with fresh diesel. If there's an inspection port on the tank (and there should be) it's a simple matter of opening it up and removing the old diesel. Then wipe it out with rags soaked in kerosene, taking care not to leave any bits of rag in the tank. Fill it up with new diesel and you're ready to go! You might consider adding a biocide after the cleaning to prevent further fouling of the tank.
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