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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Engines > Diesel > Why fuel filters must be changed
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Thread: Why fuel filters must be changed Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
01-09-2011 08:31 PM
Maine Sail
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichH View Post
Maine

Physical scrubbing is the obvious best method, principally because you must 'visualize'.

When first using the "tank cleaner" I naturally had 'snake oil' trepidations;
but, I have prolonged/doubled my cleaning interval from every year to two years with the Startron product ... as I find that it doesnt 'loosen' the debris deposition; rather, it seems to slowly put the crud into 'solution' (& without plugging the filters) and that does takes time. I do semi-continually operate an onboard polishing system, so my large tank doesnt have the chance to become as fouled as yours, even after being in the 'tropics' for past several years.

Ive also started using the 'tank cleaner' in my multiple home heating oil tanks ... and yes, it does seem to be slow acting but is positively reversing a 40+ year old very thick deposition layer and without clogging the filters or flame nozzle.

With respect to the 'cleaner stern', I would expect that too as most enzymatic action makes 'smaller' particles which would have an enhanced probability of being 'more completely burned' in the combustion chamber, rather than 'surviving' the combustion chambers and being deposited in the exhaust leg.

Suggest you give the 'tank cleaner' more soak time and if possible do this in the heat of the summer for the thermally enhanced reaction rates. Im still in the 'learning curve phase' of using such tank cleaners and so far my observations are it does take a quite a bit of time but doesnt have the disadvantage of 'loosening' a LOT of crud which would create a 'particle storm' of the larger particles. More patience!
;-)
Maybe I will give it another shot. That was after 15 years + of Soltron/Startron and two tank "cleanings". The PO a buddy of mine did spend many years with the boat in warm climates and I suspect that is where a lot of the growth came from.

With my new tank I have a dedicated high flow polishing system, per discussions with yourself and many other industry experts, and so far it has work fabulously but was designed when building the tank. I would have gone pressure, as you suggested, but when I spoke with Racor they were pretty adamant that they wanted the pump on the suction side for better water removal benefit.

I am using a Carter rotary vane pump @ 72 GPH on a 32 gallon tank. Amazing results thus far..

New Fuel Tank & Polishing System



01-09-2011 08:07 PM
RichH Maine

Physical scrubbing is the obvious best method, principally because you must 'visualize'.

When first using the "tank cleaner" I naturally had 'snake oil' trepidations;
but, I have prolonged/doubled my cleaning interval from every year to two years with the Startron product ... as I find that it doesnt 'loosen' the debris deposition; rather, it seems to slowly put the crud into 'solution' (& without plugging the filters) and that does takes time. I do semi-continually operate an onboard polishing system, so my large tank doesnt have the chance to become as fouled as yours, even after being in the 'tropics' for past several years.

Ive also started using the 'tank cleaner' in my multiple home heating oil tanks ... and yes, it does seem to be slow acting but is positively reversing a 40+ year old very thick deposition layer and without clogging the filters or flame nozzle.

With respect to the 'cleaner stern', I would expect that too as most enzymatic action makes 'smaller' particles which would have an enhanced probability of being 'more completely burned' in the combustion chamber, rather than 'surviving' the combustion chambers and being deposited in the exhaust leg.

Suggest you give the 'tank cleaner' more soak time and if possible do this in the heat of the summer for the thermally enhanced reaction rates. Im still in the 'learning curve phase' of using such tank cleaners and so far my observations are it does take a quite a bit of time but doesnt have the disadvantage of 'loosening' a LOT of crud which would create a 'particle storm' of the larger particles. More patience!
;-)
01-09-2011 06:12 PM
Maine Sail
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichH View Post
Not quite! The enzymes DISSOLVE the fungal colonies and puts the very small sized 'debris' into solution so that it can easily pass through common 'filters'.


;-)
Rich,

Very interesting to hear you support this product and I am a little surprised because my experience with it was not very good. I used it twice, Startron Enzyme Diesel Fuel Tank Cleaner, and my tank still looked like the inside of a tar factory. It didn't even make my filters clog any faster which I would have expected after a "cleaning". Perhaps it was worse before I cleaned it but on this boat there is really no way otehr than an inspection camera to get to the tank and clean it out short of removing it from the vessel... Snake oil is about the best term I can come up with for for this product claiming to "clean" tanks..

Personally I am not sold on the SolTron or StarTron products for actually "cleaning" or dissolving anything but it does tend to make my transom stay slightly cleaner, less soot, so I continue to use it...


As you said a physical scrubbing is the best the Startron left it like this...
01-09-2011 04:09 PM
pdqaltair
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichH View Post
Not quite! The enzymes DISSOLVE (disperse) the fungal colonies and puts the very small sized 'debris' into solution so that it can easily pass through common 'filters'.

Not quite! A LOT of the water in fuel is in an emulsified state (finely divided on a non-visible macromolecular scale held between the fuel molecules) plus molecular (sized) water due to chemical equilibrium ... and the biologicals can extract their needed 'water' directly from the partly water saturated fuel and don't need 'free' water in the bottom of the tank.
;-)
Not quite! Dispersed (not dissolved) colonies are not DEAD colonies. They can repopulate the system. Filters cannot remove all bacterial, because individuals are sub-micron.

Not quite! I said no water, and I really meant free and emulsified, since that is all a sailor can see. Bacteria cannot use true dissolved water (single molecules) at rates large enough to cause growth; it needs to be in larger packages (micron size is enough) for colonies to form. But the point is often unimportant; if the fuel is close to saturation, free water will form due to temperature cycling unless the boat is used and a good dispersing additive is present.

Just playing with you! Everything you said was "almost" true.

The central point is that the OP understand that 1/2 cures lead to repeat troubles.
01-09-2011 03:56 PM
RichH Not quite! The enzymes DISSOLVE the fungal colonies and puts the very small sized 'debris' into solution so that it can easily pass through common 'filters'.

Not quite! A LOT of the water in fuel is in an emulsified state (finely divided on a non-visible macromolecular scale held between the fuel molecules) plus molecular (sized) water due to chemical equilibrium ... and the biologicals can extract their needed 'water' directly from the partly water saturated fuel and dont need 'free' water in the bottom of the tank.
;-)
01-09-2011 03:42 PM
pdqaltair
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichH View Post
Looks like a very common diesel oil fungal contaminant - Cladosporium Resinae or "kerosene fungus" - a resin forming fungus that uses the diesel fuel as it nutrient source. That 'black' is most probably from a massive 'colony' growing on the walls of your tank and is periodically breaking loose from the walls as the dead fungal cells disintegrate and 'come apart'.

When you see such as this the only method to prevent further premature filter clogging is to clean the tank either by opening the inspections ports and SCRUB or add a 'tank cleaner' such as Starbrite enzymatic "Tank Cleaner", etc. ... or better, do both. If you dont, then expect to use a LOT of filters.
Such common fungal contaminations result in very 'soft and extrudable' particles that easily 'slime over' filter media which leads to premature blockage of the filter .... and until the blockage is 'total' the increasing pressure across the filter will cause this 'stuff' to extrude through the filters, and ultimately deposit in the hot sections of the exhaust system as a thick "coke".
Infected tank, constantly plugging filters, AND clogged, 'coked-up', exhaust system.
This is most probably an 'infection' - dont simply change the filters, clean the tank!



FWIW - why does 'non taxed/dyed' fuel from a marina ALWAYS cost much much much more than 'taxed' fuel from a truck-stop?
Unfortunately, none of the Startron products are bio-cides, capable of killing the bugs. They did market Star Brite Bio-Desiel, but it doesn't seem to be in the catalog anymore. Bio-bor, FPPF Kill-Em, and Raycor Bio-cide Diesel are proven products.

Rich is right though; a clean tank with NO water does not provide an environment where bugs can grow. Treat with a bio-cide, clean the tank, and then maintain with bio-cide + fuel treatment.
01-09-2011 03:19 PM
RichH Looks like a very common diesel oil fungal contaminant - Cladosporium Resinae or "kerosene fungus" - a resin forming fungus that uses the diesel fuel as it nutrient source. That 'black' is most probably from a massive 'colony' growing on the walls of your tank and is periodically breaking loose from the walls as the dead fungal cells disintegrate and 'come apart'.

When you see such as this the only method to prevent further premature filter clogging is to clean the tank either by opening the inspections ports and SCRUB or add a 'tank cleaner' such as Starbrite enzymatic "Tank Cleaner", etc. ... or better, do both. If you dont, then expect to use a LOT of filters.
Such common fungal contaminations result in very 'soft and extrudable' particles that easily 'slime over' filter media which leads to premature blockage of the filter .... and until the blockage is 'total' the increasing pressure across the filter will cause this 'stuff' to extrude through the filters, and ultimately deposit in the hot sections of the exhaust system as a thick "coke".
Infected tank, constantly plugging filters, AND clogged, 'coked-up', exhaust system.
This is most probably an 'infection' - dont simply change the filters, clean the tank!



FWIW - why does 'non taxed/dyed' fuel from a marina ALWAYS cost much much much more than 'taxed' fuel from a truck-stop?
01-09-2011 01:06 PM
Minnewaska I get a little compulsive about adding a fuel stabilizer with injector cleaner and a biocide at each fill up, not just during winterization.

If you do have sludge at the bottom of the tank itself, that is worth getting cleaned out.
01-09-2011 12:56 PM
pdqaltair
Sounds like a fuel treatment thread brewing.

Although it doesn't really look like bugs, it could be. If it happened fast, it is likely.
Sail Delmarva: Diesel and Biocides

If it were me, I would always design a diesel tank so that it could be cleaned. Treatments are good for maintenance, but a clean start is best, even after the bugs are dead.
01-09-2011 12:26 PM
GCsailor Yes, the diesel I showed is the undyed version.

My boat is a 1997 (see signature).
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