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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My engine died on me for the first time 2 days ago. Fuel filters were filthy, switched them out and got running again but then engine died AGAIN about 2 hours later, in a really bad spot ... no more filters, luckily a canadian good samaritan towed me out of trouble and to an anchorage in Nanaimo.

I was running on fuel that had sat all winter. I pumped out all the old fuel, suspended black things in what I pumped out. Tank has no access port but through the fill hole I can see that bottom of tank is dirty with black stuff. Had to get off anchor and to a dock so I filled tank with new fuel (ferrying between boat and fuel dock with dingy), replaced all filters, and engine ran fine for the 20 minutes or so needed.

I have to get back out on the water in 3 days, and I want to fix this as best as I can so I can continue cruising without issues. What would you do?? I have a fuel polishing guy coming monday ... he says this will help (@ $150/hr of course) but I dunno if he'll be able to scrub that much gunk out if there isn't an access port ...
 

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all these confusing ropes
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I have dealt with this before.
Since there is no access port, you have to expect that the tank has never been cleaned out
The best solution is to cut the access hole and fit on a cover. You would install nut plates underneath the circumference of the hole with rivets, so you could attach the cover. You would have to clean out the tank very well to get all the metal shavings.
But sounds like you may not want to get into this at the moment.
So, if you agitate the crud on the bottom of the tank, before and during the polishing, you will get a lot of it.
Take lots of extra filters, because it will come back.
A third way to more or less solve it is to install a "day tank" above the engine. The day tank can have a big access port for cleanout. You pump the fuel from your regular tank to the day tank with a fillter in between. Then you have a new, clean tank which you know has clean fuel. You can take a wood dowel and mark it as a dipstick so you can check the tank level.
By switching hoses around, you can use the new filter you installed to polish fuel yourself.
 

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Telstar 28
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Sounds like you need to get rid of the water in your fuel tank. If you've got that much "algae" growing in the tank, you've got a fair bit of water in the bottom of it. I hope the Fuel polisher will remove the water as well as polishing your fuel. If not, you have to drain off the bottom of the tank.
 

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This is an argument for NEVER putting fuel in your tank without adding stabilizer and algae treatment.
 

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I always use a filter as well when filling up my tank. It takes a little while longer because you have to wait for the fuel to go through the filter and through the funnel so it adds time. Also some people call it excessive but I would rather be excessive and have water free tanks! Also it is a sailboat so so it's not like we are filling up every week
 

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One of None
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rig up a portable metal tank with a hose connection that you can gravity feed the engine. then you can work on the tank problem later. (imho)
 

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Courtney the Dancer
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I agree about the access ports needing to be installed, but in the short run hopefully the polisher will get you going. They are not cheap but I would consider putting a Racor dual filter set up on, that way if one clogs you just flip the handle and you are up and going again. You can then change the clogged filter when convenient. They always clog at the worst time, the peace of mind is worth the $$ to me.

West Marine: MAX Turbine Series Fuel/Water Separators Product Display

You can get these for much less if you search.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
I looked today, there is clearance above tank to get a drill and jigsaw in to cut a 6" access port, if I can get my hands on a saw and a port (I guess I need a metal one?) I could put one in quickly, scrub away and then the fuel polishing guys could come in and clean out all the shavings etc. My understanding is tank has to be completely drained and vented for a while though before cutting ...
 

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One of None
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Discussion Starter #11
I'd love to change out the tank but (especially up here) I can't just find and then drop in a new one, I think it's a custom built aluminum job. Still investigating if doing a day tank or installing access port can happen though ...
 

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An Aussie Sailor
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Tanks can be a real issue. Mine was old and contaminated. The only way to get it out was to pull the engine out first.
I did not bother even trying to clean the old tank. Had a new one made in 316 stainless.
I made sure the fuel pick-up was a few inches above the bottom of the tank and although we did not fit an inspection hole we also put a sump drain right at the bottom. Also all new fuel lines and double filters.

Every time I add fuel to the tank it is through a water capturing filter funnel and I always add fresh biocide and water absorbing additives.

I hope never to have to pull the tank again.It was a hell of a a job to do.

Mychael

ps. We we made the new tank breather point at the top of the tank, we connected a long breather hose with an "S" bend in it and at the very end of the hose fitted one of those small plastic fuel filters with the little water sump in the bottom of them. Hopefully this might reduce the chance of contaminants and water vapor being drawn into the tank as fuel is burned off.
 

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I installed a 4-inch access plate from seabuilt.com a relatively simple job just took some time to get the tank out of a sabre 34. Now that I have pulled the tank, it should go easier on subsequent cleaning. Here is a summary of my work: Drain the tank first, due to some residual fuel let vent and cut via 4-inch hole saw. be careful to get all the metal filings. It seemed when cleaning there was a lot of algae and bacteria clinging to the side. a good steam clean and many rags with clean diesel helped to rid of bacteria/algae.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
It does not say on the packaging what the micron ratings are for these filters, my best guess is secondary is 10 micron and primary is higher than that.

Attached are pics of the filters I replaced while underway, taken apart today. Holy crap! These filters were new last season, had 135 hours of engine use on them. Should have inspected them this season, kinda got lost in all the other work I was doing.
 

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Connect a filter which will collect only big particles before your fuel filter. this will filter the particles and you will be able to use your tank for much longer times. Make sure you deliver clean fuel ever time. Hopefully you will be able to filter all the particles this way. Make sure you change the filter before it is full.
 

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Closet Powerboater
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Fish Finder,

Sorry to hear about the stow-aways in your tank! I was heartened to hear that you have good tank access though, that will come in handy!

It seems like you have a few possible roads to take here in the form of short, medium and long term solutions. If you need to get up and running again in a day or 2 I would highly suggest rigging up a day tank, as suggested, for temporary use until you can deal with the tank full of beasties. It doesn't have to be too fancy, it can even be a jerry jug securely lashed somewhere with a fuel hose going to the jug.

In the medium term you could improve your filtration options and reduce your chances of an inconvenient engine stop by putting in a Racor 500 pre-filter. I'm sure you've seen these, they've got a water separator, changeable filter elements available in various porosities (use 10 micron) and a see through section to evalutate contamination. Installing one of these would be good as you could check the bowl and you'd have a second filter inline before the engine one.

To improve on this, install a vacuum gauge (easy to install) which will tell you as you filters are clogging and give you warning. To improve on this again, and have a really sweet setup, install 2 racors in series (a little more fuel tubing and 2 "Y-valves") and when one dies, switch over the 2 levers and voalla! you're motoring again instantly and you can change the clogged one later. I don't personally have this setup, but plan to.

What's really needed is the more perminant solution of cleaning out your tank and keeping it clean. I sympathize as I had the same issue. Lots of contamination and no access ports. I had quite a few folks tell me that the polishers mean well but just can't get the stuff off the walls. And believe me, there is a LOT of it attached to the walls. I saw several photos online of tanks opened up post polish and there was still piles of crud.

What I did, which worked great for me, and I think will work for you, is I cut open inspection ports and cleaned the sucker out. The easiest way was to use a high quality, high-carbon hole saw. Anacortes marine hardware should have them. I picked a size randomly, I would suggest going to west marine and looking at their ready-made inspection ports and matching my hole to one of those. Since I couldn't use a ready made port I had a plastic company make me some polyethelene disks 2" diameter larger than my holes ($10 ea) and I bought a roll of gasket material from an auto shop. I then drilled and tapped screws around the side to retain the inspection ports. The key to drilling was a good hole saw (>$40) lots of drill lube, and going slow.

Once open, I pumped out the fuel. Luckally my marina disposes of dirty diesel for free. Check with the local marinas, boat shops, or maybe just give it to that big refinery across the way. Elbow length neoprene gloves and a toilet brush were used to clean the sides, followed by a couple rolls of paper towels for a mirror finish. I used a shop vac to get out the metal shavings. I also wasn't as concerned as most about them as I figure they're too heavy to ever get picked up by the fuel pickup tube (1/2" above the bottom of the tank) and get sucked up it. Even if they do the filters will catch them. So if I missed a shaving or 2, they'll just reside harmlessly in the tank.

New diesel went in with biocide and things have been going well ever since. It was a pretty big job, but once I opened the inspection ports I relised that no other solution would have been a long term one. There was just too much crud in too many corners. When you think of the surface area of your tank, and the surface area of a filter, it's a loosing battle if the tank isn't clean.

BTW here is another thread on the same topic. I'm posting before I cleaned my tank: http://www.sailnet.com/forums/gear-maintenance/33836-cleaning-out-diesel-tank.html

Best of luck to you!

MedSailor

PS: You didn't by chance recently add biocide to your tank did you?
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Thanks, great info. I added "Star Tron" yesterday, but did not have any biocide in the tank before the breakdown.

I'm trying to rig a plastic gas can as a temporary tank. In case it doesn't work out I'm now a vessel assist member :)
 

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An Aussie Sailor
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There is the school of thought which cautions against adding a biocide to an old tank which may never have been treated. The reasoning goes that you can create huge quantities of sludgeing from killing off all the accumulated growth and it will overwhelm the filters.

When I purchased my boat I took a gamble and began adding biocide and got away with it but I would advise caution if you thought about "shock treating" as in putting in a heavy does of treatment in an old tank.

Having said that I read an article in a British boat magazine where they tested the performance of quite a few additives, not many performed as well as claimed, however for my money I'd still be adding it just in case.

Mychael
 
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