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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello!

Some may have noticed my thread about buying a Catalina 27 and asking for advice. Thanks to all who helped me with that!

I ended up buying her and am getting her ready to be launched. One problem I am having is that the tank appears to have some water in it somehow. The boat has an Atomic 4 which runs smooth as silk for a minute or two and then begins to sputter and stall. If I try to restart, it will restart and repeat but with no consistancy with the amount of time it will run before it stalls.

I have a fuel/water separator temporarily attached (it is a clear one) and I can see that there is water getting trapped in there so I know that there is some water in the tank. The tank is pretty much empty (it is now sucking air on the primer) so I am wondering if it would be a good idea to put a bottle of HEET in the tank and fill her up to try to get whatever water is left removed.

I am also suspicious about the float sticking as the running for a few moments and then stalling seems like a fuel starvation issue although I believe it was just risidual water in the fuel lines from before the water/fuel separator was installed. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to try running it long enough to sufficiently flush all of the lines in the loop. The previous owner also stated that she had this issue unless she was attached to an external tank where it would run perfectly fine without a hiccup.

My question is if anyone has used HEET before and if it is safely applicable to marine use or with the A4. Any thoughts or ideas?
 

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I have a working A4 from 1967 in our Tartan 27.
I was told by the PO not to let the tank get too low (it is not like a car) as there can be crap or crud (technical name) at the bottom of the tank that will do worse things to your carburator or engine.
That said, it sounds as if your fuel tank could stand to be drained, cleaned out and aired out. They sell a liquid pump that attaches to a drill that you could use to extract the bottom of the tank. Repeated soakings with a little clean gas and/or Marvel Mystery Oil may help to get the crud out from the bottom.
I have never used HEET in our tank but the A4 is basically a tractor engine and could probably handle a bit of this stuff dissolved in gas. We routinely put some MMO in our gas and oil supplies and the engine does not seem to mind this, in fact it is a recommended practice by A4 guru Don Moyer. Speaking of Moyer, have you found his website yet? It is invaluable resource for all A4 owners. Moyer Marine Atomic 4 Community - Powered by vBulletin
 

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Please do not use gas drier if you are using e-10...

Hello!

Some may have noticed my thread about buying a Catalina 27 and asking for advice. Thanks to all who helped me with that!

I ended up buying her and am getting her ready to be launched. One problem I am having is that the tank appears to have some water in it somehow. The boat has an Atomic 4 which runs smooth as silk for a minute or two and then begins to sputter and stall. If I try to restart, it will restart and repeat but with no consistency with the amount of time it will run before it stalls.

I have a fuel/water separator temporarily attached (it is a clear one) and I can see that there is water getting trapped in there so I know that there is some water in the tank. The tank is pretty much empty (it is now sucking air on the primer) so I am wondering if it would be a good idea to put a bottle of HEET in the tank and fill her up to try to get whatever water is left removed.

I am also suspicious about the float sticking as the running for a few moments and then stalling seems like a fuel starvation issue although I believe it was just risidual water in the fuel lines from before the water/fuel separator was installed. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to try running it long enough to sufficiently flush all of the lines in the loop. The previous owner also stated that she had this issue unless she was attached to an external tank where it would run perfectly fine without a hiccup.

My question is if anyone has used HEET before and if it is safely applicable to marine use or with the A4. Any thoughts or ideas?
Because e-10 is 10% alcohol, and that is all the gas drier is. They would pull gas drier off the market, if they were honest.

The reason the engine will run but stumble is that the "water" is water/alcohol mix.

The trouble with e-10 is that if it gets ANY water near it it separates. See this EPA doc. http://www.epa.gov/oms/regs/fuels/rfg/waterphs.pdf

The only cure is:
* drain the tank. Get ALL of the water.
* make sure you have no water leaks. that is the probable cause in 90% of the cases.
* always keep the tank full. water absorption accounts for the other 10%.

The HEET will only make the problem worse, as it is alcohol and will join the water phase. It will not dissolve the water.

(I tested a bunch of additives for Practical Sailor, so I believe I am very solid ground here)

And keep draining the separator before every trip until the problem is cured. Good luck!
 

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I would either call a fuel polisher or just replace the tank. Also make sure the gasket / o-ring on the filler cap are in good shape you are not letting water in they way.
 

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On my "other" (powerboat) forum, guys say that MDR's E-Zorb works, but I think it really depends on how much water has gotten in and whether or not phase seperation has already occured. I think fuel scrubbing is the way to go if the gas (and water) has been in there for a long time.
 

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Yes, the fuel cap is the first place to look.

I would either call a fuel polisher or just replace the tank. Also make sure the gasket / o-ring on the filler cap are in good shape you are not letting water in they way.
However, if the boat was unused for a long time. e-10 separation is common.

If the tank were leaking the gas stink would let you know. Just MT the tank. Unlike diesel tanks, sludge is very unusual, so polishing is probably pointless. Try simply draining the tank first.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Thanks for all of the advice guys! :)

I'm familiar with Moyer. I bought their tune up kit before I even started trying to get the A4 running.

I'm pretty sure the tank is about empty because when I pumped the primer it is sucking air. Their might be a little residual water/gas in there but it can't be much.

If the ethanol is disolving into the water, why can't it just run through it? Sure ethanol requires a vastly different A/F but shouldn't it be able to run though a few bits of it?


I'm thinking that my best bet right now is to drain the bowl of the carb and all fuel lines after the separator so I can be sure that only clean gas is going to make it to the engine.

I believe the source of the water is from where a PO tried to install a fuel line to supply an outboard if installed. The line goes right back to the tank and looks suspicious to me. I intend on removing this line as I can't imagine it is to "code" and it is just an added liability for problems.

As for the fuel water sep, it has drains on the bottom to purge the water out of it. When running I did see some water accumulating in there (definitely enough to cause serious stumbling) so, as instructed, this should be checked periodically.

I plan on picking her up this coming weekend. For the trip home I am going to use a portable tank that I know is clean. Once she is home I will tackle this job right away. I think popping the tp hatch off of the tank for a visual inspection of it's condition and contents would be a worthwhile endeavor.


Thanks again for the advice guys!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
By the way, anyone have any recommendations for replacing the tank? I am not a fan of steel or aluminum tanks, especially 32yr old ones. I'd prefer a plastic tank for cleanliness and resistance to corrosion. Any thoughts on this?
 

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Try the MD Zorb in a jar and judge for yourself.

On my "other" (powerboat) forum, guys say that MDR's E-Zorb works, but I think it really depends on how much water has gotten in and whether or not phase seperation has already occured. I think fuel scrubbing is the way to go if the gas (and water) has been in there for a long time.
You need to add the chemical in equal parts to the water and mix.

So, that mean if you have 5% water separation you will be burning 5% soap along with the gas and water.

Suit yourself, but I tested the material and wouldn't touch it with 100 foot pole. Scary.

In fact, if you can work the water layer out, there is no reason to replace the gas. Top-off with high test ( to compensate for the alcohol loss) and get on with it. I've done this in a number of sever cases and it worked just fine. ALL the water did was strip some alcohol.

I also promise you that the refiners do not through gasoline away if a tank is phase separated. I work with them. They get the water out and boost up the octane.
 

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Because the alcohol was stripped from the gasoline by the water your octane is now...

What do you mean by top off with high test? Higher octane?
lower than it was. So, a simple cure is to use high octane fuel on the next fill to run the octane back up into the normal low-test range. I'm not a big fan of paying the high octane primium price, but this is a valid exception. This is one of the things refiners do with alcohol falls out.

Do drain the separator EVERY time untill the problem clears up. It takes moments and prevents a host of problems, most frequently cloged filters (many gas filters are designed to choke-off rather than allow water into the engine). I had some terrible water problems in the past, and know I find I glance at the separator bowl evertime I start the engines, and always will.

I have had both plastic and alcohol-proof frp tanks and have been happy with both.
 

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By the way, anyone have any recommendations for replacing the tank? I am not a fan of steel or aluminum tanks, especially 32yr old ones. I'd prefer a plastic tank for cleanliness and resistance to corrosion. Any thoughts on this?

You might want to see what the current tank is made of. I've read that older fiberglass tanks are problematic with the E-10 gas.
 

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While this can be true, it depends on the resin.

You might want to see what the current tank is made of. I've read that older fiberglass tanks are problematic with the E-10 gas.
Most tanks built as much as 15 years ago were built with e-10 on the horizon and the resins were chosen with that in mind. Mine was, and it is fine. Older boats often used ordinary hull resins, and they are not fine.

It is simple enough to probe the resin of an older tank to see if it has softened.

I doubt you would find a new FRP tank now. Even though they can be built and could be the best choise (very strong, no corrosion, any shape), they would be hard to market until the hoop-la dies down.
 

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I didnot use heet but used different makes (european) for water in the tank. They chemically bond water to the fuel and the color changes to milky. This mixture is used without any problem by the engine. After the fuel tank is nearly empty I added new fuel and everthing was fine.

Normally water gets into the tank as water vapour in the air. As the temparature changes from day to night, it condenses and collect at the bottom of the tank. Therefore you have to keep your tank full when you are not using the boat. It is a good idea to fill the tank when you return back from sailing instead of filling it before leaving your pantoon.

Water by itself is not good for the injectors. another point is that bacteria develops in the water which eats the diesel. If this happens, the fule becomes sticky and dense and clogs the filters.
 

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Adam, there are some things about gasoline that no one tells you. It is a brew of about 60 chemicals including things like heptane and butane that vaporize at room temperature, and "pump gas" has a working life of 60-90 days. That's all the blend it for, assuming that it will be consumed in just a couple of weeks in the average car.

As gas gets older, it breaks down. The high end fractions (not just the butane) evaporate and go away, so it doesn't burn as readily or as hot. Other fractions actually turn into varnish as they oxidize, and the varnish literally gums up the fuel lines AND CARBURETOR PASSAGES. Even under the best of conditions, a carb should be torn down, cleaned, and rebuilt every five years or so to get the varnish out. (And check for bad floats/valves and mechanical adjustments.)

So given that you've got an old boat with a tank of gas that's been sitting around...I'd start with a total rebuild kit for the carb, and dumping all the old gas. Most gas stations and many marinas/yc's will take it into their "waste oil" recycling bin or similar.

Rebuilding a carb isn't hard--just requires some patience, a gallon of GumOut to soak it in, and making sure the small parts don't elope under the woodwork.<G>

Folks may love or hate plastic fuel tanks, but if you get one try to get an opaque one, because crud grows better when there is light. Also make sure there is anti-chafe material under any tie-down straps or between it and the hull, so the plastic can't chafe through.

I'd also suggest adding "Sta-Bil" or a similar fuel stabilant in every tank. About $6-8 for a pint, this stuff has a long history of being the best thing you can do to prevent gasoline from breaking down. It should be added per the label directions to any fuel that will be kept over 90 days. (And logically, if you only use 1/2 tank in 90 days, then top up...some of your fuel will be 6 months old before it is burned, so add the Sta-Bil.)

There are no "injectors" in an A4, and carb'd engines can run quite a bit of alcohol and water in their fuel with no problems except stumbling. In fact some products designed to clean out carbon deposits contain large amounts of isopropanol and/or water to do just that, so as long as it runs well I wouldn't worry about what's in one tank that I was going to run through fast. But you mught as well start right, clean it up, set it up, and then KNOW that you have good fuel and a reliable engine. Or, what you'll need to do to get it that way.

Little idiosyncracie of mine: If I'm gonna feed and stable an engine, the damned thing had better work 100%, first time and every time, without any argument. :)
 

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I think you are looking in the wrong direction.

If you installed a water seperator and it is not getting full then water should not be gitting into the engine.

"She said it runs fine with a aux. tank." Does it?
Is the aux tank mounted above the level of the carb so that is is gravity feeding through the fuel pump? Will the engine fuel pump pull fuel with the aux tank down low--it should.

If it does I might try plugging the line you are using now and and running a new hose from the "outboard" side of the tank to the fuel pump and use a new intake fitting on the fuel pump.

You may need a new fuel pump. Just because there is no fuel in the oil does not mean a pump is good. If you are using a external lever on the pump to feed the carb does not mean the internal lever is shot or the cam drive parts are working. If you are using some kind of primmer bulb then the the same thing.

Running for two mins. is about the time it take to empty the float bowl of fuel and then if you reprime it it should run another 2 min.

If it has a manual fuel pump that turns out to be bad I would opt for an electric pump, be sure to get a "clicker" rather than a "hummer".

If you rule out the fuel system you might look toward the coil.
 

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The source of the water is generally absorbtion rather than condensation...

I didnot use heet but used different makes (european) for water in the tank. They chemically bond water to the fuel and the color changes to milky. This mixture is used without any problem by the engine. After the fuel tank is nearly empty I added new fuel and everthing was fine.

Normally water gets into the tank as water vapour in the air. As the temparature changes from day to night, it condenses and collect at the bottom of the tank. Therefore you have to keep your tank full when you are not using the boat. It is a good idea to fill the tank when you return back from sailing instead of filling it before leaving your pantoon.

Water by itself is not good for the injectors. another point is that bacteria develops in the water which eats the diesel. If this happens, the fule becomes sticky and dense and clogs the filters.

And ethanol and biodiesel both make this worse. Where the basic fuels ignored water, these new additives actively "pull" them from the air. Then, as you said, temperture change drops them out.

Bugs do not grow in gasoline, the topic of this thread.

The comment regarding filling when you return, vs when you go out, is absolutly correct.
 

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All true. However, a clogged fuel filter is still on the list.

I think you are looking in the wrong direction.

If you installed a water seperator and it is not getting full then water should not be gitting into the engine.

"She said it runs fine with a aux. tank." Does it?
Is the aux tank mounted above the level of the carb so that is is gravity feeding through the fuel pump? Will the engine fuel pump pull fuel with the aux tank down low--it should.

If it does I might try plugging the line you are using now and and running a new hose from the "outboard" side of the tank to the fuel pump and use a new intake fitting on the fuel pump.

You may need a new fuel pump. Just because there is no fuel in the oil does not mean a pump is good. If you are using a external lever on the pump to feed the carb does not mean the internal lever is shot or the cam drive parts are working. If you are using some kind of primmer bulb then the the same thing.

Running for two mins. is about the time it take to empty the float bowl of fuel and then if you reprime it it should run another 2 min.

If it has a manual fuel pump that turns out to be bad I would opt for an electric pump, be sure to get a "clicker" rather than a "hummer".

If you rule out the fuel system you might look toward the coil.
Water is often the cause, as it makes the membrane swell and restrict fuel flow. In a few minutes, some fuel seeps through, and as time bbanidit said, it will run for a few minutes.

Step-by-step trouble shooting is best. Never rule something out - say, a fuel pump - until it is tested.

For example, I have know anti-syphon valves to cause the same problem, particularly when paired with a weakish fuel pump or any other fuel system imperfection. Partially clogged idle passages in the carb are a possibility. Many things.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
The fuel pump is definitely good. I checked this by shutting the fuel off at the tank and it was strong enough to colapse the primer bulb when I started it so I don't think it is a pump issue.

The coil is brand new. I put a fresh coil, cap, rotor, set of points, condensor, and plugs in her.

I installed the water separator after the lines had been primed with the bad fuel. There is a fuel filter that is also in line to the carb and it is not stopped up. The separator began to collect water as soon as I installed it. It was late in the day and the alt belt snapped (I was planning on replacing it anyway) so I was forced to quit but I will continue this weekend.

For the trip home, however, I am going to run on fresh, clean external tanks. I am fairly confident that the stumbling I was experiencing was a result of the risidual water in the lines. I've had water in fuel before on other primitive carb'd engines and I had the same symptoms. It'll run perfectly and then start to stumble and either stall or you can coax it through these spots with a combo of the choke and throttle to try to pull more "fuel" through.

Unfortunately I only got to run it a little bit because it kept pumping my entire bucket of coolant out within just a few minutes of running.

Before she goes in the water I am going to confirm that she's happy with the externals. If it can run for a while without issue on the external then I think I'll be good to go.

When I get her home I am going to open the top of the tank and inspect it. If it is as bad as some of the aluminum tanks I have seen, I will look into a replacement unit.

Thanks for all of the valuable input.

Adam
 

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Adam-
Something also to note about the A4 engines. From what I've been told (repeatedly) they were built and sold two different ways, with or without a restrictor plate under the carb. With the plate, lower hp, lower tariffs. A fairly common way to de-power engines for various reasons. Without the plate? More power! So if there's a useless-looking plate under the carb, you might want to toss it.
 
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