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Old 20-09-2015, 21:36   #16
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Re: What is this Diesel Fuel contamination thing?

Hi John, Congrats on a successful first sail and also knowing the very valuable lesson of having paper charts and a plan B in place. We have gone through the pain of dirty fuel tanks and what it can take to resolve the issue.

We have a Lagoon 12 metre cat and the fuel tanks, while they can be taken out, it is a major and expensive job. IMO the best way is to take the tanks out if they do not have an inspection plate then drain and clean the tank throughly.

This is great for a one off clean but it will not stop you getting dirty or contaminated fuel and having similar problems.

Fortunately we had an excellent mechanic who was able to diagnose the problem then advised rather than take the tanks out to increase the size of the fuel line to a new very course in line filter which should remove 90% plus of the contaminant (diesel bug) then allow the two existing filters to remove any other contaminant that may get through. The mechanic has used this system on commercial fishing boats with great success and after 12 months we have had not more issues. Initially we dosed the fuel with a fuel bio cleaner (Fuel Doctor ) then new filter went through three filters clearing the contaminant till now where we no longer have to change filters unless it is at a service.

It has been my experience to always carry spare fuel and oil filters, more then one spare and know how to change them. If you have a dirty tank it may not show up in normal saying conditions (flat water sailing) but when you get offshore and its a bit rough the tank starts slopping mixing up the contained contaminants which then leads to clogging your fuel filters. Having a system where you can have two filters and switch from one to the other in such an event is a real bonus and a system used by many cruising boaters.

I met a fellow cruising sailer recently who carried no spare filters at all. Filters are cheap and easy to replace at sea in almost any conditions. Cheap insurance in my opinion for just such an event. And while I remember if you do change filters and do not have an electric fuel pump make sure you know how to bleed the fuel to get the motor running again.

Just my two cents worth from my own experiences.

Greg H
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Old 20-09-2015, 22:03   #17
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Re: What is this Diesel Fuel contamination thing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrahamHO View Post
Looking at that photo of the tank interior makes me wonder if there is a camera on the end of a stick that can be put in through the filler. You know, the same as doctors use for a colonoscopy!
Yes, eBay has USB inspection cameras for about $20 IIRC. They are 3/8" diameter with various cable lengths ( mine is 15ft), and have LED lights to see in the dark (adjustable). I use mine with a tablet, my brother uses his with a phone or a laptop. Any camera app will do. The phone or tablet will need USB OTG.

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Old 20-09-2015, 23:24   #18
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Re: What is this Diesel Fuel contamination thing?

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Yes, eBay has USB inspection cameras for about $20 IIRC. They are 3/8" diameter with various cable lengths ( mine is 15ft), and have LED lights to see in the dark (adjustable). I use mine with a tablet, my brother uses his with a phone or a laptop. Any camera app will do. The phone or tablet will need USB OTG.

Greg
Thanks for that Greg. I'll seek and find. I can think of lots of uses, though I'll leave colonoscopy to the doctors. I've got a foot in both IOS and Android camps and I have a USB OTG adapter. I don't argue which OS is better.
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Old 21-09-2015, 08:26   #19
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Re: What is this Diesel Fuel contamination thing?

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Originally Posted by CarinaPDX View Post
Yes, eBay has USB inspection cameras for about $20 IIRC. They are 3/8" diameter with various cable lengths ( mine is 15ft), and have LED lights to see in the dark (adjustable). I use mine with a tablet, my brother uses his with a phone or a laptop. Any camera app will do. The phone or tablet will need USB OTG.

Greg
Harbor Freight just ran a sale on their handheld inspection cameras - screen on the back of the handle, so no computer in the bilge to see what you're doing. $69 or so - I don't have one, but might get it for other reasons; my fuel polisher has made it so that I have replaced my Racor exactly once, that being well over 1000 hours from installation, and that being by mistake, as it was an inadequately tightened fitting doing the stopping. My current Racor has well over 1000 hours on it, too.

An advantage to my system was our wreck (see "I Learned About Sailing From That" about Feb/March 2007, here) which had 3-5000 impacts from 8-10 feet and diminishing, as the storm blew itself out, waves, over 3 days, at a 60 heel on a ~1/2 empty tank. It got all of whatever might have been on the walls loosened up.

We have 30 and 10 micron filters, about the same size as whole-house filters, but SS core, wound, in SS cans, in series. Ran the polisher until the vac gauge showed one atmosphere, then changed the filters. LOTS of gunge.

Changed again when we got back to our yard after putting on enough fiberglass to clean up the exterior damage, again lots of gunge, but not severe; because both our main and genoa had blown out in the storm, our ride home was on either spinnaker or small blown out staysail, and included lots of rock-and-roll to keep the junk in suspension. We could run the engine for charging, but not propulsion, as our prop and shaft were bent. So, we ran the polisher any time there was R&R in that 5-day trip.

One more change several years later, and one again after our most recent refit, 'just because'; I suspect that we're running on 2 micron fuel (the more you filter, particularly with a wound filter, the smaller the holes become). We run the polisher any time the engine's running (we don't have the massive difference in consumption vs production, being a Perkins 4-154), and any time we're doing a lot of rock-and-roll.

So far so good, and everything, from the hyphenated commercial supplier in ATL which name I can never remember when I'm doing this, was about $500.

If anyone wants to empty their old fuel (say, 3 or more years old) into jugs, out of fear that it's going to be a problem, I'm happy to take it off your hands and give you the jugs back, rather than your having to pay for disposal Vero Beach, not that I'd expect anyone to do that, really, but I =did= do just that for a friend in St. Pete when we were doing our initial refit...
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Old 21-09-2015, 08:30   #20
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Re: What is this Diesel Fuel contamination thing?

Here's a link to a vid of that unit:



And another, longer, which is an actual review:

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Old 21-09-2015, 08:41   #21
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Re: What is this Diesel Fuel contamination thing?

I have been using dual Racors for many years. This is two filters in parallel. If and when one filter starts to clog, you turn the handle and switch over to the next filter. You can do this while the engine is running. No air enters your fuel system. You can tell when the filter is starting to clog by reading a vacuum gauge. You can also get them with a water sensor indicator. If and when the Water in Fuel alarm sounds, you switch filters.

Having a traditional system where you have a single primary filter and secondary filter in series still means that if one clogs you have to shut down the engine, introduce air into your fuel system and then bleed the air back out of your system. You don't want to have to do this while underway.

Using this dual Racor system and the biocide that already comes with the Diesel that I purchase, my fuel system stays polished.

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Old 21-09-2015, 13:50   #22
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Re: What is this Diesel Fuel contamination thing?

The scum btw is their dead little corpses and their crap. Piles up after countless generations...

I always use biocide. I've only issues when the fuel I buy is funky. Tanks are shiny inside on an old boat.

You'll be shocked at how small the Racor 500 filters are. The housing and bowl are impressive, but the filter size is actually pitiful. I agree, it works. Have +plenty+ of extras on board as one filter change likely won't get you home. The image above of the Racor 1000s, now that's a nice sized filter.
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Old 21-09-2015, 14:49   #23
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Re: What is this Diesel Fuel contamination thing?

A couple of cautions about biocides: 1) they are toxic, so take care handling them, and 2) treating an existing problem with biocide can result in an overwhelming amount of contamination in the fuel system. The first is self-evident; wear gloves and contain any treatment, keeping it away from the galley, food, and water.

When adding biocide to a contaminated tank, the dead algae/bacteria tend to end up in a layer at the bottom of the tank below the fuel but above any water. Sucking this into the fuel pickup can readily plug the filters. So while using biocide as a preventative measure seems like a good idea, when using it to treat a problem it is best to be tied up at a dock and prepared to remove the results, and not underway. Also, the dead organisms are corrosive and can damage an aluminum tank, so don't leave them in the tank after treatment (for all sorts of reasons).

I have been using Startron, which is not a biocide but instead an enzyme which breaks down the little buggers and dissolves them into the fuel - no bodies to dispose of. It seems to work.

BTW the algae problem is brought to you by Big Oil. It gets into the fuel far up the distribution chain (or at least did so initially) and is distributed with the oil. It could, and should, be fixed there. (Hint: your boat doesn't get algae by lying alongside a boat with algae.)

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Old 21-09-2015, 15:38   #24
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Re: What is this Diesel Fuel contamination thing?

Ah the "Big Oil" villain again.

Big Oil runs a viciously efficient business model. After they refine the crude they want it in your tank and your cash into their pocket as quickly as possible. Consequently, the fuel that comes out of their refinery is pretty well always fresh ie no biological contaminants.

Their distribution networks are also very efficient. That is its out of Big Oil's fully enclosed refinery storage and into your tank untouched by human hands and since the final distributors are in the business to make a profit and there is not much profit in selling contaminated water they are usually fairly particular about the fuel they buy being water free.

The problem arises not from Big Oil but from the local sales point where underground tanks get contaminated with run off or ground water which is loaded with hydrocarbon consuming bacteria.

In my entire working life, which involved countless interactions with diesel storage and use in a multitude of land and offshore based operations I cannot recall ever observing a fuel bug problem. However since I started cruising in 2002 I have been cursed with it a number of times.

The fuel tanks in my boat are down in the keel. Due to a bad weld I was obliged to drain the tanks to re-weld the bad weld. as a safety precaution I filled the tanks with fresh water to ensure that there was no explosion risk. Unfortunately I did not manage to get all the water out and ended up with a bug problem. A second attack was after I overflowed the fuel tank into the bilge and there being too large a volume of bilge water contaminated fuel involved I carefully collected it and put most of it back into the tank (the alternative in the circumstances was to throw it into the sea) unfortunately I must have introduced either the bug or some contaminated water because I then had a contaminated fuel problem.

The second instance was easy to solve since after the first I installed a home made fuel polisher and just needed to change the engine filter after having circulated the fuel through the polisher for an hour or so.

If you cruise a lot and refuel at many different places sooner or later you are going to end up with bug contaminated fuel. The long term solution is to install a polisher and use a biocide.
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Old 21-09-2015, 15:58   #25
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Re: What is this Diesel Fuel contamination thing?

So should I summarize your long post as "the bugs come from water at the boat, not the oil distribution system"? That is at odds with everything I have read on the problem. No doubt that the greatest problem with water in diesel is either on the boat or at the retailer (and not at the refinery) it is news to me that the algae is getting into the fuel on the boat. Any references would be appreciated...

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Old 21-09-2015, 16:05   #26
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Re: What is this Diesel Fuel contamination thing?

It would also appear that the new ULS Diesel is more susceptible to "bugs"

If your the curious type look up what APPL Jelly is, gave the Air Force fits for awhile, I'll give you a hint, APPL refers I believe to the Alberta pipe line


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Old 22-09-2015, 01:23   #27
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Re: What is this Diesel Fuel contamination thing?

Quote:
So should I summarize your long post as "the bugs come from water at the boat, not the oil distribution system"? That is at odds with everything I have read on the problem. No doubt that the greatest problem with water in diesel is either on the boat or at the retailer (and not at the refinery) it is news to me that the algae is getting into the fuel on the boat.
Yep, that's pretty well it.

Oil companies and refiners are fairly solid on their quality control because of the serious liability and reputation issues. If buggy fuel is pumped into your boats fuel tank it is most likely a problem resulting from it's waterside storage or the bugs were introduced with water after the fuel was put in your tank. The environment is awash with bacteria of an enormous variety and any moisture encourages it's growth provided a food source is available. Included in this biome are varieties that love eating hydrocarbons. Entire underground oilfields have been rendered useless by the introduction of hydrocarbon reducing bacteria. Oil companies introducing water into their wells usually include a biocide to prevent this problem.

If water gets into your fuel it is almost guaranteed to include the creatures which thrive in the presence of the hydrocarbon food source and create the sludge which plugs your filters.

Try Googling hydrocarbon reducing bacteria.
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Old 22-09-2015, 01:43   #28
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Re: What is this Diesel Fuel contamination thing?

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If your the curious type look up what APPL Jelly is, gave the Air Force fits for awhile, I'll give you a hint, APPL refers I believe to the Alberta pipe line
A lot of water is produced from the reservoir with the oil however this is usually removed before the oil is pumped into the pipeline. However this process is not perfect.

Pipeline companies do not like water in their pipelines as it combines with sulphates sulphides and chlorides in the product and forms corrosive liquids which eat on the expensive pipeline.

The refining process involves heating the oil in a furnace then introducing it into a fractionating tower. The vapor produced in the furnace flows upwards through a reflux liquid flowing downwards and strips the various fractions of hydrocarbons which are tapped off at various levels in the tower. The heavier fractions are taken at the lower taps and the more volatile at the upper. By the time the hydrocarbons have been through this process there is no water in it.

Forget Big Oil as the villains, big government is the culprit. The price of crude oil has halved during the past few months yet here in Australia the cost of gasoline has gone down less than 10%. Because of the efficiency with which it is handled and metered between field and gas tank petroleum products are a big attracter of government taxes and charges, we pretty well all need to use it in the modern world and it is easy to tax. The only other source of revenue easier to tax is poker machines which are now connected to the treasury via the internet.

It's a wicked world and a major source of the wickedness is our big friendly governments.
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Old 22-09-2015, 10:15   #29
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Re: What is this Diesel Fuel contamination thing?

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Originally Posted by ozsailer View Post

Fortunately we had an excellent mechanic who was able to diagnose the problem then advised rather than take the tanks out to increase the size of the fuel line to a new very course in line filter which should remove 90% plus of the contaminant (diesel bug) then allow the two existing filters to remove any other contaminant that may get through.

Greg H
SV Sunshine
Thanks Greg for the help. I am thinking about this idea of larger fuel lines. Did you have to add a fuel pump to handle the additional fuel volume in the larger lines? Currently I use the engine fuel pump for my Perkins 4.107 to draw fuel from the tanks. I suspect the designers of this system calculated the fuel vacuum needed to draw fuel from the tanks in the bilge to the elevated filter bowl and down to the engine where it is boosted to a pressure needed to inject the fuel into the cylinders. If I add larger lines and a big filter will there be enough reserve vacuum capacity to handle this additional demand? I know when I try to suck the milkshake out of my glass with a bigger straw, sometimes it just gets stuck in the straw and I resort to tossing the straw and a milk shake mustache - but it taste so good.

Your insight into this issue is very much appreciated.
John
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Old 23-09-2015, 05:26   #30
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Re: What is this Diesel Fuel contamination thing?

I have worked in aviation for about 40yrs and we drain the water out of the fuel cells daily ....very common to get gallons out of an airbus 330...jet fuel or diesel absorb water like crazy then when it cant absorb it any longer it goes to the bottom of the tank ...be nice to have a drain valve on the bottom of the tank..then you could get the water out however not so practical on a boat i guess ...seems like amsterdan has alot of water in there fuel...when the aircraft is at altitude the fuel cant take the water so it ends up at the bottom of the tank thats why there are stand offs in the cells....just my 2 cents worth...
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