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Old 23-12-2014, 01:23   #1
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Diesel/oil in bilge with auto. bilgepump. What now

Ok , not that it already happened to me , but there's always a first time.
Imagine , your ship in a port (or anchorage whatever) a dieseltank starts leaking , the auto bilgepump is switch on , and you're not present.
Gallons of diesel overboard.
These days a nightmare with regards to the costs cleaning up the mess , not to speak about possible fines for polution.
Are there any boaters who tackled this problem ?
Meaning , has some installed a detection system for diesel/oil inb the bilge ?
I know , switch the auto bilgepump off and the problem is gone , but so could your boat if a seacock severely starts leaking .
What other options are there to make the bilgepump understand that water needs to be evacuated but diesel/oil not ??

Are there any cheap and reliable solutions apart from a watersensor in the bilge controlling the pump ?
By the way , I already have a bunch of watersensors with acoustic and led warnings installed on my boat on several strategical locations just to make sure I get a warning during day or night of a leak. You never know , the bilgepump could accidentally been switched off or in failure mode.

Thanks
Beste regards
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Old 24-12-2014, 10:42   #2
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Re: Diesel/oil in bilge with auto. bilgepump. What now

The following is from a description of the Rule Mate 750 bilge pump.

The sensor’s unique “field effect” technology will only recognize water. If
a 100% concentration of oil is detected the pump will not activate. This is
not a zero discharge prevention system. The result is the most technically
advanced bilge pump available in the marketplace.
Rule-Mate 12v Bilge Pump 750 GPH - RM-750



I once had a fair amount of diesel in my bilge and my Rule Mate did not pump it overboard.

Whale and Johnson also make field effect activated pumps. I don't know if they will activate for oil or not.

The Water Witch Switch will not activate for oil either. Following from the Water Witch website:

The Water Witch series of electronic bilge switches are not effected by high levels of anti-freeze in the bilge, will not pump oil overboard, and are not affected by high amounts of froth or foam in the bilge.

Water Witch Bilge Switch


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Old 24-12-2014, 10:53   #3
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Re: Diesel/oil in bilge with auto. bilgepump. What now

buy the diaper looking things for absorbilg oily stuff in water. they work. do place into bilge--if no oily stuff, they ok for a while. they do not absorb water, only oily stuff.
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Old 24-12-2014, 10:53   #4
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Re: Diesel/oil in bilge with auto. bilgepump. What now

I have lived thru the situation you are describing... fortunately... the diesel smelled like heck and I became aware of it prior to pumping any overboard.... it was a slow drip from a tank just beginning to fail.
Those big sausage like oil absorbents work very well. The diesel floats on water... so not sure any of the sensing devices will work to prevent pumping or not... if they are super sensitive maybe.... but if they are that sensitive... I'd be worried the pump wont work when you need it!
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Old 24-12-2014, 10:59   #5
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Re: Diesel/oil in bilge with auto. bilgepump. What now

That's a mess. It happened to me years ago with my first boat...I escaped fines but not censure... Pretty much ruined the boat, sorry to say.
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Old 24-12-2014, 11:11   #6
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Re: Diesel/oil in bilge with auto. bilgepump. What now

What Zeehag said--------
I use them and no oil goes over the side.
For large leaks they may not be enough.
Some other solution for these large leaks may be in order.
The FET idea could be used for an alarm system, maybe?
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Old 24-12-2014, 20:12   #7
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Re: Diesel/oil in bilge with auto. bilgepump. What now

Whatever you do don't tell the USA local gov't dump that you have bilge water and fuel. They wont take it. Tell them its oil.
Lots of law but no solutions.


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Old 24-12-2014, 21:50   #8
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Re: Diesel/oil in bilge with auto. bilgepump. What now

Really good question. I have ideas for when one's in a marina. But they'd be of scant use in a large, lightly populated anchorage.
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Old 24-12-2014, 22:18   #9
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Re: Diesel/oil in bilge with auto. bilgepump. What now

I have had very good results using a shop vac to take the top layer off the polluted water in the bilge after a diesel leak from the day tank. The first lot I decanted at an oil waste transfer station, the rest was clean enough, after settling and separating, to flush down the main sewer. A bit slow, but actually very easy.


I just used the same $29 shop vac to extract the 420 litres of slimy "fresh" water from my failed keel tanks. Again, slurping off the top layer to get rid of the nasties, leaving relatively clean freshwater underneath.


But the shop vac absolutely STINKS now.


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Old 24-12-2014, 23:27   #10
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Re: Diesel/oil in bilge with auto. bilgepump. What now

Thanks for the input sofar guys , but my biggest concern is not so much the devastation inside the boat (although that would no doubt upset me) , but the one outside.
If been reading stories of the consequences ( read costs) of diesel polution caused by individuals , boaters like you and me , and they're pretty scarry.
Major fines , cleaning up fees , and I'm sure in this case our insurances will always try to back away.
I know of sensors that work with infrared , the difference in the breaking of light . Fancy electronics with fancy prices. That's where the balance between investing in security gadjets and the probability of an accident like this happening kicks in. You know , cost-benefit analysis.

I would think a watersensor could switch off the bilge pump , but what if it gets poluted .
When you're on board the smell will quickly give you an indication something is wrong . It's the time you're not there that worries me.
I might do some experimenting at home to see once the probes touch diesel - and switch off the pump - no layer of oil remains on the surface of the probes afterwards and thus preventing the conductivity when they get submerged again in water.

I was just hoping somebody had tackled the problem already, and would be willing to share with us.

Thanks
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Old 24-12-2014, 23:36   #11
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Re: Diesel/oil in bilge with auto. bilgepump. What now

The nice thing about the Rule Mate pump is that it won't be turned on by diesel or oil but if the water under the oil rises high enough, the pump will turn on. The pump will turn off before it pumps oil.
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Old 25-12-2014, 00:59   #12
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Re: Diesel/oil in bilge with auto. bilgepump. What now

Here's another solution, but not for a catastrophic tank failure

Vetus Bilge Water/Oil Separator Filter
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Old 25-12-2014, 03:10   #13
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Re: Diesel/oil in bilge with auto. bilgepump. What now

Quote:
Originally Posted by HopCar View Post
The nice thing about the Rule Mate pump is that it won't be turned on by diesel or oil but if the water under the oil rises high enough, the pump will turn on. The pump will turn off before it pumps oil.
I'm sure this pump works on the principle of a watersensor where probes detect water. As you know , diesel or oil has no conductivity so the will not be activated.
That would be the real easy , and cheap solution.
But my worry is the polution of the probes . But then again ,it just came to me , I could do the test on my boat .
I'll explain.

A few years ago I couldn't stop thinking what would happen if water would get in the dieseltank. Bye bye fuel injection pump.
I know , I worry too much
Since most marine diesels don't have a warning/detection system for water in the fuel I decided to do something about it.
Took off the engine's dieselfilter drain and reorganized.


The drain has been replaced by a diy container that holds 2 probes.
Water will always sink and submerge the probes.



Just to give an image of the probes inside.



Picture of the very simple water switch/detector with built in relay.
All the parts are in this waterproof box.
The black round item on the left with red and black wiring is a acoustical siren . A man's one you know.



All mounted on the engine , on the right the red on/off switch , in the middle the indicating led the unit is powered and left a test button to check the siren (red circle)

Anyway , to make a long story short , I could - when replacing the dieselfilter which is about time now - pour a few drops of water in and see if the siren will go.
If that's the case I can use the same very cheap system in the bilge and have the bilgepump run for water but not for diesel/oil.
It's just that I'm not sure if diesel will stick to the probes preventing the conductivity.

Regards
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Old 25-12-2014, 07:47   #14
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Re: Diesel/oil in bilge with auto. bilgepump. What now

Many of the filters available besides having a drain port have a second threaded port with a plug in it. This is typically for their water detection probe.

Example Racor 120 series filter:
Racor Diesel Spin-On Fuel Filter / Water Separator


List of water probes for various Racor models, including the 120 series:
https://www.maesco.com/products/raco...e/r_probe.html





Quote:
Originally Posted by bobs View Post
I'm sure this pump works on the principle of a watersensor where probes detect water. As you know , diesel or oil has no conductivity so the will not be activated.
That would be the real easy , and cheap solution.
But my worry is the polution of the probes . But then again ,it just came to me , I could do the test on my boat .
I'll explain.

A few years ago I couldn't stop thinking what would happen if water would get in the dieseltank. Bye bye fuel injection pump.
I know , I worry too much
Since most marine diesels don't have a warning/detection system for water in the fuel I decided to do something about it.
Took off the engine's dieselfilter drain and reorganized.


The drain has been replaced by a diy container that holds 2 probes.
Water will always sink and submerge the probes.



Just to give an image of the probes inside.



Picture of the very simple water switch/detector with built in relay.
All the parts are in this waterproof box.
The black round item on the left with red and black wiring is a acoustical siren . A man's one you know.



All mounted on the engine , on the right the red on/off switch , in the middle the indicating led the unit is powered and left a test button to check the siren (red circle)

Anyway , to make a long story short , I could - when replacing the dieselfilter which is about time now - pour a few drops of water in and see if the siren will go.
If that's the case I can use the same very cheap system in the bilge and have the bilgepump run for water but not for diesel/oil.
It's just that I'm not sure if diesel will stick to the probes preventing the conductivity.

Regards
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Old 25-12-2014, 07:59   #15
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Re: Diesel/oil in bilge with auto. bilgepump. What now

My boat has three compartments in the bilge. There is a pump in the bow compartment and a pump in the aft compartment but none in the center under the engine. I have to think that this was done for a reason and that reason would be to contain oil from an engine failure. My rough guess is that it would hold about twenty gallons before spilling over into the aft compartment and being pumped out by the bilge pump.

I actually did have a potable water hose come off it's fitting and this compartment filled with water before overflowing and actuating the bilge pump and alarm.

We can imagine hundreds of things that might go wrong on our boats, but properly maintained, this is one of the less likely so it's not something I'm going to worry about to the extent of installing sensors or other devices.
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