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Old 29-12-2015, 18:02   #1
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Adding a 2nd fuel pickup to a plastic tank

I have a 20 gallon plastic tank that came with the boat. I'd like to add a second pickup to feed a fuel polisher. My previous Parker polisher pump pulled diesel through the fuel filter/water separator that came with the boat using the standard pickup via a simple inline installation plus a brass T-fitting into the return fuel line. I was never thrilled with the inline install and the use of 1 filter/separator for both engine and polishing. Now that the Parker has failed (and replacement cost is $600+ as availability is limited) I am looking to install a dedicated fuel polishing pickup, pump, and filter/separator. Output from the pump, after it has been drawn through the filter, will use the same return line.

My first question is how best to cut the hole for the pickup? I don't want to put plastic shavings in the tank but I suppose my new polishing system will pick up the shavings? Also, I was thinking of using aluminum pickup and bung. Would 5200 be the best adhesive to "weld" the bung to the plastic tank? The lip on the bungs I have seen online are not very wide so I need to use something serious to hold it in place. There appears to be a spot molded into the top of the tank to put an additional sending unit but I don't see anything for an additional pickup. Maybe I am making it more complicated than it needs to be.

Comments/criticism of my approach is appreciated. I have attached a picture of my tank.
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Old 29-12-2015, 19:39   #2
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Re: Adding a 2nd fuel pickup to a plastic tank

A surveyor would go nuts over you poking a hole in the tank. They want them to be tested and factory certified to 5 psi.

I think your best bet is the sending port, if it has the "standard" Moeller pattern.

Moeller seems to have bought out all the US fuel tank manufacturers. They sell a replacement fuel gauge/pick up. Well it's not really a pick up, it has a barb for a bit of hose to use as a pick up. IIRC there are 2varients? Hard to find and online descriptions are clear as mud.

Alternatively you may be able to modify your eisting fuel gage fitting bu drilling a hole and taping it to accept a pick up.
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Old 29-12-2015, 21:22   #3
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Re: Adding a 2nd fuel pickup to a plastic tank

Sorry but your logic might be goofy. Use the 1 pick up you have and add whatever fittings you want to that line.
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Old 29-12-2015, 22:07   #4
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Re: Adding a 2nd fuel pickup to a plastic tank

As others stated, you existing plumbing will serve the polishing purpose. If you use a fuel conditioner and you current primary filter you should have clean fuel. You can add a secondary finer filter if you like. I wouldn't drill holes in a plastic tank, but then I wouldn't have a fuel tank made of plastic.
I've been using diesel for about 60 years. The old fuel was better and more stable. The new stuff doesn't burn well and tends to separate quickly. Keep your tanks full and use a proper fuel conditioner that helps the new fuel burn and with a fine filter you will keep your tanks clean. Your existing primary should stop any water.
I use Archoil 6200 fuel conditioner. It's the best stuff I've found so far. It makes starting diesels in very cold weather easier. Now it's easier for my Racors to capture any water and has the usual biocides along with a catalyst that makes for a cleaner burn and less soot. Treated fuel is supposed to be good for a year.
I have 1942 fuel tanks that are kept clean and sludge free by filters and using a conditioner.
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Old 30-12-2015, 04:28   #5
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Re: Adding a 2nd fuel pickup to a plastic tank

My hesitation in using the existing fuel pickup is that I would think that the polishing pump would pull fuel from the engine side perhaps causing a more difficult engine start and perhaps competing with the engine pump if the I was polishing while running engine. I very much appreciate this forum so please keep the comments coming. Maybe I am overthinking this situation.

Sometimes I like working on my boat too much.
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Old 30-12-2015, 08:28   #6
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Re: Adding a 2nd fuel pickup to a plastic tank

Hello scotthardin.
I have a Bavaria 30c and the engine gave up on me because of diesel bug at 0230 with a ferry half a mile behind me and no wind a few years ago. I installed a completely separate fuel circuit as you describe with a small circulation pump, 296 fuel filter and water separator. The pump is activated for one hour every day when I'm not on the boat with a bit of electronics and a valving system so that the system can't draw fuel from any of the normal operational fuel pipes. I also have incorporated a magnet that is supposed to kill the bugs, I don't know if this is true but I figured if Volvo Penta make and sell them, I'd be a fool not to include it. For the pick up and return pipes I used a screwed compression joint after I'd cut out two inspection panels to get access and clean the tank out properly first. It's been working so far for about four years. I change over the valves and switch off the system when I'm sailing. If you are away sailing for long periods without using the motor you can still use it this way.
Good luck.
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Old 30-12-2015, 11:31   #7
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Re: Adding a 2nd fuel pickup to a plastic tank

think Scottthardin has a good point, I saw where a friends boat used same pickup for engine and genset, which caused the engine to loose power and required frequent bleeding
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Old 30-12-2015, 11:52   #8
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Re: Adding a 2nd fuel pickup to a plastic tank

Scott, be very careful cutting into a plastic tank. A plastics shop could "spin weld" another threaded bung if you had the tank out of the boat. Do a search on CF and the web (ie. repairing motor cycle gas tanks) and you'll find very few products will stick to/seal a poly tank, including 5200, sikaflex, JB weld....
This Stealth 316 - Sealing and Bonding Polypropylene and Polyethylene might work, if it's compatible with diesel.
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Old 30-12-2015, 20:54   #9
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Re: Adding a 2nd fuel pickup to a plastic tank

Hi ya,
looks like HDPE (High-density polyethylene) if so very easy to weld, make a doubler with a threaded boss and plastic weld to you tank.
better to make a round one then you don't need to weld around corners

Most car body shops welds this sort of plastic every day
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Old 01-01-2016, 02:21   #10
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Re: Adding a 2nd fuel pickup to a plastic tank

Hi There

Sounds like a lot of extra work , maintenance, possible fuel leek problems and just general increase in complexity for 20 gallons of diesel. I am trying to simplify everything so I can sail instead of spending all my free time repairing stuff....
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Old 01-01-2016, 04:13   #11
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Re: Adding a 2nd fuel pickup to a plastic tank

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Lanzarotetrevor.
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