I managed to boil out all three of my heat exchangers in place yesterday, and since it went so much better than I thought it might, I thought I should share the experience.
A few caveats... I'm comfortable working with hazardous materials in general and acids specifically. I'm in the HazMat Technician pool at work, and have all the gear
to do it right. None of which is necessary for this job :-).
I built a home-made back flush system out of a small bilge pump
, some 3/4" tubing, two 5 gallon buckets, a 2 1/2 quart epoxy
mixing bowl, and a 12v socket plug
Construction was easy. Crimp the wires together, cover with glue filled heat shrink tubing to seal. Hose clamp one tube to the pump outlet, just toss the end of the other in the bucket. One bucket for acid, one for fresh water
. Little bowl for measuring flow. Plug
it in the socket to run, unplug to stop.
The trick was finding the right acid. I've used muriatic acid in various projects in the past. But it has too many downsides in this application. It's nasty, smells bad, eats just about everything but glass, and no matter how careful, I always end up with holes appearing in my clothes later. So after a bit of research
and thought, I settled on phosphoric acid. It's a weak acid that's metal safe, and generally considered food
grade. They put it in sodas for tartness. And it's (theoretically) easily obtained.
I found some 20% by weight at a masonry store labeled as grout remover and cleaner. It's about $23 a gallon. I mixed it down to about 5% for the actual flush. The stuff had soap added, which was fine. Defender sells similar stuff for barnacle removal
, and WM will get it if you ask.
I took off all the raw water
hoses, and then hooked up the tubing to the inlet and outlet of my engine oil
cooler. Then I ran fresh water
through it, and it took 25 seconds to run a quart through, so about .5 gpm as she sat. I then moved the pump and hose into the acid bucket and let her run for an hour. Lots of big chunks started appearing about the five minute mark. After an hour I took the pump out, drained and blew out the acid, and put it back in the fresh water bucket to rinse. After treatment, it took less than 5 seconds to run a quart through. I repeated the process with the transmission oil
cooler and the heat exchanger
. Neither of those made such dramatic gains in efficiency, but I did double the throughout on the transmission
After I was done, I replaced all the engine
hoses with new (how the heck do you get those things fully seated on the nipples?) and fired it up. I let it warm up and then revved it up and let it run. I had to reset my stern dock
line in order to run WOT, but it didn't budge above the 180 degree mark. I couldn't exceed 2000 rpm
(after changing the impeller) previously, and now I can run 3000 for an hour without blinking. Progress...
I won't know for sure until I take her down to the boatyard on Tuesday, 25-30 miles. But I think I might have just solved
my nagging overheating
problem. Fingers crossed. Many thanks to the forum, who's search function got a workout over this.
-- anyone have any suggestions for myself or others on things to improve? The guy in the slip next to me is going to try it when he gets his engine running again, and any thoughts are appreciated.