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Old 03-07-2010, 01:44   #1
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Brown Sugar in Diesel

I was about to do an oil change on my diesel. When I took the filler cap off there was a fair amount of granular material sitting in the rocker cover around the rockers. I decided to taste it to see if it was salt and it was sweet - its sugar. The people I bought the boat from had a bust up on the boat so I figure the woman must have chucked a handful of brown sugar into the filler at some point.
I've scooped out what I can see in the rocker cover but wondering if I should do something different with the oil change. I was thinking of maybe doing a double oil change and run it a few hours inbetween.
Otherwise the motor seems to run alright but not having run the motor prior to the sugar who knows.

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Old 03-07-2010, 02:01   #2
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i would be wondering what else has she done

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Old 03-07-2010, 02:05   #3
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it might be a good idea to check your fuel and water tanks
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Old 03-07-2010, 02:12   #4
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Thats what I'm worried about as well.
According to google Sugar has to get hotter than 160deg C to caramalised so I dont think its got too far. A bit of an exercise getting it out. Lucky I saw it before the oil change or else pouring oil on top of it would have pushed it everywhere.
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Old 03-07-2010, 02:17   #5
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I've got 700L of diesel that came with the boat. I think sugar in fuel ruining an engine might be a myth. I remember an episode of mythbusters where they found it had no effect (although that was a petrol engine).
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Old 03-07-2010, 04:03   #6
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Chuck in some milk and Cheerios and everything should be fine.

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Old 03-07-2010, 04:50   #7
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Old 03-07-2010, 06:02   #8
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And he wasn't kidding when the seller said he had a "sweet deal" for you with this boat.
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Old 03-07-2010, 08:07   #9
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Just finished the oil change. Unfortunately found sugar in the oil filter so I guess it went farther than I thought. Just wondering what damage it can cause to engine parts. I would have thought the
Should I be pulling out the oil sump/oil strainer etc, Its all pretty tight under there so would be a difficult job..
Engine has only done 200hour since rebuild. Its a 80hp Leyland/Westerbeke.
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Old 03-07-2010, 20:49   #10
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I would do a complete flush of the lubrication system, then change the oil and filter after a short run. After that, change the oil and filter at frequent intervals until you are sure you have gotten the sugar out, assuming pulling the sump is too difficult a task without removing the engine altogether.

The next thing to think about is did the offended partner put sugar in the fuel tank. Normally sugar will not dissolve in diesel fuel, but it could dissolve in whatever condensation is in the bottom of the tank. Depending on the filtration system, you might want to install a centrifugal type filter between the fuel tank and engine filter. I would recommend something like a Racor 1000fh. This can be used as the main filter and prevent you engine mounted filter from being overwhelmed.

As a final, but not last resort by any means, you could try contacting Westerbeke directly and see if they have a recommendation:

or a local dealer which can be looked up on their site.
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Old 03-07-2010, 21:41   #11
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When a brown sugar comes with your boat deal, it has to be sweet. How old is she?
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Old 03-07-2010, 22:48   #12
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Tasting things found is your engine is a poor diagnostic strategy in most cases. Thankfully it wasn't a chemical additive.
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Old 03-07-2010, 23:35   #13
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Why would a man assume a woman would do that.

Gee, some of you guys have a pretty low opinion of us.

Its a pretty crappy trick though to take it out on the poor engine, why didnt she wait till hes asleep and do nasty things to him.

I think you need to flush the lube system with fluhing oil and monitor the fuel filters
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Old 04-07-2010, 04:23   #14
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Thanks Astrid,
Yours was the most constructive comment.
There are 2 and a 10 micron racor fuel filters between the tanks and the main fuel filter on the westerbeke. I think the owner was paranoid about getting a poor fuel load so I'm not too worried about that.
I noticed the sugar is heavier than the oil so I figure its settled in the sump/strainer rather than making a round trip. As the previous owners left everything onboard theres enough oil and filters for a dozen oil changes so doing a few more oil changes is not a problem and I think the best option. Looks like the sump may not be as difficult as I thought to remove as it appears to have been taken off recently. Also I found a spare oil pump in the parts bin if the pump is bad. Luckily for me the boat appears to have been provisioned for a circumnavigation so splenty of engine consumables and spares.
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Old 04-07-2010, 13:43   #15
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You are in a nightmarish situation and should seek legal counsel. Sugar in a gasoline tank is basically harmless as Gordo pointed out. Sugar of any kind in your oil is catastrophic and will destroy the engine in less than 30 minutes of running time. There was a book published in the 70's called, "The Monkey Wrench Gang," which is the story of some eco terrorists. Great book by the way. One of the things they do is pour Kayro syrup in the oil of construction equipment. It destroys the engines as indicated. In real life, it works the same way, but any sugar will do. As the oil heats up the sugar first melts, then burns which forms carbon which in turn destroys your engine. This is a hugely serious situation you are in. Even small amounts of sugar will cause the engine to fail and will require a complete re-build. The engine should be completely flushed extensively. I would hand crank it with the injectors removed to be sure the flushing solution permeates the entire lubrication system, then I'd drain and do it again, and yet again. Once you have clean oil and new filters installed, I'd run the engine for just a few minutes and change the oil and filters yet again. You can't be too careful here. I've very serious, if you are not very, very careful your engine will be destroyed.

How do I know this? In the mid 70's when the book came out a group of native American thugs poured Kayro syrup in all the motors of all the air planes sitting at the airport in Tuba City Arizona. I was the first unlucky chap to fly. My engine seized after about 15 minutes of operation necessitating a dead stick landing. Insurance covered the cost of the re-build, but the penny wise, pound foolish insurance company did not want to pay to have the plane move to a proper facility and did not want to pay for a completely new engine. They sent up a mechanic with a short block in the back of his pick up truck, who proceeded to swap out the short block utilizing all the other components off the ruined engine, including the prop governor. He rinsed everything with solvent before re-assembling. No facilities at Tuba City at the time, so he just laid out a tarp and went to work. When he finished, we ground ran the engine for a few minutes and went for a very short flight. He went home, I got up the next day to fly to Phoenix. En-route, the prop governor failed, the engine seized on final. Cause? Contamination from sugar in the oil from the first engine made it into the new engine! In the end, I got a new engine out of the deal and didn't die. None-the-less the situation could have had a tragic ending, but I was lucky that day.

Treat this situation in a very serious manner, or buy a new engine. For sure talk to an attorney because no matter what you do, it's going to cost you some serious money. Also, don't forget to check the gear to be sure it was not tampered with as well.

Best of luck to you, you'll need it.



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