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Old 11-11-2012, 21:32   #1
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My fuel tank is aluminum and as old as my boat, 36 years.

I retired my sailboat from Bluewater and brought her to a small lake in Nebraska.

Question: Would I be better off with a portable fuel cell like ones for outboard as I use the diesel engine moderately and cannot keep my manufacturers 25 gallon tank cycled with fresh fuel if I keep the tank full.

I just filed the tank and put in fuel additives but next fall, that same fuel will still be largely unused. Seems to me a portable 5 gallon fuel cell would be a better solution.

Should I remove the tank, and start using a portable fuel cell?
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Old 11-11-2012, 21:47   #2
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Re: Diesel Fuel Tank vs Portable Diesel Fuel Cell

Depends on the range you need. I've got a fairly small tank right now (12 gallons) because my big built-in 36 year old tank (90 gallons) started leaking.

Are you trying to get away from your big tank because of the age and eventually-it's-going-to-fail prospective?

My plan, as much as anyone can have one, is to slowly cut away the old tank and open up the space. Then I'll build in a series of plywood-epoxy tanks. Should last a long time, be cheap(ish), and I can put multiples in there and plumb them together.
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:54   #3
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Re: Diesel Fuel Tank vs Portable Diesel Fuel Cell

Gary, I would and I would choose a plastic tank, those outboard metal tanks rust out after a while. Just make sure you have the return line plumbed in for the diesel. I haven't tried it but if you use those push and twist Quicksilver connectors you could make the tank removeable so filling it up or taking it home for the winter would be a breeze. A outboard fuel primer in the circuit to help prime it and bleed any air from the lines would be good too. Lots of little French diesel cars have them to bleed the fuel lines.

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Old 12-11-2012, 12:32   #4
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Someone on here told me, and it's worked for me, was plumbing the return line into the vent line. Works great for my Yanmar 4JH2E. My little 12 gallon tank doesn't have a return port.
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Old 12-11-2012, 12:57   #5
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Re: Diesel Fuel Tank vs Portable Diesel Fuel Cell

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Someone on here told me, and it's worked for me, was plumbing the return line into the vent line. Works great for my Yanmar 4JH2E. My little 12 gallon tank doesn't have a return port.
I second this, My current and last boat were set up this way. Never had any issues.
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Old 12-11-2012, 15:44   #6
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Re: Diesel Fuel Tank vs Portable Diesel Fuel Cell

With only moderate diesel engine use I would think that this is an ideal solution for you. You could keep a second plastic portable fuel tank on board if your range requires more than one plastic tank full.
I have been operating for some months now with a portable 50 litre plastic diesel tank as a temporary measure whilst I await my next boat lift when I will be taking out the 10 year old original fuel tanks for a good clean. I have shifted to the temporary tank as I had the injector tips reconditioned and do not want potentially dirty fuel to be going through them.
All I had to do was add an adaptor for the fuel return. The set-up has worked perfectly.
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Old 13-11-2012, 13:09   #7
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Re: Diesel Fuel Tank vs Portable Diesel Fuel Cell

I think I would look at trying to find a place for a couple gallon "day tank" , that is filled from the big tank with an electric pump, through filters then overflow back to the big tank, or from the top, unless you want to use the space the tank is now for something else. That way the origanal set up is still there if/when you sell.
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Old 13-11-2012, 13:52   #8
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A concern is it is best to keep a tank full for reasons of moisture condensation yet me keeping 25 or 30 gallons of diesel fresh is not realistic given the little I use the engine.

I also fear a tank this old could leak. A major mess would be an understatement if that tank fails.

If I were headed to the Bahamas, the tank plus portable tanks would be in order.

I do have room for spares as well as the main tank. Perhaps I should drain it, and leave it in place, and start using a portable.
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Old 13-11-2012, 15:24   #9
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Re: Diesel Fuel Tank vs Portable Diesel Fuel Cell

You may be over thinking this. Diesel has a much longer shelf life than gasoline. If it was my decision to make, I think I'd just dose the tank with biocide and top it off with fresh fuel / biocide each time the tank gets down to 3/4 full.
Check the o-ring on the filler cap and be sure you have a good water removing filter system.
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Old 13-11-2012, 16:41   #10
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Re: Diesel Fuel Tank vs Portable Diesel Fuel Cell

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You may be over thinking this. Diesel has a much longer shelf life than gasoline. If it was my decision to make, I think I'd just dose the tank with biocide and top it off with fresh fuel / biocide each time the tank gets down to 3/4 full.
Check the o-ring on the filler cap and be sure you have a good water removing filter system.
I agree with Hopcar.

I was afraid to use the 11 year old diesel that was in my tank during my 12 year refit. I drained it and gave it to a friend that used it in his vehicle. The old fuel looked and smelled perfect. The vehicle ran perfectly.

If I could do it over, I would use the old fuel and not worry about it.

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Old 13-11-2012, 16:46   #11
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Re: Diesel Fuel Tank vs Portable Diesel Fuel Cell

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Originally Posted by GaryMayo View Post
A concern is it is best to keep a tank full for reasons of moisture condensation yet me keeping 25 or 30 gallons of diesel fresh is not realistic given the little I use the engine.

I also fear a tank this old could leak. A major mess would be an understatement if that tank fails.

If I were headed to the Bahamas, the tank plus portable tanks would be in order.

I do have room for spares as well as the main tank. Perhaps I should drain it, and leave it in place, and start using a portable.
You can also empty the tank to avoid condensation. If empty tanks magically filled with water we'd not need wells.... Our tank is drained each and every winter and any remaining fuel burned in our homes oil boiler..
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Old 13-11-2012, 16:47   #12
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Re: Diesel Fuel Tank vs Portable Diesel Fuel Cell

I don't think it's the fuel that's the problem but a 36 yr old ali fuel tank. Having had a 12 yr old ali water tank leak like a pin cushion when I put a hose in it, I would be taking it out, especially if the yacht is being used on a lake. Also a plastic tank doesn't seem to condensate as much during the winter.

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