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Old 08-10-2009, 08:44   #1
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Diesel Odor

Would anyone have any suggestions as to how to reduce/eliminate the diesel odor on our boat? My wife complains that it will permeate everything and I agree. The boat is 24 yrs. old. I cannot find any indication that there are leaks anywhere, it simply seems that the odor is there. If you could point me in a direction for a resolution for this problem I would appreciate it. Thanks.
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Old 08-10-2009, 08:50   #2
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I'd be interested in the answer to this as well. Bilges scrubbed but the engine is kinda stinky. (no visible leaks in the fuel system).

What's next? pressure wash the engine? (I'll bag the alternator)
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Old 08-10-2009, 09:01   #3
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Never did get it clear but .....

I had a 30 year old alloy boat with a decrepit Volvo which had left diesel everywhere. Noted the odour when I bought it and thought I could fix.
Well after cleaning EVERYTHING and EVERYWHERE (not easy getting into some parts of bilge and under settees etc), degreasing, perfuming and changing out the upholstery I reckon I improved it by 85% but never did get it completely. Just seemed to be seeped into all the woodwork.
Reconsidering, I would strip everything out you can and ditch any soft stuff, degrease manually with brushes, sprays, shovels , then steam clean with some included solvent. IMHO a well managed diesel should NOT smell. The new engine was given a suitable collection tray, well tended and caused no further problem. I suppose there is always a fine vapour from the air filter etc which is hard to eliminate in the small motors but has been dealt with in bigger units by various add-on plumbing but a regular wipe-down seemed to fix OK for me. I do not know of any odour neutralising chemicals.
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Old 08-10-2009, 09:06   #4
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Diesel is leaking somewhere and probably very slowly. This may seem a little obsessive, but one of the best ways of finding a slow diesel leak is to put down oil sorbs under everything that contains diesel fuel including the tank, lines, filters and the engine itself. Get underway under power for a few hours and then inspect the oil sorbs for drips. Diesel that is dyed red will show up nicely on the white oil sorbs.

I find that regular liquid clothes detergent, (used in moderation to minimize damage to the environment), gets rid of the smell.
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Old 08-10-2009, 09:31   #5
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Have you checked your tank vents?
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Old 08-10-2009, 10:27   #6
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Or simply get to savour and enjoy the eau de diesel. After all, Diesel is a leading name in perfumes and its easier than trying to get rid of the smell.

I actually like the smell, reminds me of childhood days playing in the tractor shed
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Old 08-10-2009, 10:41   #7
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Orange Glo will get diesel smell out of clothes / soft things. Citric based engine degreaser will clean all diesel off the engine and not leave a petroleum smell. Both will work in bilges, etc. Really, it's amazing.

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Old 08-10-2009, 11:08   #8
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On the side.. beware!

I was warned to never ever use biocide in diesel if your plannig to use a diesel heater.

The fumes could kill you...
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Old 08-10-2009, 11:41   #9
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I shipped Bloodhound by road from Georgia to Oklahoma with full tanks, 40 gallons each. On arrival, a tank had developed an open seam and there were 35 gallons in the bilged, which had sloshed back and forth from stern to bow, all the way to the chain locker. Hell of a mess. After pumping out into 5 gallon jugs and donating to the wast oil tank, we used socks first, then Biobilge (great stuff), followed by lots of vinegar over everything which was then allowed to sit for a week or so (did the vinegar treatment several times). Eighteen months later the diesel odor is almost completely gone and what little is left is masked by a plug-in vial of citrus-scented room freshener.
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Old 08-10-2009, 11:44   #10
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Ive spilled milk and cider in the car in the past and on hot days the smell is always there.
One makes me feel sick and the other is divine
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Old 08-10-2009, 12:17   #11
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ohhh yea.... love the smell of diesel in the morning....I'd try DavidM's advice...
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Old 08-10-2009, 15:49   #12
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Darn Cheechako you stole my favorite line. Oh well, there are enough diesel fumes to go around.
regards,
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Old 08-10-2009, 16:46   #13
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Asked this question quite often; 1.Check f'o tanks vented to atmosphere nil leaks in pipe work etc. wash down ALL pipe work remote filters & engine with hot water-vinegar-vanilla essence mixture let dry thoroughly then use stick chalk to mark all filters and pipe joints finally springle either powered chalk or baby powered over fuel areas run engine hard for a couple of hours then look for snail trails or colour change . soft furnishings will need lengthy airings.fuel leaking on to a hot surface is much worse than a cold one.
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Old 08-10-2009, 18:44   #14
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Many thanks for all the suggestions.....I think I will try the vinegar route first.......sometimes the simplest old methods are the best.....and cheapest ! <G>

To Cheechako......sorry but I still like the line "I love the smell of Napalm in the morning" best...........the smell of diesel burning in cut up 55gal drums is not my most pleasant memory if you know what I mean! <G>

Thanks again for all the good advice from all who took the time to respond.
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Old 08-10-2009, 18:47   #15
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Clean everything, vent everything, paint everything porous (plywood) with epoxy sealers, then repeat. Use an ozone generator in a sealed boat to kill any diesel odor that may be in your cushion covers, etc. or send them ALL out for cleaning.

You'll find older threads here and elsewhere on the topic, diesel is incredibly durable and pervasive. I got some on sailing gloves while trying to purge a fuel system, and after two weeks of "wash them in detergent, dry them out all day in sunlight" they STILL STANK. It took about another month on a sunny windowsill to get the odor out.
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