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Old 25-04-2012, 06:37   #1
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Dirty Tank Update

I posted here a couple of weeks ago that I'd realized there was dirt in my fuel.

A friend (WHAT a friend!) climbed down into my hold and became one with my plastic fuel tank. We pumped it all out (you could see occasional blobs of jelly as well as chunks of dirt at the end). He cut a hole in it and wiped it clean with squares of engine diaper. The first one, about 1' square, weighed at least two lb. when he passed it up to me.

We got it squeaky clean, closed up the new access port and reconnected everything. I put fresh fuel in it.

Bringing it back to my home slip it was very windy, but when the boat was sheltered from the wind on the lee side of an island, the engine pushed her as she never had before. Even going INTO a strong headwind I had 3.8k over ground at 2000 rpm (tested all rpms). When we originally limped in, with no wind we were doing 2k over ground at 2000 rpm.

This is a NEW engine, just installed last August, and I am thrilled. I'm also thrilled to not have had to spend hundreds of bucks. One reason I didn't go that route is that it wasn't possible to take my tank out without cutting a MAJORLY big hole somewhere in the top of the boat. Having THAT repaired would have been very expensive.

We only had to take one house battery out and there was enough room to work on the tank within the hold.

Dirty tanks suck! (But they don't suck well -- lol!)

We didn't have to do AN'Y scraping. Probably because the tank was plastic, it just wiped up like grape jelly on a kitchen floor.
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Old 27-04-2012, 02:53   #2
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Re: Dirty tank update

Hi Rakuflames, The gunge is caused by microbes( diesel bug) breeding at the interface of water and diesel, if you have a drain valve on the bottom of your tank try and drain any water off every month or so to prevent it re occuring, if not you could careen your boat, remove the access hatch you cut and then insert a tube with a hand pump attached to reach the lowest point of the tank and very very slowly draw off any water/condensation. Much better to have a clean source of diesel than waste major bucks on fancy filters.
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Old 27-04-2012, 10:19   #3
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In the process of having a new tank made. The aluminum tank had corroded so badly it was becoming porous. I had contemplated resealing the tank but found a local to make one out of stainless for the same cost as a new one.
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Old 27-04-2012, 10:25   #4
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Re: Dirty tank update

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Originally Posted by Irish rambler View Post
Hi Rakuflames, The gunge is caused by microbes( diesel bug) breeding at the interface of water and diesel, if you have a drain valve on the bottom of your tank try and drain any water off every month or so to prevent it re occuring, if not you could careen your boat, remove the access hatch you cut and then insert a tube with a hand pump attached to reach the lowest point of the tank and very very slowly draw off any water/condensation. Much better to have a clean source of diesel than waste major bucks on fancy filters.

Yes, I know all this, but there is no drain valve. The tank dates from 1983 and I have absolutely no reason to think the previous owner did anything to maintain it, as he let far simpler things slide.

I have a VERY clean source of fuel, but microbes WILL grow in it -- after all, the base ingredient of diesel fuel is rotted animals and vegetation! As for major bucks on fancy filters, I'm not sure what I mean but I haven't and won't be doing that. I do have one emergency fuel filter that goes right into the fuel port in the event I should have to buy fuel at some iffy place, but my fuel supply place is very dependable. it was just an old, dirty tank. Fortunately it cleaned up well. By the way, we found NO water in the tank, and there never has been any in the Racor since I have owned it.
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Old 27-04-2012, 10:38   #5
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Consider yourself lucky, our tank had both sludge and water in it. It was from 1984 the source of the water and sludge was a leaking fill port. All the clean fuel in the world won't be any good to anyone if there's water being added constantly. As far as filters are concerned I've only got what came with the boat and the cost of filter replacement isn't prohibitive in my case.
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Old 27-04-2012, 12:33   #6
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Re: Dirty tank update

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Consider yourself lucky, our tank had both sludge and water in it. It was from 1984 the source of the water and sludge was a leaking fill port. All the clean fuel in the world won't be any good to anyone if there's water being added constantly. As far as filters are concerned I've only got what came with the boat and the cost of filter replacement isn't prohibitive in my case.

The Racor for mine is around $16 but it filters out water as well as particulate so it's worth it to me. I am lucky there's no water getting in the tank! Even luckier that a friend VOLUNTEERED to deal with this for me. He spent about 6 hours in my hold, helping pump the tank out, cutting a hole in it, wiping the sludge out with squares of engine diaper (did an excellent job), and then putting on an access port. I have a new engine and really didn't know what kind of power it had until that gunk was out of there!
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Old 27-04-2012, 12:38   #7
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Re: Dirty tank update

use biobor in your fuel with every filling. will help a lot. make sure your racor water separator is functioning correctly. use the pitcock under it to release water in to a cola bottle or some such container so it isnt in the fuel. if you dont have one, buy one--is well worth your dough.
smooth sailing.
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Old 27-04-2012, 12:56   #8
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Re: Dirty tank update

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use biobor in your fuel with every filling. will help a lot. make sure your racor water separator is functioning correctly. use the pitcock under it to release water in to a cola bottle or some such container so it isnt in the fuel. if you dont have one, buy one--is well worth your dough.
smooth sailing.

You know, everyone tells me this, including people whose opinions I absolutely respect (such as yours) but I just reread the manual for my new engine (Yanmar, 20 hp) and it *specifically* says to *not* use Biobor.

I was so shocked. It doesn't explain why. Next time I go up to Mastry I'm going to ask them and if they have an answer I'll report back.
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Old 27-04-2012, 13:02   #9
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Re: Dirty tank update

my yanmar 2 qm20h has had boibor in it since the 600 hour overhaul i had done when i bought my ericson in 2004. i have had no difficulty whatsoever with it. might wanna ask your yanmar dealer/distributor about what brand biocide to use, if they dislike biobor. there must be one that works in yannies. they are excellent engines, but diesel DOES grow algae over time and with temp changes.

i say with blushing countenance. thankyou for the plus.
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Old 27-04-2012, 14:18   #10
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Re: Dirty tank update

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Originally Posted by Rakuflames View Post
By the way, we found NO water in the tank, and there never has been any in the Racor since I have owned it.


This is one advantage to plastic tanks. They condense a lot less water than metal tanks because they don't get freezing cold and provide the ideal condensation surface that a metal tank does. This means less opportunity for algae to grow at the water/diesel interface. If you tried to let a steel tank go for that long your whole fuel system would choke up on you. Of course plastic tanks are generally only seen in smaller boats as they are much harder to build baffled than a metal tank.
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Old 27-04-2012, 15:01   #11
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Re: Dirty tank update

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Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
my yanmar 2 qm20h has had boibor in it since the 600 hour overhaul i had done when i bought my ericson in 2004. i have had no difficulty whatsoever with it. might wanna ask your yanmar dealer/distributor about what brand biocide to use, if they dislike biobor. there must be one that works in yannies. they are excellent engines, but diesel DOES grow algae over time and with temp changes.

i say with blushing countenance. thankyou for the plus.

Yeah I know that. That's where all the gooey stuff came from to begin with. Not surprising when you think about it. What is diesel but refined, decayed dinosaurs and Jurrasaic veggies?

But that's what the manual says. I will talk to them next time I'm there.

Of course I'm constantly amazed by the experienced people who don't know that they shouldn't use ethanol in their outboard motors. There are two types in that category -- those who have not rebuilt their carbourators yet and those that have.
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Old 27-04-2012, 17:50   #12
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Re: Dirty tank update

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Originally Posted by Rakuflames View Post
You know, everyone tells me this, including people whose opinions I absolutely respect (such as yours) but I just reread the manual for my new engine (Yanmar, 20 hp) and it *specifically* says to *not* use Biobor.

I was so shocked. It doesn't explain why. Next time I go up to Mastry I'm going to ask them and if they have an answer I'll report back.
According to a Yanmar dealer I used in Virginia, the only biocide that Yanmar finds acceptable is FPPF Killem. I used it with every fill-up and never had any "goo" problems.
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Old 27-04-2012, 17:56   #13
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Re: Dirty tank update

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According to a Yanmar dealer I used in Virginia, the only biocide that Yanmar finds acceptable is FPPF Killem. I used it with every fill-up and never had any "goo" problems.

Well who even knows how long the goo was down there. I have no reason to think the previous owner even used a biocide, much less cleaned the tank.

But I will check with them. I don't think I've seen that brand here in Florida but I don't know that I was paying that much attention.

Sometimes it pays to be a relative beginner. If I knew a whole lot I probably wouldn't have re-read the manual.
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Old 01-05-2012, 01:31   #14
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Re: Dirty tank update

Just to add few pennyworth into the discussion if I may. i would recommend anyone building a new S/Steel tank to use either 304 or 316 grade, fit a sump with an accesible drain cock and drain regularly. a few sheets of thin rigid insulating material glued on all sides of the tank exterior prevent condensation and also reduce noise as the tank will acts like an echo chamber for engine noise(if fitted in the engine compartment). I have insulated both water tanks and fuel tanks with very good results.
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Old 02-05-2012, 03:35   #15
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Re: Dirty tank update

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Originally Posted by Irish rambler View Post
Just to add few pennyworth into the discussion if I may. i would recommend anyone building a new S/Steel tank to use either 304 or 316 grade, fit a sump with an accesible drain cock and drain regularly. a few sheets of thin rigid insulating material glued on all sides of the tank exterior prevent condensation and also reduce noise as the tank will acts like an echo chamber for engine noise(if fitted in the engine compartment). I have insulated both water tanks and fuel tanks with very good results.


I'm not quite sure how this works, but a friend of mine fitted his diesel tank with a drain after he had the same problem I did. He doesn't *completely* drain his tank, but he attached it to a piece of clear hose so he can always see the state of his fuel. Personally I just don't think it's going to be a problem for me for a long time to tome. Having ho water in there was particularly heartening because it's one of the components that encourages science projects in one's fuel ...

Haven't gotten to Mastry yet. Had a MAJOR car malfunction (I'm lucky to be alive!) and will be (hopefully) sailing every day for the next ten days, so won't get in there for some time.
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