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View Poll Results: how do you clean your tanks
scrub and clean out 19 30.16%
Cant get to it do nothing 6 9.52%
let the filters do their work 32 50.79%
clean from the filling nossel 6 9.52%
Voters: 63. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 23-10-2006, 13:28   #1
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Do You Clean Your Fuel Tank?

Just wondering what people do with their fuel tanks. Mine is hard to get at and have been letting the filters do their job.
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Old 23-10-2006, 13:31   #2
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Never done it, but thinking I should.... soon. I'll watch this with interest.
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Old 23-10-2006, 13:45   #3
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Do people have the same problems (sludge and diesel bug) with cars and trucks that run on diesel? They would slosh around just as much as a boat in the rough.
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Old 23-10-2006, 13:47   #4
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Got a tank of bad fuel a few years ago on the waterway. Every time the boat got shaken up I'd have problems. Finally bit the bullet, emptied the tank, took it out and got it cleaned by a rad shop. It's an aluminum tank. Wish I'd done it right after I got the bad fuel as it wasn't that difficult a job. By the way, if you ever go to fuel up and they're having problems with the pump get out of there fast!! If you can't get at the tank get a fuel polisher to come down and clean the fuel and the tank.
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Old 23-10-2006, 13:51   #5
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Jimbim; don't delay...at least don't delay a good inspection of the bottom of your tank.

Rounding the western end of Cuba and the sludge got stirred up and plugged the fuel line. Filter was pristine. Well after messing with the jerry can of diesel fuel and rigging a temporary fuel feed we lost about 3 miles and I lost my lunch. It taught me a great lesson, keep your fuel tanks clean.

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Old 24-10-2006, 15:06   #6
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Tanks should be cleaned out approx. every 4-5 years. If you have an onboard reicirculation polishing filter system, then you can probably extend that time interval.
Once a tank starts to 'particulate' you HAVE to clean it or simply wait until a big seaway knocks all that crud loose from the walls .... . To keep the 'particle' load in a tank low, dont fill the tank when you dont need to, dont fill the tank to 'full' for winter storage, etc.
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Old 24-10-2006, 17:21   #7
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I did our tanks a few years ago. I wanted to know what was in there so I could head off trouble. It was worth doing in our case.
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Old 24-10-2006, 18:01   #8
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Done the tank 3 times in 8 years.
Lots of gunk the first time around.

Then started to use PRI-D: It seems to help as the next cleaning was easy, not much sludge in there.

Seen many sailboats around here that have problems with clogged filters after the boats have been sitting for years with cheap or lazy owners that won't maintain them properly. Then they go sailing and start screaming for help when the engine quits in a strong current between bridges or in the middle of the Gulf Stream.

My advice: Do it....
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Old 24-10-2006, 20:33   #9
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What is PRI-D?
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Old 24-10-2006, 23:15   #10
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The 'gunk' that you're cleaning from the tank walls is degraded fuel oil. Fuel oil rapidly degrades after 6 months storage (12 mos. in cold temperatures). It degrades into alkenes (heavy fractions), gums, etc., and begins to form 'particles' that agglomerate (grow) into larger and larger particles. These particles may be hard particles or soft/deformable particles that extrude through filters. These 'particles' dont burn very well, readily pass through the combustion chamber without fully 'burning' only to deposit into the exhaust system as 'coke' (the crap that plugs your exhaust at the water injection nozzle).
In a refinery, most storage tanks are cleaned out every 3-5 years. You should probably do the same with your boat's fuel tanks.

For your boat tanks, you should only take onboard what fuel you 'need' plus a bit of reserve, dont fill the tanks completely (only to degrade in the tanks), dont buy your fuel from a low 'turnover' source such as a marina - but buy your fuel only from a 'high turnover' source such as a depot that caters to the commercial fleet .... or carry it in from a 'truckstop'.
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Old 25-10-2006, 01:37   #11
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What is PRI-D?


http://www.priproducts.com/pridpage.htm
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Old 25-10-2006, 02:39   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richhh
The 'gunk' that you're cleaning from the tank walls is degraded fuel oil. Fuel oil rapidly degrades after 6 months storage (12 mos. in cold temperatures). It degrades into alkenes (heavy fractions), gums, etc., and begins to form 'particles' that agglomerate (grow) into larger and larger particles. These particles may be hard particles or soft/deformable particles that extrude through filters. These 'particles' dont burn very well, readily pass through the combustion chamber without fully 'burning' only to deposit into the exhaust system as 'coke' (the crap that plugs your exhaust at the water injection nozzle).
In a refinery, most storage tanks are cleaned out every 3-5 years. You should probably do the same with your boat's fuel tanks.

For your boat tanks, you should only take onboard what fuel you 'need' plus a bit of reserve, dont fill the tanks completely (only to degrade in the tanks), dont buy your fuel from a low 'turnover' source such as a marina - but buy your fuel only from a 'high turnover' source such as a depot that caters to the commercial fleet .... or carry it in from a 'truckstop'.
Whilst this is very true for petrol. It is not for diesel.

If you dont maintain full tanks, you increase the probability of condensation inside the tank. The water gets into the fuel and it is this which helps to provide the breeding ground for the diesel bug.

Personally I use "Fuel Set" in my fuel, and I always fill the tank via a "smart funnel" - this filters at nearly the same level as my primary filter, and also will not allow water to pass through.

If you run an espar heater from your main fuel tank, this sort of precaution is essential, cause it is much more likely to block than the fuel system to your engine.

My fuel looks as clear as anything I have ever seen
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Old 25-10-2006, 03:29   #13
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Bit of a delima really. Keep the tank full and fuel ages but does not allow condensation or just enough and keep it fresh but get water and the bug.
No wonder we have sails!!
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Old 25-10-2006, 03:46   #14
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Not really. diesel doesnt age that quickly. Its only petrol that can become stale, and be a problem to use. Most people use enough during a season for it not to be a problem.

If you were going to lay up your boat for several year, you might consider removing the fuel, but I wouldnt bother - although I would get the fuel and tank cleaned before re-commissioning.
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Old 25-10-2006, 07:52   #15
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seafox -

Not a dilemma at all.
Diesel fuel as well as other fuels is produced at such high temperatures that all the moisture is driven off during the cracking /refining process.
Fresh fuel is extremely dry and such 'dryness' is driving force to uptake ambient moisture by what's known as chemical 'equilibrium'. Any 'dry' chemical compound will eventually reach such equilibrium and become fully saturated with water vapor when exposed to air. If a tanks vent is open to atmosphere then water vapor will migrate through the vent until the contents is saturated with ambient water; the more 'dry' fuel is in the tank the greater the driving force for moisture uptake. The obvious ways to keep the absolute amount of moisture from migrating into the tank is: close the vent when not operating if you have a pressure/vacuum rated tank, employ a desiccant filter on the vent to strip the moisture as it passes through, employ a recirculation filter set with a water 'knock-out' pot and a starch (hydroxymethlycellulose) loaded filter to 'absorb' the water from the oil, keep a minimum amount of fuel in the tank and use up the fuel as soon as possible. Keeping the minimum amount of fuel presents the least amount of volume for water uptake and lessens the overall finite 'amount' of degradation.

In warm temps diesel starts to 'go' after 6 months, 12 months in winter. Can you use degraded diesel? ... sure; but, just be aware that those alkenes, gums, and other soft/deformable particles, etc. that formed dont 'burn' very well and may totally pass through the combustion chamber and form as 'coke' in the exhaust. A simple test to determine if the fuel has begun to 'go': put some in a clear glass container and hold it between your eyeball and a very strong white light, if you denote any haze or cloudiness in the fuel then its probably already starting to 'go' (I do this before I pump fuel into the tank, too so I dont load with already degrading fuel).

The signs of 'condensation' is quite misleading as condensation is NOT the mechanism of water uptake. If condensation as the driving force were correct then all empty tanks in the world would soon fill completely with water and we know that is not the case. The signs of 'condensation' in a tank only means that the contents have already become fully saturated with water and the thermal differences causes the water to temporarily come out of the fuild, promote condensation on the walls, etc. .... meaning once you note condensation the fuel is 'already' saturated with water. A minimum amount of tank fuel will contain a relative minimum amount of water saturation; conversely a large amount of tank fuel will eventually contain a large amount of water saturation. I keep my tanks on the 'empty' side when not using the boat, I use a regenerable desiccant (dyed silica gel) filter on the vent, etc. Since Im deeply involved in filtration engineering of such fluids I also recirculate my fuel occasionally through a starch loaded filter to strip out the emulsified water.

BP Australia used to have on its website ('Fuel News') a wonderful 'laymans' explanation of how diesel fuel degrades over time and what steps were necessary to retard such degradation, the enhanced decomposition when in contact with copper and other metals and what to remedy/retard such: foam 'blankets', other additives, etc. Perhaps one of the Aussies on this group could contact BP and re-locate this very valued old 'paper' - "storage of diesel fuel" - BP (Australia). This article only disappeared from their website about 6 months ago.
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