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Old 26-01-2016, 08:49   #1
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Filter Element size recommendations?

Hi Everyone,

We have a 1980 Perkins 4-108 in our Cal 39. We had major problems due to contaminated fuel when we bought the boat 3-1/2 years ago, but between 2 sessions of fuel dialysis and weeks of motoring in the ICW,that seems to have been more or less fixed. But we are still having intermittent problems with the engine cutting out and having to be bled.

Available filter element sizes are 30mc, 10mc, and 2mc. Various mechanics have told us different things. All seem to agree that there should be a 10mc in the secondary filter. But some tell us we should always run 30mc in the primary, some say 10mc and some say 2mc because there still appear to be contaminants in the fuel.

Does anyone out there have input they could give us?

We would appreciate your help.
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Old 26-01-2016, 08:59   #2
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Re: Filter Element size recommendations?

I favor the 10mc for the secondary with a differential pressure gauge mounted on top.
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Old 26-01-2016, 09:07   #3
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Re: Filter Element size recommendations?

You need a 30 to filter out the big stuff as the primary filter, stuff above 30 of course.
By secondary, I assume you mean the engine mounted fuel filter? do you have two or three total filters?
final filter, go with engine spec requirement, I thought 2 micron was pretty common.
As long as you don't have a restriction in fuel flow, you can't filter fuel too fine for an engine, so if you err, I'd err with finer than required.

Common to gradually step filter sizes down and spread out the contamination among filters. If you have a 2 micron primary, make sure it's accessible and you carry spares as I believe you will be changing it often.

Engine cutting out and having to be bled doesn't sound like a filter / fuel contamination issue, sounds more like an air leak somewhere.
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Old 26-01-2016, 09:30   #4
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Re: Filter Element size recommendations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
You need a 30 to filter out the big stuff as the primary filter, stuff above 30 of course.
By secondary, I assume you mean the engine mounted fuel filter? do you have two or three total filters?
final filter, go with engine spec requirement, I thought 2 micron was pretty common.
As long as you don't have a restriction in fuel flow, you can't filter fuel too fine for an engine, so if you err, I'd err with finer than required.

Common to gradually step filter sizes down and spread out the contamination among filters. If you have a 2 micron primary, make sure it's accessible and you carry spares as I believe you will be changing it often.

Engine cutting out and having to be bled doesn't sound like a filter / fuel contamination issue, sounds more like an air leak somewhere.
Thanks for the quick reply. Our secondary is indeed the engine mounted filter on the back of the engine.


We're trying to figure out what's going on because our injector pump just died for the second time in a year and a half. The first time we had it done, it was done by a mechanic at the Silver Cloud Harbor Marina in Forked River, NJ. They charged us a total of $5000! And even though I had the required new injection lines shipped to them in 3 days, it took them 6 weeks of dragging their feet to get the job done. I had prepaid for 6 weeks of dockage to make sure I was covered; and in my opinion they just milked it. And now the darned pump has died again so I have serious doubts as to the quality of their work. I will never, ever go back there.


I'm looking for a vacuum gauge to hook into the system so I can monitor the state of my filter elements. Any ideas what brand and where to get it?
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Old 26-01-2016, 09:54   #5
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Re: Filter Element size recommendations?

A64pilot has a good suggestion on the air leak.

On my troller I installed a couple of very large Dahl filters in parallel as primary units using 2 micron elements. They are large enough provide little restriction until plugged up when I switch to the other filter. I occasionally have to change the primary on the auxiliary, but I haven't changed the secondaries (3) on the main in many years and have never had a problem with injectors.

I also have a small filter going to the diesel stove. When the stove stops, I know I have another six or so hours before the main will show symptoms, so that's when I switch primary filters.

I got serious about filters a good number of years ago when I was fishing off of Cape Edgecumbe in some interesting weather. I was the last boat out there when the main started to struggle. I called the last boat that was still in sight to make them aware of the situation and then shut down and went below to change the filter. Fortunately the engine restarted without having to bleed the system (Jimmy).

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Old 26-01-2016, 10:35   #6
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Re: Filter Element size recommendations?

I bought this from a supporting vendor, Hopkins Carter.
I only link to defender due to it being a good picture, but they aren't cheap, but it comes with gauge and the idea is of one clogs, flip the valve to run on the other until you can get around to changing the clogged one out.
Racor Dual Filter, Turbine 500 Series Fuel Filter / Water Separator Shielded

I don't know about a Perkins, perhaps their final filter requirement is 10 microns, I think Yanmar's is 2 micron, but I'd find out for sure and not put a bigger filter than the engine requires as of course that can kill an injection pump and injectors.

I have had very good luck with going to non marine fuel injection shops, fast turn around and good farmer prices, just find one that does a lot of business and has been around for awhile.
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Old 26-01-2016, 10:37   #7
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Re: Filter Element size recommendations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MapleSugarMan View Post
Hi Everyone,

We have a 1980 Perkins 4-108 in our Cal 39. We had major problems due to contaminated fuel when we bought the boat 3-1/2 years ago, but between 2 sessions of fuel dialysis and weeks of motoring in the ICW,that seems to have been more or less fixed. But we are still having intermittent problems with the engine cutting out and having to be bled.

Available filter element sizes are 30mc, 10mc, and 2mc. Various mechanics have told us different things. All seem to agree that there should be a 10mc in the secondary filter. But some tell us we should always run 30mc in the primary, some say 10mc and some say 2mc because there still appear to be contaminants in the fuel.

Does anyone out there have input they could give us?

We would appreciate your help.
We have a 3 stage fuel filtration system. We run 30 micron in our two primary racors which are on the suction side of the pump.

Then a racor P series fuel module pushes the fuel through a 10 micron filter. Finally our tertiary filter is a 2 micron filter between the Racor P series and the injection pump.

If you don't clean the crud from your tanks even a 3 stage filtration system like we have on our Liberty 458 with Perkins 4-236 wont cope.

We have a backup Walbro pump for the Racor P series unit which has the second stage filter, heater and lift pump.

I would consider a 3 stage filtration system with a helm switched backup pump as the minimum for a cruising yacht.

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Old 26-01-2016, 10:48   #8
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Re: Filter Element size recommendations?

Racor do a accessory vacum gauge which fits on top of the filter. Mine was too old to accept this so I put a 'T' in the line between the primary filter and the engine,connected to a vacuum gauge [mc master carr or grainger] See what it reads with a new filter,probably nothing,then just monitor it. If the vacuum goes up a little it means the filter is getting plugged.
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Old 26-01-2016, 11:34   #9
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Re: Filter Element size recommendations?

I always run 2 microns in the primary Racor, because I can change the filter in less than 5 minutes without bleeding the engine. Helpful when the boat is drifting onto the reef.

What size is your Racor?? The boat came with a Racor 200 for a Perkins 4108. It rarely caused problems, but I upgraded to the 500.

The big question is what is the condition of your filters when the the engine dies?? If they are clogged, you have a contamination problem. If they look clean, you have an air leak.

Yes the marina ripped you off, but what did you expect from New Jersey?? You should not have had to put new injector lines in unless their mechanic broke them.
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Old 26-01-2016, 11:37   #10
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Re: Filter Element size recommendations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I bought this from a supporting vendor, Hopkins Carter.
I only link to defender due to it being a good picture, but they aren't cheap, but it comes with gauge and the idea is of one clogs, flip the valve to run on the other until you can get around to changing the clogged one out.
Racor Dual Filter, Turbine 500 Series Fuel Filter / Water Separator Shielded

I don't know about a Perkins, perhaps their final filter requirement is 10 microns, I think Yanmar's is 2 micron, but I'd find out for sure and not put a bigger filter than the engine requires as of course that can kill an injection pump and injectors.

I have had very good luck with going to non marine fuel injection shops, fast turn around and good farmer prices, just find one that does a lot of business and has been around for awhile.

I believe the Yanmar engine filter is 10M according to the Yanmar rep when we installed our engine a number of years ago.



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Old 26-01-2016, 12:09   #11
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Re: Filter Element size recommendations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MapleSugarMan View Post
Hi Everyone,

We have a 1980 Perkins 4-108 in our Cal 39. We had major problems due to contaminated fuel when we bought the boat 3-1/2 years ago, but between 2 sessions of fuel dialysis and weeks of motoring in the ICW,that seems to have been more or less fixed. But we are still having intermittent problems with the engine cutting out and having to be bled.

Available filter element sizes are 30mc, 10mc, and 2mc. Various mechanics have told us different things. All seem to agree that there should be a 10mc in the secondary filter. But some tell us we should always run 30mc in the primary, some say 10mc and some say 2mc because there still appear to be contaminants in the fuel.

Does anyone out there have input they could give us?

We would appreciate your help.
For comparison, we have a single 90 hp diesel propulsion engine [Ford Lehman SP90] and a diesel generator. [Both are naturally aspirated]

Our SOP is to use 10 filters in our twin Racor 500 filters, but keep 30 filters on hand in case of problems with contaminated fuel. [So theoretically we could motor for longer periods between filter changes if needed due to abnormal circumstances...]

Stop here if that is enough to answer your question.

More details follow to provide context regarding fuel handling, storage and maintenance, fuel types, consumption, monitoring, etc. if you are interested in how busy our filters are.

Fuel flow management:
We have an a couple of 12VDC fuel pumps that perform several functions depending upon which valves we open: [I mention this because all of these functions pump through the Racor filters.]
  • Help bleed the fuel circuits [propulsion engine and generator]
  • Runs the fuel polishing loop [recirculate or fuel transfer to another tank]
  • Transfers fuel between tanks or into external jug [through the Racor filters]
  • Backs-up the fuel pumps on the engines [will provide fuel flow in the event an engine pump fails]

Fuel Storage:
Our two steel tanks each have 10 x 12 inch clean-out hatches above each baffled section of each tank [and were last mucked out and cleaned in 2009.]

Each tank also has sump drains which [to date] routinely yield pure fuel in the samples [no water or sediment... yet...]

We also installed H2Out air dryers on each fuel tank vent to help reduce moisture ingress via the vent lines.

Consequently- knock on wood- so far the fuel remains in great shape. [And local conditions in some of the straights we routinely transit make sure our fuel is well agitated several times each year...]

Capacity:
2 tanks; 216 US gallons total: 86 gallons #2 diesel for engine and generator: 130 gallons #1 for the heater. [For the curious: The 130 gallon tank is original. The 86 gallon tank was the max size the previous owner could reasonably fit when the other 130 gallon tank needed to be replaced...]

Both tanks have analog fuel gauges [and calibrated sight gauges with shut off valves...]
Design note about the sight gauges: The sight gauge is plumbed to a 3-way valve which is plumbed to the tank sump drain hole. Therefore the 3-way valve can be: off [normal position]; open to drain/sample fuel from the sump; or open to charge the clear sight gauge [and then closed after the gauge has equalized and is read.]

After fuel fills we let it settle overnight [when in a calm anchorage or at the dock...] before opening the sight gauge valve on each tank. Since the gauge is filling from the tank sump- and the fuel in the sight gauge is lower than the fuel in the tank after a fill- we get a visual inspection of the fuel from the sump when the sight gauge fills... ]
Future plans include replacing the factory analog fuel gauges with the CruzPro digital fuel gauge which also tracks consumption per hour once calibrated.

Fuel types considerations:
The Espar heater prefers #1 fuel oil with no additives [extends time between maintenance periods; it can also run on #2 without issues, just more frequent maintenance.]

Therefore we dedicated one of our two tanks to #1 diesel to accommodate the heater since we are dependent upon it year around in our current cruising grounds.

The engine and generator both prefer #2 diesel [with temperature dependent additives to prevent waxing. [They can both also operate on #1 without short-term issues per manufacturer's documentation.]

The other tank is full of #2 diesel.

There are times when we are 'out there' when we need to transfer #1 diesel to the #2 diesel tank for the engine. When we do this, we just add the appropriate amount of additive to the engine tank to up the lubricity rating of the fuel to keep the diesel engines happy. [Note: both engines can run on straight #1 without any short term issues (according to the manufacturer's documentation) so if needed, we can just switch tanks and keep motoring/generating...]

Consumption:
In our current cruising grounds where we motor ~80% of the time, we typically top-up diesel fuel once or twice a year.
[Note: When buying fuel from a low volume source, we run it through our large Baja filter on its way to the tank...]

Annual consumption currently averages around 200 gallons in our current cruising grounds- with 30-40% of that being used by the Espar heater while at anchor...

Fuel filter plumbing and monitoring:
Design note: Our twin Racor 500 filters are plumbed so we can use one at a time [SOP] with the other as an instant fail-over, or run them in series. [e.g., Put a 30 filter in the first Racor, and a 10 filter in the second.]
They are mounted in the engine room and, while very accessible, are not visible from either helm station. Therefore, I installed a vacuum gauge that reads the active filter, and the gauge has a red tell-tale needle to show the highest reading on the gauge since the last reset. Very handy.

I intend to install a second gage (with tell-tale) in the overhead display with the other engine gauges at the lower help position in the near future.

We also installed water sensor alarms on both Racors to get an early warning that the active filter is at risk of shutting-down due to water in the bowl...



In hopes some portions of this post may be useful for you.

Cheers!

Bill
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Old 26-01-2016, 13:16   #12
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Re: Filter Element size recommendations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MapleSugarMan View Post
Hi Everyone,

We have a 1980 Perkins 4-108 in our Cal 39. We had major problems due to contaminated fuel when we bought the boat 3-1/2 years ago, but between 2 sessions of fuel dialysis and weeks of motoring in the ICW,that seems to have been more or less fixed. But we are still having intermittent problems with the engine cutting out and having to be bled.

Available filter element sizes are 30mc, 10mc, and 2mc. Various mechanics have told us different things. All seem to agree that there should be a 10mc in the secondary filter. But some tell us we should always run 30mc in the primary, some say 10mc and some say 2mc because there still appear to be contaminants in the fuel.

Does anyone out there have input they could give us?

We would appreciate your help.
There was an informative post about fuel contamination, as far as, I recall asphalt something forming in the tank. Maybe looking at the fuel not the filtration may help? It called out different grades of fuel. Maybe you or someone else can go back and find it. It struck me as people mistakenly looking at filters or spending a fortune on biologics growing in the fuel. Good luck. FWIIW.
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Old 26-01-2016, 14:07   #13
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Re: Filter Element size recommendations?

due you said the engine quits and requires bleeding, possible problem is a air leak in fuel line...is the filter clogged when the engine dies..if you are just bleeding the fuel system might want to check your fuel lines.
I think 10mc filter for the secondary,
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Old 26-01-2016, 14:13   #14
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Re: Filter Element size recommendations?

Wise decision not to go back there for further repairs. Are you sure it's your injection pump that has died? Would be very strange for one to last only 18 mths unless it was rebuilt badly. Agree with other posts to check for air leaks & check the lift pump also. You can try a gravity feed to bypass the lift pump or an electric pump.Standard for injection systems running around the 2500 psi mark ( is 30 micron primary & 10 mic secondary but modern injection systems ( common rail ) which can go up to 15000 psi require a 2-3 micron final filter
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Old 26-01-2016, 14:33   #15
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Re: Filter Element size recommendations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MapleSugarMan View Post
Hi Everyone,

We had major problems due to contaminated fuel when we bought the boat 3-1/2 years ago, but between 2 sessions of fuel dialysis and weeks of motoring in the ICW,that seems to have been more or less fixed.
Does anyone out there have input they could give us?

It could be that the contamination is indeed "more or less" fixed. It could be that there is a fine mesh at the end of the pickup tube in the tank. Remaining bacterial growth then accumulates over time. The fuel pump continues sucking fuel. The mesh gets more and more clogged. No more fuel going up the pickup tube. Fuel pump sucks a vacuum in the lines and air gets in the lines at that moment at one of the connections. Engine stops, bacterial growth falls of the mesh, you have to bleed the line and suspect an air-leak. Ask me how I know I did 100 miles to Corsica bleeding the lines every 20 minutes
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