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Old 28-11-2019, 15:42   #1
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Help - water in diesel tank!

Through a combination of inattention, distraction and language issues I had a few gallons of fresh water poured into one of my diesel tanks in Mexico last week. D'Oh! After letting the water settle to the bottom of the tank, I disconnected the fuel line feed and pumped out about 8 gallons of fluid which clearly shows about 4 gallons of water + 4 gallons of fuel in the translucent jug. That's all been disposed of.

I know my fuel pickup is within an inch of the lowest point in the tank, but that means there is probably still significant water in there. Access to the tank inspection port is possible (though not easy), so I can probably get most of the remaining water out with a hand pump. My question for the group is whether I may have significant water emulsified into the diesel fuel and if so, what I should do about that. I do have a good Racor 500 filtration system but wonder if that's going to be enough to prevent engine damage. Suggestions are very welcome. Thanks all and Happy Thanksgiving.
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Old 28-11-2019, 15:51   #2
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Re: Help - water in diesel tank!

If you donít have an emulsifier in your diesel the water and fuel are seperated. Buy some extra Racor fuel filters and go boating. Every hour, maybe 2 hours check the racor for water in the bowl. Purge water. Continu boating.
Adopt inspection periodicity to the amount of water you find.
Racors are made for this.
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Old 28-11-2019, 17:36   #3
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Re: Help - water in diesel tank!

Be glad you didnt put diesel in water tank...thats much harder to fix...a new tank is best! That diesel smell/taste is really hard to eliminate.

Water in your diesel tank is inconvenient, but not hard to extract. Pump it out like you did and if possible have the fuel polished. If fuel polishing not available, you can rig up your own polisher with a fuel pump and a filter/fuel water separator. You can even extract water with nothing more than a pump and a bucket (or even siphon depending on location of tank). You basically just create a big fuel water separator using the bucket. Flow fuel into bucket down low and draw from bucket up high...water settles in bottom. You can even do this while underway as an emergency method by creating a break in the fuel system for the bucket. This method will trap water & particulates the bucket...handy for moving old boats w really nasty tanks, but can be messy.

One concern is what material is the tank made of? Residual water in any metal tank, including aluminum, is bad as it promotes corrossion.

Bottom line: get as much out as you can, polish it, get a bunch of extra filters and run engine for a long time while checking fuel water separator frequently. When water quits accumulating you are good to go. However, keep those extra filters handy and monitor the fuel water separator on you first few times underway as the motion may dislodge more water. Water doesnt normally foul the filters as it is trapped by fuel water separator first, but good to have them on hand.

There are some additives available to help eliminate remaining small quantities of water.

What kind of permanent filter system do you have installed?
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Old 28-11-2019, 19:13   #4
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Re: Help - water in diesel tank!

A good fuel conditioner will help the Racor separate out the water.
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Old 28-11-2019, 19:55   #5
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Re: Help - water in diesel tank!

If you're in La Paz, you're in a good spot to pick up good used parts. I would recommend picking up a spare used Racor, and a new electric fuel pump. Make sure the pump is for diesel-not gasoline. Then build yourself a polishing system that you can run independent of your fuel delivery system.


You won't be fretting about your fuel delivery filters and you can polish anytime you want. Especially while underway, either power or sailing. The sloshing around is your friend when it comes to polishing systems.


Some years ago friend lost her boat on the rocks because she thought it was good enough that she paid to have her fuel polished while her boat was sitting quietly in the slip.
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Old 28-11-2019, 20:31   #6
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Re: Help - water in diesel tank!

First I’d do
Water weighs a good bit more than diesel, I’d wait for it all to settle, which takes a little time, and if your fuel line is at the lowest point, or even better if you have a sump, slowly drain from the bottom till you see normal colored diesel.

How much fuel is in the tank?

If it’s not much I’d quickly sump best I could and dump the tank, maybe for a heater, or some locals bus, whatever.
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Old 28-11-2019, 21:30   #7
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Re: Help - water in diesel tank!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailormed View Post
Buy some extra Racor fuel filters and go boating. Every hour, maybe 2 hours check the racor for water in the bowl. Purge water. Continu boating.


Adopt inspection periodicity to the amount of water you find.


Racors are made for this.

This method has worked for me in the past. Went through some high seas that pushed water in through the vent.

That was a bigger boat with a water alarm on the cup, but the idea is still the same. Monitor the cup and drain as needed.
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Old 29-11-2019, 07:04   #8
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Re: Help - water in diesel tank!

Know the problem. I filled in Marocco appr. 50 Lts of water in the fuel tank. I chased a mecanic in Marocco (Rabat) and pumped out the whole content. Opened the tank and cleaned the internal completely. Got fresh diesel from a local road gas station, drove 3 times( 3 x 60 L). Thats 3 years ago. And had no problems ever since. I would do that again. The fluid mixture was taken by the mecanic as pay for the workhours. Both were happy.
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Old 29-11-2019, 07:37   #9
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Re: Help - water in diesel tank!

I had seawater in my tank from a vent.

I was able to pump it out to the bottom of the tank by sliding a smaller vinyl hose down the pickup tube to the very bottom.

I cut the bottom of the vinyl tube at a slight angle to hit the bottom of the tank and still be able to draw liquid.
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Old 29-11-2019, 08:01   #10
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Re: Help - water in diesel tank!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minggat View Post
I would recommend picking up a spare used Racor, and a new electric fuel pump. Make sure the pump is for diesel-not gasoline. Then build yourself a polishing system that you can run independent of your fuel delivery system
+1 for making you own fuel polisher.

This can be handy if you need to transfer fuel from jerry cans or something larger to ensure good fuel is going into the tank. Also good for periodically cleaning out the crud that accumulates in the bottom of the tank or if you get a bad load of fuel.

With this set up, would pull the tank sender and use a long piece of solid tubing to get down to the bottom/lowest section of the tank and suck out the rest of the water. With the racor filter (real Racor filter; a hydrophobic element) you should be able to get the majority of the water out.
Alternatively as suggested by others, could just run the motor and drain the water out of the bottom of the filter as needed. If you only have 1 filter in your fuel system (vs. 2 where you can switch on the fly), this would not be my preferred method to get the excess water out. Would hate to have the engine shut down when you needed it in crappy weather or coming through an inlet in decent chop.
We carry this same set up to periodically clean our tanks and it works well.


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Old 29-11-2019, 08:40   #11
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Re: Help - water in diesel tank!

+2 on building a fuel polisher. It works for a number of tasks

1) Polishing fuel of course. I have mine setup on a rocker switch to run manually, or when engine is running (default). I have a 72 GPH pump and 40 gal tank so I end up polishing my fuel for a 100 hours a season. My Racor is never dirty anymore but I change it every season as a matter of course.

2) Can pump out tank if needed. I added a separate pickup tube (a must in my opinion) that I fitted to go all the way to the bottom of the tank, this catches anything and is lower than engine pickup. The reason you want separate pickups is that the polishing pump is strong than the engine lift pump and will starve the engine if they share a pickup. Ask me how I know this...

I have never had to pump my tanks dry but the polisher will do this easily. Can also reconnect 2 hoses and pump from another tank into mine

3) Can act as secondary engine lift pump. My westerbeke uses a Facet lift pump. If that ever dies I can bypass the Racor and feed 5 micron filtered fuel to my engine in an emergency by turning 2 valves

4) Can prime fuel system and fill Racor filter after change. This is pretty handy as before I had to use a small bottle of fuel to fill Racor filter housing after filter change. Now I just hit the switch and filter body fills to the brim.

I built mine with a Carter P4070 fuel pump, Shelco filter body I found on eBay for $15 (FOSBN-786), various elbows, hoses, ball valves. The filters I buy from McMaster Carr for $5.

Pictures of your twin filter installation please
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Old 29-11-2019, 09:24   #12
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Re: Help - water in diesel tank!

Sailah, that link is awesome. I'd missed it and have been planning a fuel polishing soon. To set up a polishing system with dual fuel filtering kills two birds with one boat buck (and likely much less!). The cost of two Racors had been holding me back given all the other things to spend limited funds on.
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Old 29-11-2019, 09:39   #13
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Re: Help - water in diesel tank!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RTN1 View Post
Through a combination of inattention, distraction and language issues I had a few gallons of fresh water poured into one of my diesel tanks in Mexico last week. D'Oh! After letting the water settle to the bottom of the tank, I disconnected the fuel line feed and pumped out about 8 gallons of fluid which clearly shows about 4 gallons of water + 4 gallons of fuel in the translucent jug. That's all been disposed of.

I know my fuel pickup is within an inch of the lowest point in the tank, but that means there is probably still significant water in there. Access to the tank inspection port is possible (though not easy), so I can probably get most of the remaining water out with a hand pump. My question for the group is whether I may have significant water emulsified into the diesel fuel and if so, what I should do about that. I do have a good Racor 500 filtration system but wonder if that's going to be enough to prevent engine damage. Suggestions are very welcome. Thanks all and Happy Thanksgiving.
No big deal...When I bought my new to me, really old boat the seller told me that the fuel tank was full...he didnt tell me that most of the liquid was water not diesel... get yourself a 12v fuel transfer pump. I bought one on Amazon for $25.00... I connected the pump to my fuel pickup line BEFORE the racor.. I pumped all the fuel into all the Jerry Cans I could find and let it sit for a week. I then bought a FloTool Fuel Filter Funnel ó 3.5 GPM, 5 1/2in. Dia., Model# F3C from Northern Tool for $20 and pumped the jerry cans into my tank using the new filter funnel. Anything questionable in the jerry can was left there... when I got about 90 percent of my fuel back in the boat it was nice and clean and water free... donated the remaining contaminated fuel to the local fire station where they used it for training fires. That was a year a go and havent had a single problem with contaminated fuel since.
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Old 29-11-2019, 09:59   #14
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Re: Help - water in diesel tank!

I got about 10 gallons of fresh water in tank due to leaking fill cap and standing water due to boat being stored at wrong angle on the hard. Hand pumped out most from bottom of tank with hand pump. Then kept checking water separator; every hour run time at first, then less and less getting less water out each time until didn't see any more after about 20 hours or so run time. Really was not a big deal.
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Old 29-11-2019, 10:18   #15
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Re: Help - water in diesel tank!

i was getting water in diesel tank from failed o ring at fill ... thankfully having racors helped this issue, and replacing my plastic pos tank for a custom built stainless tank also helped.
god bless racor. lifesaver and boat saver. must have 2 or 3. during the water into tank era i was saved from rocks by my awesome genoa ..... first 15 min fail of engine is water or dirt.. btdt
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