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Old 05-04-2008, 17:56   #1
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How do you *physically* clean out fuel tank?

I've been reading and reading through threads, and can't find (except for a brief mention of a pressure washer and vacuum) the actual *how* one cleans out their fuel tank.

I am fortunate (well, in one way) that the sailboat I own only has a 25 gallon tank. I can remove a 6" plate right in the top, and reseal it with the fuel resistant gasket. I can look down in there and see some gunk and some particulates despite the fact that we have used biocide since purchasing the boat a year ago. We have had no problems at all with anything clogging, and I've changed the external and two engine filters regularly and they always look clean. Replaced fuel lines have looked clean as well (we put in a better primary filter).

How do I clean the gunk out? Bail out the tank as low as I can get, physically scrape and wipe until most of the stuff is off and then......sop it up with rags into a bag and just keep wiping until it is clean? Put some kind of a solvent in there to cut the gunk? (what won't cause engine damage down the line.....?)

Anyone have a slick and good answer to this? THANKS.
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Old 05-04-2008, 18:09   #2
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I seem to be replying to aaalot of your threads. Since I just did it last week I feel qualified to answer. I was able to transfer all myfuel to another tank except for about a gallon. Then I used a rag as a sponge and sopped up the last gallon and put it in a bucket. From there I took multipurpose cleaner (like windex but no amonia) I sprayed it on paper towels and used that to get whatever I could get out out. Then I took a scotch brite pad and did the same thing. I sprayed it on the pad so that I wouldn't get too much cleaner in the tank. after the scotch brite pad I went back with paper towels to wipe off the residual. It came out very clean with most of the tank back to shinny aluminium instead of a tar like look. Long sleeve shirt and nitrol gloves were a big plus. Also I used Permatex to seal the tank back up. Since I'm not going to be doing it very often I figured that this was the best thing I could get locally.

Good luck
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Old 05-04-2008, 18:20   #3
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You might need to use a plastic scraper if you have any hard spots. Gunk in your tank will bite you sooner or later. I certainly have first hand experience with that. It didn't get to the filter, just clogged the pickup line at the top of the tank where there was a shutoff fitting and the fuel line took a 90 deg. bend.
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Old 05-04-2008, 18:55   #4
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Thanks -- and Charlie, exc. post on the engine failure / lift pump diaphragm possibility --- good work on not just handling the situation, but using the anchor and advising the CG to make that part a "non-event".

So --- open it up, bail it out, sop it out, scrape and wipe, use windex (would simple green work?), get it purdy as can be, let it dry, maybe wipe it with plain water to remove any cleaner residue, dry that off and let it dry, seal it up and top her off.

What a lovely way to spend my next day off. (Tuesday). I work in an "on call" job where I get to sit at the computer all day for 7 days straight and read forums until I get paged.....and then take a week off to go utilize all the advice I get here! THANKS.
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Old 06-04-2008, 03:11   #5
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I bought a very simple plastic hand pump that has a compressable bulb on the top, I extended the pick up with a piece of hose that I pushed on to it and with a torch shining into the tank I was able to track where any water or sludge was collecting, I put the suction tube where the water had collected and with a few pumps I had the water and some diesel into a bucket. I did this until I was satisfied that I had got all that I could identify as water / gunk, and resealed the tank. simple, cheap, effective.
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