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Old 22-11-2015, 06:56   #1
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Is an external fuel pump necessary?

Hi Everyone,

My diesel has 'outboard style' squeeze bulbs on the fuel lines.

These seem inappropriate and creepy, but I've left them in because I figure they were added for a good reason. I'm guessing the engine is impossible to bleed with the dinky little manual lever on the side of the engine fuel pump. This is a Yanmar 4JH2E.

One of these bulbs is now leaking, and I am thinking of chucking it... Do you guys think I need an electric fuel pump to bleed the engine, or is the little fiddly lever on the engine pump good enough, with patience?

Thank you.

Matt
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Old 22-11-2015, 07:15   #2
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Re: Is an external fuel pump necessary?

I would not keep the squeeze bulb one-way valve hand pumps in the fuel line. The alternatives depend on your tank and engine configuration. Do you have a gravity fed supply from your fuel tank to the engine? I don't have an auxiliary fuel pump between my fuel tank and Yanmar; however, I do keep a small quantity of diesel fuel available to fill primary and secondary fuel filters to assist with bleeding air. The little manual pumps are satisfactory for bleeding if you manually fill the big voids. That said, many people like an electric fuel pump and can use it additionally to cycle fuel through a "polishing" system.
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Old 22-11-2015, 07:39   #3
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Re: Is an external fuel pump necessary?

The fellow who wrote the following is a well respected diesel expert. He uses a bypass system that doesn't have the fuel continuously flowing through the squeeze bulb. I think the reason he uses a bypass for priming is that there are no squeeze bulbs big enough for the size engines he plays with.
Squeeze Bulb Priming on Diesel Powered Boats
If your fuel hoses are 3/8 or smaller you can probably get away with just putting the bulb inline.
I'm thinking of putting a bypass system with electric pump on my boat.
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Old 22-11-2015, 08:32   #4
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Re: Is an external fuel pump necessary?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hudson Force View Post
I would not keep the squeeze bulb one-way valve hand pumps in the fuel line. The alternatives depend on your tank and engine configuration. Do you have a gravity fed supply from your fuel tank to the engine? I don't have an auxiliary fuel pump between my fuel tank and Yanmar; however, I do keep a small quantity of diesel fuel available to fill primary and secondary fuel filters to assist with bleeding air. The little manual pumps are satisfactory for bleeding if you manually fill the big voids. That said, many people like an electric fuel pump and can use it additionally to cycle fuel through a "polishing" system.
I think the squeeze bulb is a bit dodgy. If you keep this, I would make sure there is at least one new spare aboard. That said, I raced a 37 foot Heritage for many years that only carried a 5-gallon plastic portable diesel tank with regular OB type fuel hose and bayonet fittings. Totally reliable and easily maintained.

The manual over-ride priming feature on the engine lift pump is adequate for most installations. I wonder if the PO didn't understand his system and installed the over-the-counter fuel line with the bulb.

We have chosen to install a fuel refiner that circulates about 10X the engine fuel rate through a 1 micron dirt & water removing polishing system. The pump runs when tie engine is running. The loop includes the RACOR filters so their effectiveness is also enhanced. I added small versions of this also on each crank-case (engine & generator). On the fuel system, the lift pumps of the engines take super-clean fuel only form the polished source. Over the road truckers use these to protect their fuel system and to eliminate regular oil changes. Oil changes are stretched to well over 100,000 miles. Often, fleet operators install these on their entire fleet. True even in federal and military fleets. Three sources are Pacific Coast, Petro-savers and Franz. I have Franz filters.
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Old 22-11-2015, 09:23   #5
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Re: Is an external fuel pump necessary?

My diesel tank is very low in the bilge, and when the fuel level is low in the tank there is maybe a 4 foot lift to the main engine mounted fuel pump, and nearly 6 foot to the generator engine pump. I have electric lift pumps installed for this reason for both the main and generator engines. The lift pump for my generator is small, and is unable to prime the line when the tank is low, so I have a squeeze bulb installed in the line between tank and lift pump. Works fine and needs to be there.

It is all a matter of your fuel system layout (i.e., static head lift of fuel to engine pump) that dictates your needs. If you don't like the squeeze bulb, and don't have an electric lift pump, then likely you could replace the bulb with a lift pump. I would assume however that the squeeze bulb is there for good reason and just removing it will result in a fuel flow issue.
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Old 22-11-2015, 09:42   #6
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Re: Is an external fuel pump necessary?

We devised and installed an 12v full flow diesel fuel pump....from an auto parts store. We specifically bought one that allows full flow without power applied to it, and plumbed it into the system just before the engine-with a bypass circuit if it should get plugged. If I'm approaching a lee shore, the engine quits from fuel starvation due to a plugged filter(sludge dislodged and caught in the filter?) or an air leak or???-I want every advantage I can have to get it back online asap. Rebleeding a system with an electric fuel pump sounds way quicker and more efficient than using that little lift lever. And if I never need it....well, then I spent $40 for a pump that just sits there! I call that cheap insurance. By the way, in the 12 years we've had that auto pump installed, we've never had to use it----yet! The squeeze bulb will work, especially on the line from your tank to your fuel filter(s) if the tank is below your filters (no gravity flow), and will likely push more fuel than the lift lever....but the switch on the (added) auto electric fuel pump is a lot easier and will push a lot more fuel. I'd opt for the 12v fuel pump, and not the squeeze bulb....or maybe both, depending on your layout?
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Old 22-11-2015, 09:55   #7
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Re: Is an external fuel pump necessary?

Forgot to mention....there is also another Cruisers Forum Blog on this very topic back in Aug2015.
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Old 22-11-2015, 10:06   #8
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Re: Is an external fuel pump necessary?

The PO of my boat had installed some good quality full flow through fuel pumps ahead of the filters. Twin engines. Tank well below the engines. I am very happy with the PO every time I have to change the filters. Racor 500, remove element from the top. Drain out remaining fuel, place in new element, activate the electric pump until the fuel just covers the filter, put the top on tighten the T handle, turn the pump on again to check for leaks. Your done. No bleeding required. Takes me less time to do it than it did to write this post.
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Old 22-11-2015, 10:14   #9
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Re: Is an external fuel pump necessary?

Never encountered this with a diesel engine. Might be a good reason why he installed it,, perhaps for an emergency situation where the pump will not self prime? Did not know they made such bulbs for diesel fuel which has different chemical characteristics than gasoline. Some rubbers disintegrate when in contact with oils. If you replace the bulb, make sure the rubber is ok to use with diesel.
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Old 22-11-2015, 10:16   #10
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Re: Is an external fuel pump necessary?

My previous boat had a squeeze bulb pump (put in by the PO). It was handy to prime the system after fuel filters or a tank that I was on ran dry. I never had a problem with it but have heard that it may be a potential leak source or it may fail and block the flow. But don't know personally.

The PO on my new boat put in an electric fuel pump ahead of the fuel filters. His instructions left on board said to run it when running the Perkins 4.108. The fuel tank is about 3-4 ft below the dual Racor filters which are a bit higher than the engine fuel system. A very experienced mechanic who has serviced and rebuilt many Perkins says it is unnecessary to run it to start or run the motor. The way it is plumbed the fuel always goes through it anyway. I do know that the motor will start and run fine without it. It has proven handy to refill the fuel filters after changing and in bleeding the fuel system (up to the engine injection pump). And I suppose it would work to pump fuel if the engine lift pump failed (without a blockage type fail).

If you do put one in, suggest you put a switch near the engine so you can work it while you are messing with the filters and/or engine for bleeding. And, where you can get to it in an emergency if a fuel line starts leaking.
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Old 22-11-2015, 10:40   #11
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Re: Is an external fuel pump necessary?

I installed a squeeze bulb about 5 years ago and have had no issues with it. It is very useful for bleeding the system after changing filter elements. In the event of running out of fuel or having a blocked filter (which hasn't happened to me yet) you might also need to bleed in a hurry. Some people have reported leaks with them and it seems some models are or were better than others. Perhaps newer versions are better. Or perhaps they were not installed with the proper fuel line clips which you crimp. All the chandlery shops I visit have squeeze bulbs for sale in a couple of different hose sizes.

Why don't you just spend $30 or whatever it is and simply replace it? You might be glad of it one day. Check the type of fuel line clips you should use. I use the type that are crimped with a large (straight not diagonal) wire cutter and use 2 staggered at each join.

The article that HopCar linked and the arrangement shown there looks good but is unnecessary for my comparatively small motor using less than 1 gal / hr

I'm not sure if really big 200 HP outboards use them but outboard motor fuel flows can be higher than a lot of Diesel engines. The bulbs with a larger hose size being for bigger motors should allow a greater fuel flow than the smaller ones.
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Old 22-11-2015, 10:51   #12
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Re: Is an external fuel pump necessary?

They are handy for bleeding, refilling a fuel filter when changed etc, but not a necessity
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Old 22-11-2015, 11:24   #13
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Re: Is an external fuel pump necessary?

Well I sure fine my external fuel pump (in series with main fuel line/ engine mechanical fuel pump. I use it & prime squeeze 'balls' at intake side of racors during post fuel filter changes to top off the bowl. When I had a troublesome air leak in the secondary fuel filter gasket the external fuel pump that took a while to track down... it proved invaluable getting over-night air out of the fuel line before starting engine (Perkins engine has return fuel line. If you ever run fuel dry/ or have to fight air getting in the line before you finally track it down and have to bleed your diesel. It makes bleeding the diesel a one person job and cuts the time to just a few minutes. Once in Caribbean we got bad dirty fuel... leaving the external electric fuel pump running 24 hours and changing the racors when -psi got excessive, basically allowed us to fuel polish. Same with bad fuel in Bahamas after a hurricane... ended up with couple gallons of water in 90 gallon tank. Anchored out so boat would roll a bit and just kept drain the water out of the racors as they filled. It one of those things, if you never needed it you'd ask why... but if you have had the need... you stingily recommend to serious cruisers to have.


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Old 22-11-2015, 11:28   #14
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Re: Is an external fuel pump necessary?

It's worked so far, so why not just replace it and make bleeding a little easier?
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Old 22-11-2015, 12:14   #15
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Re: Is an external fuel pump necessary?

Use Mr. Gasket type of similar 12v electric pumps. http://www.amazon.com/Mr-Gasket-12D-.../dp/B001QVTI5U I've replaced poorly designed mechanical pumps with these for 25 years ($15 in those days about $50 now. They were originally Volkswagen replacement fuel pumps. I've used both the gas and diesel models on diesel engines. I don't believe there is any difference, they just started putting green labels on the diesel models and jacking up the price.

You should install the pump as low and as close to the bottom of the tank as possible for best results. I've installed them as high as six inches above the top of the tank and they still work fine. Plenty of pressure to bleed Racors and the engine final filter.
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