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View Poll Results: Diesel Tank Cleaning - How Often?
Every year 4 7.84%
Every 2 years 2 3.92%
Every 3 years 5 9.80%
Every 5 years 9 17.65%
Never 31 60.78%
Voters: 51. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 19-04-2013, 13:05   #1
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Poll: How Often Do You Clean Out Your Diesel Tanks?

Just about to have mine cleaned, 3 1/2 years since the last time.

And HOW do you do it?
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Old 19-04-2013, 13:27   #2
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Re: Poll: How Often Do You Clean Out Your Diesel Tanks?

I have been having issues with clogged fuel filters etc and fuel is old. I am having a service do it. They do it as:
  1. Pump tank out through a filter into drums on the dock.
  2. Manually wipe down the inside of tanks (requires an access opening into tank).
  3. Pump from drums back into tank again through filter.
Takes about 6 or 7 hours and all the right equipment. Cost is about $500 USD. Expensive, but I have already gone through about $100 in flippin fuel filters and find having my engine konking out due to fuel problems a very big concern.

The wipe-down is the important and labor intensive part.

If I could just empty the tank I could wipe down myself, but there is nearly 200 gallons of fuel in there now, so don't see that happening soon.
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Old 19-04-2013, 13:29   #3
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Re: Poll: How Often Do You Clean Out Your Diesel Tanks?

dont usually have to--but the tank in this boat was cleaned twice between ensenada and mazatlan. have not needed to clean it since.

btw--then it wasnt dirt--was a bad pick up .....air in line.
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Old 19-04-2013, 13:43   #4
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Re: Poll: How Often Do You Clean Out Your Diesel Tanks?

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Just about to have mine cleaned, 3 1/2 years since the last time.

And HOW do you do it?

I have a small tank, 18 gal. We cut a hole in the top of the tank and had a fabrication shop make a cover and gasket for it. We pumped all the fuel out (someone polished it and used it. There was a lot of sludge, and we wiped up with cut up sections of "engine diaper." It came out clean as a whistle. I have an extra gasket, so if I ever need to do it again, I can.
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Old 19-04-2013, 15:17   #5
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Re: Poll: How Often Do You Clean Out Your Diesel Tanks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis.G View Post
I have been having issues with clogged fuel filters etc and fuel is old. I am having a service do it. They do it as:
  1. Pump tank out through a filter into drums on the dock.
  2. Manually wipe down the inside of tanks (requires an access opening into tank).
  3. Pump from drums back into tank again through filter.
Takes about 6 or 7 hours and all the right equipment. Cost is about $500 USD. Expensive, but I have already gone through about $100 in flippin fuel filters and find having my engine konking out due to fuel problems a very big concern.

The wipe-down is the important and labor intensive part.

If I could just empty the tank I could wipe down myself, but there is nearly 200 gallons of fuel in there now, so don't see that happening soon.
You're lucky. The wipe down is not possible on my boat - not enough access through a single hatch, for an almost 700 liter tank which is quite vertical.

I have a guy who polishes the fuel with a high pressure pump. Kind of like pressure washing the inside of the tank. I don't actually know how effective it is, but it's the only way I know how on my boat.
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Old 19-04-2013, 15:32   #6
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Re: Poll: How Often Do You Clean Out Your Diesel Tanks?

Our keel tank is 90 gallon unpainted steel. Has not been cleaned for 25 yrs but is overdue for it now. Will do it in the next year - should be interesting!

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Richard.
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Old 19-04-2013, 16:23   #7
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Re: Poll: How Often Do You Clean Out Your Diesel Tanks?

Well, based on my past performance I clean out the tanks every time I buy a new boat. So about every thirty years?
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Old 19-04-2013, 17:27   #8
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Re: Poll: How Often Do You Clean Out Your Diesel Tanks?

We just cleaned ours and started fresh. The old dirty diesel was sold to a powerboat owner at a discount who had a large filter system which could handle the filth. The tank was scrubbed spotless by hand. Then new diesel from a local petrol station was purchased to fill the tank via jerry cans and treated.

You really don't want the old dirty diesel back in you clean tanks, just sell it to someone who can use it.
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Old 19-04-2013, 17:27   #9
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Re: Poll: How Often Do You Clean Out Your Diesel Tanks?

i've got a 50 gal stainless tank in the bilge. has a large access hole in the top, easily accessible in the salon.

last time, about 3 year years ago, i only had about 7 gallons in the tank so i pumped it out with one of those little pumps you attach to an electric drill. i disposed of the diesel fuel (properly) and then went in and cleaned and wiped around as much as i could through the access hole. i also took the opportunity to shorten the pickup tube by 1/4". don't think i really had to but i figured what the heck.

this time i've got 25 gallons in the tank. i'm going to do the same thing but sure hate to dispose of $100 worth of diesel....
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Old 19-04-2013, 18:02   #10
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Re: Poll: How Often Do You Clean Out Your Diesel Tanks?

I used a Fillrite pump, and emptied the tank, then pumped about a couple gallons of fresh diesel at about 15 USGPM, which should stir up any crud, then pumped that out, refilled the tank with new diesel, then took the waste fuel and dumped it in the waste fuel tank at work, where its free. Don't forget to dip your tank periodically with "water finding" paste to make sure no water has entered your tank, promoting the growth of more "scum."
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Old 19-04-2013, 18:09   #11
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Re: Poll: How Often Do You Clean Out Your Diesel Tanks?

If you live in a climate that freezes and thaws you will need to do it more often. If the boat is on the hard in the winter then you'll need to do it even more. If the climate is warm and the boat stays in the water then far less often.

You clean the tank when water can condense in the tank. Warm air expands through the vent and cools and contracts bringing new air in the tank. This air condenses making water. Water in the fule is the real problem.

Water floating on the surface of the fuel breeds fungi. They die and sink to the bottom. Biocide additives really don't help. The algae is dead when it goes to the bottom. Adding chemicals just kills dead algae. The fuel and the water don't really mix.

Filling your tank to the top in the winter avoids condensation (less air space in the tank). Algae does not live in your fuel - ever. It lives in the water that condenses in the tank from the air that goes in and out of the vent.

If you buy a boat in northern latitudes just polish the tank before you take the boat home. I've been burned bad on that one too. Services can filter the tank and clean the fuel. It does not really go bad like gasoline does.
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Old 19-04-2013, 19:23   #12
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Re: Poll: How Often Do You Clean Out Your Diesel Tanks?

I put in two new 55 gal. aluminum tanks in 2001, the same year I installed my new Yanmar. I now have 6,178 hours on that engine and no tank cleaning. I'm not observing any signs of debris in my diesel or in my filters. I believe that there is less concern for cleaning a tank if you are using the fuel and renewing the tank contents regularly.
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Old 19-04-2013, 20:29   #13
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Re: Poll: How Often Do You Clean Out Your Diesel Tanks?

I did mine last year after having fuel blockages at the tank pick up.The boat is over 30yrs old and there was no access to the tank. I had to cut a panel in the sole and then build two hatches to the aluminum tank. Once drained it looked as if someone had been keeping rabbits in there, Hundreds of little balls of what looked like rabbit poo rolling around. When wet with diesel the balls where firm and glutenous but when dry where like a fine powder.
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Old 19-04-2013, 21:18   #14
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Re: Poll: How Often Do You Clean Out Your Diesel Tanks?

In my experience one of the main causes of dirty tanks and fuel (diesel) is the 'dock queen' syndrome or lack of use. If a boat is regularly taken out into the ocean, the rolling around tends to keep critter growth down and a biocide treatment will get a chance to do its job. I can't tell you the number of times I've talked to folks in marinas who are having fuel problems and they tell me that they have put biocide in their tanks and taken the boat out for a harbor run so maybe the biocide is bad! On deliveries, I always asked the owner when was the last time they had the fuel polished and the tanks cleaned. Many would say never and a few lied, once with nearly disasterous consequences. i nearly lost a boat off the Baja because the owner swore up and down he had the tanks cleaned but he had lied. We ended up changing clogged filters about a dozen times just to make it into port on one engine due to a stuffed up turbo on one engine. His explaination was a disgruntled former crew member had put coffee grounds down the tank filler! Ya, Right!!
Make certain if you install an inspection port on a fuel tank it is big enough to get enough of you into it that you can inspect and clean the tank. Doesn't do you much good if you can only get a mirror in to look around... you need to be able to clean it as well. Most major ports can get you in touch with some one to polish your fuel dockside. It's one hell of alot easier to do it at the dock than 30 miles off a lee shore and running out of filters. Basic maintenance, really... Phil
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Old 19-04-2013, 22:29   #15
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Re: Poll: How Often Do You Clean Out Your Diesel Tanks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt Phil View Post
In my experience one of the main causes of dirty tanks and fuel (diesel) is the 'dock queen' syndrome or lack of use. If a boat is regularly taken out into the ocean, the rolling around tends to keep critter growth down and a biocide treatment will get a chance to do its job. I can't tell you the number of times I've talked to folks in marinas who are having fuel problems and they tell me that they have put biocide in their tanks and taken the boat out for a harbor run so maybe the biocide is bad! On deliveries, I always asked the owner when was the last time they had the fuel polished and the tanks cleaned. Many would say never and a few lied, once with nearly disasterous consequences. i nearly lost a boat off the Baja because the owner swore up and down he had the tanks cleaned but he had lied. We ended up changing clogged filters about a dozen times just to make it into port on one engine due to a stuffed up turbo on one engine. His explaination was a disgruntled former crew member had put coffee grounds down the tank filler! Ya, Right!!
Make certain if you install an inspection port on a fuel tank it is big enough to get enough of you into it that you can inspect and clean the tank. Doesn't do you much good if you can only get a mirror in to look around... you need to be able to clean it as well. Most major ports can get you in touch with some one to polish your fuel dockside. It's one hell of alot easier to do it at the dock than 30 miles off a lee shore and running out of filters. Basic maintenance, really... Phil
I talked to the people at Mastry about the biocides, because I followed the instructions on one bottle to 'shock' the tank -- per its instructions -- and that's when the troubles began.

Mastry told me that the advice is bad, causes the algae to die in great quanties, settle down to the pick up, clog the filters and interfere with the fine spray of diesel in the engine (other than that, no troubles, apparently).

They recommended an entirely different brand. It is their story that there are bio-organisms that can live in the diesel itself, and I suspect it to be true as we found no water in the tank and no water in the Racor at any time.

I'm no expert on this -- we all know this. It's just the "best advice" Mastry had for me, and why I suggest people talk to their engine manufacturers about what biocide to use, and how.

It was pretty frustrating for me -- I put a new engine in and it was still running erratically. One time I thought I had run out of fuel (this boat has no gauge). Took it in to the fuel dock and it only took five gallons. That's when the lightbulb went off -- hey for my level of experience I think that was OK that I figured it out then.
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