Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 16-05-2018, 16:22   #1
Registered User
 
jr_spyder's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Boston area
Boat: Little Harbor 46 (1988)
Posts: 254
Racor filter failure

Hello sailors,

I have a dual Racor fuel filter model 75/500FGX. This:

On an offshore passage last week my engine started acting like it was running out of fuel. RPM decreased and fluctuated a bit, then the engine stalled. I could start it up and run at low RPM for a while, but it was straining. Of course the first thing I did was to switch the filter over to the other bowl, which had not yet been used. No change. Then I changed the filters (one was ~75% dirty, one spotless). No change. Then, with the engine off, I started my generator. Same problem like it was running out of diesel.

The vacuum gauge on the Racor was pegged in the red, and I've never seen it move out of yellow before. Also curious was that the needle did not recede immediately after stopping the engine. It took over 5 minutes to get back to zero.

I have a complex fuel system with three tanks, the two engines, a fuel transfer pump for the tanks, and this Racor filter. Everything is controlled via a central manifold with eight different valves that control all the flows. I had visually inspected the fuel in the tanks before the passage and it all looked perfectly clean and healthy. I've never had an issue with crud in my tanks.

Next I switched the source/return of fuel to the other tanks one at a time. No change in the engine or generator performance. In fact no configuration of tanks, or which engine was running, or which way the filter was set improved the issue. So this left only the one common component of any configuration - the filter and/or its associated tubing. I temporarily bypassed the filter (knowing I have secondary filters on both Westerbekes) and, voila, the engines ran fine.

So there has to be a ~90% clog in some common part of the Racor housing. Each engine is clearly providing the suction (hence the pegged needle), but only a small flow is getting through. I am very surprised this can happen, but it has. I see Racor has rebuild kits for each single bowl, but I haven't found one yet for the three way valve, which I'm most suspicious of. I will call Racor and see what they can tell me. In any regard I plan to rebuild the whole thing if I can. The bowls look simple, and the valve looks like it comes apart easily. Of course all of this has difficult accessibility, so I want to have everything understood and lined up before I start.

Any experience or advice on this?

Thanks,

JR
__________________

jr_spyder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-05-2018, 16:42   #2
Senior Cruiser
 
hpeer's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Philadelphia
Boat: Murray 33-Chouette & Pape Steelmaid-44-Safara-both steel cutters
Posts: 4,743
Re: Racor filter failure

Far simpler system but when it happens to me I eventually found a bit of sailcloth stuck in the pick up tube. How it got in the tank is anyone guess, I have no clue.

Try this.....use a small air compressor or bicycle pump or even just your breath, try blowing back into the tank from the filter. You should be able to blow back with a bit of resistance. You may be able to hear the fuel bubble. You might have some debris in the pick up somewhere.
__________________

hpeer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-05-2018, 17:43   #3
Registered User

Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Full time cruisers
Boat: Krogen 42
Posts: 315
Re: Racor filter failure

The older dual Racor filters had a plastic valve that will eventually break inside the housing in one position. The handle moves but not the valve itself. I recall the replacement piece was $350 or so. Half the price of an entire new unit. Was the handle hard to turn?
__________________
----------------------------------
Terry
meridian28 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-05-2018, 18:28   #4
Registered User
 
jr_spyder's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Boston area
Boat: Little Harbor 46 (1988)
Posts: 254
Re: Racor filter failure

The handle is easy to turn but by my instinct maybe too easy. It doesn't feel quite right, but not obviously wrong either. In fact even in the off position I still get the same partial flow of fuel to the engine. It's definitely my most suspicious target component.

I saw that (now) $375 full replacement valve on the Racor site. Ugg. I'm hoping to find a rebuild kit as the aluminium housing and other parts of the valve seem perfectly fine, and it looks like it can be disassembled and the guts of the valve pulled out. Could be wrong about that, or it needs special tools.
jr_spyder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-05-2018, 23:09   #5
Registered User
 
Simi 60's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Australia
Boat: Milkraft 60 ex trawler
Posts: 1,249
Re: Racor filter failure

I'm sure with a bit of thinking something like this could be used

https://www.valvesonline.com.au/3-wa...eel-ball-valve

Probably much cheaper again on eBay and delivered.
Simi 60 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 23-05-2018, 09:46   #6
Registered User
 
jr_spyder's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Boston area
Boat: Little Harbor 46 (1988)
Posts: 254
Re: Racor filter failure

I had a very productive email exchange over a few days with a technical rep at Racor named Steve. It turns out my dual filter setup is 30 years old. Steve was very helpful and confirmed what meridian28 said that my problem is a failure internal to the valve which they have seen before. While the new ones look a lot alike the central valve has changed a few times over the years and mine is not supported or repairable, and the new one doesnít just fit in place of the old.

So Iíll just do like Simi 60 suggested and build my own controls using ball valves to isolate/control the flows. Easy to do, and a lot cheaper, but not sure about the fittings I need since the boat is 2000 miles away. The Racor rep suggested this helpful site: https://www.fittingsforracor.com/default.asp The name says it all. My only real uncertainty is what the i.d. is of the fuel hoses on the boat Ė guessing 3/8Ē. Iíll probably make a trip down there once over the summer to do some work and confirm all my needs on all the projects.

Thanks for the input on this.

JR
jr_spyder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-08-2018, 02:53   #7
Registered User
 
BigAl.NZ's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Auckland, NZ
Boat: Hood 38 - Wauquiez
Posts: 211
Re: Racor filter failure

Quote:
Originally Posted by jr_spyder View Post
I had a very productive email exchange over a few days with a technical rep at Racor named Steve. It turns out my dual filter setup is 30 years old. Steve was very helpful and confirmed what meridian28 said that my problem is a failure internal to the valve which they have seen before. While the new ones look a lot alike the central valve has changed a few times over the years and mine is not supported or repairable, and the new one doesnít just fit in place of the old.

So Iíll just do like Simi 60 suggested and build my own controls using ball valves to isolate/control the flows. Easy to do, and a lot cheaper, but not sure about the fittings I need since the boat is 2000 miles away. The Racor rep suggested this helpful site: https://www.fittingsforracor.com/default.asp The name says it all. My only real uncertainty is what the i.d. is of the fuel hoses on the boat Ė guessing 3/8Ē. Iíll probably make a trip down there once over the summer to do some work and confirm all my needs on all the projects.

Thanks for the input on this.

JR
Did you ever fix this problem? I have exactly the same issue.
BigAl.NZ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-08-2018, 15:46   #8
Registered User
 
jr_spyder's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Boston area
Boat: Little Harbor 46 (1988)
Posts: 254
Re: Racor filter failure

Not yet. I'm heading back down to the boat at the end of Sep to do some projects and get it ready for the winter sailing season. I'll confirm all the bits and pieces and proper sizes I need then.
jr_spyder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-08-2018, 16:42   #9
Registered User
 
Nicholson58's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Caribbean live aboard
Boat: Camper & Nicholson58 Ketch - ROXY Traverse City, Michigan No.668283
Posts: 4,032
Images: 83
Re: Racor filter failure

Sure sounds like the three way valve. I would start there and avoid the mess involved with the two filters.
Nicholson58 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2018, 11:00   #10
Registered User
 
jr_spyder's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Boston area
Boat: Little Harbor 46 (1988)
Posts: 254
Re: Racor filter failure

So I can tell the full story now. I've solved the problem but it was far more trouble then I expected. It was one of those rare projects that in hindsight is easy to say I shouldn't have done, and it's not easy for me to admit defeat. I will tell you that if I had to do it all again I'd just buy an entirely new filter (around $1k) and simply remove and replace the old. Hindsight is 20/20. Here's the saga. It's important to remember the boat was in Grenada on the hard for the summer and I was 2,000 miles away. If this was all in my home marina it wouldn't have been as challenging - maybe.

1. I removed entire filter assembly from the boat and took apart the three-way valve. The valve has a metal stem that turns an internal plastic valve body that redirects all the flows in two sections (ins and outs). Simple in concept. The problem was the connection from the metal stem to the plastic body. The stem goes about a 1/2" into the head of the plastic and a SS pin passes from one side the plastic body, through the stem, and out the other side of the plastic body. There is also a heavy spring that holds a notched washer in place that does the indexing of the valve handle in it's four possible positions. This spring has the effect of trying to pull the pin straight up from the plastic, at the same time pushing the plastic valve body deeper into the fixture. The valve body is tapered so if it is set in too far it will start to bind. Over the 30 years this valves has been in service the plastic slowly gave way and the valve got harder to turn. Finally the pin broke out of the plastic and the valve body jammed. In my case in an almost closed position. Now turning the handle simple allowed the pin to gouge away at the plastic of the top of the valve body. It looked like a dog had chewed on it.

2. Fine, simply get rid of the three way valve and use ball valves. I got all the parts at home (a lot of effort to understand the right thread sizes) and went back to the boat for a maintenance visit. I had all the sizes right and assembled the new parts. It definitely would have worked. Unfortunately what I didn't appreciate from home was how little space there was around where the fuel filter was mounted, and how much more space the new ball valve solution would need. I could make it fit but two of the valves would have been extremely hard to get too. And since the obvious time to need to switch between filters is while motoring in close quarters I wasn't comfortable with this potential solution.

3. I brought the entire three-way valve assembly back home with me. I brought the parts to a local machine shop where they milled a stainless steel collar to fit perfectly over the chewed up end of the plastic valve body ($120 job.) A new pin then connected the valve stem to the plastic body and collar to give a perfect new connection. All good, except the indexing washer now was a problem. I did a little welding and machining myself to sort that out, but it was a real PITA.

4. Now the old valve works perfectly on my bench and I'm anxious to get back to the boat and reinstall it. I have high confidence I'll be good to go.

5. With the best intentions I wasted a lot of time and money on making up my own ball valve solution. Like I said it definitely would work but at a lower level of safety and ease of use that I want in this system.

6. I can't really blame Racor for not supporting in this old system I guess, but it's not a lot of parts they would have to keep around to have a rebuild kit (just the plastic valve body.) And I will say that in one of my exchanges with a Racor service guy he suggested I just pull it all apart and have a new part machined. I should have listened then as it is where I ended up.

Now my wife and I can't wait to get back to the boat and get back to our dream of sailing the Caribbean over the winter. Last year it was more like a delivery trip from Newport - Bermuda - Antigua - Grenada. Now we're ready to enjoy.

JR
jr_spyder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2018, 13:25   #11
Registered User
 
Nicholson58's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Caribbean live aboard
Boat: Camper & Nicholson58 Ketch - ROXY Traverse City, Michigan No.668283
Posts: 4,032
Images: 83
Re: Racor filter failure

Look for us in the eastern Caribbean. Say high to ROXY. We leave Trinidad next week to be in Antigua by mid November. Then wander back down to Martinique for Christmas. Not so sure after that.
__________________

Nicholson58 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
racor

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
racor 500 filter what micron filter? quartersplash Engines and Propulsion Systems 21 09-05-2012 08:15
Cleaning Racor 500 FG Filter - Problem ! MarkJ Engines and Propulsion Systems 36 16-02-2012 12:56
Filter Gasoline in a Racor Diesel Filter ? Sailorman Ed Engines and Propulsion Systems 4 04-12-2011 20:37
For Sale: Racor 500-Like Filter and Valves for Dual Filter Setup funjohnson Classifieds Archive 2 07-08-2011 13:52
Racor Turbine Fuel Filter/Water Seperator drh1965 Engines and Propulsion Systems 11 30-08-2007 08:48



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 01:59.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.