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Old 22-12-2010, 03:14   #1
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Water in Fuel

Hi All,
I'm struggling with water and gunge in my fuel tanks. I have a Fairway 36 with a Perkins 225hp diesel engine. Any ideas on how to clean the fuel and tanks? I have been told of a cleaning fluid called 'Fuel Doctor' but I know that will block the fuel filters soon. Is there a way of re-cycling and cleaning the fuel or is it best to sacrifice the fuel and empty the tank to clean?
Any advice appreciated.
Clive Tudge
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Old 22-12-2010, 03:57   #2
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Have it polished,or rig up a filter/trns pump.Additives at this point waste of time/money.Best would be remove & steam clean ,usually not possible.marc
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Old 22-12-2010, 04:00   #3
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Clive, how much fuel are we talking about? not the tank capacity but how much is in the tanks?

I have filtered a 30 gallon petrol tank by draining it out into a 25L plastic drum. taking the top clean fuel off back to the boat and ditching the last dregs. I needed to repeat the task several times before the water stopped coming out. The alternative is to make up your own filter system and pump. I also have one that looks like this:

However, if you have a lot of fuel, there are commercial companies that will filter your fuel at a price.

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Old 22-12-2010, 11:10   #4
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"Any ideas on how to clean the fuel and tanks? "
You pump it out, allow it to stand and the water will separate out. Pump the fuel into a clean container (or wait until the tank is cleaned then put it back)and dump the rest with your waste oil.

Tank cleaning? All depends on access. You may need to remove the tank from the boat, scour it and tumble it, or have a radiator shop steam clean it. Get inside and get the crud out, leave it in the sun for a day to dry nicely, then reinstall and put the fuel back in.

For ongoing maintenance, you can install a fuel filters (or filters) and a pump in a loop, so that it sucks fuel from the tank, filters it, dumps it back it, and then change that filter instead of waiting for the primary to clog. Many options, many old threads on the topic of fuel polishing and the like.
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Old 22-12-2010, 16:07   #5
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Water in Fuel

Hi Guys,
Many thanks for the advice received so far, really appreciated.
I've got about 200 litres in each tank and so syphoning out is a bit impractical. Also getting the tank out could be really hard but is an option I'm looking at.
I bought a pump and filter yesterday and am rigging up an external loop to take the fuel out, dump the first 20 litres or so and then re-cycle. This is something that I expect to have to do a few times.

Cheers and have a Great Christmas.

Clive
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Old 22-12-2010, 17:35   #6
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So you could pump the fuel into drums or pump the fuel from one tank through a filter/water separator into the other tank (if you have room) and then clean the tank. It isn't necessary to remove the tank but you may have to cut access holes in it in order to access all of the compartments. Then scrape out the sludge, wipe dry and clean with paper towels and then lint free cloths. Then repeat the procedure for the other tank.

Cleaning the fuel without cleaning the tank may be an exercise in futility.
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Old 22-12-2010, 21:33   #7
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There are so many threads on this topic already....wow!!!!
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Old 22-12-2010, 21:41   #8
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I don't see it as necessary to remove the fuel from the tank.

There are two things you need to do. First get rid of the water by polishing the fuel, meaning that you pump it out of the tank, through a filter with a water trap and back into the tank.

The second thing is to buy a dual filter system which also has a water trap with an alarm. When one filters water trap gets enough water, it sounds an alarm and you then turn a handle which then opens the second filter and closes the first filter. It is then that you can drain the trapped water out of the water trap. Then do the reverse if and when the second filter gets enough water in it to sound the alarm. Keep going back and forth with the dual filters until all the water is gone. Racor makes an excellent set of dual filters.
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Old 23-12-2010, 00:44   #9
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Hi All,
Some great advice already and all appreciated. I feel a bit like DeepFrz says 'it may be an exercise in futility' but I'll try the 'polishing' with Fuel Doctor and see how we go.
I've rigged up a filter and pump but I just need to work out how to prime it and then away we go.
I like the sound of the advice from David M, I'll look into the dual filter idea; sounds good.
Cheers,
Clive
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Old 23-12-2010, 05:04   #10
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Though there are other threads on this...I'll just add $0.02. If you have water in the fuel, and if you are in a warm climate then it is very likely that you have biomass growing in there. This produces sludge which will clog fuel lines, filters, etc. I strongly recommend cleaning the fuel and the tank as others have noted. There are different ways to clean the tank depending on access. But it's critical! I had my engine quit right in Lake Worth inlet because a hunk of sludge clogged the fuel line before my filters.
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Old 23-12-2010, 07:45   #11
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David M, the OP mentioned water and grunge and the only way you can be sure you have all the grunge out of the tank is to drain the tank and clean it.

I have had first hand experience with grunge and it ain't nice when it clogs the fuel line in a seaway.
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Old 23-12-2010, 08:46   #12
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I have to agree that long term you need to some how agitate the tank to get rid of grunge. Anything else is a temporary solution with the problem likely to reappear when you are in bouncy/dangerous conditions. I would get a 55 gallon drum and siphon one tank into that cut access holes scrub it and get all the grunge out then put the clean fuel back in the tank and do the same with the other tank.
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Old 23-12-2010, 14:28   #13
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That's the way to go.

No Magic Elixir is going to get the stuff off the sides and off the bottom.
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Old 23-12-2010, 15:48   #14
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David-
"I don't see it as necessary to remove the fuel from the tank." No, but it is much harder to clean the sides and bottom of tank, assuming there's growth in it, when the tank is full.

Chief, doesn't muriatic acid count as a magic elixir? Or live steam? One or the other should motivate all the crud out of a tank.<G>
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Old 23-12-2010, 16:13   #15
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Water in Fuel

Hi Guys,
Again thanks for the comments.
The boat was on a hardstand for about a year and then in the water for 6 months before I bought it; so I suspect that the tanks developed stale fuel and algae in this period.
The water in the fuel caused the engine to stop 3 miles off land and I had to be towed in by the Coast Guard. When we looked at the filters they were quite bad and there was water in the primary and secondary filters. I had done about 75 hours with these filters.
I will persist with the magic fuel cleaner for a while but I am going to plan to really clean one of the tanks possibly by cutting a whole in the side to cleanse it.
Incidentally, the drain plug is about 1/2 inch above the tank bottom and I conduct a fuel drain every time before a trip (my pilot instinct) and the fuel is quite clean so it seems to be limited to the bottom 1/2 inch which still could be a substantial amount but the fuel doctor may see to that.
Cheers and have a great Christmas
Clive
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