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Old 05-08-2009, 14:19   #1
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Diesel Tank Algae Problem

I just bought a 34 columbia mkII which has a westerbeke 30hp diesel in it. The boat has two fuel tanks one 12g which i was able to remove and clean, with acetone and a toilet brush and one 25g main tank which is in much worse shape than the 12g. I have poured acetone into this tank as well to help break down the algae and have tried to clean it with the brush, but it has a divider in the tank so I only have access to one half of the tank. I have some biocide and was wondering if anyone had any recommendations for shocking past the recommended dose. I would run it only on the 12g tank but the return line runs to the main tank(as this is my first experience with diesels, I was freaking out about burning 2 gallons in twenty min out of the 12g tank.) my current plan is to pump the remaining diesel and acetone out and flush it with a couple gallons of fresh. Buy a lot of fuel filters and check them reguarly, but i wanted to see if anyone else had any better suggestions
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Old 05-08-2009, 14:52   #2
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Biobor has a shock treatment concentration which is twice their maintenance dose, but you need to mix the stuff in by adding some fresh fuel.

If you hadn't put the acetone in, I would have suggested a fuel polishing service. That will clean the algae out of the fuel and the tank walls you can access, but isn't going to clean the part of the tank which is behind the baffles. Now I think you are going to have to pump out and dispose of the fuel in the main tank, then put in some fresh fuel and change filters until things get cleaned up.
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Old 05-08-2009, 15:17   #3
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yeah I am not worried about the fuel in the tank I would rather have use of the tank than use of the fuel in it.
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Old 05-08-2009, 15:20   #4
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Not sure what your plans are, but that engine shouldnt burn over about 1/2 gal per hour. Do you need more than 24 hours worth?
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Old 05-08-2009, 15:49   #5
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Why not route the return line to the small "known clean" tank and use that for the engine at all times. Called a Day Tank.

Use the large "dirty tank" as storage for extra fuel on longer trips and to take on new fuel (in case it's dirty). Install a big but fine mesh filter and electric pump to move fuel from the dirty tank, filter it, and put it in the small tank as needed.

This way you always have clean fuel in the small tank. If the dirty tank clogs a filter it will happen during a fuel transfer rather than while you are motoring. When motoring you already know you have clean (pre-filtered) fuel in a clean tank.
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Old 05-08-2009, 16:39   #6
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Quote:
If you hadn't put the acetone in, I would have suggested a fuel polishing service.
A neighbor had a tank problem in a late 70's Taiwan trawler. He had the tank commercially cleaned using a polishing system form someone that does it all the time. I know this guy does good work too. They had to come back because some of the baffles could not be reached. It's not easy to clean crap out of a tank by polishing.

Once a tank gets dirty, there is not specific sure fire method to clean them. The crap that builds up does not flake off because you think it should. It can hang on and then come back to get you later. Any new fuel is fine but the sludge build up does not come off easy. Polishing does not clean dirty tanks but it can cure a problem - just not on the first take.
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Old 05-08-2009, 17:03   #7
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i would be surprised if you had algae in your tanks as algae requires sunlight to grow. Biobor will take care off fungus and other microbial life, which is what you probably have, as donredcliffe suggested.
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Old 05-08-2009, 18:13   #8
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Assuming that you can get the larger tank free and are able to hold it and shake it?

Empty it out, plug outlets. Pour in a large box of koshering salt (or rock salt) and shake the hell out of it. Add a little water, just enough to make things soggy, repeat.

Repeat as neccessary.

The coarse salt is a good arasive, it will cut biologicals and many soft coatings (i.e. old paint or vinyl) and unlike sand, it can be totally and safely dissolved in hot water and then removed completely. To be followed by a fresh water rinse.

That should get past any dividers in the tank, the biggest problem is that it relies of you shaking rolling, or rocking the tank to do the mechanical abrasion.
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Old 05-08-2009, 18:23   #9
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Once you have cleaned the tank, I would suggest that you run two filters set up with cocks so that you can change from one filter to the other if necessary. Regards, Richard
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Old 05-08-2009, 18:32   #10
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Not all is lost and you do not necessarily have to resort to extreme measures, like opening up the tank or worse, having it removed. Shocktreat your tank and keep adding more biocide at each fillup. Buy a set of dual Racor's and keep changing out the filters as they become clogged.

I had the same problem once and it did not require extreme measures to cure the problem.

I'm not saying it won't eventually require opening the tank or removing the tank, but try the easy way first.
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Old 05-08-2009, 20:22   #11
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You have just solved a mystery for me

I had a customer whose fuel lines were filled with rock salt.....

whatafreakinnightmarethatwastogetitsortedout!!!!!! !!!!!!

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Assuming that you can get the larger tank free and are able to hold it and shake it?

Empty it out, plug outlets. Pour in a large box of koshering salt (or rock salt) and shake the hell out of it. Add a little water, just enough to make things soggy, repeat.

Repeat as neccessary.

The coarse salt is a good arasive, it will cut biologicals and many soft coatings (i.e. old paint or vinyl) and unlike sand, it can be totally and safely dissolved in hot water and then removed completely. To be followed by a fresh water rinse.

That should get past any dividers in the tank, the biggest problem is that it relies of you shaking rolling, or rocking the tank to do the mechanical abrasion.
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Old 05-08-2009, 20:49   #12
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"I had a customer whose fuel lines were filled with rock salt....."
And how did that happen? Someone mistake it for a federal trade in and grab the container next to the sodium silicate? <G>
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Old 04-09-2009, 19:05   #13
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If you can get to each baffled section of the tank, you can put a knot on the end of rope, stuff it into the tank, attach the other end to a drill and let her fly. You will have to experiment with rope diameter, stiffness and length.
This should clean/knock most of the stuff off the walls of your tank.
Let the filters do the rest.

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Old 04-09-2009, 19:38   #14
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What about all the fibres that are going to be flinging off the rope.

I wouls suggest just biting the bullet, cut holes in the tank for cleanouts and be done widdit. I have done this on a number of tanks. These were commercial water taxis.....The tricky part is locating the baffles and planning the holes and drilling and tapping the tank.

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If you can get to each baffled section of the tank, you can put a knot on the end of rope, stuff it into the tank, attach the other end to a drill and let her fly. You will have to experiment with rope diameter, stiffness and length.
This should clean/knock most of the stuff off the walls of your tank.
Let the filters do the rest.

Regards,
Extemp.
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Old 04-09-2009, 19:53   #15
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I wouls suggest just biting the bullet, cut holes in the tank for cleanouts and be done widdit. I have done this on a number of tanks. These were commercial water taxis.....The tricky part is locating the baffles and planning the holes and drilling and tapping the tank.
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If you can get to each baffled section of the tank
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I agree.

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