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Old 02-07-2016, 19:20   #1
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How to clean the bilge?

We discovered a diesel fuel leak, because the privious owner to the guy I bought the boat from, used Reinforced Water hose. I didn't notice it because he connected it to a real fuel hose going under the engine. We began smelling that Terrable diesel fuel smell in the bilge. I replaced the old tubing with real diesel fuel line.

Now, I need to clean gunky fuel, from the engine to the bilge. However, I've never had to do that before, and can use all the help I can get.
Thank you in advance for your help.
Chip
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Old 02-07-2016, 19:36   #2
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Re: How to clean the bilge?

twice a year we would dump a couple of gallons of simple green into the bilge and go sailing. all that sloshing would work the bulk of the gunk loose but if not, repeat the following day. remember to switch the pumps to off, and pump out at the dock and not offshore... emulsified oil is still oil.
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Old 02-07-2016, 19:43   #3
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Re: How to clean the bilge?

they make special pads that soak up diesel but not water. i would get some and put in the bilge. then go with the detergent and water when fuel is gone. repeat many times. good luck.
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Old 02-07-2016, 19:48   #4
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Re: How to clean the bilge?

It's a little hard to say, not having any idea what kind of boat you're talking about, and therefore not knowing the bilge configuration. We don't even know if it is a sailboat!

Okay, get hold of a garden sprayer, and fill it with boiling water, and add tsp (trisodiumphosphate) to it according to the pkg. instructions for deep grime. Carefully spray the diesel and dirt trail to the sump. Carefully wash down the walls of the sump.
Use a toilet brush to scrub the bottom of the bilge. Pump out with a wet or dry shop vac. This you can empty in any drain to a sewer. Then rinse down with fresh hot water, and pump out again to remove any residue. After that, use rags.

Another way is to spray the whole lot with engine degreaser, Hose down with hot water using the sprayer, rinse and let dry. Still may have to scrub, and finish with rags.

Ann

PS. If the interior cushions have picked up the diesel smell, take off the cushion covers and clean them separately, and air the cushions. If the smell is not gone from the foam, it will have to be replaced, ditto, the covers, if they do not smell clean. Do not use hot water on the covers, they likely will shrink.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings.

Ann
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Old 02-07-2016, 19:53   #5
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Re: How to clean the bilge?

If left alone the fuel and any oil will sit on the top of the water in the bilge. Before you do any cleanign and imulsify it get some oil absorbant pads and lay them on top and let them sit for a few days, make sure they are oil only pads not universal as the altter will absord water as well. Once you remove the pads, simple green or if you can't get that joy, dawn etc for cleaning with the bilge pumps off. A cheap wet dry shop vac and some plastic 5 gal buckets from home depot or the harware store with lids for what you suck out. Rags to wipe it all down when you are done. Its a bit of a pain to lug the buckets around and get them to a proper disposal site but its the right way to do it.
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Old 02-07-2016, 19:57   #6
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Re: How to clean the bilge?

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Originally Posted by Ann T. Cate View Post
It's a little hard to say, not having any idea what kind of boat you're talking about, and therefore not knowing the bilge configuration. We don't even know if it is a sailboat!

Okay, get hold of a garden sprayer, and fill it with boiling water, and add tsp (trisodiumphosphate) to it according to the pkg. instructions for deep grime. Carefully spray the diesel and dirt trail to the sump. Carefully wash down the walls of the sump.
Use a toilet brush to scrub the bottom of the bilge. Pump out with a wet or dry shop vac. This you can empty in any drain to a sewer.

Ann
Every country is different but be Extremely careful about dumping any oil or oily residue fuel oil etc without checking local laws and rules. Best case you get booted out of your marina worse case you get a huge fine. If it leaves a shean its moslty needs to be disposed of properly
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Old 02-07-2016, 20:49   #7
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Re: How to clean the bilge?

If he can get at it, it's good to get the oil up with oil absorbent pads. They can be wrung out into an empty oil jug (often found in dumpsters), till you get all the oil first. Diesel will evaporate over time, but leave an oily residue.

No harm in checking local rules, but I do believe that either method mentioned above is relatively safe for boat owner and environment.k

ANn
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Old 02-07-2016, 21:18   #8
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Re: How to clean the bilge?

I take the filter off the shop vac, suck the oil off the top of the bilge, pour contents into clear containers, let sit until oil and water separate, use my manual oil change pump to transfer that to container to take to recycle drum.

Real PITA but inspired me to spend the $1200 to get the leaky injector pump rebuilt.
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Old 03-07-2016, 09:17   #9
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Re: How to clean the bilge?

I didn't know there would be specific treatment for a sail or power boat. Then I read the sides between a wooden and any other Boat. The cotton stuffing reacts to certain cleaning agents.
Ours is a 40 year old Newport 30 Mk II sailboat. We've had her for 2 years and the couple we bought her from had her do about 1 or 2 years. She is fiberglass and the engine was converted from an Atomic 4 to a Yanmar Diesel. The stopped using the built-in fuel tank and mounted a 25 gallon diesel fuel bladder aft. I'm not sure why they used the reenforced water hose, as everything else was done right.
Chip
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Old 03-07-2016, 10:21   #10
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Re: How to clean the bilge?

Containing your cleanup effort is a big part of it, you get in there and go to town then somehting comes up and you are covered in goo and need to go topsides etc. Good advise on removing the shop vac filter, and make sure you don't over fill it as it will spray goo every where before the float seals. Also the bucket settling trick is good advise. If you don't have access to dispose of the water, you can fill the buckets 3/4 full and put a pad on top and let them set. You can wipe residue from the bucket sides and get clean oil free water this way with a little time and paitience. I wouldn't advise tryign to re-use oil pads, once saturated the fibers break down and leave little oil filled hairs all over if the pad is disturbed. As Ann said in reality diesel will evaporate, in some cases it is even standard spill remidiation practice to contain diesel spills on open water and leave it alone to let nature do its thing. Oil however will not. We had a tenant get evicted for putting a small amount of anti freeze down the head in the marina. We also had a boat in front of us pump his bilge full of oil and fuel in the wee hrs every night all winter leaving a huge slick and no one ever said a word so??

Another thing for keeping the cleaning effort from spreading is to buy a box of nitrile gloves and keep changing them. Its good PPE and it will keep the mess from spreading. Probably the worse thing about Diesel is if it gets ins contact with interior wood or cushions. Its a pretty big pain to get out.
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Old 03-07-2016, 10:36   #11
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Re: How to clean the bilge?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wostenberg View Post
We discovered a diesel fuel leak, because the privious owner to the guy I bought the boat from, used Reinforced Water hose. I didn't notice it because he connected it to a real fuel hose going under the engine. We began smelling that Terrable diesel fuel smell in the bilge. I replaced the old tubing with real diesel fuel line.

Now, I need to clean gunky fuel, from the engine to the bilge. However, I've never had to do that before, and can use all the help I can get.
Thank you in advance for your help.
Chip
Chip, I don't envy your situation, but it gan be rectified with everything as good as new.

You already received lots of good, first hand advice and it all works as described.

From experience, let me remind us all that the absorbent oil pads are compromized once they touch any water with detergent in it. [i.e., they no longer hold just oil, but water too- releasing some of the oil they previously held...]

Our procedure is to first mop up as much fuel/oil as we can with the absorbent pads/rolls, then to clean everything we can with hot water and detergents/TSP/etc.

Then we rinse well with lots of fresh water.

Then we use a bacteria based bilge cleaner TUF-ENUF BILGEG Natural Bilge Cleaner. [Note: This is their Bilge Cleaner- a biologic. They also make other products that work well, but don't use bacteria...]

The advantage of the biologic cleaner is we can spray it in all the nooks and crannies [as well as the bilge- even the engine] to eliminate the oil/fuel hidden from our cleaning attempts.

This stuff works really well, harms nothing [including materials on the boat and marine life when used as directed...] and eliminates all residual petroleum slime and odors. [Everything will smell faintly like oranges...]

Best wishes with your efforts.

Cheers!

Bill
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Old 03-07-2016, 10:36   #12
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Re: How to clean the bilge?

I get serious amounts of oil in my bilge because I have an old Detroit Diesel engine. Common wisdom on them is that you add oil when they stop leaking. Ordinary oil-water separators won't do it - the bilge water gets enough oil entrained in it that gravity separation still leaves a sheen if I pump separated water overboard. The solution I've found is products made by New Pig, which are basically oil only pads in pump-through containers, including one disposible unit that sells for $107 and filters out a gallon of oil from water before replacement. These are EPA compliancy units for construction sites. So, I gravity separate bilge oil/water in one tank, and then run the water through the New Pig unit before it goes overboard. The oil goes into old oil jugs for a trip to recycling. Some DD owners put it in their fuel tanks, but I'm not willing to take the risk of included water or junk.
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Old 03-07-2016, 10:43   #13
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Re: How to clean the bilge?

If it's left a gunky residue I'd put a small amount of diesel in the bilge and use this to scrub down and dissolve the gunk before either soaking it up with rags or pumping it out with a pump and wiping the bilge clean. The diesel smell will go away in a few days.


I usually avoid cleaning with soapy water or degreasers as they tend to emulsify the oil/water mix and the resultant volume becomes a disposal problem. Instead I try to get the oil/water mix into a clear container and after it separates I use a small clear plastic tube to syphon the water from under the diesel (blow gently through the tube so that the diesel does not enter the inside of the tube as it goes down through the diesel) I then leave the diesel for a while until the dirt settles out and syphon the clean diesel off the top and put it back in the tank. The small amount of dirty diesel left goes into a container for disposal ashore.
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Old 03-07-2016, 10:56   #14
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Re: How to clean the bilge?

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Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
I get serious amounts of oil in my bilge because I have an old Detroit Diesel engine. Common wisdom on them is that you add oil when they stop leaking. Ordinary oil-water separators won't do it - the bilge water gets enough oil entrained in it that gravity separation still leaves a sheen if I pump separated water overboard. The solution I've found is products made by New Pig, which are basically oil only pads in pump-through containers, including one disposible unit that sells for $107 and filters out a gallon of oil from water before replacement. These are EPA compliancy units for construction sites. So, I gravity separate bilge oil/water in one tank, and then run the water through the New Pig unit before it goes overboard. The oil goes into old oil jugs for a trip to recycling. Some DD owners put it in their fuel tanks, but I'm not willing to take the risk of included water or junk.

Little thread drift... but you should look into Abanaki bilge skimmers, oleofelic (sp?) belt. We have finally convinced them to buy us a Alfa laval Pure bilge about $100,000...... all of the other OWS's pretty much suck. By far the best and simplist device we have found to make things work till now is the bilge skimmer. They pull only oil out till the sheen gets to about 1/32" or somehting like that. Very effective if you have a leaky main engine. Simple to instal and a tiny motor to run it. You just don't want to leave it running forever as it will start to pick up water once the oil goes away.
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Old 03-07-2016, 11:03   #15
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Re: How to clean the bilge?

Diesel floats on the water. Here's what I did once:
-Turn off the bilge pump
-use absorbent pads in the bilge first to get up the oil that is floating on top. Throw them away.
-Mix Joy detergent in a spray bottle. put plenty of Joy in with water.
-Spray up under the floor boards and everywhere with it.
-any thick concentrations scrub with a pad or brush also.
-Hose all those areas with a spray, hose it all into the bilge.
-let it sit.
-repeat the absorbent pad thing to get any loose oil of the top of the bilge water.
-Pump out the bilge. Depending on how clean it is either into a bucket for disposal or overboard.
-put a bit of clean water in the bilge with some Joy.
-Go sailing, it will thrash around the joy/water.
-Forget it.
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