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Old 09-09-2021, 21:57   #1
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Nuclear Orange?



Is our diesel tank leaking fuel?

HR352

Over the past 18 months (on the hard) our bilge water has been pumping out clear and didnít visibly have issues.

Now however, there is a very bright orange growth in our bilge water and the most recent pump out left a dark slick of oily residue on the gravel below our boat. There doesnít appear to be oil/fuel floating on the bilge water, nor can we find fuel/oil on the engine bay floor above, but itís pretty clear from the gravel that something has got in it.

Our fuel tank is right below our engine, and the bilge area is along 3 sides of it. Iím worried fuel has started leaking in.

Has anyone bad a similar experience before?

Is this some kind of life form?

In your opinion what should I do to fix/mitigate? I canít imagine the cost of hauling out my engine through the cockpit floor, just to grind out and repair a fuel tank Ö

Thanks.
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Old 09-09-2021, 22:03   #2
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Re: Nuclear Orange?

Collect the discharge in a clean container so you know what’s being pumped.
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Old 10-09-2021, 05:21   #3
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Re: Nuclear Orange?

Fuel, lube oil, coolant, transmission oil. Are there any others?

From the description it sounds like the tank is the source, but it would be wise to confirm that with some oil pads under the engine.

Do as pesarsten suggests, and see if you can ID it either from color or from smell.

Check whether engine lube, coolant, or tranny oil are suddenly low. That would help narrow it to the tank.

Clean everything above the bilge so a leak will show its ugly head.

The hoses/tubes from the tank to the engine are sources as well. Clean them.

Do you have hydraulic steering? that's another possible source.
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Old 17-09-2021, 03:41   #4
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Re: Nuclear Orange?

Thank you.


I can confirm the source of the leak was/is our primary fuel tank (stainless steel). It looks like crevice corrosion has reared its ugly head.
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Old 17-09-2021, 04:49   #5
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Re: Nuclear Orange?

I'm sorry to hear it. That probably means a small amount of water in the tank. Repairs from the outside have a very high failure rate; really the best solution is to drain the tank, clean it so carefully that you get all the oil out of the crevice, and plug it from the inside with epoxy or 3M 5200. At least then it will be good for many more years.

If your tank doesn't have a clean-out port, then things get even more complicated, because you will need to make one to get inside. If the top is flat, as is likely, that isn't actually all that difficult given a tool that will cut the right size circle - in my case a plasma cutter.
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Old 17-09-2021, 05:44   #6
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Re: Nuclear Orange?

Cutting into fuel tanks that are not properly prepared for it is a good way to blow yourself up.
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Old 17-09-2021, 06:32   #7
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Re: Nuclear Orange?

Fill it with argon. Itís heavier than air and will displace the oxygen. Then you can drill or jig saw. Remember power tools spark inside the tool. You canít breath argon or CO 2 so think about your plan. If you can get the tank out, do the repair outside the boat. TIG it. Lots of info on Welding Tips and Tricks with Jody on TIG welds in stainless. These videos will show you what quality welds look like.
Iíve used epoxy to line our new water tanks but they were super clean new aluminum. If you have a tiny pin hole, and can clean it, the Green Frog repair could save you a lot of money. As always, the Frog suggestions are spot on.
Iíd put in inspection hatches and a stripper tube so you can suck the water and junk out at the lowest part of the tank.
Set up a small pump and big filter to clean your fuel as much as possible. This depends on power available but it can make a huge difference if it can run off solar all day. All the other ways of preventing water and bugs in your tank have been discussed in previous posts.
Photos and more information please.
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Old 17-09-2021, 06:55   #8
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Re: Nuclear Orange?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manateeman View Post
If you have a tiny pin hole, and can clean it, the Green Frog repair could save you a lot of money. As always, the Frog suggestions are spot on.

Mark,
I've seen other epoxy tank repair kits, but never heard of the "Green Frog". Do you have a link to this product?

Thanks.
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Old 17-09-2021, 06:59   #9
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Re: Nuclear Orange?

FWIW I cut the empty diesel tanks out of my boat using a plain old recip saw, no argon, just drilled a hole big enough to stick the blade in and started cutting away. Used a sledgehammer and a chisel to break the spot welds on the baffles, plenty of sparks. At times the recip saw blade got so hot it was smoking. YMMV but diesel just doesnít ignite with a tiny spark like gasoline does.
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Old 17-09-2021, 08:55   #10
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Re: Nuclear Orange?

Iíve been on boats to look at ďdieselĒ leaks in tanks that have turned out to have been filled with gasoline or paint thinner or who knows what at some point. I had a friend with a Diesel Jeep who filled the tank TWICE with gasoline.
It cost him a bundle the first time and the markings are pretty clear but he did it twice. I never make any assumptions when someone tell me the electricity is off or ďitís safeĒ or ďitís strong enough to hold youĒ. LOL
Iíve been asked what to do because gasoline was pumped into diesel tanks with no fill label or Diesel cast into the deck fill.
People forget to tell you that somebody poured acetone into the tank because they were going to seal the leak with epoxy but changed their minds. People forget stuff.
If Iím going to TIG the tank, Iím going to backfill with argon anyway. It may sound silly to be so cautious but thatís what I do.
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Old 17-09-2021, 09:08   #11
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Re: Nuclear Orange?

I've not heard of diesel catching fire from cutting. You can throw a lighted match in a coffee can of diesel and it wont burn. Still, I would ventilate it well first.

Your tank is under the engine? Ugh. Do you have to remove the engine to replace it?
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Old 17-09-2021, 09:17   #12
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Re: Nuclear Orange?

Let's clear up the "explosive" question. Gasoline produces a flammable gas at -40 degrees and above. That gas mixes with air and goes BOOM when a spark is added. That is why it is dangerous. Diesel produces a flammable gas at about 150 degrees F. with a minimum 100 degrees F. allowed in winter mixes. At room temperature, the space above your diesel in your tank does not contain flammable gas, so have at it. Below the liquid level in your tank you might very locally heat diesel above it's "flashpoint " (confusing term), but the surrounding fuel will cool it down. No harm done.

Therefore, have at it with saws, welders, and what have you on a diesel tank. On a gasoline tank, even cleaning out and then welding on it is dangerous, because there might be enough residual gasoline in the cracks to make an explosive gas/air mixture in the tank.

Only if you decided to heat the whole diesel tank with just a little fuel in it can you get in trouble. Don't put it over a fire to "burn off" the residual diesel. Use soap.
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Old 17-09-2021, 09:19   #13
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Re: Nuclear Orange?

While diesel is safer than gasoline, the way we've always inerted tanks is to drop a chunk of dry ice into the tank. As it sublimes it fills the tank with heavier-than-air CO2 and a chunk of the right size will continue to maintain the inert state while cutting and introducing air.

As mentioned above, with any inerting gas you have to have a plan for what happens in the breathing space.
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Old 17-09-2021, 10:03   #14
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Re: Nuclear Orange?

Dsanduril, that's a super idea. I guess you just need to leave the top open so the tank doesn't pressurize.
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Old 17-09-2021, 20:36   #15
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Re: Nuclear Orange?

The manatee crew took one look at the thread title and they all jumped up and down screaming no Tetrachloroethylene on the boat...it makes Nuclear Orange..thatís what the manatees thought the thread was about. They call the orange hand cleaner, orange juice and carb or brake cleaner Nuke Orange.
Cleans like a Nuke bomb but kills you by creating phosgene.
Phosgene ? What ?.so they start screaming about Brake Cleaner and TIG welding.
I had no idea what they were so upset about but they kept tossing the can around yelling Phosgene and gas attack. So here is the whole story.

I always use acetone to clean my aluminum before TIG.
I bought a can of Brake Cleaner...well...for my brakes on, my Isuzu Trooper but I brought it back to the boat by mistake. That was mistake #1.
I bought a can of Brake Cleaner that contained TCE. Mistake #2.
I didnít read all the stuff on the back of the can Mistake #3.
Very, very lucky for me, I didnít use it to clean anything before welding.

A welder at Brew Bikes was patching Diesel Tanks and he used brake cleaner rather than carb cleaner. The heat from the TIG turned the TCE into phosgene.
He got sick. Real sick. ER to Intensive Care sick. Thousands of dollars in tests. Lots of Doctors. There is NO antidote to phosgene.
He was very lucky he didnít die.

So now some brake cleaners are advertising they contain no TCE. What they might have is n-Hexane..a powerful nerve toxin easily absorbed into the body.
Acetone is not healthy either.
TIG work on any part cleaned with Brake Cleaner can be fatal.
For now, Iím not doing TIG on any tank unless Iím building it new.
I hope people will pass the word. Read the back of the can.
Just because you can buy it off the shelf, doesnít mean itís harmless.

My manatee crew took my credit card to pay for their ORCA POWER Halloween party because I owed them a medical consult and they saved my life yet again.
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