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Old 16-07-2009, 08:32   #1
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New Member from New England

Hi- my name is John, but our boat is named AJA, so I'll be using that as my reference. My wife and I and our two kids sail out of Narragansett Bay and we have been cruising New England for the past 25 years. I found our 37' Irwin center cockpit ketch at a salvage yard in Massachusetts, and have spent the last two years getting her seaworthy. Every system from rigging, to plumbing, to the engine has been changed, and she has turned out beautifully. There's still a million things to do, but of course with a boat that is always true.We had our last boat, and Irwin 28, for 18 years, and when I sold her, I had her ALMOAST exactly as I wanted her.

I came across this site looking for information on cleaning my fuel tank. AJA had been stored outside a barn in Maine for 18 years just before I bought her,l and she had a 100 Gallon tank full of diesel fuel. Over the past year I've managed to whittle that down to about 65 gallons, but there is no access to physically clean the tank. I've been hearing horror stories about sludge and bugs, and water, and have been wondering if anyone has any ideas on getting to my tank. I did take the precaution of using a racor filter with a 2 micron screen, and I have a fuel pressure guage on it, and I watch the water separator, .... and even though we've been through our share of pounding chop out on Vinyard Sound and Rhode Island Sound, the tank hasn't thrown an embolis my way....(yet). The fuel itself looks good to me, and the engine runs great, but I can't believe that after 18 years on the hard there's not a city of creatures living on the bottom of my tank and swimming in my fuel that mean me harm. My mechanictold that if I'm not going to have the tank professionally cleaned, that I should expect to go through a few filters each season.....any ideas?

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Old 16-07-2009, 08:58   #2
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We bought an older boat than had not been sailed much and between Puerto Rico and Bermuda we changed fuel filters every 15 engine hours. We now can go 60-100 hours on a filter and it continues to improve. I put a fairly inexpensive vacuum guage on the filter housing that now gives me warning of impeding fuel starvation.
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Old 16-07-2009, 10:15   #3
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Greetings and welcome aboard John.

If your fuel doesn’t have a pinkish or milky colouring to it (water/alcohol suspension), and doesn’t have any water, or gooey black substance (bacteria or fungus), or black grit (tars) in the bottom of your primary fuel filter/water separator, there’s probably no need to get the tank cleaned. Just pay close attention to it.

If the fuel is degraded, it needs to be polished, and the tank pressure cleaned.
Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 16-07-2009, 12:15   #4
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Aloha John,
Welcome to the forum!
Kind regards,
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Old 16-07-2009, 15:34   #5
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Welcome John. I too have an Irwin built 37'CC and previously owned an Irwin Competition 30, Similar to your story. I had completely rebuilt my 30 and now have rebuilt my 37. Good luck with yours. By the way my 30 also sailed Narragansett Bay. I bought it from an old friend and crew Tom Gibbons, who unfortunately is no longer with us.

I think GordMay's advice is the way to go.

While you're joining, consider this site

Or this

Or this

Good luck

Joe S
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Old 16-07-2009, 18:49   #6
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Welcome to the forum,
If the tank was completely full when she got stored then you may have dodged a bullet, probably not, but so far your luck seems good. I would keep putting fuel into the tank to mix down the old fuel with some new, or if you intend to clean the tank, keep burning it like you are, depending on what level the suction is at you will eventually get to the junk, if it is there.
" Wisdom; is your reward for surviving your mistakes"
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Old 20-07-2009, 14:38   #7
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Old Fuel and Filters

Thanks to everyone for the replies. I did put a pressure gauge on the primary filter, and I figure I'll try to hold out 'till there's only 25 gallons or so left (easier to polish) before I clean the tank. But I'll feel better making sure its clean.....AJA
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