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Old 12-31-2015, 04:06 PM   #1
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New steel fuel tank issue!

Just as I was feeling better about my fuel tank, I now have another issue. I had 2 very old friends of mine over the other night and they asked if they could help me with any chores. As I was doing dishes (I'm single and used to it) I asked if they would fill my fresh water tanks. Easy enough. They asked which fitting to pull to put the hose in. I said it was clearly marked "WATER". So, turns out they cannot read (or a few too many beers) and started to fill my diesel tank, with water. UGH!.
The next day, I opened the lowest tank fitting (for the sight level tube) and proceeded to drain about 7 gallons of clear water from the tank. The next day, I drained another 1/2 gallon out into a clear, sealable container and let it sit over night. The next morning, it had about 1/2" of water in the bottom. Did this 2 more times and no water in container bottom. Then, drained another 5 gallons of fuel and still no water.

As water will settle to bottom of tank, there should be some water left in the tank, correct? My curiosity is that I initially drained water, but now none shows up in the container. Could diesel fuel force water out as I was draining? There is an inspection cover, so I will have to remove and siphon the remaining contents out to check for water and clean the tank while there.

Thoughts with regards to water, based on above findings, would be appreciated. Sorry for writing a small book! Happy new year!
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Old 01-01-2016, 09:57 PM   #2
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OMG. Two lessons there I'm afraid. One, never get landlubbers to do anything on your boat with potential for trouble. Two is never let them do anything at all unless you show them precisely what and where, and how to do it. But sadly you worked that out already I guess, but it is worth underlining for other's benefit.

As to what has happened, at least it is not as bad as the other mistake which has been discussed on another thread, where someone got diesel in their drinking water tank.

Doing what you have done is possibly almost there, but yes, opening the inspection port and siphoning out the last you can get even sacrificing quite a bit of diesel would be wise.. Then there is the fact that small amounts that might escape your efforts will separate out into the lower drainable part of you primary filters, although you would need to keep a close eye on that and drain them regularly. Then there are the tank additives that allegedly absorb some water etc as well and are claimed to render it capable of being combusted through the engine. But best get the advice of a good diesel mechanic as well, I would urge.
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Old 01-01-2016, 11:45 PM   #3
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Can you get a plastic tube to the bottom of the tank, maybe zip-tied to a timber dowel to keep it straight, and pump out, one of those little manual brass pumps will do it.
You could be getting close to an amount the filter can separate out, with frequent checking/draining of the filter bowl.
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Old 01-01-2016, 11:59 PM   #4
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I think you should replace the tanks. Just to be sure...

It's amazing how often that is the correct answer.

And no, I don't want to pay for it.
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Old 01-02-2016, 01:42 AM   #5
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I think you should replace the tanks. Just to be sure...

It's amazing how often that is the correct answer.
Now, Al...you must be joking about that, right?

I got gallons of water in through a failed deck-mounted fuel cap. I had the fuel polished and the tanks scrubbed by a pro. I didn't have inspection plates so he had to install them, too. My total was just under $1000 but yours could be much less.
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Old 01-02-2016, 09:30 AM   #6
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Now, Al...you must be joking about that, right?

I got gallons of water in through a failed deck-mounted fuel cap. I had the fuel polished and the tanks scrubbed by a pro. I didn't have inspection plates so he had to install them, too. My total was just under $1000 but yours could be much less.
And you got a very well setup fuel cleaning system for the future. Money well spent in either case.

It cost me about $300 dollars to have fuel removed from a SeaRay water tank and tank cleaned. The fuel was reused by the boat shop so no hazardous waste fees.
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Old 01-02-2016, 09:53 AM   #7
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I had a leak in my old sailboat and would acquire a few gallons of water monthly. I would just drain off the water on the bottom of the tank as required. Because the draw tube for the fuel was a few inches above the bottom of the tank I never had any problems with contaminated fuel getting ingested into the engine. Water does not remained suspended in diesel and will settle out quickly.
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Old 01-02-2016, 12:21 PM   #8
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Well, I did learn my lesson about people offering to help! Never will happen again.

I found it strange that when draining began I had water present, but then no more found. Unfortunately, no drain port in the bottom of tank, and I really tried to find one! As much as I would like to leave it alone, I am going to open the inspection port as I was planning to get in there anyway to clean the tank. I bought the boat 2 years ago and have been trying to burn off the old diesel prior to tank cleaning and replacement of the primary and secondary filters.

Next issue is the removal of the inspection port. Apparently, no one has been in there in quite some time (if ever) as the 18 nuts are rusted in place, enough so that I cannot get the 1/2" or 13mm socket into any of them. So, maybe the water in the tank will turn out to be a blessing after all and force me to do a job I did not really want to do! But, for peace of mind and to save my injector pumps, possibly the engines, etc, It's all good in the long run.

And no, I cannot replace the tank right now. If I can get a few more years out of it, I plan on doing so.
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Old 01-02-2016, 06:24 PM   #9
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Probly should just throw your hands up and sell the boat. I mean dang, water in a fuel tank, thats insurmountable. No matter that its just tap water and not even mixed good yet. And, every bit of it immediately sank to the bottom and was removed by you. How much $$$, gotta be cheap cause it has a contaminated fuel tank.
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Old 01-02-2016, 07:16 PM   #10
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I'm glad I reread the last post as I actually started to get a little pissed. However, I reread and saw the "little" smile at the end, so all is good! Hey, you can have the boat for 3/4 of what the surveyor market valued it at. I'd be happy with $41,250! That includes a free tank cleaning and new filters!
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Old 01-02-2016, 07:33 PM   #11
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Probly should just throw your hands up and sell the boat. I mean dang, water in a fuel tank, thats insurmountable. No matter that its just tap water and not even mixed good yet. And, every bit of it immediately sank to the bottom and was removed by you. How much $$$, gotta be cheap cause it has a contaminated fuel tank.
LOL!
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Old 01-02-2016, 07:37 PM   #12
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My tanks have a screwed in plug low down, I was never game to undo it for fear of an uncontrolled deluge, but the mechanic did and drained water etc. IMO all tanks should have a drain point tap at the lowest point, just like Nigel Calder says. Then everyone could confidently drain a tank when needed.
Glad you can still find your sense of humor despite this, with a little help from kulas44.
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Old 01-02-2016, 10:06 PM   #13
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Just my way of saying "not a big deal" sorry if I caused you any distress. Levity seems to help me when I do things like that. On my first twin diesel boat, when I first splashed it, I forgot to put the "lids" on the raw water strainers. Got out into the ICW, with a decent current, when alarms went off. Made it back to the Travel lift slip but had obviously done some real damage, smokey rubber smell. Bought new impellors at West (expensive, I thought) Closed the lids, let engines cool for a few beers and left again. Alarms again, forgot to open valves. Bought 2 more expensive impellors. Later replaced all the exhaust, hoses and fiberglass, and a blown head gasket. All this on brand new, just installed engines. They were never right after that. Its hard to laugh about it, but I still do sometimes. Just yesterday, I wanted to move my mower inside, its an old Dixon with a briggs Vanguard engine, great machine. Well, the switch was stuck in the kill mode so I unplugged it, started the engine with a screwdriver across the solinoid. It started alright, the throttle was stuck wide open,,, and no way to kill it. I pulled the fuel line but befor she ran out of fuel I heard the piston hitting the head, stretched the rod. Shiny $hit in the oil. Oh well, I needed another shop project anyway, its cold here. Funny thing, I never new a single cylinder 15.5 hp engine could turn so fast or make so much noise.
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Old 01-03-2016, 07:35 AM   #14
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Purchase a DE Emulsifire and add it to the fuel.

This will grab any water and shake it loose from the diesel.

It should drop to the tank low pioint where you can get rid of it.

When you feel you have it all, add a bug killer so crap doesn't grow in any water left.

Some reading,

http://www.ezoil.com/resources-diese...emulsification
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Old 01-05-2016, 02:43 PM   #15
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Kulas44, No stress at all from you. I create my own! You are right though. Sometimes, all you can do is laugh it off as life goes on. I was also kidding about selling my boat! Although, I now wish I had purchased a larger one as I now work from home.

I guess the bottom line is that this will force me to clean the tank and keep it (hopefully) in good condition for many more years. So, maybe not so bad after all!
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Old 01-06-2016, 05:32 PM   #16
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[QUOTE=Peter B;400512]

As to what has happened, at least it is not as bad as the other mistake which has been discussed on another thread, where someone got diesel in their drinking water tank.

Some people should not be allowed out alone, fancy mixing up the water & fuel fillers.
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Old 01-06-2016, 07:40 PM   #17
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If you can get a stick in to the bottom of the tank, home heating oil companies have test strips that you could fasten to the stick which will show you how much water is in the bottom of the tank.

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Old 01-06-2016, 07:47 PM   #18
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I was just remembering the PO telling me he had considered moving the water and fuel fills apart when I bought the boat. They currently only 12 inches apart, although clearly marked. While I am down there cleaning the tank, I am going to do this. It is cheap and easy insurance, just to make sure I don't accidentally do this in the future! Plus, I can make a nearly straight shot down with the new hose to the tank. The current hose actually is almost Z shaped. Never realized this until I climbed in there and looked.

So, I am actually making some nice upgrades and maintenance as the result of this situation! Not too bad with all things considered.
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Old 05-20-2016, 01:28 AM   #19
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Hey, one thing CHB got right! Water fills are nowhere near the fuel fills!!
Gotta laugh out of kulas44's story. When I was a kid living on Lake Union on a houseboat in Seattle, we had a neat little mini tug with a inboard gas engine in it. Several times I came home from school, hopped in the boat and went out for a quick jaunt, only to smell rubber minutes later. Yep, once again, forgot to open the water. I think about the third time I did that my older brother worked me over.
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Old 05-20-2016, 06:58 AM   #20
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To drain tanks, or clean the tank bottom,
1. use a long section of 3/8 copper tubing, cut on bottom so it draws right to the bottom the liquids. Either a very very shallow angle, or cut flat straight, then notched with a file.
Hooked to an electric fuel pump, or sometimes I have used a vacuum pump with a pickle jar if it pure sludgy crud when the electric fuel pump cant draw it up.

I have also rocked the boat to stir up the tank when pumping out, sometimes it helps.
So I pump into portable fuel tanks or buckets.
Sometimes I run the output through a filter and pump it right back into another tank. Do that back an forth several times.

I understand the pickup tube keeping it above the tank bottom since water and fungus produce tank crud, by why let that crap sit in the tank breeding more of itself? How about having the pickup tube almost touching tank bottom, and any water will be sucked out, not left in the tank? Then have it filling a much smaller tank that can be easily cleaned where the pickup tube is at a higher level.

So big tank to little tank to engine.
If you can draw out the crud from the main tank before it turns into more crud, that would be limiting the infestation. The little tank could function like a huge canister filter, so not vented but entirely sealed, the pump simply displaces the fluid, so the little tank the pump just sees it as a tank.
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