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Old 06-27-2019, 01:54 PM   #1
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Diesel Tank Biomass Removal

I have a significant biomass problem in my stainless steel fuel tanks and I have no way to access the inside of the tanks without radical surgery. After an engine shutdown underway I pulled the pickup tube from the tank and it was completely stuffed with a 12" long biomass snake. The racor filter was clean but the housing was so clogged with biomass that I had to remove it and tear it down completely. There are no access ports for the tanks and there is only 3" of clearance from the top of the tanks to the underside of the cabin sole. Even a local seasoned fuel polisher is not sure if he can access the fuel in the tanks.


Is there an effective fuel treatment that will break this stuff down and allow me to drain it out of the tank? Any other ideas other than major surgery on the boat or trying to cut access ports?
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Old 06-27-2019, 02:45 PM   #2
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I donít know of any chemical that will do it. I think you may have to bite the bullet and put in access ports. What about going down through the filler to suck it out?
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Old 06-27-2019, 02:47 PM   #3
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Maybe clean out the glass portion of the Racor water/fuel separator more frequently?

Our boat sat for a few years before we bought it, so I had to empty out the Racor's glass bowl of granular funky crap quite often the first year. Several years down the road, I never have to empty it anymore.
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Old 06-27-2019, 02:52 PM   #4
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What is in the cabin above the tank? You might be able to cut an access panel in the deck above the tank to allow an access port cut into the top of the tank?
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Old 06-27-2019, 02:57 PM   #5
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I have used this with Great success.

Kills bacteria in fuel on contact.
treats 439 gallons on the initial treatment; after the initial 16 oz. it can treat 1920 gallons. Killem is a water soluble product, EPA registered as a biocide for the control of bacteria and fungi growth in oils and refined fuels. Approved for use in California.
Killem Antimicrobial Fuel Treatment FPPF Chemical ... - Auto Value


https://www.autoparts2020.com/fppf.../killem-antimicrobial-fuel-treatment-fpp-00119



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Old 06-27-2019, 03:02 PM   #6
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Fuel polisher.... either you do it or you can employ a professional.

Once you install the access points on the sole, get the tanks inspected and cleaned.
If you can see the top of the tank, you can no doubt see the tank access ports. Time to do some cutting to the sole.

You might also consider installing a separate fuel polishing system for the future.

I do not know of any PROVEN magical method of desolving the existing mass.
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Old 06-27-2019, 03:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MurrayM View Post
Maybe clean out the glass portion of the Racor water/fuel separator more frequently?

Our boat sat for a few years before we bought it, so I had to empty out the Racor's glass bowl of granular funky crap quite often the first year. Several years down the road, I never have to empty it anymore.
Sounds like the fuel pickup was so clogged that fuel was not getting to the racors.
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Old 06-27-2019, 03:16 PM   #8
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To add to the above good advice... if you have biomass, then you also have water. No matter what else you do, it will be a continuous struggle until you get ALL of the water out of the tanks.

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Old 06-27-2019, 03:18 PM   #9
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Each fuel filler has 2 90 degree turns so no way to get the probe in there. The discharge from the polishing rig could go in there though. To gain access to the top of the tanks, holes would have to be cut through custom cabinetry and setees. I hate to do that but may have to. The current thought is to cut through the the cabinetry directly above the fuel sending units to gain access to the tanks. We do have clear access to one side of each tank. Is there such a thing as a leakproof side access hatch that could be installed reasonably?
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Old 06-27-2019, 03:23 PM   #10
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Yes, many boats have access panels in the tank sides. There are companies that sell kits to put them in. Search this site and there are recommendations about the kits.
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Old 06-27-2019, 03:28 PM   #11
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The easiest way would be go through the side of the tanks if you can get to the sides. You can put in access panels that won’t leak. If not then I would cut out the bottoms of the cabinets and setees and put the access panels in the top of the tanks. Then make removable bottoms in the cabinets and setees. Which ever way is easiest is the way I would go.
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Old 06-27-2019, 03:37 PM   #12
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Side access?? Sounds like a very bad idea.

Find the current tank access ports and cut a hole above the top of tank access ports. I am very surprised, on a boat your size, you do not have existing access points above the tank.
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Old 06-27-2019, 03:50 PM   #13
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SeaBuilt makes access panels that are designed for either top or side wall installation. I have not seen any issues reported with side wall installation. Search the forum and there are several people that have installed them in the tank sides without problems.
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Old 06-27-2019, 04:24 PM   #14
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Our boat has 8" side access panels in each of the 4 tanks - allowed easy inspection. And no leaks at all around the round panels. The tanks are covered with the 'punched metal' covered insulation, but with openings for the tank access panels.
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Old 06-27-2019, 05:29 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Comodave View Post
Sounds like the fuel pickup was so clogged that fuel was not getting to the racors.
This is the bit from the O.P. that I was keying off of:

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeaBreeze View Post
The racor filter was clean but the housing was so clogged with biomass that I had to remove it and tear it down completely.
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Old 06-27-2019, 05:54 PM   #16
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Side access is not a bad idea, it's very common.
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Old 06-28-2019, 05:14 AM   #17
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If the fuel tank has the usual 1 1/2 or2 inch fill you should be able to slide a 1 inch reinforced hose into the tank. A large rotary hand pump, as used to empty 55G drums may not be bothered pumping slime.

If you can at least partially empty the tank you can let the fuel stand a day or two and pump off the water.



Return the fuel, blow some low pressure air (a wet or dry vacuum ) to mix the remainder and do this as many times as needed to see mostly clean fuel.

Bio bore or similar might be a help in killing off what life remains.

Inspect the tank , it might have a bottom drain to get much of the water.
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Old 06-28-2019, 12:31 PM   #18
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So I decided to suck it up and install a 8" access plate from Seabuilt as recommended. The 8" plate requires a 6" hole. I will be mounting it in the side of the tank. Seabuilt said it is very common and they have never had a hatch leak. Cutting the 6" hole through stainless steel will be the hardest part. I ordered a Milwaukee bi-metal 6" hole saw. I hope it is manageable with slow rpms and cutting oil. Anyone have any tips or thoughts on cutting the hole?
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Old 06-28-2019, 01:47 PM   #19
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It should do it, though carbide would be better. You only have the one hole to do. Yes, cutting oil and especially VERY low rpms - for a 6" 50-60 rpms for stainless. Be patient, keep applying oil and you'll get there.

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Old 06-28-2019, 01:58 PM   #20
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You can clean the tanks w/o cutting them open. I've done it many times, mostly for other people. It's a direct result of water the tanks and no fuel conditioner. I use a conditioner every time I fuel, whether I plan on using the fuel right away or not. The right conditioner will kill the organisms and make it easier for a full size Racor to remove the water. Without water, the organisms cannot live.

You can pay a fuel polisher or buy a pump, if necessary a better Racor, kill the organisms, and probably circulate the fuel for several days. Killing a mess like yours will take at least a 3x dose and maybe additional dosing. Until you kill the organisms, everything else is wasted time.
My current boat sat 6 years without any mothballing. It has 4 tanks capable of holding 2000 gallons total. Only the day tank was accessible. I used a 3x dose of Algae-X and I pumped the fuel with the transfer pump thru a 900 Racor with a 30 micron filter between tanks. Later with the engines. I got a lot of water, but never plugged the filter. Now I run a 2 micron. 3 years later during a remodel I entered the tanks and they were clean, no water, no debris.

I currently use Archoil AR6200 I like a little better and have used it to clean tanks for other people.





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