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Old 07-06-2016, 03:13 PM   #1
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Fuel polish, frequency?

I just read the "I put water in my fuel tank" thread and the responses.

With that said, I was wondering how often folks were pro actively polishing?

Our previous boat was gas, and we have had oil burners for 2 years now. I have dual racors, and I am meticulous with the preventive maint on the fuel system. I add a biocide and booster at fill ups. Tanks are kept full.

Does anyone polish or do other things to their fuel system?
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Old 07-06-2016, 04:36 PM   #2
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In 18 years in FL with same boat. Never polish, never add stuff, don't fill tanks unless I am going to use it all soon. never had a fuel problem
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Old 07-06-2016, 04:49 PM   #3
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Most fuel problems can be summed up as follows:
Bad Fuel from supplier.
Missing or bad oring on fill cap.
Poorly located fuel tank vents.
If you solve / prevent these problems and have a good filter separator, water in the fuel really isn't a problem. While I do have a polishing system, it's use is more OCD prevention than need. If you are have water in fuel problems, addressing the cause is more beneficial.

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Old 07-06-2016, 05:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
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In 18 years in FL with same boat. Never polish, never add stuff, don't fill tanks unless I am going to use it all soon. never had a fuel problem
Yep, 7 years here, full time live aboards and cruisers, as the famous New Yorker cartoon said " ... How about never, is never good for you?" Granted, we had Detroit engines that cycle the fuel return heavily, and we bought clean fuel from high turnover suppliers. I never cleaned the Racor bowls either, no need for that either.
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Old 07-06-2016, 05:35 PM   #5
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Am reading encouraging news here. Thanks!

Our ASlbin-25 has her original Volvo-Penta MD17C and we've owned her 4 seasons with only one week-long cruise and several day-outings and a weekend or two aboard each season. This is my first experience with a marine diesel. I do have experience with a VW Rabbit Diesel, and a Dodge/Cummins 3/4 ton pickup Diesel which has a dual-fuel system burning waste vegetable oil (Albin's tow vehicle).

So the previous owner of our Albin talked like "polishing the fuel" was some sort of religion. The 12V polishing circuit was operating when we took delivery of the boat. Procrastination has caused me to have never polished the fuel since towing the boat home. Never had a fuel problem neither. Am presently rebuilding our boat's electrical system using circuit breakers instead of fuses. The polishing pump will be included with the circuit breakers instead of direct wiring off the house battery (without an on/off switch).

So it sounds like since we've always bought fuel from busy fuel docks, or large-volume truck fuel dealers, fuel polishing is nice, but not really required.
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Old 07-06-2016, 06:06 PM   #6
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I do agree that for a typical diesel powered boat owner that actually uses his boat regularly, a polisher is likely not needed.

I will polish maybe once a year for a few hours each tank. This is at the front of the season after my 'full' tanks have set over the winter. I also change the polisher filter each year, whether I polish or not.

I will say that my engine fuel filters, 2 racors + the engine mounted filter last a tremendous amount of time before I need to change them - 3 years for the last change a month ago and they looked very clean.

I like the setup also because the electric pump (Walbro) is great if I need to prime things. It is 'very' important to reset the valves to normal operating position when done priming - ask me how I learned this.

I installed the polishing system 14 years ago, soon after getting the boat and reading the now classic "Capt. Will's fuel polishing" article. Pretty easy to put it in and since I draw from the bottom of the tanks, I think any junk/water etc. will be captured.
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Old 07-06-2016, 06:47 PM   #7
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We polish at least once a month and anytime we take on fuel. Usually I run it so that each tank is run through the filter four or five times. I can tell by the state of the fuel polishing filter and gunk that I drain from the filter housing that the polishing does some good. Better the water and gunk goes to the dump then to my engine.

Our polisher takes from the bottom of the tank and returns to the top of the tank so it gets the gunk and the water.
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Old 07-06-2016, 07:17 PM   #8
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In day to day usage and coastal boating we polish infrequently although we do have extra filtration that many call polishing. To me, unless a centrifuge is involved I don't use that term. However, on a boat being used for serious offshore cruising and ocean crossing we have an Alfa Laval polishing system in use.
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Old 07-06-2016, 07:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
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In 18 years in FL with same boat. Never polish, never add stuff, don't fill tanks unless I am going to use it all soon. never had a fuel problem
I am surprised you have never had water in your fuel (condensation in the tanks) if you are not keeping your tanks full.
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Old 07-06-2016, 08:16 PM   #10
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I am surprised you have never had water in your fuel (condensation in the tanks) if you are not keeping your tanks full.
Oh oh.
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Old 07-06-2016, 08:21 PM   #11
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Run my tanks to nearly empty before refilling. Haven't had a problem the five years I've run the boat. The fuel tanks have sufficient capacity to serve the boat for over 1.5 years.
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Old 07-06-2016, 08:23 PM   #12
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Oh oh.
No pop corn required. I am new to this site, but I have been on other forums for years and don't get involved in drama.
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Old 07-06-2016, 08:29 PM   #13
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No pop corn required. I am new to this site, but I have been on other forums for years and don't get involved in drama.
Most here believe condensation in the tanks with diesel to be mostly an old wives or husbands tale. Water typically gets in through other means. You will find most TF'ers not concerned about leaving a half or quarter full tank.
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Old 07-06-2016, 10:13 PM   #14
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If your area of use is well served with suppliers of clean fuel, you don't intorduce water or other contaminants, you keep your tanks full, you won't need to bother with polishing.
Old wives/husbands that have long memories can recall a time when the suppliers filled your tanks with lots of filth in the fuel.
In my own recollection, having fuelled in the same locale for 40 years, the fuel quality is very different now from way back then. I attribute this mainly to the Low sulphur diesel we now get at marine stations, of necessity much, much cleaner than the old high sulpher diesel.
The last time I changed my fuel filters, my log told me I had left the Racor 10μ filters 4 years and the secondary 2μ filters 10 years. In the old days I was lucky to get a year from each.
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Old 07-07-2016, 05:02 AM   #15
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Never a trace of water in our fuel. Tanks often run down to 1/8-1/4 in anticipation of a better fuel dock a little further on. Though I would note to those who wait years to change their Racor elements, the water shedding property of the elements degrades over time. I changed mine proactively once we cut down our cruising time at least once a year even if the vacuum reading was OK.
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Old 07-07-2016, 05:18 AM   #16
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It only takes a very small quantity of water in a tank to have a diesel/water interface..

It is the bug waste and bodies that stick to tank walls that can come loose and plug a filter.

Using a biocide is probably more important than endlessly pumping fuel thru a filter.
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Old 07-07-2016, 09:12 AM   #17
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Thanks for the feedback regarding tank levels. This is contrary to what I have read at other sources, but you are all experienced cruisers so I value your input.
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Old 07-07-2016, 09:22 AM   #18
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IMHO most of our experiences are anecdotal. The smartest boat guy that has appeared on the Forum is RickB. He says keep the tank levels up during storage. Good enough for me, but maybe his mind has been changed with today's lower sulfur and maybe cleaner diesel.

RickB speak to us through a savant.
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Old 07-07-2016, 10:04 AM   #19
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Quote:
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I am surprised you have never had water in your fuel (condensation in the tanks) if you are not keeping your tanks full.

i'm not because IMO that idea is mostly myth. Water comes with fuel or bad O rings or vents.
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Old 07-07-2016, 02:05 PM   #20
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Never polish and haven't used biocide in years. And typically go about 10 months between fill-ups (I fill-up at the end of every season, and usually once during the season). My filters (dual racors) get changed once a year, even though they are still very clean. I drain the bottom of the bowls before every major use, but rarely find anything there (even after letting the collection sit for a good while).
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