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Old 01-25-2016, 02:35 PM   #1
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Fuel Polishing

Does anyone have experience or an opinion to share re: using an outside contractor to run a fuel cleaning / polishing etc. while at the dock or on the hard now ? Is it worth it ? How often should it be done ?
I have no intention of installing a polishing system in the tight and busy engine room not to mention the cost.

In our new ( to us, 1988 ) boat, I don't know if the tanks have ever been looked at and I'm really way too old to be crawling around cleaning tanks or handling the fuel.

Thanks in advance ..... Frank B.
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Old 01-25-2016, 03:25 PM   #2
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Greetings,
Mr. ES. Unless there has been a contaminated fuel problem in the past that you're aware of, it may be most appropriate to leave things as they are and make sure you have adequate filtration in place that is in good working order along with spare filters. No sense looking for a solution for something that may not be a problem.
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Old 01-25-2016, 03:31 PM   #3
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I have now twice on two boats paid a professional here in NC less than $800 to clean my tanks. Cleaning dirty fuel isn't worth much if you put it back in a dirty tank. See if you can locate a tank cleaning service first before shelling out money to just polish the fuel.

There are several threads here about the exact same thing. Fire up ye' olde search engine :-)
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Old 01-25-2016, 05:12 PM   #4
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Greetings,
Mr. ES. Unless there has been a contaminated fuel problem in the past that you're aware of, it may be most appropriate to leave things as they are and make sure you have adequate filtration in place that is in good working order along with spare filters. No sense looking for a solution for something that may not be a problem.
That would be my thinking.
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Old 01-25-2016, 07:16 PM   #5
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Cleaning dirty fuel isn't worth much if you put it back in a dirty tank. See if you can locate a tank cleaning service first before shelling out money to just polish the fuel.)
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Old 01-25-2016, 07:27 PM   #6
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I agree with RTF. Don't fix a problem until you know if there is one and what it is. You could get a quick test of the fuel if you thought that was needed. Otherwise see how it runs and what you pick up in filters.
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Old 01-26-2016, 07:56 AM   #7
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I agree with RTF, unless you have a known problem save your money. I've worked on diesel powered equipment all my life and have seen pieces sit for years and start right up and go to work with no fuel problems. If you buy clean fuel and maintain the oring seal on the deck fill to keep water out you shouldn't have any problems that your existing filtering system can't handle. I do not have vacuum gauges installed and change my primary filters when I change oil @120 hours. If you have vacuum gauges you can use them to indicate time to change and probably stretch that time out and save a little money on filters.


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Old 01-26-2016, 08:49 AM   #8
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If your fuel fills are a straight line into tank, use a simple device called a dip tube to view fuel clarity at various elevations in your tank. Your tanks are 28 years old, this is not an irrelevant question.
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Old 01-26-2016, 08:57 AM   #9
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Two schools here. If you have inspection ports, I'd do what Tom suggested in post 3. The boats 28 years old and who knows what is in the bottom of the tanks. Nothing worse than stirring up the tanks and the filters clog, when your out with friends and family. Who knows, the tanks could be spotless on the inside but there's only one way to find out.
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Old 01-26-2016, 09:10 AM   #10
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If the problem is not so bad that the tank suction line is staying clear , install a filter that will take care of ALL the gunk.

And ignore the rest till the tank wont feed anymore.

These are now made in small boat sizes.

Alfa Laval - Fuel cleaning

www.alfalaval.com/industries/marine...and.../Fuel-cleaning/


Alfa Laval


Alfie centrifugal separators remove the contaminating oil, grease and solid particles ... Fuel separators can eliminate the pre-filters typically fitted to the engine or ..
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Old 01-26-2016, 10:08 AM   #11
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As a test, change the filters, record the hours, go out when it is sloppy several times (stir things up) and put maybe 5 hours on it and then pull the filters and look at them. You know what they looked like new and they should still be looking good. If not I might try it one more time and if the results are the same do the polish and tank clean thing if they looked bad. You may not have any issue but this would be a good start to find out.
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Old 01-26-2016, 11:50 AM   #12
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Two schools here. If you have inspection ports, I'd do what Tom suggested in post 3. The boats 28 years old and who knows what is in the bottom of the tanks.
Heaven only knows what condition the tanks are in after 28 years. How many owners were there and did each take good care of the fuel system? Too many unanswered questions
that suggest confirming that the tanks are clean.

If I remember correctly, Flywright's history would be a good example as to what can happen with an older boat and what you should do about it.
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Old 01-26-2016, 12:26 PM   #13
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As a test, change the filters, record the hours, go out when it is sloppy several times (stir things up) and put maybe 5 hours on it and then pull the filters and look at them.
That is a gutsy way to do it. Stir up too much and you are calling for a tow
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Old 01-26-2016, 12:33 PM   #14
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Some eschew preventative maintenance. What was that song again "Don't Worry Be Happy?"
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Old 01-26-2016, 02:52 PM   #15
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That is a gutsy way to do it. Stir up too much and you are calling for a tow
Actually it's one of the best ways to do it.
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Old 01-26-2016, 04:10 PM   #16
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I would agree to take the boat out with plenty of filters and stir the tanks and inspect the filters. If there is contamination then either continue changing filters and if they don't clear then have the tanks drained, opened and cleaned or set up a series of heavy duty spin on filters to keep the fuel that gets to the engine clean. There may not be a problem and I am one that has fixed a lot of "non-problems". I have a GulfCoast filter for polishing but it always looks clean after polishing but I usually do it NOT underway. I just installed a multi-filtration set up (2 large Fleetguards) prior to my Racor manifold and I think my Lehman will be better served with this setup and of course the usual precautions to keep fuel clean and w/o water. Just my opinion. As one who has thrown a lot of money over the years at "peace of mind" issues ; I am now trying to discipline that compulsion and do what works and accomplishes the task with value in mind and if I can do it myself I try that first.
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Old 01-26-2016, 05:27 PM   #17
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A lot of good information here. In 2013 we bought our boat and had to take it 780 miles up the west coast to the Columbia River. I did not want to wait until I was bobbing up and down in swells to find out I had a fuel contamination problem.

Even if all your seals are good, clean fuel you can over time with warm weather and a little moisture, little critters start growing in your fuel tank. As with insurance, I chose to have all my tanks cleaned and the fuel polished at the dock the boat was stored at. I also had to have access doors placed in my tanks.

3 years later, with carful fuel tank maintenance by putting biocide in my tanks during every refill ( I use BioBor JF) I have not had any problems with fuel contamination or plugged filters.

As a retired aircraft mechanic, I tend to do "preventive" maintenance rather than waiting for something to break to fix it. You NEVER know when or where it could breakdown.
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Old 01-26-2016, 05:42 PM   #18
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1987, 350 gallon fuel tank. The fuel had been "professionally" polish but the tanks had never been cleaned. The boat was commissioned in San Francisco and then was operated in the PNW.
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Old 01-26-2016, 05:53 PM   #19
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Yuk. That would clog a filter of two. Would not want to be changing filters while crossing the Columbia River bar or entering Juan De Fuca...
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Old 01-26-2016, 06:07 PM   #20
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I would get them cleaned. The issue is gunk that has settled in the tank and will remain there with no visible issue until...... you get out in rough seas and things start to get stirred up. If it's bad you could be changing filters hourly. This is what you want to avoid, and maintaining clean tanks is the only way to do it.

Polishing won't help because the gunk is settled on the bottom and won't get picked up unless agitated. A true cleaning will essentially pressure wash the tank bottom until clean. The key is to be sure all the crud gets loosened up so it can get filtered out. After 20 years I'd be surprised if there isn't some degree of accumulation.
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