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Old 09-29-2012, 09:43 AM   #1
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Fuel Polishing

I wanted to share an experience we had on our first weekend trip with our new boat, Longfellow. It's a story, an experience and a recommendation.

Longfellow is a 41' Cheer Men PT41, and is our first boat:-) He has twin Ford Lehman 120s with canister type FRAM fuel filters just off the tanks and the original PITA duel on-engine filters. The boat had been on land for 2 years and was likely not used much for a year or two more. The tanks were full. Sea Trial was in 20+ kts of wind and ~2' chop. All went very well. We asked the yard to check all of the systems, change all fuel filters, and purchase spares for all. We bought Longfellow in early spring and were the first on our docks in Newburyport, MA after a great 10hrs from South Freeport, ME with my dad.

Our first trip was to Gloucester, MA through the Annisquam River. Just as we were coming into the (tight) main channel, a giant sport-fish went by and really rocked us. We instantly lost the port engine. I swung around and headed back out into Ipswich Bay. The engine started back up and we turned back around and went through the Annisquam River without any other issues. Tied up in Gloucester and had a great dinner at the Franklin Cafe.

We left mid-morning the next day, deciding to go out of Gloucester Harbor and around Rockport, MA, before heading back to Newburyport. This is a little longer than through the river, but on a nice day is also a beautiful ride. Just as we left the harbor, the port engine died again. I could not restart it. It was a nice day and the tides were right, so we decided to continue home on the starboard engine. Probably my best docking of the season...

I likely have two issues now. Clogged fuel filters and crappy fuel. The day before a big nor'easter I decide to replace all fuel filters incase the storm is going to be bad and I need to move the boat. Our particular dock is open to swells on a strong east-northeast wind. All filters replaced, lines bled, no luck. I could not restart either engine now:-( After 8 hours in the engine room, the storm coming in, and the dock master wanting to move boats to open docks further up river, I decided to test out my shiny new TowBoat US card. They were great and got me secured for the storm.

I had a mechanic check out my filter job and determine I had put the filter gasket on top of the filter element instead of under the filter housing. To me, it was all going in the same spot....Apparently I blocked the filter with the gasket and fuel was not flowing. Lesson learned, engines running.

I still have 200+/- gallons of questionable diesel on board. After talking with several people I decided to call John at Dr. Fuel (www.drfuel.com 617-529-1961). They have a portable fuel polishing and tank cleaning system. The pump/filter system is on a 2-wheel dolly. They pump all of the fuel into 55 gal drums on the dock. They go into the tank through access ports and clean it as best as possible. They cycle fuel through to try to get as much sludge that they cannot reach by hand. Then they pump all of the fuel back onto the boat through their filter system (i forget the microns?). We lost about 15 gallons from the sludge and what the filters picked up. He treated the fuel for full tanks and I headed to the fuel docks to top off. I have no affiliation to Dr. Fuel, they are a great company, cover a huge part of the Eastern US, are very clean, and charged a fair price.

I put about another 20 hrs on the engines and changed all the filters again. This time the bleed screw on one of the filter housings would not stop leaking and finally stripped. After purchasing a new housing from American Diesel, we ran the rest of the summer without leaks or other issues. I am a little below half tanks now. Time to top off, treat it, and put Longfellow to bed for the winter.

-Donny
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Old 09-29-2012, 10:01 AM   #2
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Nice story!

My only issue would be that if you did anything, have Dr Fuel come back and get rid of that old fuel and don't top off the tanks before you let it sit. Put enough fuel in to keep it from being empty and plug up the vents nice and tight. No sense in letting good fuel sit. And besides, the price could be cheaper in the spring :-)
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Old 09-29-2012, 03:56 PM   #3
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Our two FL120 s had exactly the same filter setup. First change we made was to covert the dual CAV secondaries on the engines to spin-on filters using the Parker-Hannifin adapter kits. Then a few years later we changed the original dual Fram canister primaries to Racor 500s.
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Old 09-29-2012, 05:43 PM   #4
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Marin,
I plan to do exactly the same, not thrilled with the current setup.

-Donny
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Old 09-30-2012, 01:23 AM   #5
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We never had any problems with original setup but the CAV multi-part secondaries were a pain to change and they couldn't be pre-filled with fuel prior to their installation which made bleeding the fuel system more of a chore.

The Fram primaries were rusty on the outside (but clean on the inside) and their bleed and drain screws were frozen. We didn't need to use the bleed screws but we eventually decided to get more modern filters, ones in which we could see the fuel and any water.
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Old 09-30-2012, 01:44 AM   #6
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Show us your dirty filters. Here's was mine:

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Old 09-30-2012, 07:41 AM   #7
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"They have a portable fuel polishing and tank cleaning system."

Cleaning the fuel, I believe. No problem , just big filters, and time.

Tank cleaning by removing and squirting the fuel back in , I doubt.

For a "CLEAN" tank you need to install a hole and scrub the muck out that is stuck on the tank walls.
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Old 09-30-2012, 07:55 AM   #8
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[QUOTE]We never had any problems with original setup but the CAV multi-part secondaries were a pain to change and they couldn't be pre-filled with fuel prior to their installation which made bleeding the fuel system more of a chore.[QUOTE]

Actually a friend of mine used to fill his with fuel using a small funnel thru the bleed holes after they were assembled. Hee never had to bleed.
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:23 AM   #9
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It's too bad that Alfa-Laval, or any one else that I can find, does not make a small centrifugal purifier for the small boat owner. They do not use a lot of water, are solenoid controlled for product and water, are easy to clean, and are reliable. Plus they work great. My father tops off his tanks every year and adds a Cetane booster and stabilizer for the winter. The engines start up with no problems every spring. Maybe he's just been lucky.
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:41 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Anthonyd View Post
It's too bad that Alfa-Laval, or any one else that I can find, does not make a small centrifugal purifier for the small boat owner.
It's kind of hard to get much smaller than the 303.

If you are looking for bragging rights then it is easy to find room for one of these.
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Old 09-30-2012, 11:15 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markpierce
Show us your dirty filters. Here's was mine:
Hey, are you stealing my old filters? Haha. What we have is old fuel, Asphaltenes leach out and form clusters that make the filters black. Not the end of the world, but something you should think about when topping off your tanks and letting them sit for a year or more.

FYI, the bowl underneath is what I use to sponge out my bilge. It's not particles dropping from the filter, as it appears to be.


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Old 10-01-2012, 06:23 AM   #12
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It's too bad that Alfa-Laval, or any one else that I can find, does not make a small centrifugal purifier for the small boat owner.

For most boats that sip fuel the old style "sock" water seperator is fine.

This consists of a deep glass jar with a fine cotton "sock" filter that will not pass water.

The water condenses on the outside of the sock, and simply drops into the jar.

When there is almost enough water in the jar to almost touch the sock, the fuel is shut off at the filter , the jar dumped , and the jar returned but not fully tightened till the fuel fills the jar.

This assumes a gravity refill, and some insurance folks may gasp at a glass jar.

However it does work well and is still in use after 80+ years worldwide.

A real maintainable fuel tank is probably better , but not as easy to retrofit as a simple fuel filter.
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Old 10-01-2012, 11:04 AM   #13
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Gee, your filters are so dirty. If the Egale's filters looked like that I would be very concerned.

I polish our fuel year round using the main Racor double 180 gph with a T handle gauges. Also I added additives to absorb water backing into the fuel, and help prevent separation, and try to turn the fuel each year. Last had a small air leak going to the Webasto, so I by pass the big filter and installed a small clear line, 3, filter so I could see the bubbles, and ran several hundred gallons though it with no dirt/sediment. I figured may as well have the biggest fiters in case we develop a fuel problem, and having the double filter for easy switching/replace was a must.

Most fuel systems can be configured to polish the fuel using the you same filters and adding a fuel pump. Also all the fuel that is transfer between tanks is filter through the main Racor filters, so a tank has a problem it does not contaminate the other. I am constant monitoring the filter and the fuel. Also many of the diesel engines and boiler draw more fuel than they use so they are polishing the fuel.
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