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Old 01-04-2020, 10:59 AM   #1
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Water in fuel

Port Ford Lehman shut down, fuel in Racor is milky... I'm having the two 350 gallon tanks drained and cleaned out on Wednesday. What do I need to do to restart that engine??
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Old 01-04-2020, 12:01 PM   #2
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If fuel is milky, you have some sort of emulsifying agent in it like an alcohol based fuel treatment. You do not want that in diesel. Normally diesel and water do not mix, the fuel is ok for use as long as you separate out the water. That emulsified fuel is now junk and you do need to get rid of it. I have tried to recover emulsified diesel and it took months in barrels to separate out.

Once you get the nasty fuel out and new fuel in, you need to flush the lines and filters to get the new stuff to the injection pump. You can use the lift pump toggle lever, but that will take forever. Best is to put an outboard motor squeeze bulb in temporarily, or an electric lift pump, and flush out the system that way. Then crack the injector line nuts at cylinder head and crank starter til fresh fuel spits. Snug them up and try a start.
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Old 01-04-2020, 12:02 PM   #3
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Close the water intake
Drain the primaries and the secondaries, install new filters and double check the gaskets
Open both priming ports on the injector pump ( they are the big screws)
Open all the injectors ( at the line going into them)
Pump the lift pump like a crazy man until all filter canisters are full
Or you can run the starter but its a lot of battery/starter time
Or you can fill the filter canisters with a small funnel or turkey baister
I don't think there is a fuel side drain on the injector pump so you will have to flush it out with the lift pump, either manually or with the starter.
When everything is full and showing fresh fuel reconnect the injectors but leave them loose and go through your normal starting routine.
After a while it will start to hit, tighten the injector lines and try again, you will probably end up doing this several times, maybe break one injector line at a time until you find your "problem child"
When it starts and can run on its own, open the water intake line

It is going to take you two hours so take a couple tylenol for your knees before you start.

It will seem, at some point, like it will never start but it will. Avoid the thought of removing the injectors, you shouldn't need to do this.

At the final stages it will help if you have a mate do the starter button so you can see what is happening below.

When it is running, double check for water output at the exhaust and for fuel leaks or bubbles in the primaries

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Old 01-04-2020, 12:15 PM   #4
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Good info so far, but I am going to now state the obvious. You need to find and eliminate how the water got into your tank(s) in the first place. Examples include: leaking deck fills, tank vents, or taking on "bad fuel".
It sounds like you have a lot of work and/or expense ahead of you on this!
Good luck.
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Old 01-04-2020, 09:43 PM   #5
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Old 01-05-2020, 02:10 PM   #6
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You know now what you need to do. Find the source of the water, whether leaks aboard or the fuel vendor.

Just a bit of a story about decks and vents. A dock mate was getting water in his tanks causing shutdowns every time he tried to leave for a trip of an length.

He and another friend spent a lot of time cleaning and tossing contaminated fuel. Lucky for both as the friend had a use for it and he avoided the disposal problem.

A lot of effort and hair pulling later and almost a new tank we convinced him it was not the tank.

It was traced to an improperly sealed deck filler and a loose hose attached to that filler. The deck fitting leaked allowing water to get underneath which than gained entry to the tank by running between the hose barb and the hose. We get a lot of rain although we figured at least one episode was boat washing.

Make absolutely sure that the deck filler is properly sealed to the deck, that the filler cap has an O ring and the O ring is in good condition, that the O ring and cap threads are waterproof greased lightly, that the hose between the tank and the deck fill is clamped properly. Hoses do take a set over time which releases the clamp pressure somewhat and although not fall off can allow leakage.

Better yet would be a raised collar about 1/2" high that the filler sits on so any water will not accumulate. I know about this but have never had need for it but if I ever have problems I will do my fiberglassing. Mine does not accumulate but some boats will allow this due to poor deck drainage.

Same goes for the tank vent. Ideally the actual hose is between the tank and the vent fitting is run at least a couple inches, more the better, ABOVE the fitting and then turns down before going to the tank. THat way splashes from rough seas will not gain entry. Make sure the clamps are tight.
Make sure the vent fitting is aimed about 45o aft. Not straight down or, heaven help, forward from a loose fitting or water can be driven in just from normal spray. The vent also needs to be sealed to the hull.

There are other means of water entry but I don't believe from your engines that those are applicable.
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Old 01-05-2020, 03:21 PM   #7
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Old 01-05-2020, 03:31 PM   #8
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IMO fuel vendors are one of the lowest likely possibilities for getting water in the fuel (Unless you have gotten fuel from VERY questionable sources) Most likely are poor seal on fuel fill caps and then fuel vent location/configuration.

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Old 01-05-2020, 03:37 PM   #9
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I agree, mostly, about the vendors BUT and a big BUT, I got some once. It was not a lot thank heaven and my boat has bottom feed tanks so there was no accumulation. What ever dirt/water goes into my tanks ends up in the filters shortly thereafter. I had checked for contamination before going in earlier in the day.

I know of two other people who got a bad load of fuel.. Granted the fuel was from an out of the way source for one and the other a not so out of the way source. T'was a long time ago but do not simply dismiss it as a possibility.
Take care of the other stuff of course.
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Old 01-05-2020, 04:24 PM   #10
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I used to have a diesel pickup that 138 gallon capacity and got a bad load of fuel. Took every filter element that they had in Lordsburg, NM to filter out the water. I have never had WIF from a marina fuel dock.
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Old 01-05-2020, 04:26 PM   #11
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If you have the Ford Lehman 120 (I am not familiar with other FLs), you should remove all the injector fuel lines from the engine to ensure they are thoroughly drained of whatever stopped the engine. It is possible that you have already damaged an injector with that watery mix, and now would be a good time to have all of them pop tested. Get new copper crushing washers for the return banjo connections and new copper washers for the bottom of the injector wells.
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Old 01-05-2020, 07:10 PM   #12
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Old 01-05-2020, 07:11 PM   #13
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Old 01-05-2020, 07:27 PM   #14
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Everyone is sure it's water? Mr Ski in NC made a VERY valid point. Water separates out. It's milky, that's not water. It's an emulsion.
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Old 01-05-2020, 07:59 PM   #15
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Greetings,
Mr. o. Re-read Mr. Ski's post again. He suggests there might be an alcohol type emulsifier that has found it's way into the fuel. Has the OP used any diesel fuel treatment stuff?
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Old 01-05-2020, 08:32 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oscar View Post
Everyone is sure it's water? Mr Ski in NC made a VERY valid point. Water separates out. It's milky, that's not water. It's an emulsion.

Water beaten into the fuel will emulsify. Pumps can do that. . There is a difference between that emulsion and bulk water that fell into the tank settling to the tank bottom. The emulsified water/fuel mix will not quickly separate. It will settle out after a long period of time which Ski mentioned.

Note also that Ski asked/suggested the O.P. may have used an additive which emulsifies water. Good for cars and gasoline, NOT so good for diesel engines.

So the source may not have been a deck leak. Missed that. Or it may have been with the wrong additive.

There is one way to settle what the emulsion is comprised of.

Send a sample to one of the oil testing labs. Most if not all do fuel and coolant testing in addition to oil testing. You just need to note on the test form. If you have not done this before then Blackstone Labs and Caterpillar SOS labs do this . Phone them and ask if there is a special form and/or charge for the fuel testing. When you send in the sample and have filled out the form there should be space to tell them what you are looking for specifically.
I have used Cat for many years.

Then you just have to figure out the source of what ever caused the problem.
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Old 01-05-2020, 08:36 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C lectric View Post
Water beaten into the fuel will emulsify. Pumps can do that. .
He said the contents of the Racor were milky.... is his pre-pump?
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Old 01-06-2020, 07:51 PM   #18
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I recently added a tiny amount of Startron Enzyme fuel treatment for all diesel engines... Maybe 2 ozs after adding 35 gallons of fuel...
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Old 01-06-2020, 08:59 PM   #19
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Quote:
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He said the contents of the Racor were milky.... is his pre-pump?
He has not indicated. Usually there is the tank, then the filters, then the lift pump if used and then the injection pump.

If I remember correctly the Lehmans have the two on engine canister filters AFTER the lift pump but a lift pump should not emulsify fuel. He also said his racor is milky and that SHOULD be between the tank and the lift pump.

So under that circumstance I would not expect a pump to have emulsified the water and fuel.
Where it can happen is if there is an electric gear type fuel pump and then a filter and water gets into the system. The gear pump can emulsify the water.

Unless he tells us how his system is rigged we are guessing and throwing out possibilities.

I still think a sample is in order as they MAY be able to tell him what the emulsion is. Salted from sea water,, fresh from rain water , OR.
THey may not say outright but the contaminants can often point to a source.
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Old 01-06-2020, 09:52 PM   #20
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I am going to suggest here that the injection flushing needs to be done post haste as water in the system could start rusting the injectors, their feed lines AND the injection pump which will add hugely to the expense.

Deal with the fuel once this is done or as you are waiting for someone to deal with the injection system. Do not wait.
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