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Old 06-23-2021, 06:50 AM   #1
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Cummins Fuel cooler removal

Has anyone removed their fuel cooler on a Cummins 5.9 in a warm water climate? I have an immense amount of respect for Seaboard Marine and Tony Athens, and have read their position on this / watched the video. My engine runs at 1500 RPM, not pushed hard, however my sea water temp is close to 90 F in the summer. I like the idea of simplifying, but recognize my environmental reality.

If anyone has done this I would love to hear your results.
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Old 06-23-2021, 08:03 AM   #2
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Generally I would go with Tony's recommendation, but in his area the Pacific sea water temps are probably 25 degrees cooler than yours.

Why don't you measure the fuel temps at the Racor before and after cruising all day. If they stay below 100 F you should be ok.

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Old 06-23-2021, 08:16 AM   #3
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Thanks David, that's a great recommendation. I did email Tony - he got back to me promptly saying that while every situation is different, it would probably be fine in my use case. I will measure the temps the next time I'm out.
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Old 06-23-2021, 08:19 AM   #4
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I did it a couple of years ago. Getting all that plumbing our of the way made servicing the raw water impeller sooo much easier. Of course, Maine waters are not known for being particularly warm.
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Old 06-23-2021, 08:21 AM   #5
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I would think it depends on where your tanks are. It they are in a hot engine room then you might want to keep them, but if located away from the engine the general consensus is you can do without it. I’m considering removing mine, or at least one of them.
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Old 06-23-2021, 08:38 AM   #6
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I should have included more information. I have a single QSB 230 HP. Dual 200 gal tanks on each side of the engine. But it is HOT down here

I appreciate the comments, and will check temps on my next run and report back.
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Old 06-23-2021, 09:08 AM   #7
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Whatís the motivation for removing the cooler?

Iím actually thinking of ADDING a cooler, all to reduce engine room temps. Over time the heated return fuel heats up the fuel tank, and all that heat radiates into the ER.
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Old 06-23-2021, 09:11 AM   #8
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Quote:
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Whatís the motivation for removing the cooler?

Iím actually thinking of ADDING a cooler, all to reduce engine room temps. Over time the heated return fuel heats up the fuel tank, and all that heat radiates into the ER.
Reduce points of failure and ease access to water pump for impeller change.
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Old 06-23-2021, 09:51 AM   #9
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There are millions of diesels working in plus 100 F conditions with no harmful effects due hot fuel. The better question, to Cummins and Tony, is what fuel temperature is considered problematic. Also it is engine model and boat specific.


Failed fuel coolers are not a pleasant experience so your question is a good one. If you stick with it I’d suggest a 5 year throw away cycle.

Boat diesel is a great site to chase down this question. Not to mention there boat loads of us with no Cummins or fuel cooler whether located in the tropics or not.
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Old 06-23-2021, 09:52 AM   #10
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The fuel cooler becomes LESS effective the warmer the seawater temperatures are, not More effective.

Think about it... In colder seawater temperatures the fuel cooler has colder water around it, making it work better. In warmer temperatures the reverse is true.

Mine are removed and I really like the access it's removal provides to the seawater pumps for servicing.
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Old 06-23-2021, 10:03 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ksanders View Post
The fuel cooler becomes LESS effective the warmer the seawater temperatures are, not More effective.

Think about it... In colder seawater temperatures the fuel cooler has colder water around it, making it work better. In warmer temperatures the reverse is true.

Mine are removed and I really like the access it's removal provides to the seawater pumps for servicing.
I get this and if I were back in the pacific northwest with this boat and engine, the fuel cooler would be gone. Our raw water temps range from ~60 - 90, so my question is, although less effective, will removing that source altogether be problematic. That's a rhetorical question. I will head over to Boat Diesel - thanks for that recommendation Sunchaser.
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Old 06-23-2021, 10:27 AM   #12
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Just looking at this logically, I agree with Kevin. Higher water temps will mean a smaller drop in fuel temp using the cooler therefore less reason to use one not more reason. Also, the warmer water temps should not affect much if at all fuel temp with no cooler compared to operating say in the PNW (where the cooler water will lower the fuel temp more with a fuel cooler) as the water does not really come into contact with the fuel (except through the tank contacting the hull). Air temp may have a slight affect as higher temps could warm the fuel sitting in the tanks a bit? It seems logical that the fuel temperature difference (after removal of the fuel cooler) would be less with operating in the "non-cooling" warmer water, so the risk of "issues" would be higher if removing it in cooler waters???

I removed the fuel cooler on my Cummins 6BTA 330hp and was very happy with the results. Much easier access to the impeller, less possible failure points, and no worries about the disaster that a fuel cooler failure could cause by adding saltwater to your engine's fuel supply or by restricting raw water flow for engine cooling!
Before removal, I would do the research you are doing just to be sure, but it makes sense to me that you should experience no ill effects if you do.
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Old 06-23-2021, 10:36 AM   #13
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You and Kevin are correct, Tom. Thank you for having the patience to walk me through it, as Kevin tried to do. I never said I was a quick study, but I do study
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Old 06-23-2021, 11:45 AM   #14
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FWIW, I have wanted to remove my fuel cooler for a while, I just haven't gotten around to doing it yet.



Another consideration is how much fuel do you normally keep in your tanks? If your tanks are 1/4 full, and run on only one tank at a time, then you are heating up 50 gallons of fuel. If your tanks are 1/2 full, that is 100 gallons of fuel. That is double the heat sink. So if you are running for very long days on the same tank, your fuel temp would rise more than short trips, with full tanks, where you are switching back and forth between tanks.
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Old 06-23-2021, 03:22 PM   #15
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Just my 2 cents worth.
When we cruised the PNW I never had any issue’s with heat in the engine room. So much so, that very seldom did I turn on the blowers in the engine room.

Cruising down south this past couple of seasons changed everything. We noticed the heat build up in the engine room by as much as 35-50 degree’s over that we experienced up north, and so the blowers were on almost all times. We struggled to get the ER temp below 130 degrees. The heat in the Er caused our low pressure pump on the water maker, the fuel polisher motor to shut down during use and the temp of the fuel tanks was significantly higher than before also. We carry 1,000 gals of fuel when full and as the volume decreases I suspect the temp of the fuel tanks increased. If I was using the water maker or fuel polisher ( this was to transfer fuel not really to polish) I would put a 120 AC fan directing the air to the motor.
So, to answer your question, if you are cruising in an area where the water temp is significantly warmer, I wouldn’t recommend removing the cooler. It might be Ok if your cruising the Florida area, but farther down the southern Lats might not be such a good idea.

Hope that makes since.
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Old 06-23-2021, 03:37 PM   #16
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I only have the QSC 500 performance sheet at hand, but it gives some insight. Max allowed fuel temp coming into the pump is 140F. That seems pretty warm, but the catch is looking at the return fuel temp. It's 185F average. The key here is that high pressure fuel system as commonly found in engines newer than about 2007 heat up the return fuel quite a bit, and that needs to be dealt with. Adding a fuel cooler is the way Cummins addresses this, rather than leave it to the boat builder's engineering depart, which is usually an empty room.


If you remove the cooler, that hot return fuel will heat the fuel in your fuel tank. Some of that will get dissipated into the engine room, surrounding boat structure, and the surrounding water. So you have heat coming in at one rate, and heat going out at a different rate, but almost certainly slower than it's coming in.


To me, it's telling that Cummins includes fuel coolers as standard equipment. Personally, before removing it, I'd look hard at ways to relocate it.
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Old 06-23-2021, 04:38 PM   #17
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Or maybe look at some blowers like Delta to evacuate some of the heat in the engine room. Draw air from the top of the engine room. If you can get the ambient air temperature down that will help and then maybe you can get away without the fuel coolers.
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Old 06-23-2021, 04:54 PM   #18
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It seems to me the only reason to remove it would be fear of failure and/or access to other components. On my QSB it was not in the way of anything you'd normally need to access, however fear of failure caused me to replace it with the newest Cummins version. In the original style on my boat (2006) there was an internal double walled tube soldered at each end, soldered connections for in and out, such that failure seemed likely. The new version (which I found for somewhat less than SBMar's elimination kit) the seawater tube just goes straight through, there is an external jacket for fuel with fittings. it could still fail and leak some fuel, but is far less likely to leak seawater into the fuel, which would be problematic. The failure paths for that to happen are nearly eliminated. So that is an option for you.
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Old 06-23-2021, 07:33 PM   #19
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Interesting that the Cummins QSB 6.7 doesn’t have a fuel cooler. It’s essentially the same engine as the OP’s 5.9, just a little newer.
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Old 06-23-2021, 07:49 PM   #20
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Not for me. I run in hot summer water at 2800-3000 RPM returning 12-13 GPH that is used in part to cool the oil via an internal engine cooler. Tanks hard by the engine. Not having a fuel cooler could be a serious issue.
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