Westsail Owners Alliance - Post: "PORT FUEL TAKE INTALL"
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- Archived Message from Inactive Forum -

George and Rayna Shaunfield

Well, it seems that only Carl (a friend with a Cape Dory 30C) and I are the only ones having any fun this summer. You know, real fun! Like pumping out the diesel and thoroughly cleaning the inside of the fuel tank(s) in your boat. Carl was first and he enjoyed it so much that I could not resist following suite (and the fact that that was next on my To-Do-List now that the engine is installed).

In case one of you decide you want to make this a fun summer too, I will offer some suggestions from Carl, plus a couple of things that I discovered on my own. Mine is a 37 gallon tank made of 5052 aluminum which I thought might be empty since the boat was originally pulled out of the water 10 years ago. I cut two 6" inspections ports since there is a baffle splitting the tank into fore and aft sections. The tank is shaped like a right-angle triangle with the top being flat and the port side sloping along the side of the hull.
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Low and behold, I pumped 17.5 gallons of diesel out, which was quite clear - amazing after 10 years. Then I used a sponge/Scotchbrite pad to wash the insides twice with strong soapy warm water. There was some discoloration of the aluminum, but no real gunk. After the inside dried a couple of days I found I could scrap the bottom (sloping side) and get a fine powder off. The second half of the tank went easier and quicker than the first half. What worked best for me was to scrap the "bottom" of the tank with a good quality 2" putty knife. Vacuum the powder out. Then use medium bronze wool and a lot of "elbow grease" to clean all the sides and the bottom until the aluminum was shiny. The two attached photos show the inside of the tank while in process and then when finished. The inside looks almost like new, after a mere 17 sweaty hours devoted to this project so far. The only things remaining are to cut two rubber gaskets, drill and tap 16 holes (8 for each inspection port), and screw the cover plates down.

In Nigel Calder's book "Marine Diesel Engines" he writes, "According to Lucas/CAV, one of the world's largest manufacturers of fuel injection equipment, 90% of diesel engine problems result from contaminated fuel." I would like to avoid that 90% category if possible. That is why I was so agressive in cleaning the tank, and why I am putting together a fuel polishing system. I believe I can salvage the $80 of fuel I pumped out, and hopefully avoid problems in the future. If anyone is interested I can describe and let you know how the fuel polishing system works out. It will take months for an effective evaluation.

Have some fun this summer. Clean your diesel tank!

The cleaning in process.
cleaning in process

Tank cleaning finished.
cleaning finished

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This site is provided as service to Westsail Owners by  Jack Webb (s/v Drifter, Westsail 32, Hull #438)