Microbial contamination of diesel
Diesel bugs are the most significant cause of a breakdown of a diesel engine. Sure It’s not the only cause of your engine stopping, but it’s right up there with things you don’t want to happen and can be easily avoided.
You’re very unlikely to suffer this fuel problem in your diesel car or truck, this is because the fuel in your car passes through the system relatively quickly. Diesel bug is often found in the fuel tanks of boats that have a low fuel flow (not used every day).
I started sailing in 1992, very quickly, my sailing hobby became an obsession. In 1996 moved to the coast, and I opened a marine engineering business in North Wales, UK. Before that, I owned a motor repair shop, having served an apprenticeship as a Deisel Mechanic looking after a fleet of trucks.
I owned several yachts over the years. I always modified the fuel system on my boats so as not to get caught out by the Deisel bug problem.
(link to about us Rob Woodward).
So what’s the long term fix?
Some boat owners use a Deisel bug treatment, and I would recommend adding this to your boat fuel tank as a precaution when buying a used boat or yacht. Plenty of good products exist on the market, and it takes little research to find a good one. Diesel bug treatment is not a long-term fix, so you always need to know if the problem re-occurs. My suggestion will not only warn you about diesel bug infection, but it will also save you the inconvenience of sampling fuel during your daily engine checks for water contamination, this being the other major cause of boating breakdowns.
The solution is to fit a Glass Bowl Water Trap in the fuel line. It is such and necessary upgrade, I wish it were an optional extra from new on all diesel-powered boats.
Once upon a time, It was common practice to fit a Glass Bowel Water Trap in engine compartments. Regulations have stopped manufacturers from doing this. My understanding is they are considered this practice to be a fire hazard. For me, the jury is still out on that rule, especially now that modern water traps have become much more fireproof. To remain legal, If you want to upgrade your boat or yacht, then the water trap needs to be outside the engine space unless someone can tell me otherwise.
A decent engineer will find a safe place for the modification that’s both legal and accessible. Probably good practice to keep the existing water trap and pre-filter system that will be most likely be housed in the engine compartment.
Canister water traps
If you are happy to sample a small amount of fuel from a canister type filter, then that’s your choice but remember, every time you open the fuel system to drain down a sample, you will potentially allow air into the fuel system (and that’s not good). The other big no-no about taking a sample is Diesel stinks; effectively, it’s like fixing your bike in the kitchen of your home. To see half a litre of fuel without disturbing it or contaminating the results within a glass bowl is so simple. This is the fastest way of making sure you have no worries with the fuel supply on your boat. A glass bowl water-trap can also be the first item to look at if your engine starts to stutter. Sure, if you get water in the fuel, it will show up in a second.
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