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Cleaning Santorin Diesel tank #Wiki

Herbert Lackner
 

Hi Amelians,

just started to cross the pacific, after three days without wind, lot of waves and using the engine the water separator and the racor filter have been full of brown water. I cleaned it several times, after an hour it was always full again. I put out maybe 2 liters of brown ugly dirty water and we decided to sail back to Costa Rica to fix that. 

Up to now I never had any drop of water in the water separator, checked this once a year. We always fill up using a water-filter so it might be condensed water.
After changing and cleaning several times now (in shallow water) no dirt comes out, but there might be some more in the tank that is waiting for the next waves.

I do not know what the problem is, I assume that the water is there already since some time, but only when motoring in heavy seas (what we have not done for a long time) it was "shaked" and mixed with the clean diesel.  When we refueled in Golfito I added some Biozid, maybe this "killed" the bacteria and created the dirt...

Our Santorin has no service port for the diesel tank (for me that is a design issue...), so cleaning needs some creativity. Had anyone the same problem, how did you solve that? How to clean the tank to get all the dirt out without service port? 

Did anyone add a service port? 

thx, herbert, SN120, KALI MERA Costa Rica (again)

amelforme
 

In most areas with a large yachting presence and commercial fishing fleets, one can usually find commercial tank cleaning/fuel polishing  contractors who also have the capability or the resources elsewhere to put access ports in the fuel tanks. You could start out by seeking the tank cleaning/fuel polishing service providers and asking them where you can find an experienced tradesman who can add access ports. You will need at least two and you can be guided by the marks made on the tank exterior where the internal baffles were welded. I am not near the sea today so perhaps someone could take a photo and post it here of a late model Super Maramu tank top with the access ports as done by Amel. Early series  SM 53 also did not have access ports in the fuel tanks until about 1997, but I am not sure of the actual date these ports were incorporated.

Make sure the ports are big enough to allow access to the entire interior of the tanks in order to perform a complete cleaning of all internal surfaces. Otherwise, any biologic material will just regenerate and start the ugly cycle all over again.

 

Hope this helps you, Joel

 

          JOEL F. POTTER-CRUISING YACHT SPECIALIST~L.L.C.

                                           THE  EXPERIENCED AMEL GUY

UNSURPASSED AMEL MARKETING EXPERIENCE AND PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE

                                   Office 954-462-5869  Cell 954-812-2485

 

 

Danny and Yvonne SIMMS
 

Hi Herbert,

been there. We fueled in the Galapagos and were in no wind after a couple of days. We motored for a few hours and the perspex bowl at the bottom of the raor was full of water. We stopped the engine and drained the water and replaced both the racor and the on engine filter. The racor had stopped all the water.There was no water in the second filter.  Started up and in short order there was water in the racor bowl again. Being mid Pacific and lacking options we drained it and carried on. Kept a careful eye on it and drained the water before the glass was full. Did this several times and eventually the water stopped. Clearly we had got water in our fuel in the Galapagos The racor let no water through and we had no further problems. Since the racor on first inspection had stopped all the water I felt confident in this approach. Important to catch it before the racor bowl was overfull. 

Made it from there to NZ through all sorts of conditions with no problems. Been a fan of Racors ever since. They did the job they were there to do. I have two. One services the engine, the other the gen set.

Kind Regards

Danny

SM 299

Ocean Pearl

On 19 March 2019 at 10:42 Herbert Lackner <herbert@...> wrote:

Hi Amelians,

just started to cross the pacific, after three days without wind, lot of waves and using the engine the water separator and the racor filter have been full of brown water. I cleaned it several times, after an hour it was always full again. I put out maybe 2 liters of brown ugly dirty water and we decided to sail back to Costa Rica to fix that. 

Up to now I never had any drop of water in the water separator, checked this once a year. We always fill up using a water-filter so it might be condensed water.
After changing and cleaning several times now (in shallow water) no dirt comes out, but there might be some more in the tank that is waiting for the next waves.

I do not know what the problem is, I assume that the water is there already since some time, but only when motoring in heavy seas (what we have not done for a long time) it was "shaked" and mixed with the clean diesel.  When we refueled in Golfito I added some Biozid, maybe this "killed" the bacteria and created the dirt...

Our Santorin has no service port for the diesel tank (for me that is a design issue...), so cleaning needs some creativity. Had anyone the same problem, how did you solve that? How to clean the tank to get all the dirt out without service port? 

Did anyone add a service port? 

thx, herbert, SN120, KALI MERA Costa Rica (again)

James Alton
 

Herbert,

   I concur with Joels advice RE the professional tank cleaning.  I am however concerned about the quantity of water that you have removed from your filters, especially given that you have been filtering your fuel. That seems like way too much for condensation.  I am not  sure of where the tank fill is on the Santorin but I would suggest having  a good look at your tank fill O-ring to be sure that it is in top shape.   I replace the O-ring on my tank fill every couple of years and also apply some grease to the O-ring to further improve the seal.  As a simple test for leakage,  you can carefully insert some dry paper towel into the fill, install the cap in the normal way,  wet the tank fill with a pressurized hose, remove the cap and check to see if there is any water soaked into the paper towels.  Just be super careful that you don’t lose the towels down the fill with this test.  The tank vent can also be a potential source of water, if the fuel fill seems fine, I would have a look at the vent.

   Best of luck.  I hope that you find the source of the water in your fuel and can get the tank cleaned.

James
SV Sueno
Maramu #220


On Mar 18, 2019, at 5:42 PM, Herbert Lackner <herbert@...> wrote:

Hi Amelians,

just started to cross the pacific, after three days without wind, lot of waves and using the engine the water separator and the racor filter have been full of brown water. I cleaned it several times, after an hour it was always full again. I put out maybe 2 liters of brown ugly dirty water and we decided to sail back to Costa Rica to fix that. 

Up to now I never had any drop of water in the water separator, checked this once a year. We always fill up using a water-filter so it might be condensed water.
After changing and cleaning several times now (in shallow water) no dirt comes out, but there might be some more in the tank that is waiting for the next waves.

I do not know what the problem is, I assume that the water is there already since some time, but only when motoring in heavy seas (what we have not done for a long time) it was "shaked" and mixed with the clean diesel.  When we refueled in Golfito I added some Biozid, maybe this "killed" the bacteria and created the dirt...

Our Santorin has no service port for the diesel tank (for me that is a design issue...), so cleaning needs some creativity. Had anyone the same problem, how did you solve that? How to clean the tank to get all the dirt out without service port? 

Did anyone add a service port? 

thx, herbert, SN120, KALI MERA Costa Rica (again)

Gary Silver
 

Hi Herbert:

 don't know if this will help but here is a picture of the two ports (factory installed) on my Super Maramu.  I also wanted you to know that I sailed out of Golfito Costa Rica aboard the offshore sail training ship Alaska Eagle in 1996 (Golfito to Clipperton Atoll to San Diego).  That trip set me on the hunt for an offshore boat that landed me in the hands of Joel Potter, Jean Jacque Lemonair, and Olivier Beaute and taking possession of our boat Liahona (SM 2000 #335) in LaRochelle in 2001.  

 Hope you can sort out your fuel problem. 

All the best, Gary S. Silver

Craig & Katherine Briggs SN 68 Sangaris Tropic Isle Harbor, FL
 

Hi Herbert,
Joel's advice is, as always, spot on for a professional fuel polishing service and a tank fabricator/repairer to install access ports.
Here's a product I came across as an alternative, should you want to go DIY. Seabuilt Access Plate System.
Looks like a great design with a folding inner plate to make installation very easy.
I've got it on my "in-a-while-pile".
Craig SN68

Herbert Lackner
 

Hi Amelians,

 

Short status to our „water in the tank adventure”.  

 

After draining and draining no more water came out even after a 7 hours testrun, so we decided to sail from Costa Rica to Mexico, we thought the problem has been solved. Difficult sailing with two full days of gale force Papagayos in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, later with less wind but confusing rough seas, sailing and motoring like in a cocktail shaker. When the amount of fuel left in the tank went down to 100 liters and the tank has been shaked well again we had the water problem. So every 2 hours dewatering the filters.  As soon as we refuelled from our Jerry Cans (12 gallons, of course we had to do that in the night) the fuel stayed clean again, but we still checked all filters every two hours and drain them a little bit.

 

Some experiences to share:

  • Sometimes the prefilter (water separator) had no water in, but the Second Filter (Racor) had water, sometimes the prefilter caught all the water, sometimes both had water in.
  • No water seemed to pass the Racor filter (Only first time when the racor got full), but plenty of water passed by the water separator
  • When the water separator triggered an alarm the Racor was already more than full with water. It is not enough to wait for the alarm, so many water passes the primary filter that – wehen the alarm is triggered, a lot of water might be already in the injectors…  I will clean the separator carefully and check if it will work more reliable then…
  • I will upgrade my “single racor” to a “double racor” where I can switch from one filter to the other and reuse the old one for the genset

 

Next steps, here in Marina Chiapas, before we continue heading north:

  • We have to solve that here, sailing north the next 1000 miles with the same setup is not possible
  • We have to remove all the old fuel from the tank and clean it. There seems to be no “sludge”, only dirty fuel (not clear) and water
  • First we try to pump the fuel out, with local help, will see how that works. Maybe it can be done without an “inspection opening”, not sure if that could be installed professional here. I would prefer to do that by myself during summer storage using the nice “seabuilt” solution that Craig recommended and just remove all fuel and water now.  Maybe it can be done with a small flexible hose like I use for changing oil?.

 

More Questions:

  • Has anyone a drawing of the tank construction? How is it made inside? Is it possible to put a hose from the tank filling to the lowest point below the outlet to the filter or will it be blocked by any separations?
  • Joel advised to make two inspection hatches, are there two chambers, how are they separated? 

 

Thanks for all your comments, pictures and recommendations!!!

 

herbert, SN120, KALI MERA, Marina Chiapas, Mexico

 

P.S.: Are there any recommendations for safe yards (hardstanding) during the hurricane season in Mexico??

Craig & Katherine Briggs SN 68 Sangaris Tropic Isle Harbor, FL
 

Hi Herbert,
I'd highly recommend the dry storage facilities at Marina San Carlos (called Marine Seca - "dry Marina"). They have steel casings between every boat to prevent a domino effect disaster. It's a family run business that's well respected throughout the boating community. Near to Guaymus for flying in/out. It's $4.08/ft per month, plus a haul charge - see the website.

Regarding your tank, I think you may be able to snake a tube or hose down the fill and under the internal baffles to the low point, although I have not done that. Maybe you could try with a "fish wire" first - you should be able to hear/feel it near the outlet fitting if you're successful - then switch to a tube.  Also, I haven't opened my tank but I think there is just one baffle in the middle - try tapping the side of the tank and you should be able to hear where the baffle is. If you've got the tank run down near empty you could also just disconnect the outlet line, drain the last bit of fuel, then remove the valve itself and swab the deep end of the tank out through that hole.

Good luck with it,
Craig, SN68 Sangaris