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Hi all

 

Wondering if anybody can help. It seems my entire fuel tank has empties in my bilge. At some point between having my engine on this morning and switching it off! I noticed yesterday quite a bit of grey-ish smoke from the exhaust and was a bit concerned and now this has happened today.

 

I didn't even think the contents of the fuel tank could completely empty. Will I even be able to use this fuel now? (Circa £150!) 

 

My engine is a Canalline 52, have had issues with injectors last year but the boat/engine is only two years old. Apparently there was a known issue with the injectors on this particular batch of engines from 2018, but these were replaced and I cannot see anything that looks too out of the ordinary as to how this could have happened. Have called engineer, just wondering if anybody could advise in meantime if they know of anything obvious that I might be able to look at myself in case the engineer cannot come for some time....

 

Thank you!

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As I see it, it can only be one of three things :

 

1) A hole in your tank

2) A split in a pipe somewhere which has allowed the tank to siphon

3) A leak after the fuel pump and the pump has pumped the fuel out of the tank. (does it have an electric fuel pump ?)

 

1) Look around the tank for a damp/wet area, as the diesel has ended up in the bilge the leak must be on the inside of the boat.

 

2) Follow the fuel lines from the tank towards the engine looking for anysign of dampness on the pipes, or signs of fuel running down adjacent parts / pipes.

 

3) As per No2, look between the pump and the engine.

 

I would not re-use the diesel as it will have picked up muck and water from your bilges - unless you are one of those rare boaters with an immaculately clean engine room floor / bilges.

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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Obvs you have a leak somewhere.  Unless your bilge is cleaner than most the fuel is probably scrap.

You could try putting it into plastic containers and letting it settle then draw off the clear fuel after a few days.  If it is clear and bright you could use it, but change the fuel filter often.  If it is murky it is fit for bonfires only.  Dirty fuel can easily and quickly wreck an injection pump or injectors.  That will cost a lot more than new fuel.

 

 

  In the meantime follow the pipes from the tank to the engine and back again  looking for connections that are not tight, split pipes,  damaged rubber hoses etc.  Check any fuel filters and water traps are tightly assembled and ang drains are secure.

 

N

  • Greenie 2
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Oh dear. You have a leak that is bigger than anything the injectors could produce. First thing is to get the diesel out. Obviously you can't just pump it over the side. What I would do. Go to B&Q or Wickes or somewhere, Buy a water butt or one or two of those blue plastic barrels with sealable lids, they are not too dear, Bale the contents of the bilge into the barrel (s) and clean out the bilge with washing up liquid and hot water and rags / nappies or something.  Get rid of this mess into some other container and have a cup of tea and a think. You will probably have a broken pipe that you have stepped on or a filter that has loosened. Fix this. The fuel can be 'Polished' That just means filtered. It will cost something but you can then re use it and you do not have the problem of disposal. The real mess of old rags etc take to the tip. Good luck and be careful, everything will be really slippery so don't fall over.

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Thank you everyone for your responses. It looks like a screw has come loose/come off my fuel injectors. That's back in place now, but now it's the headache of cleanup!

 

Thanks for the tip about fuel polishers as I'll give that a go. Even if I have to bottle it first and then take it to them as I think we had around 200-250 litres!!! 

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10 minutes ago, lewisericeric said:

Thank you everyone for your responses. It looks like a screw has come loose/come off my fuel injectors. That's back in place now, but now it's the headache of cleanup!

 

Thanks for the tip about fuel polishers as I'll give that a go. Even if I have to bottle it first and then take it to them as I think we had around 200-250 litres!!! 

 

If you get a mobile fuel polisher out, they should be able to suck the fuel out of the bilge and put it back in your tank.

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5 minutes ago, lewisericeric said:

Even if I have to bottle it first and then take it to them as I think we had around 200-250 litres!!! 

I'd make sure to get a quote first - it may not be that much cheaper than buying 'fresh', but you then have a disposal problem.

 

A 'lumpy water' boater had about 700 litres to polish and his quote was £600 so he bought his own polishing system for about the same amount and has it permanently installed and can polish his fuel regularly.

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I charge £95 for fuel polishing, but you will lose a hefty percentage of what you think you have as some of the volume is water and other crud. I would suggest that you would be better spending the money on some locktight, and then checking all the fuel fittings for tightness.

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5 minutes ago, system 4-50 said:

I got 46L of diesel in my bilge from a detached return pipe.  I'd check that carefully.

Its almost certainly that, especially if its self bleeding and has an electric fuel pump, unless its  a low level fuel pipe or filter leaking.

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Where on Earth has 150 squids worth of fuel gone? If that much had leaked in the arse end of my boat it would have certainly been pumped out into the cut by the bilge pump. Ok so the engine tray bit is sealed from the rest of the bilge but that sort of volume would overflow into the entire bilge around the engine and be pumped overboard.

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We had an oil leak of similar magnitude while we were away from the boat during lockdown, when the washer on the bolt at the bottom of our primary fuel filter split. Surprisingly it didn't pump out either; it seems the diesel reacted with the few blobs of stern tube grease that had dripped into the bilge, and formed a glue that firmly stuck the float switch closed before it had a chance to float.

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2 hours ago, mrsmelly said:

Ok so the engine tray bit is sealed from the rest of the bilge but that sort of volume would overflow into the entire bilge around the engine and be pumped overboard.

 

Surprisingly, there is no BSS requirement that fuel filters are located above the sealed engine bilge. So if you have a leaking filter - easily done when changing the element - any spilt fuel can go straight into the main bilge anyway!

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You may have found a loose injector, but before assuming that everything in your bilges is fuel I would check for other leaks too. Could it be that you've had a coolant leak and some diesel is floating on top? 

 

Anyway, when you've scooped the majority of it up leave some nappies down there for a few days to absorb the remainder. If you've got an old wet vac that you don't mind making smelly then it makes the job of getting fluid out of the bilges a whole lot easier. I don't think it's hazardous to suck diesel through a wet vac, but others might advise against.

15 hours ago, Bee said:

Oh dear. You have a leak that is bigger than anything the injectors could produce. 

 

Exactly

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26 minutes ago, blackrose said:

You may have found a loose injector, but before assuming that everything in your bilges is fuel I would check for other leaks too. Could it be that you've had a coolant leak and some diesel is floating on top? 

 

Anyway, when you've scooped the majority of it up leave some nappies down there for a few days to absorb the remainder. If you've got an old wet vac that you don't mind making smelly then it makes the job of getting fluid out of the bilges a whole lot easier. I don't think it's hazardous to suck diesel through a wet vac, but others might advise against.

 

Exactly

 

No hazard as long as the shut off ball works properly and you keep the cleaner upright so it can. Even if it did not diesel in the motor is not that likely to ignite but may attack the electrical insulation.

 

I feel the OP has given us a poor description. If he did have an injector loose enough to leak  fuel then the engine would be misfiring running rough and very noisy, let alone smelly. I can see no way a loose injector could leak more than  litre over several hours running. If an injector cap to body seal was faulty or if the cap or any pipe spigots on it leaked then it could leak a lot of fuel on a self bleeding engine. Its much more likely that its a loose injector leak off pipe that connects to the leak back from the injector pump/filter to ensure self bleeding. That could leak many litres and if spraying about may well get onto something hot and vaporise.

  • Greenie 1
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28 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

I feel the OP has given us a poor description. If he did have an injector loose enough to leak  fuel then the engine would be misfiring running rough and very noisy, let alone smelly. I can see no way a loose injector could leak more than  litre over several hours running. If an injector cap to body seal was faulty or if the cap or any pipe spigots on it leaked then it could leak a lot of fuel on a self bleeding engine. Its much more likely that its a loose injector leak off pipe that connects to the leak back from the injector pump/filter to ensure self bleeding. That could leak many litres and if spraying about may well get onto something hot and vaporise.

 

 

16 hours ago, lewisericeric said:

It seems my entire fuel tank has empties in my bilge. At some point between having my engine on this morning and switching it off!

 

The OP says it has emptied his 'entire' fuel tank in a few hours between switching the engine on in the morning and then 'off' later.

 

If the 'leak' was associated with the injector system the engine would be running 'rough' at best.

 

We don't know how much the 'entire' tank is but assuming its a fair amount it would need to be running out fairly fast to drain a tank in a few hours via the small bore piping, so it is either going to be 'pumped' or on a 'free-flow' syphon, or a seal gone (tanks drain tap ?), or a leak in the tank.

 

Lewis :

 

Do you do engine checks before starting ?

Are you sure that the fuel was not in the bilge prior to starting and had built up gradually ?

 

Are you sure the whole tank emptied between starting and stopping the engine ?

 

How much fuel was in the tank ?

Is the tank 'dry' to the bottom or is there a few inches left in the bottom ?

 

Have you done the visual checks I suggested in post #2 ?

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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34 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

 

 

The OP says it has emptied his 'entire' fuel tank in a few hours between switching the engine on in the morning and then 'off' later.

 

If the 'leak' was associated with the injector system the engine would be running 'rough' at best.

 

We don't know how much the 'entire' tank is but assuming its a fair amount it would need to be running out fairly fast to drain a tank in a few hours via the small bore piping, so it is either going to be 'pumped' or on a 'free-flow' syphon, or a seal gone (tanks drain tap ?), or a leak in the tank.

 

Lewis :

 

Do you do engine checks before starting ?

Are you sure that the fuel was not in the bilge prior to starting and had built up gradually ?

 

Are you sure the whole tank emptied between starting and stopping the engine ?

 

How much fuel was in the tank ?

Is the tank 'dry' to the bottom or is there a few inches left in the bottom ?

 

Have you done the visual checks I suggested in post #2 ?

 

For clarity. The  red bit may be a bit ambiguous to some. @Alan de Enfield is talking about the high pressure part of the fuel system, not the leak off pipes that are the thin often rubber pipes connected injector to injector near to or on the top of the injectors. On an old design of engine (say pre DPA pump) the leak off will carry virtually no fuel unless the injectors are worn out and even then it will be less than a litre a day. Its modern engines that pass a lot of fuel (and any air) back for the filter and/or the injector pump that will dump loads of fuel into the bilge if the injector leak off pipes leak. This is because the injector leak off joins the flow from the pump/filter to return to the tank so flue can flow "the wrong way" back towards the leaking injector leak back system.

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