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Possible fuel issue? Won't run after winter


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Hello. I was supposed to be moving off from my winter mooring today. Engine started beautifully on the button, I cast off, and then it conked 50m down the canal.

It wouldn't start again on the button immediately. I tried pushing the little hand priming pump a couple of times and it started and ran for five seconds after that. 

I suspect there's an issue with fuel.

I've now changed both fuel filters on the engine but can't get it running again. The agglomerator filter (the one that's first in line from the fuel tank) was full of sludge when I changed it. 

Any ideas about what to do next? Will I need to call somebody at this point? 

 

I've been back to the boat a couple of times over winter and run the engine in neutral to keep it going. It ran fine for 30 minutes or so. It may be a couple of months since I last did that.

Edited by AftApeth
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Sludge in the agglomerator is a bit of a concern as it suggests the bottom of your fuel tank may need cleaning. What is the fuel level like? Has it run very low recently (in which case the engine may have picked up more of the sludge from the tank bottom)?

The problem you have now may be that after changing the filters there is air in the system and it will need bleeding before it will run.

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3 minutes ago, David Mack said:

Sludge in the agglomerator is a bit of a concern as it suggests the bottom of your fuel tank may need cleaning. What is the fuel level like? Has it run very low recently (in which case the engine may have picked up more of the sludge from the tank bottom)?

The problem you have now may be that after changing the filters there is air in the system and it will need bleeding before it will run.

Diesel is almost fully topped up. I've tried priming again after changing the filters. When I've changed them before it normally starts after a couple of goes but I'm getting nothing at all. I'll have a look at unclipping the pipes and making sure there's no air. Thanks. 

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So, I couldn't remember exactly which bit to unclip in order to bleed the system. I did this once before, four years ago, under the expert guidance of Tony Brooks. 

But what I've just done is pumped away again on the primer until the pressure of the pump changed. After a bit of a splutter I've got the engine running again.

Has been running in neutral for 5 min. So far so good. Not sure I'll chance moving off again today though. 

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It’s possible the sludge is from fuel bug.  If so, until the fuel is either treated to kill and disperse the bug, or the fuel is cleaned (filtered) you may have repeated filter blocks. Try drawing some fuel at different levels in the tank and see if it is nice and clear.

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19 minutes ago, AftApeth said:

So, I couldn't remember exactly which bit to unclip in order to bleed the system. I did this once before, four years ago, under the expert guidance of Tony Brooks. 

But what I've just done is pumped away again on the primer until the pressure of the pump changed. After a bit of a splutter I've got the engine running again.

Has been running in neutral for 5 min. So far so good. Not sure I'll chance moving off again today though. 

20 min running in neutral now. It sounds happy. 

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7 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

Better still pump/strain/syphon from the very bottom of the tank until you are just drawing off clean bright fuel.

Got you. I'll give this a go. Seems nice and clear at the top and middle of tank, but I don't think I've treated the tank for a while or left it standing so long before. I was on the habit of adding Marine 16 every couple of fills; I'll have to get back in that habit. 

I'll get what sludge I can with a hand syphon from the bottom. I may get my diesel polished soon too. I think the last time I spoke to him, Matt Varney up in Aynho mentioned he was getting a mobile machine to be able to go out to people and do this. 

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5 hours ago, AftApeth said:

Diesel is almost fully topped up.

I was just thinking that if you have let the tanks run very low in the past, that might account for the sludge being drawn from the tank bottom into the filter. And it is only now that you have found it.

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20 hours ago, Tony Brooks said:

Better still pump/strain/syphon from the very bottom of the tank until you are just drawing off clean bright fuel.

I've just done this purely out of interest. Had about 2cm of water in the bottom with some bits as well. Siphoned this off into a 5L container - water was urine coloured until the bright red fuel came through. Thanks to all on here who advised me!

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