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Constant fuel filter getting blocked.

Old 09-23-2016, 09:47 PM
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Default Constant fuel filter getting blocked.

I am posting this for an 88 years old fishing buddy. He has a 70's vintage 19' Grady White that he bought new many years ago. He is on his 3rd little 4 cyl 140HP Merc w/ Alpha 1 I/O. He has been buying fuel with ethanol in it for several years and never had a problem until this season. I was out with him once when he couldn't push the throttle much above idle or the engine would sputter out and die. He had his fuel pump replaced along with the fuel filter and things were normal for a couple of trips and the problem started all over again. He pulled the fuel filter out and couldn't see anything blocking the filter but the filter had partially collapsed from the fuel pump trying to pull fuel through it so hard it actually distorted the shape of the filter.

He took the filter in to Auto Zone and they cut the filter apart and he said it looked like super fine dust in the fuel filter element. After I reminded him how long ago I told him he would have problems with ethanol that maybe now he will listen. This same thing has happened 2 more times where the filter gets plugged with the same fine looking dust, he tried blowing air though the filter and he could barely blow any air through it so it was obviously plugged again.

He doesn't know where the dust looking stuff can be coming from and wants to do whatever he can to make it stop. He does almost all of his own maintenance including changing the fuel filter numerous times. It's a little tough on his 88 year old body to get down under the engine cover to get to the fuel filter and he is willing to do whatever is necessary to fix the problem. He talked to a couple of marine mechanics and they all told him to start buying non-ethanol fuel and may have to change the fuel filter out again but he has done it 4 times since he started using non-ethanol fuel. ;?

Anyone have a clue what this dust looking stuff is and/or where it's coming from? Any clue how to fix the problem? Does it sound like the ethanol is to blame? Any help would be greatly appreciated because neither him nor I even know what to try. ;?
Old 09-24-2016, 04:51 AM
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what is his fuel tank made of ? if it is fiberglass the ethanol will soften the tank and what you will see is clogged filters full of what used to be the tank. it could also be the fuel lines disintegrating from the ethanol.
Old 09-24-2016, 05:31 AM
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Could be the sending unit float . Fuel gauge work ? He can have the fuel polished if tank is ok . I would remove sending unit and inspect inside of tank and if tank has a lot of fuel have a company come polish the fuel ( will filter all fuel in tank ) or drain all fuel out , clean tank (the hard part ) and refill .
Old 09-24-2016, 05:45 AM
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The "dust" could actually be algae growing in the tank. I had that problem years ago on q 22' Invader that g owned. Had to pull the tank and scrub it, then washed with an algaecide. The problem never re-surfaced.
Old 09-24-2016, 06:06 AM
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Unless its a F- glass tank its not a ethanol issue Boat had fuel issues way before ethanol , but now ethanol gets all the blame . That said ethanol has just added to boat fuel issues .

Now to the OP's issue . pull the sender and look in the tank maybe a good clearing is needed . But what I suspected is its a Aluminum tank that's been foamed in .I can think of 2 possibility's 1 the tank maybe pitted and have pin holes in it , and foam is getting in . 2 the tank is badly corroded and corrosion is getting in to the filter . New tank is the likely fix
Old 09-24-2016, 06:12 AM
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I can't speak for the filter, but from a performance perspective I had a similar issue. In my case it was the uptake from the tank. The little screen at the bottom was clogged which made it impossible for the engine to get enough fuel beyond idle. I suspect the suction could cause the filter to collapse, although the mine did not that I recall. But I can tell you, we did everything (carb rebuild, etc., etc.) before we figured out it was a $0.20 screen. Poked it out, and the boat never ran better. Good luck.
Old 09-24-2016, 06:13 AM
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The tank probably has an anti-syphon valve on it which could get clogged. Polish the fuel and replace the valve.
Old 09-24-2016, 06:16 AM
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The dust and sand like deposits you guys are finding is the residue of the fuel that has evaporated. Best way to minimize this is to add a fuel treatment that creates a barrier at the upper most level of the fuel (and good luck with that).
Old 09-24-2016, 08:37 AM
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What caught my eye on this post is "plastic filter collapsed."

OK, let's help solve this problem right here: put on a good canister water separator/filter, and while at it change out the fuel lines just for good luck (unless it was done in the last year or two).

Where is the crap coming from? I don't know, but the tiny little plastic filters are not going to last long until the fuel is clean.

Someone mentioned to polish the fuel, I might do that but I would definitely pull the sending unit and take a look inside the tank. If you want to polish the fuel you can buy an inexpensive electric fuel pump at your local big box style auto store, run the fuel through the mentioned canister filter and back into the tank.

Jerry
Old 09-24-2016, 08:43 AM
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Nothing in his fuel system is compatible with ethanol; if he has a metal tank it's dissolving 40 years of build-up if he has a fiberglass tank it's dissolving the tank.Plus every line and the check valve is dissolving too. Sorry there is no quick easy fix.
Old 09-24-2016, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by colostomizer View Post
what is his fuel tank made of ? if it is fiberglass the ethanol will soften the tank and what you will see is clogged filters full of what used to be the tank. it could also be the fuel lines disintegrating from the ethanol.
X2
Old 09-24-2016, 11:16 AM
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I haven't seen a GW with fiberglass tanks, yet.
Old 09-24-2016, 01:33 PM
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Have tank cleaned, replace all fuel lines to motor, drain carbs, install large fuel water separator Buy ONLY non e fuel from now on!,
Old 09-24-2016, 02:32 PM
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I agree with .............remove anti-siphon valve and pick up screen, and install good canister fuel filter with new fuel lines to tank

The years of gunk is just working its way out of the tank from ethanol cleansing
Old 09-24-2016, 02:41 PM
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My 1st guess would be looking inside of or just replacing the fuel lines. That's more than likely the cause. It's likely going to be something rubber deteriorating.
Old 09-24-2016, 02:41 PM
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If he has not replaced them , the old hoses are not USCG alcohol-resistant type and will qiuickly deteriorate with E10 gas in them . Replace with new hoses which have a colored stripe down the whole side saying USCG-approved alcohol-resistant J1527- (A-1, A-2?) . They are not alcohol-proof but much more "-resistant" and last much longer.

Plastic filters are not USCG approved for use with I/O & I/B's , and replacing with large water-separating filter with drainable metal bowl is highly recommended. Larger the better for longest use.

But if he has more issues he might also try running in good conditions with the fill cap removed to check whether a clogged vent screen or hose could be contributing to the blockages.
Old 09-24-2016, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by mikefloyd View Post
Nothing in his fuel system is compatible with ethanol; if he has a metal tank it's dissolving 40 years of build-up if he has a fiberglass tank it's dissolving the tank.Plus every line and the check valve is dissolving too. Sorry there is no quick easy fix.
I agree. Ethanol is a good solvent and will cause fuel sludge in the bottom of the tank to dissolve. It shows up in filters like the tan sand you describe.
Old 09-24-2016, 05:21 PM
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I went through this about 3 years ago ended up replacing both tanks. What I was told at the time that the galvanized tanks were dissolving that was caused by the Ethanol gas. The tan sandy material was from the tanks breaking down. Gas cannot be polished must be disposed of only deasel fuel can be polished. I know of several boats in the Tilghman area that had the same problem and ended up replacing tanks they were in other marinas. The disposal company refused to pump the tanks because the tan sandy material indicated the tanks had started to break down. We ended up pumping the tanks and taking the gas for disposal at a junkyard in Easton MD.
Old 09-24-2016, 08:01 PM
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Had the same issue in a 1978 Trojan - galv tanks. pumped out the gas, sucked up the "sand" but it came back. Tanks were deteriorating. Replaced tanks.
Old 09-24-2016, 10:27 PM
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Yep aluminum fuel tank. Being that the boat is over 40 years old it sounds right that the tank may just need to be replaced. I'm glad some of you were able to confirm the fine sand looking stuff plugging the fuel filter. I will pass the info on & let Bob decide if he wants him & I do it or higher authority with a hell of a lot more experience do it!

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