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Old 21 May 2012, 10:43   #1
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Country: USA
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260 liters of bad gas

So after a decade of not so much as a hiccup my engine quit on the water and I had to be towed back to the launch. I hadn't made it far, we were idling out of the no wake zone when the engine quit. It was the first time out for the season, while I had filled the tank after its last run in 2011 and added stabilizer, the problem was crappy gas that clogged the primary filter, starving the engine.

In the US it is hard to buy fuel without ethanol added. I think I finally experienced "phase separation" where the alcohol/water settles to the bottom of the tank and now lower octane petrol sits on top. When emptying the tank I used a clear hose to monitor what was coming out. As I siphoned it started out a yellow color with a lot of white "foam" mixed in. That finally transitioned into a darker yellow clear color with a few interesting little clear globules that I assumed to be ethanol. I don't think it was water because they were in the top of the clear hose, not the bottom. The last half out of the tank was clear but slightly yellow, not colorless like good gas.

So 2 questions:

What else should I do to the now empty tank? It is below deck and holds apx. 260 liters (70 gallons). I have not pulled the fuel level sending unit from the top of the tank, the only real accessible inspection point. The fuel line is attached to the top of the tank to a pipe that goes to the bottom.

Is there a practical way to recondition the bad gas? Right now it is sitting in a couple of steel drums. I don't want to put it back in the boat of course. I want to use or dispose of this stuff without making a mess.
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Old 21 May 2012, 12:13   #2
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In the US it is hard to buy fuel without ethanol added. I think I finally experienced "phase separation" where the alcohol/water settles to the bottom of the tank and now lower octane petrol sits on top.
You'd have to get the gas tested to be sure, but an octane booster (look in the wannabe performance section at your local auto parts store) should help, unless you want to pump the old stuff out and refill with fresh (Never mind; just read you did...)

Quote:
That finally transitioned into a darker yellow clear color with a few interesting little clear globules that I assumed to be ethanol. I don't think it was water because they were in the top of the clear hose, not the bottom.
Doubt it; Ethanol will readily disperse in gas. Probably water with enough surface tension to remain floating. Or gas sitting on top of water. Dunno.

Many reports of phase separation have been traced to straight water ingress where the fuel remains fine, but water still pools in the tank. That said, phase separation does remain a possibility, especially if the boat was laid up for the winter.

Quote:
What else should I do to the now empty tank?
Add a couple of gallons of fresh fuel and siphon and dispose of it? Change out your canister filter element (assuming you have one; if not, install one) and watch for further water contamination. You may want to bump up the filter cartridge replacement interval as well, as the water/alcohol will have tended to loosen debris that is largely unaffected by gasoline.


Quote:
Is there a practical way to recondition the bad gas?
As mentioned above, add an octane booster, then add 2-stroke oil, and mow a lot of lawns.

The lack of ethanol shouldn't affect the gas in any other way than reducing the octane rating; I'm not sure how picky garden tool 2-strokes motors are, but I suspect it's not very.

More info on Ethanol from BoatUS:

BoatUS: Seaworthy

Good luck;

jky
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Old 21 May 2012, 12:25   #3
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Another option (not knowing how old your engine is) might be to slowly add, say, a gallon at a time before you top up to a full fresh tank. Then your "bad" gas will only be approx 1/70th of the fuel, which based on any oldschool carburetted engine I've ever used will probably not bat an eyelid.

If it's an opti or something equally fussy jky's lawnmower comments might be the way to go!

At least if it's in a barrel you could syphon / drain the water (assuming that's what it is) more easily. (could you syphon it through a filter into another barrel - would reduce the amount of cr@p in whatever you decide to burn it in?)
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Old 21 May 2012, 16:38   #4
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The top fraction was alcohol and water, the bottom is lower octane gas. The gas can be burnt in many 2 or 4 stroke engines, preferably something old you don't mind a little knocking in. Lawnmowers, tractors, non-finicky outboards, farm trucks, etc.
The watery emulsion of alcohol in very small quantities (~1L) can go into the sewage treatment system. For your volumes, I would call a fuel polishing place to see if they can accept it for disposal. You should be able to find some in the Bay area.
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Old 21 May 2012, 18:07   #5
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The UK is going to have E10 ethanol fuel within a couple of years!
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Old 22 May 2012, 10:10   #6
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Thanks everyone, your input helped.

Polaris owners past or present (at least 2 of you) stick together. My boat is a 2001 Polaris. I have not had the pleasure of meeting jyasaki, but captjack we met in Discovery bay when you organized the NW Dive Club dive a couple of years ago.

Thanks again,
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Old 22 May 2012, 11:51   #7
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Polaris owners past or present (at least 2 of you) stick together. My boat is a 2001 Polaris.
Rather surprisingly, there are 2 other Polaris boats running out of Monterey, CA, both a similar size to mine. One is now a charter dive boat, the other is run by a tech diving instructor (who, of late, has been operating as a camera boat for some BBC production, chasing whales and otters.)

Mine is just a lowly recreational dive boat.

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Old 22 May 2012, 12:25   #8
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Silly me I reversed the gas - water fractions lol.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jyasaki View Post
Rather surprisingly, there are 2 other Polaris boats running out of Monterey, CA, both a similar size to mine. One is now a charter dive boat, the other is run by a tech diving instructor (who, of late, has been operating as a camera boat for some BBC production, chasing whales and otters.)

Mine is just a lowly recreational dive boat.

jky
Still bigger than mine. I'm only 15.5ft. Steve's got a nice ride though, with a ladder and everything.

I've never had an issue with E10 gas. I have a 12 gallon tank too and I rarely burn more than 4 gallons at a time. I did get some water in there when I swamped the boat once. I managed to siphon out the water from the bottom by tilting the tank and using a hose on a stick to reach the lowest corner. I removed the overlying gas and put it in my truck along with some gas drier just to be sure. Unfortunately the gas drier agents are alcohol too and in a marine environment can lead to more water uptake and/or engine problems.
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Old 23 May 2012, 11:19   #9
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Silly me I reversed the gas - water fractions lol.
Was wondering about that.

I've never had a problem either, as I think we discussed in a different thread a month or two ago.

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Old 17 October 2012, 00:43   #10
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A follow up:

The boat is finally running again. I tried to first fix it myself unsuccessfully. Then I got in line at my local Yamaha shop. They did a good job getting it running - when they finally had a slot open to work on it. They were concerned that the fuel injectors needed cleaning but thought the boat should be test run before making that decision. I took it out for the test and it ran great.

Problem solved, or so I thought. We scheduled a dive trip and the boat ran well - for half an hour. We limped home, at least the engine didn't quit altogether this time.

It took another month to get it back into the shop. This time the injectors were cleaned (one needed to be replaced). It's run well for about 4 hours without a hiccup.

The skinny from the mechanics is that the 10% ethanol fuel in my tank underwent phase separation from sitting too long. When I wrote the rather large check for the repair, stapled to the receipt was a reprint of an article about how to overwinter with fuel containing ethanol. It said there were no good options but the best one was counter to what _I_ would normally do, which is to keep the tank full. The article recommended that when using ethanol that the tank be kept EMPTY if the boat is not to be used for an extended period. The tank should be drained of any accumulated moisture and cleaned at the start of the next boating season.

Or, keep the tank full of fuel containing no ethanol and treat with stabilizer.

I think I have joined ethanolics anonymous - no more ethanol in my boat fuel.
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