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Old 10 July 2011, 14:53   #1
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Fuel bulb collapsed again!

Fuel bulb collapsed again yesterday afternoon off Calshot (5pm Saturday) when two Ocean Liners coming out. Pretty choppy, six on board. Had this before so thought I could deal with it. Southampton VTS launch in front of Liners passed me showing concern. Managed to get fuel pipe released from bulb tank side, bulb inflated job done I thought. Primed. started engine and 5 yards, stopped, bulb collapsed again. Crew now getting worried as Liners bearing down, drifting with incoming tide and strong westerly, pushing me ever closer to shipping lane. Should I throw out anchor and hold ground. Still determined I could fix bulb. Made call to Sea Start and they reckoned could be there in 5 /10 mins. Bulb still collapsed.
F..k! Stayed calm and took fuel line off engine side of bulb, bulb would not inflate. What with bobbing about and trying to work out any logic to what I was achieving, started blowing and sucking (as you do in a panic) finally got a mouthful of petrol and bulb started doing what it was meant to. Put back fuel line, primed again, bulb working and engine up and running.

Looked up at passing Liners and thanked my lucky stars, that was close.
Crew, later on shore, admitted to being quite worried!
I guess it's a intermittent problem with the fuel pick up in the tank. I also think it would be a good idea to have transparent sections of fuel pipe either side of bulb to get some idea of flow.
Has any one any thoughts on what I should have done in this situation.
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Old 10 July 2011, 14:59   #2
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Seems to me like a blocked/closed breather which would result in the vacuum collapsing the primer bulb, have you checked the tank breather??
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Old 10 July 2011, 15:07   #3
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Seems to me like a blocked/closed breather which would result in the vacuum collapsing the primer bulb, have you checked the tank breather??
That'd be what I'd be looking at-as well as the bulb breaking down inside and blocking itself internally,stopping fuel flow.

I carry a spare-far quicker to change one than to bypass it.
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Old 10 July 2011, 15:09   #4
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That'd be what I'd be looking at-as well as the bulb breaking down inside and blocking itself internally,stopping fuel flow.
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Old 10 July 2011, 15:20   #5
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That's the second bulb I've had problems with. I disected the first one and the 'balls' did sometimes stick closed.

I'm not sure how to get to the breather pipe, small access hatch in deck reveals what I think to be fuel gauge sender unit, sealed it mastic. Don't want to break seal as ingress of water would be more of a problem. But must get this sorted as no fun
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Old 10 July 2011, 15:37   #6
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That's the second bulb I've had problems with. I disected the first one and the 'balls' did sometimes stick closed.

I'm not sure how to get to the breather pipe, small access hatch in deck reveals what I think to be fuel gauge sender unit, sealed it mastic. Don't want to break seal as ingress of water would be more of a problem. But must get this sorted as no fun
Change the bulb anyway and carry a spare. What make are you using?
Guessing a bit here but:-
If you've got an internal tank( usually somewhat larger breathers than on portable tanks),you're only getting 5 yards between the bulb going round to flat and you're managing to get the bulb to go round after being flat, it's far more likely to be the bulb than the breather.
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Old 10 July 2011, 15:45   #7
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Had this very same situation on my last boat. Turned out to be debris that was getting sucked up the pipe from the tank and blocking at the first restriction which happened to be the barbed inlet on the water separator. Once all the detritus was cleared out it never became a problem again.

I'd be carefully emptying your tank and searching for bits of debris floating around. In my case it was loose bits of GRP from original manufacture.
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Old 10 July 2011, 15:47   #8
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Thanks for that 4r2
Thinking about it, your probably right, the breather must be combined with the filler pipe, like that on the car, other wise I would get petrol blowing back at me when filling.
What about the pick up in the tank, if that got blocked would that collapse the weakest point - bulb!
Again, not sure how to get to that.

I as ever trying to penny pinch, used to fill up with metal jerry cans and suspect internal rust from these may have got into the under deck tank.
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Old 10 July 2011, 15:53   #9
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I'd be carefully emptying your tank and searching for bits of debris floating around. In my case it was loose bits of GRP from original manufacture.
I've heard of this happening on other boats too. It's stunning how "they" let this occur. You'd think a manufacturer would be sweating keeping a seal on the tanks at all times, but it's not the case.
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Old 10 July 2011, 15:56   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ribber
Fuel bulb collapsed again yesterday afternoon off Calshot (5pm Saturday) when two Ocean Liners coming out. Pretty choppy, six on board. Had this before so thought I could deal with it. Southampton VTS launch in front of Liners passed me showing concern. Managed to get fuel pipe released from bulb tank side, bulb inflated job done I thought. Primed. started engine and 5 yards, stopped, bulb collapsed again. Crew now getting worried as Liners bearing down, drifting with incoming tide and strong westerly, pushing me ever closer to shipping lane. Should I throw out anchor and hold ground. Still determined I could fix bulb. Made call to Sea Start and they reckoned could be there in 5 /10 mins.
Mmm... I think I'd have been calling VTS not seastart. I don't know what the launch's protocols are but presumably if you were at serious and imminent danger they would have got you out the way. Sometimes a tow is the best solution and I'd have been tempted to call help and rig a tow rope rather than hope I could fix it in time. I once broke a rudder on a sailing dinghy in the path of a cargo vessel and whilst I could have sailed it rudderless as per my training a tow was definitely the right choice...

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Change the bulb anyway and carry a spare. What make are you using?
Guessing a bit here but:-
If you've got an internal tank( usually somewhat larger breathers than on portable tanks),you're only getting 5 yards between the bulb going round to flat and you're managing to get the bulb to go round after being flat, it's far more likely to be the bulb than the breather.
If you do suspect the breather and it happens again it should resolve itself it you open the fuel filler cap (even briefly). Ribeye should be able to confirm the intended "plumbing" for the vent though so you can do some preventative maintainence/inspection.
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