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Author Topic: Diesel in the bilge!!  (Read 745 times)

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Analgesic

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Diesel in the bilge!!
« on: March 09, 2019, 04:27:33 PM »

So, I went to visit my 1988 C34 today on the hard in MA for the first time in a month (with some pretty intense cold since last visit if that is relevant).  The boat is shrink wrapped and the bilge had been dry.  I was shocked to see about 1/8" of pink diesel on top of a 1/2 " of ice in the main bilge.  Behind the engine in the aft birth there was about 1/4" of diesel under the shaft and up against the vertical fiberglass at the back of the engine.  There also was diesel in the depression above the shaft further aft of the shaft exit tube. No trickle tracks could be identified.   So, the search for a source is on.  I removed the aft cabin panel to inspect the fuel tank and all visible surfaces looked well  There was no diesel directly below the engine.   I turned the key to start the fuel pump briefly and couldn't identify any trouble.  The fuel tank read 3/4 full which is where I left it in the Fall.  All fuel lines are dry to my inspection off the top of the tank and into the space under the head sink. 
So, I absorbed everything I could (best estimate a pint of diesel total) and laid down dry paper towels to port of the shaft so if there is a trickle I should be able to see which towel it hits on the way to the low point. 
Has anyone dealt with this?  I fear something catastrophic might be coming on.  I can next visit the boat in 4 days.  Thanks in advance for any guidance on how best to proceed.     Brian McPhillips
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Brian McPhillips

Roland Gendreau

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Re: Diesel in the bilge!!
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2019, 05:21:15 PM »

Are you sure it is diesel?   Pink sounds more like antifreeze, leaking from the aft water tank?

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Roland Gendreau
1992 MK 1.5
Gratitude #1183
Bristol, RI

Noah

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Re: Diesel in the bilge!!
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2019, 05:33:17 PM »

Having just gone through a fuel tank replacement this month on my 1990 —due to pin hole leakage—sadly, this sounds a bit familiar. However, east coast weather removed from the scenario. I too did NOT see a trickles, but there was diesel on the shelf supporting the tank. A pin hole will take time to develop and leak slowly. The amount of fuel you describe will not register on your fuel gauge. I would recommend draining/pumping out the tank in any case, unless you can readily determine the leak is a hose, filter, or other source.

Also, excuse my Calif. ignorance, but why is there ice in the bilge? You said the boat was shrink wrapped and I assume mast is off as well.
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1990 hull #1014, San Diego, CA,  Fin Keel,
Standard Rig

Noah

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Re: Diesel in the bilge!!
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2019, 05:38:28 PM »

It could be water system antifreeze, ATF, or diesel. All pink and all smell and taste differently. Explore all. In my case it was diesel.
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1990 hull #1014, San Diego, CA,  Fin Keel,
Standard Rig

Analgesic

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Re: Diesel in the bilge!!
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2019, 05:46:45 PM »

At first I wasn't sure it was diesel, hoping it was red antifreeze from the aft tank.    I would have expected a horrible odor but I suspect the cold temperatures affect that to some degree.  However, I mixed it in a cup with water and it layered out beautifully and of course once I got home to room temperature, I smelled like diesel.  I too am puzzled by the water in the bilge.  My best guess is it resulted from some of our harsh storms with horizontal rain and gusts to 60 knots over 12 hours.  The pin hole answer seems likely.  I guess I will need to hand pump the tank empty into jerry cans in order to lift it and check underneath as I can't see anything presently.  Any other suggestions? 
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Brian McPhillips

Jon W

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Re: Diesel in the bilge!!
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2019, 05:52:56 PM »

You have some diesel in the hull depression aft of the shaft log? Are you sure it’s diesel? Thinking out loud here, that depression is aft of the tank so wondering if you have any jerry cans with diesel stored in the aft cockpit locker/lazarette?
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Jon W.
s/v Della Jean
Hull #493, 1987 MK 1, M25XP, Manson Supreme 35
San Diego, Ca

Roland Gendreau

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Re: Diesel in the bilge!!
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2019, 05:58:49 PM »

To empty the tank, you could siphon it out with a hose that extends into the tank,  thru the cockpit to the ground, into jerry cans -  or use the electric fuel pump to pump it out.  Remove the pump outlet hose, and connect a section of hose from the pump to a jerry can (need a few of them), turn the key on and pump it out.  I still think your pink stuff is antifreeze tho.
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Roland Gendreau
1992 MK 1.5
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Bristol, RI

Noah

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Re: Diesel in the bilge!!
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2019, 06:34:04 PM »

Being on the hard, a simple gravity syphon seems easiest. In my case I removed the fuel tank sender unit and had the fuel dock suck it out (accessing through the port cockpit seat hatch inspection port). They charged me $5 per gl. to dispose of near-new fuel!!! Unfortunately, I had to chaulk it up to the cost of doing business under pressure being in the water—worrying about the “what if” my near-full tank let go all of a sudden, not having 5 jerry jugs on hand, nor the time to deal with it in a hurry.
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1990 hull #1014, San Diego, CA,  Fin Keel,
Standard Rig

Analgesic

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Re: Diesel in the bilge!!
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2019, 06:37:47 PM »

I did one more test I failed to mention-soaked a paper towel in the pink stuff, put it in a jar and it lit with a match.  It  burned immediately with black smoke  so I'm certain it's diesel.  The pinhole leak seems most plausible at this point.  I'll check back Wednesday and look for any new clues. 
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Brian McPhillips

Noah

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Re: Diesel in the bilge!!
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2019, 08:10:16 PM »

This is what mine looked like.
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1990 hull #1014, San Diego, CA,  Fin Keel,
Standard Rig

Patches

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Re: Diesel in the bilge!!
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2019, 09:15:02 AM »

Hope it's not your tank. Just installed my new one yesterday, and added diesel from the jerry jugs back in.  Your photos are exactly what I saw about one month ago when I looked in my bilge. Look under the head sink, and with a flashlight you should be able to detect a very thin diesel "slick" coming down from the the forward area of the tank.  Lay a flat paper towel in that area to see it if will take up the diesel.

Noah is spot on about pinhole leaks beneath the tanks.  Catalina installed these directly on the glassed-in shelf on the port side, allowing for the inevitable moisture to collect underneath and the process of pinhole corrosion to begin.

Before installing my new tank, I "glued" 2 inch neoprene strips, 1/4" thick- with two inch gaps in between- with 5200 and let it cure for a week.  No contact between the shelf and the tank bottom on the new tank, and no opportunity for corrosion in the future.  Pretty simple to do, and inexpensive as well. Neoprene came in a 10' roll, purchased on Amazon for about $20.  You'll need to buy the 5200 in caulking tube size, which made it very easy to work with.   The process was:

(1) invert the new tank on a flat surface taking care to use several 2X4s spaced underneath to keep the tank from resting on the vent tube or tank fittings.

(2) measure out the strips starting at the forward end of the tank. Cut them to the right length, then measure down another two inches and cut the next one.  Repeat until you have pre-cut all the strips.  When you get down to the pointy (aft) end of the tank, you will find it is best to run the final piece lengthwise.  It will only be about 4" long.

(3) tape the areas where the strips will be placed.  This allows consistent spacing, and the ability to later peel up the excess 5200 which will ooze out when you apply pressure.

(4) Put on vinyl gloves.  Apply the 5200 liberally with the caulking gun to individual strips one at a time.  After you put on the 5200, use a plastic putty knife to spread it evenly along the bottom of the strip. Keep some type of solvent nearby to periodically clean the knife if it gets too tacky.  I  used acetone.

(5) Repeat until you reach the other end. Lay a long length of aluminum foil over the top. This is to prevent the piece of plywood from possibly getting stuck to a strip in the event that 5200 somehow finds its way on the top of one of the strips.   Carefully place a piece of 1/2" plywood, about 48" X 14",  on top of the foil top. Carefully, because the 5200 is still "wet" and will shift if you're not careful.  Now use those heavy, coffee table-type, books to add weight on top of the strips to compress them on to the tank bottom.

(6) Depending on what temperature you are working with--I moved this process inside the house which was about 65 degrees this winter--periodically check the tackiness of the 5200 which will set up over time.  I then removed the "weight" and smoothed the edges of the strips with a caulking tool to remove the excess 5200 before it fully set up.  Then I removed the tape strips.

(7) Add back the foil, piece of plywood, and weight.  Let sit for several more days until the 5200 fully sets up.  This will depend on the temp.

(8) Reinstall tank, new vent line (5/8") and fuel fill (1.5").

Finished product only raises the tank 1/4", and does not interfere with the operation of the manual fuel shutoff located on the tank. 

Patches
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glennd3

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Re: Diesel in the bilge!!
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2019, 10:11:07 AM »

Very nice response Patches
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Glenn Davis
Knot Yet
1990 Catalina 34 Mk 1.5
Hull 1053
TR/WK
M25XP
Magothy River
Chesapeake Bay Maryland

Ed Shankle

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Re: Diesel in the bilge!!
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2019, 10:43:13 AM »

Brian,
A few thoughts;
You said the “main bilge” had diesel in it. Did you mean the section directly aft of the mast step? I expect it would have been in the section aft of that one, unless it somehow got on the bilge pump hose and trickled along it into the bilge??
When I had a pin hole leak in my tank a number of years ago (which I replaced), the thinking at the time was that if there is water in the metal tank, it attacks the welds in the tank creating the pinholes.
On another occasion where I had a small leak, it was due to filling the tank too full in the fall, and it expanded when the weather got warmer, forcing fuel out the sender cover. Pumping out a few gallons and snugging the sender cover resolved the issue.
Also, did you check the tank vent hose to be sure it was intact?
Good luck with the investigation!
Regards,
Ed

PS Noah - got a chuckle from your ice in the bilge comment : :mrgreen! Yeah, with mast up, the internal mast trickle of water will most definitely freeze up.
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Ed Shankle
Tail Wind #866 1989
Salem, MA

Analgesic

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Re: Diesel in the bilge!!
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2019, 03:35:38 PM »

Thanks for all the advice.  I think my boat is not perfectly level, blow slightly up.  It looks like the diesel (and ice below it) was deeper aft and shallower moving forward with neither making it through the limber hole to reach the mast section.  I don't think the vent tube should come into play as the tank is only 3/4 full.  I'll be looking for the diesel track on Wednesday in the places mentioned. 
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Brian McPhillips

Roland Gendreau

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Re: Diesel in the bilge!!
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2019, 07:47:02 PM »

I did one more test I failed to mention-soaked a paper towel in the pink stuff, put it in a jar and it lit with a match.  It  burned immediately with black smoke  so I'm certain it's diesel.  The pinhole leak seems most plausible at this point.  I'll check back Wednesday and look for any new clues.

Keep in mind that while pink antifreeze is not flammable, it is combustible.
So the fact that the paper towel burned with black smoke does not necessarily mean the pink stuff is diesel.



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Roland Gendreau
1992 MK 1.5
Gratitude #1183
Bristol, RI
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