New fuel lines and Racor 500

I had Mark from Auxiliary Engine Services stop by Satori on a recent lunch break and he took a look at the diesel engine, which is a Bukh lifeboat engine. He may be the only person around Ballard who has even worked on these engines before. I called just about everyone and the first response was, “Never heard of it”. It’s basically another 3-cylinder marine diesel engine. Not much to it. The reason Mark had a look is because I had a diesel fuel leak that went into the bilge. After an assessment of the engine he helped me prioritize the upcoming work. First was a hose that was heavily corroded and ready to break, which came from the Groco  water strainer. Had it broken while the thru-hull valve was open and I was away from the boat for days, it could have sunk the boat. I spent some time after work one evening disconnecting the bronze fitting and hose (which broke in half when I pulled on it), brought it to Fisheries Supply and bought some new hose, a bronze elbow, a hose barb and hose clamps. Some time pushing it all together in really tight quarters and that problem was solved. The second issue was solving the fuel leak. Mark suggested that I go ahead and replace every fuel line and fitting up to the valves on the tanks and engine. This included a new water separator/fuel filter.

A fresh install of the seawater coolant hose coming from the strainer seacock.
A fresh install of the seawater coolant hose coming from the strainer seacock.

Fortunately I was able to catch the fuel in the bilge problem before the pump went off. I turned the bilge pump off, closed the fuel valves at the tank, plugged the engine compartment that flows into the bilge and then I cleaned out the bilge one evening. Not such an easy task as I had to degrease the water and surrounding area and then pump it manually into fuel containers to contain the final water, fuel and degreaser combination. After cleaning and turning the bilge back on I was happy to see clear water again. It was a very messy cleanup but I’m a stickler about polluting the sound so there really wasn’t any other option. The next task was figuring out how to get my fuel system back in order. The first assessment seemed a bit overwhelming but some serious thinking and a trip back to Fisheries supply confirmed how I was going to replace everything. When I began disassembling the old system I realized all of the junctions were flared fittings to a plastic barb connected with a flared end cap. I decided to simplify the fuel lines down to 3/8″ NPT and 1/4″ hose barb double clamped with really good hose clamps. A few bronze “T” junctions, a new shutoff valve for the diesel stove and new 1/4″ Trident A1-15 fuel hose and I’m ready to replace the lines. A new Racor 500MA water separator/fuel filter will take care of keeping the fuel in good condition and a simple step down to 3/8″ NPT will add it to the new fuel system.

My new fuel system schematic.
My new fuel system schematic.

One of the things I actually like about this system is that it keeps the tanks level once the engine has run long enough to cycle the fuel once through the separator. There are valves on both the top and bottom of the tanks and also some old vinyl tubing once used for sight-glass measurements of the fuel tanks. The sight-glass tubing is getting removed and both top and bottom connections are getting plugged as it’s not the most practical way to gauge the remaining fuel. I use the wooden dipstick method and prefer that over opening the engine compartment. You simply open a fuel tank from the cockpit and probe to the bottom. The wetted surface displays the remaining fuel from the full mark.

The original fuel system junction
The original fuel system junction

I had to place an online order for the bronze Ts, brass hose barbs and hose clamps as it could take a lot of driving around to find all the parts to finish the job. Another week or two from now and I should have it all installed and ready for a final inspection and sign off by Mark.

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