It’s all a bit mucky in­side

Canal Boat - - Back Cabin: -

QA spe­cial­ist ex­am­in­ing our boat’s heat­ing thinks we have con­tam­i­nated fuel com­ing from the tank – the cen­tral heat­ing fit­ting is leak­ing rusty coloured fuel and he has taken it for ex­am­i­na­tion. Will I have to drain the fuel tank? If so, how do I go about it? Or is there any­thing else I can do?


ATONY REPLIES: A few years ago this would have been a DIY job in­volv­ing buck­ets, empty oil drums, a pump if the boat does not have a tank drain, hoses and mess. Nowa­days a num­ber of com­pa­nies will come to your boat and ‘pol­ish’ the fuel – pump it from the tank through ever finer fil­ters (pic­tured above) back into the tank un­til it is clean. The best ones will look for signs of diesel bug and also add a bio­cide if needed.

This is by far the eas­i­est way, and will also re­move any wa­ter, although the cost is likely to be in ex­cess of £150. Get the fil­ters and wa­ter sep­a­ra­tors on the en­gine and cen­tral heat­ing sys­tem cleaned or re­placed at the same time (see page 70).

You don’t men­tion jelly-like sub­stances in the fuel (signs of bug), so I sus­pect that it may be no more than wa­ter con­tam­i­na­tion. You can (and I rec­om­mend that all boaters do this ev­ery spring) rig up some form of pump or siphon (or even a we­tand-dry cleaner with a small pipe fit­ted) to ‘vacuum clean’ the bot­tom of the tank to re­move any wa­ter (you could eas­ily have sev­eral inches) or bug that has col­lected.

If you find any signs of red­dish, grey, or black jel­ly­like stuff in a fuel pipe or fil­ter you prob­a­bly have fuel bug so treat the tank with a bio­cide ad­di­tive, change the fil­ters and clean any wa­ter traps. Then be ready to change the fuel fil­ters sev­eral times if they block.

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