Water in fuel
When would be the worst time for your engine to fail?
The answer to that question will be different depending on your industry, and for one of our clients the answer is definitely “during peak scallop season” and whilst the vessel is in a major shipping lane.
And sadly, that’s exactly what happened – with their Cat 3508 propulsion engine failing, they had to be towed to port!!
The owner had recently bought this vessel, and unfortunately, they weren’t aware of its history, until it was too late.
With some digging, we found there had been a previous problem with water in the fuel that had never been resolved.
The vessel’s previous service company had had a go by changing the damaged injectors and fuel transfer pump and clearing the fuel lines out, but that didn’t stop the cause.
As an engineer, you know water in the fuel is not good for the precision components and in this instance, with lack of diesel atomisation, the engine completely stopped working.
There are four main sources of water in fuel:
- The supplied fuel could already have a high-water content
- Condensation from inside the fuel tank, if left standing for a large amount of time
- Humidity in the fuel tank
- The fuel tank, or vent, is not properly sealed allowing water to get in
If you are experiencing high water content, the priority needs to be finding the source to prevent internal damage and carry out appropriate action, and not just changing components as the older owner had done.
And here’s a couple of extra things you can do:
- Install a coalescing filter to remove water before the fuel gets to the injection system
- Use a cleaning company to remove the high levels of water from your fuel so it can be reused