Dirty Fuel Tank on a 26-2

diogenes

Junior Member
Dear Ericson Colleagues,

My 1986 Ericson 26-2 had her Westerbeake 10HP working flawlessly until a vigorous sporty sail in a recent long distance race with lots of healing. Turns out that the fuel filters clogged up. After changing them, they clogged up again almost immediately. Well, the best guess is that there was gunk in the tank that got lifted with the sailing action and now I need to clean the fuel tank.
Would it be better to remove it for the job ? How complicated is that process? Should I just flush it in place ?
Any tips would be appreciated and I am sorry if this is a repeat post/question but I did not find it on record specifically for the 26-2.


"Caravella"
1986 Ericson 26-2
Westerbeake10HP
Canyon Lake, Texas
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
I put the words 'cleaning diesel tank' into this site's search box, and it returned a lot of hits. Some quite relevant and some not as much.
The problem of a crudded up tank is about the same no matter which boat model a person has. By that I mean that tanks and their maintenance are uniform across a large swath of boats.
The only boat model-specific part is access to your tank.

Having rebuilt/upgraded the OEM fuel supply and return lines for our '88 model I have a good idea of the challenges.
As for the sludge in your tank, you really do need to clean it out.
Can you get to the top of the tank, remove the fuel sender and look inside? Try shinning a strong light into the approx. 1" hole. My SWAG is that you will need to cut an access (clean out) port in the top. A friend of mine did that for his E-38.
I solved the problem by having a new and larger tank fabricated up, many years ago -- with two clean out plates/ports because our tank has an internal baffle.
"Flushing" it will help a lot IF you can get the required pair of hoses inside to blast the gunk and slurp out the suspended material. Paying someone to do this might cost several hundred $, if you can find anyone. Can you post pix of the tank?

I also note that you mention "filters" plural. Does your boat have a Racor filter and also a spin on filter on the engine? If you have a circa-1986 Racor filter, it might be good to replace that with a new model like a Racor 500.
 
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diogenes

Junior Member
Hi Lauren,
Thank you for the reply. I am aware that the problem is common and so are the solutions. Perhaps I should have been more specific on whether anyone has removed the tank out of a 26 with the goal of cleaning it. The weaterbeake engine has 2 filters. I will definitely clean it soon as I am unable to sail at this point.
thanks again for taking the time to add suggestions for the newbie Ericson owner.
 

KS Dave

Dastardly Villain
Blogs Author
My WB 10-2 has three filters. First stage is Racor fuel/water separator then there's the two engine fuel filters.

I (hopefully) solved the issue with sediment in my tank with a DIY fuel polisher. I bought some battery alligator clips, a fuel pump, a cheapo fuel/water separator, and a spool of rubber fuel line from Amazon. I zip tied a piece of aluminum rod to the "suction" end and then worked it around in the tank through the fuel gauge sender hole (you can see it on the right in the picture below). Then return line went right back into the tank. After probing around on the lowest bottom corners of the tank and getting the really nasty junk out, I changed the filter, then just let it run for several hours. It still collected some sediment (and water) in this mode.

All said and done, I probably spent $45 on this rig. Completely draining the tank and trying to wrangle it out was not a project I was willing to take on.

FuelPolisher.jpg
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Here's what mild glop looks like. Most is concentrated around the pickup tube, the lowest point. Walls less affected.

residue ERicson 38 fuel tank.JPG..fuel tank gunk.JPG

fuel sump w baffle.JPG
 
Hi Lauren,
Thank you for the reply. I am aware that the problem is common and so are the solutions. Perhaps I should have been more specific on whether anyone has removed the tank out of a 26 with the goal of cleaning it. The weaterbeake engine has 2 filters. I will definitely clean it soon as I am unable to sail at this point.
thanks again for taking the time to add suggestions for the newbie Ericson owner.
I’m not positive about this but the fuel tank on my e27 seems to have tabs that are glassed into the hull.
 

acubria

Member II
The diesel tank in the 26-2 is very not accessible and I dont think the tank would come out of the 26-2 unless you cut it up or remove the motor. Dave's contraption looks pretty promising. I would combine it with an endoscopic camera so you can see what is going on inside the tank. I use my endoscopic camera all the time when working on the boat. Attached are photos of my fuel sender and the bottom of my tank. I never cleaned it since it is not too bad for 40 years ! I do change the filters every season and installed a new sender. Good luck !
 

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diogenes

Junior Member
Great discussion and suggestions. I will flush the tank a few times and change the 3 filters, and I hope the issue will be solved.
I will order the endoscopic camera for the iPhone on Amazon and take a peek before calling it "good enough."
 
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