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  #1   IP: 173.17.89.29
Old 09-10-2018, 09:44 AM
sailhog sailhog is offline
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Water in fuel tank

Quick story: A week ago I swung by the boat to top off with fuel and take down the canvas in preparation for a TS Gordon. While refueling, an old friend stopped by to say hello, and that's all it took for me to get distracted in this simple task... So... yesterday, I dropped by the boat and noticed an oder of gasoline and more-than-trace-amounts in the bilge. I wondered how in the hell it got there but couldn't solve the mystery... Then I came up to the cockpit and nearly wet myself -- I saw that I'd left the fuel port open. Since then all the rain -- three to four inches -- from TS Gordon has had free entry...

After kicking myself, I pulled out the fluid extractor and sucked five of the 15 gallons out of the bottom of the tank. The fuel looked completely fresh -- no cloudiness that I think would indicate the presence of water.

So here are my questions: Should I evacuate all 15 gallons? Is it reasonable to think the Racor can handle whatever water is still in the tank? I'm assuming the water settled to the bottom and that the fluid extractor sucked it out... Is this a reasonable idea? Finally, is there anything else I should be doing? Fuel waste is a pain in the -ss to deal with...

The A-4 has been running like a top for the couple of years and I'm just mad as hell at myself for getting distracted...

Last edited by sailhog; 09-10-2018 at 09:52 AM.
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  #2   IP: 138.207.175.58
Old 09-10-2018, 10:12 AM
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A friend of mine decided to wash down his deck while he was waiting for his turn at the fuel dock. You can figure out the rest....

Bill
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Old 09-10-2018, 10:19 AM
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A friend of mine decided to wash down his deck while he was waiting for his turn at the fuel dock. You can figure out the rest....

Bill
Thanks for this, Bill. While it doesn't make me feel better, it makes me feel less alone. That said, I feel "special" in a way that's... humbling...
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Old 09-10-2018, 11:01 AM
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Just for comfort, I'd take a tablespoon of the stuff you pumped out and make sure it burns. Eliminate the chance you pumped out 5 gallons of clear rainwater.
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  #5   IP: 138.207.172.243
Old 09-10-2018, 11:49 AM
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Water is heavier than gasoline, so unless you are certain you are drawing from the very lowest place in the tank, you can't be sure you're not just getting the fuel off the top. I don't know how your tank fill is oriented with respect to rainwater runoff, but you might have gotten very little or you might have gotten a lot of water in the tank. One thing is for sure - if there's water in the tank, it will find its way to the carb at the least convenient moment.

Water will separate very clearly from the fuel. It will look like little clear blobs in the bottom of a glass jar. Were this my situation (as it has been in the past), I'd get the fuel from the lowest point in the tank I could reach, pump a pint or so in a glass jar and let it settle. If there's water mixed with fuel, you'll see it.
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  #6   IP: 137.200.32.54
Old 09-10-2018, 01:09 PM
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NON-ETHANOL gas will not mix with water. The gas can be saved.
Ethanol gas is ruined at this point.
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Old 09-10-2018, 02:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Schober View Post
Just for comfort, I'd take a tablespoon of the stuff you pumped out and make sure it burns. Eliminate the chance you pumped out 5 gallons of clear rainwater.
BTDT.

Bill
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Old 09-10-2018, 03:25 PM
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Old pilot trick - take the test sample full of "fuel" and add some avgas to the top. If it floats up there and doesn't mix, you got an entire tester full of water
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  #9   IP: 173.17.89.29
Old 09-11-2018, 03:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Schober View Post
Just for comfort, I'd take a tablespoon of the stuff you pumped out and make sure it burns. Eliminate the chance you pumped out 5 gallons of clear rainwater.
After pouring a few ounces of the first five gallons into a jar, it turns out to be about 2/3 water. Every water molecule that entered the fuel port displaced a molecule of fuel.

So... looks like I'm pulling all of the fuel/water out of the tank.

Thanks for the help, folks! You all are the best.
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Old 09-12-2018, 10:24 PM
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joe,
I beg to differ with you about ethanol fuel being ruined.
If you mix ethanol gas with water, the gas and water don't mix but the ethanol from the gas goes into the water. This leaves you with gas without ethanol.
Yes, the octane rating of the gas has been reduced but it's still gas that's good for an Atomic 4. Probably no longer good for a high compression aviation engine, but fine for an Atomic 4.
Just my opinion, but based on pumping water/gas out of my tank over many years. Pump out a gallon, pour the gas back into the tank, discard the water/alcohol. Hasn't caused me a problem with my A4.
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Old 09-13-2018, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Al Schober View Post
joe,
I beg to differ with you about ethanol fuel being ruined.
If you mix ethanol gas with water, the gas and water don't mix but the ethanol from the gas goes into the water. This leaves you with gas without ethanol.
Yes, the octane rating of the gas has been reduced but it's still gas that's good for an Atomic 4. Probably no longer good for a high compression aviation engine, but fine for an Atomic 4.
Just my opinion, but based on pumping water/gas out of my tank over many years. Pump out a gallon, pour the gas back into the tank, discard the water/alcohol. Hasn't caused me a problem with my A4.
My experience comports with this. The ethanol gas separated from the water the instant I poured it into the glass jar. It turned out that, of the five gallons of fluid I drew out of the bottom of the tank, about 95% of it was water. Heading out to the boat later today to draw out the rest...
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  #12   IP: 137.200.32.38
Old 09-13-2018, 12:47 PM
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Well it is ruined FOR SURE for a car. I hadn't thought of the A4 perhaps tolerating the low octane base stock.
Do note - and I learned this the hard way - that the goopy ethanol/water mix does some combination of these two things if used as fuel:
1. Clogs up the filter/water separator and no fuel passes to the engine.
2. Gets through the filter and make a mess of the carb.

In both cases the engine is not going to run for long.
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  #13   IP: 173.17.89.29
Old 09-14-2018, 12:11 AM
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Originally Posted by joe_db View Post
Well it is ruined FOR SURE for a car. I hadn't thought of the A4 perhaps tolerating the low octane base stock.
Do note - and I learned this the hard way - that the goopy ethanol/water mix does some combination of these two things if used as fuel:
1. Clogs up the filter/water separator and no fuel passes to the engine.
2. Gets through the filter and make a mess of the carb.

In both cases the engine is not going to run for long.
I hear you. I'm pulling all of the water/ethanol out of the tank. It doesn't look like clean fuel by any stretch. My only point was that the water and fuel separated in a way that is plainly visible, but there is more than trace amounts of water caught up in the fuel emulsion.

I come from a long line of pilots and it's always refreshing to hear what you wild-ass guys have to say. Thanks, Joe.
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