Recurring Water in Fuel Alarm/Thruster Issues

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Recurring Water in Fuel Alarm/Thruster Issues

Postby Northman on Thu Aug 10, 2017 4:30 pm

Since purchasing our 2014 R25SC in June, a couple of things have come up that concern me.

1. Several times recently the "Water in Fuel" alarm code has gone off while underway. I dutifully shut down the engine, get down inside the compartment and drain the large white fuel filter attached to the side of the compartment via the drain plug. I have yet to discern any water in the fuel at all. A few flecks of brown stuff, but no water. Is there something that I am missing here? Replacing the fuel filter attached to the engine or replacing the water in fuel sensor has crossed my mind, but wanted to ask before I did anything that radical. I have started adding fuel stabilizer at fill-ups, as well, but to no apparent effect.

2. On several occasions my thrusters have ceased working altogether. We have switched them off/on at the helm, as well as at the battery without apparent effect. Within a minute or two they do (thankfully) return to functioning. I have considered that the "automatic over-heating shut off" switch way be kicking in, but these stoppages appear quite random and I don't ever use the thrusters for more than a few seconds at a time. Once again, is there something that I am missing here.

The previous owner took very good care of this vessel and it received a scheduled service just prior to my taking possession, so I would not expect a general lack of care as a cause for either of these issues.

Thanks in advance for your consideration.
Dave and Paula
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Re: Recurring Water in Fuel Alarm/Thruster Issues

Postby dclagett on Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:57 pm

I had a water in fuel alarm occur almost every time I ran the boat. I drained the fuel in both the external and engine fuel filters several times, never any water visible. I also let the fuel removed from the filter sit in a clear container for several weeks to see if any water may settle out of the fuel, again no water visible. I replaced the fuel water sensor ($86) on the engine fuel filter and so far in about 8 hours of running no water in fuel alarm.

No experience with your thruster issue.

Richard
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Re: Recurring Water in Fuel Alarm/Thruster Issues

Postby Sweet_Pea on Thu Aug 10, 2017 11:33 pm

We had the same alarm and were not able to see water when we bled the fuel. Turned to out to be a faulty sensor. Volvo replaced under warranty. Here's a thread about our experience: http://www.tugnuts.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=6088&p=44751&hilit=Water+fuel+filter#p44751
Amy & Paul
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Re: Recurring Water in Fuel Alarm/Thruster Issues

Postby dclagett on Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:27 am

Update on my new water in fuel sensor. After about another 4 hours of run time, a total of 12 hours since the sensor was new, I received another water in fuel alarm. I did not drain the fuel filter this time, I just reset the the alarm, turned off the engine and then restarted the engine. I then ran the boat for another 5 hours with no water in fuel alarm. I would assume that if there was water in the fuel filter the alarm would come back on again, but no alarm.

In the past I have drained the fuel when the water in fuel alarm sounded. The drained fuel has never had any visible water in the fuel and after letting the drained fuel sit in a clear container for weeks, no visible water settled out of the fuel.

My plan now is to install a petcock on the external fuel filter, taking fuel samples often, and use a good fuel additive like FPPF.

This is frustrating. Anyone out there have similar a problem and how did you solve it.

Thanks,

Richard
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Re: Recurring Water in Fuel Alarm/Thruster Issues

Postby captstu on Mon Aug 14, 2017 8:29 am

Water in the fuel is not an uncommon problem. The Racer filter used in my 2010 or 25 senses water when there is no visible water.

I did two things to solve the problem on my ranger Tug.

First, I am stalled a 500 FG water separator in place of the "T" that splits the fuel to the engine and generator. This ensures a supply of water free fuel for both the engine and generator nearly all the time. It allows me to drain fuel that is water contaminated before it gets into the Racore filter provided by Ranger and triggers the engine check alarm.

The second thing I did was drain all the fuel in the existing Racor into a clear bottle so it to settle so I could see if there was water present. After the filter drained completely I poured a cup of isopropyl alcohol through the filter to absorb the displace the remaining water. After the alcohol dripped out of the filter into a recycle bottle I poured the original diesel fuel back into the filter, except for about a half inch on the bottom.


I have collected a very small amount of water in the new water separator but I've had no engine alarm or water in the fuel signals since the installation. I also changed the generator pre-filter to one with a clear bowl so I can see if any water got into that line. In the process I found about 2 tablespoons of water in the generator pre-filter.

The process cost about 100 bucks took about two hours and is likely to save much more than that in future adoration.
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Re: Recurring Water in Fuel Alarm/Thruster Issues

Postby dclagett on Mon Aug 14, 2017 9:19 am

Stuart,

The 500FG turbine series is the identical external fuel filter that Ranger Tug uses on the 2014 RT25SCs. I have drained that filter many times looking for water, never a drop found. That is the filter I am going to install a petcock on (it now only has a plug in the bottom) to allow easy draining of the fuel for inspection. The filter can be fitted with a clear bowl, however my understanding is the clear bowl is not legal for marine applications. I plan to change both fuel filters. It still bothers me that I can just reset the water in fuel alarm, including turning off and restarting the engine, without draining the fuel and no water in fuel alarm returns for hours of operation. It makes no sense to me since water should stay in the bottom of the fuel filter.

Thanks for your suggestions,

Richard
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Re: Recurring Water in Fuel Alarm/Thruster Issues

Postby captstu on Mon Aug 14, 2017 11:33 am

Richard,

They aren't quite identical. The Ranger-installed filter has a water sensor. The Racor I installed has no sensor - its job is to protect the Racor installed by Ranger.

I have no problem with the sensitivity of the Ranger-installed Racor - its job is to protect the engine and it did just that.

On my Ranger, I had a small amount of water in the tank and since there is no easy way to access the tank, I had three separate "check engine" warnings with no "water" warning - and each time the engine shut down. I honestly don't know if the small amount of water that triggered the "check engine" caused the shutdown - but each time I drained the Racor the engine restated easily for another 6 hours or so before repeating the "check engine" and shutdown sequence.

Sp I was faced with three choices: 1) disconnect the water sensor - seemed foolish; 2) drain or polish the tank - also foolish since water in the fuel is fairly common and I don't know which fuel station offers this bonus 3) live with it or add another filter.

You may never see water in the fuel again - but I expect to see fuel/water from time to time so the expense and time for the additional fuel seemed worth the trade for the solution.
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Re: Recurring Water in Fuel Alarm/Thruster Issues

Postby Northman on Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:51 pm

My knowledge on this subject has been increased significantly thanks to all of your responses. This is obviously a complex issue that has affected multiple owners over time, but is there an official "Ranger" answer? It may just be my naiveté since I recently joined the "Tugnuts team", but isn't this forum titled "Ask the Ranger Factory"?
Dave and Paula
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Re: Recurring Water in Fuel Alarm/Thruster Issues

Postby Andrew Custis on Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:23 pm

Hello,

The best thing to do relating to the water in fuel would be to change both filters. If you are confident no water exists, the sensor may be damaged and needs replaced. I have seen these damaged from servicing in the past.

Regarding the thrusters, only thing I would think could happen is the over temp switch is activating. My suggestion would be to contact Side Power directly to see if they have other ideas for you.

Thank you,
Andrew Custis
Ranger Tugs & Cutwater Boats
andrewcustis@rangertugs.com
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Re: Recurring Water in Fuel Alarm/Thruster Issues

Postby knotflying on Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:36 pm

Just to throw something else in the mix. I have experienced the fuel in water alarm also on my Yanmar. I have observed and I have heard that some of the fuel additives mixed in the fuel, such as Valvetech have caused erroneous alarms. My alarm was going off shortly after a load of Valvetech fuel was used. I disconnected the sensor and I let it run through and on the next refill used regular non-treated fuel. No issues since.
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Re: Recurring Water in Fuel Alarm/Thruster Issues

Postby nzfisher on Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:40 pm

If no water actually in fuel then probably defective sensor. If water you might try keeping your tank full of fuel to reduce opportunity for condensation. If you already do this then a mystery like so many on our boats.
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Re: Recurring Water in Fuel Alarm/Thruster Issues

Postby knotflying on Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:51 am

Well, I have used FPPF diesel fuel treatment since purchase. One quart is good for about 320 gallons of fuel. This was recommended by the Yanmar distributor. It increases ctaine, cleans injectors and disperses water.
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Re: Recurring Water in Fuel Alarm/Thruster Issues

Postby Admiral S on Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:04 am

I have run about 100 gallons of valvtect over about 80 hours on our 2017 R-27 and have not had any issues.
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Re: Recurring Water in Fuel Alarm/Thruster Issues

Postby HappyPlace on Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:44 am

Fo what its worth,

We have utilized the Biobor JF and MD (http://www.biobor.com/products/biobor-m ... additives/) products for almost two summers now and have had zero issues with water in the fuel or the sensors being activated. As part of my preventative maintenance schedule, I check and drain the primary fuel filter often. I also keep the fuel tank filled as much as possible to prevent room for any condensation. Lastly, I fill up at stations that go through plenty of diesel fuel on a regular basis, thus giving us fresh fuel. (Chat with the teenagers working the docks and ask them how often they get diesel deliveries.) We did have a bad sensor on the engine fuel filter last year and the entire assembly was replaced. We are in Maryland, so this might not be as common as those located south of us, but every little bit of protection will help.

Best,

Al Sr.
Al Sr., Ann Marie & Roscoe

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Re: Recurring Water in Fuel Alarm/Thruster Issues

Postby captstu on Tue Aug 15, 2017 2:04 pm

Water in Diesel fuel is kind of a crap shoot. In 50 years of sailing and about 25 years of delivery, I've seen about 4 cases of water in the fuel, including one case severe enough to clog the inlet screens installed on most fuel tanks at the bottom of the "dip" tube.

It isn't a case of bad morals or unethical living, it is just luck.

Normally, the water settles to the bottom of the tank and a small amount is drawn out with each hour of engine operation.

Sometimes, i rough water, a larger amount of water is drawn into the system, either filling the fuel bowl or in the case of Rangers and many other boats, triggering either a "check engine" or "water detected" alarm, depending of the specific programming of the sensor and display equipment.

Mostly, if the water is drawn off for a few tanks worth, the problem is eliminated with the detected water.

Unfortunately, the Racor filter water detector is near the bottom of the bowl and is in sort of a sump of its own. When the water detector triggers, just drawing off the fuel may not be enough. It is more likely a tiny amount of water is in the detector bowl than the detector itself is defective.

You have two choices if you get repeated water alarms. You can decide the detector is bad and replace it as noted above or clean the detector. You clean the detector either by removing it and wiping all traces of water off the sensor or, easier, to completely drain the bowl and pour a small amount of alcohol in the bowl to wash out any water remaining.

The detector problem is compounded by the addition of Diesel fuel treatments designed to remove water from the fuel. Very simply, they don't really work. They pick up a small amount of water and carry it into the separator where it settles to the bottom for draining. This combination of water and Diesel fuel treatment (only the kind designed to remove water), sticks to the sensor and gives a positive indication of water even after the bowl is drained.
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