Fuel filter: What Micron

Repair or modification of Boston Whaler boats, their engines, trailers, and gear
Oldslowandugly
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Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby Oldslowandugly » Sun Sep 04, 2016 1:43 pm

I just experienced a motor shutdown due to water in the fuel tank--first time in 40 years of boating. I had left a 1/4-FULL 6-gallon tank for several weeks of very humid weather, and I guess enough condensation occurred to get sucked up and cause misfiring. I am now shopping for a Racor fuel filte water separator that has a water drain built in. The 120R-RAC-01 model is what was recommended. What I am confused about is the micron size rating. This model comes with a 10-micron filter. Other similar models can be had with a 2, 10, or 30-micron element. The 10-micron size seems to be the go-to or universal size on just about all brands. Is that a good size for gasoline?

Would 2-microns be better? Or would that size clog too fast?

I read that the 2-micron size is really for diesel fuel because particles between 5 and 10-microns can damage injector fuel pumps. I only have a 48-HP outboard with dual 6-gallon portable tanks and a factory motor mounted fuel pump. The in-line glass filters I am using now are 10-micron, and have performed well except for the water. I would like to hear what others are using and how often the filters get changed.

jimh
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Re: Fuel Filter: What Micron

Postby jimh » Sun Sep 04, 2016 2:16 pm

I use a 10-Micron RACOR. I installed it about ten years ago. I have never changed it. I have never seen any water accumulate in the drainage bowl.

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Fuel Filter; What Micron

Postby Oldslowandugly » Sun Sep 04, 2016 2:29 pm

Ten years and it still flows? I can't argue with that at all. The one I'm looking at is 30gph which I will never see with a small motor like I have. I did read that you should over-size the filter so it will last longer. But ten years? Wowsers!

jimh
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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby jimh » Sun Sep 04, 2016 2:43 pm

The tendency of a fuel filter to become clogged is not strictly related to the length of time it has been in use. It's more like:

--number of gallons of fuel flowed through the filter

--amount of debris in the fuel that has to be filtered out and accumulates in the filter element

--capacity of the filter element

My engine use is probably on average 60-hours per year. My fuel consumption is on average 4-GPH. Thus in ten years the volume of fuel that has flowed through the filter would roughly be

60-hours/1-year x 10-years x 4-gallons/1-hour = 2,400-gallons

In comparison, my truck has 145,000-miles. It gets about 10-MPG. Its fuel filter has thus passed 14,500-gallons of fuel. That is six times as much fuel as my boat has used.

If the fuel you purchase is free from debris and water, the filter won't have much to do. I suppose ten years is stretching things a bit. But I try to get my boat fuel from reputable retailers with high volume. The only sketchy fuel that's gone through it has been about 40-gallons I had to buy on remote Isle Royale in Lake Superior; that gasoline was already two-years-old when I got it.

Also, downstream of the RACOR is another in-line filter at the engine. That filter has been changed at three year intervals. And, farther downstream, there is another fuel filter in the fuel-vapor separator tank. That filter has been changed, too.

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby Oldslowandugly » Sun Sep 04, 2016 3:22 pm

Oh, OK, you have what they called a "fuel polishing" system. A coarse pre-filter, followed by even finer filters. All I was using was the Moeller type rebuild-able glass in-line filters. Occasionally I would see a bit of debris in there at the end of the season. I fill my tanks at local gas stations and carry to the boat. Except for this water situation I have never had a fuel problem. I guess I will go with the 10 Micron size and keep the in-line filter too. Any one have experience with a 2 Micron filter? The service life of that size is roughly half that of the 10 Micron. So, only 5 years? (chuckle)

porthole
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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby porthole » Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:05 am

I use the 2-micron element.

The spin-on element and water separator bowl is easier to change then the engine mounted filter, and I'd rather over-filtrate then under-filtrate.

Keep in mind, the RACOR kits have two different water separator bowls available, clear plastic or aluminum.
The plastic is for above deck use and the aluminum UL-rated bowl is for inboard applications below deck.
Last edited by porthole on Mon Sep 05, 2016 1:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Thanks,
Duane
1999 Outrage 21
1999 Yamaha SW Series II 200

Jefecinco
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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby Jefecinco » Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:29 am

Very little material will get past a two micron filter. If spending the money for a new filter why not get the one with the most capable filtration?
Butch

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby Oldslowandugly » Mon Sep 05, 2016 10:16 am

Yes, I also think a 2-micron would be best, regardless of the service life. The Parker Racor website states that the 2-micron should be used for final filtering. But when I ran my needs through the calculator, it said I needed the model 120R-RAC-01 filter. It has the clear plastic bowl with drain. That filter only comes with the S3240 10-micron element.

The 120A filter looks similar but uses the R12 elements which can be had in 2, 10, and 30-microns. But that filter is supposed to be for diesel applications. Does that matter?

Another site claimed the 120A R12S 2 Micron element was a direct upgrade for the 120R filter head. But the Racor site doesn't say that. What I can't find are specs for the filter threads and gaskets each element uses. If they were the same, I know they would interchange. Can I use a diesel filter for outboard gasoline use? The 120AS flows 15-GPH with the 2-micron element. My 48-HP probably uses less than 5-GPH. I am so confused!

Image

Image

jimh
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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby jimh » Mon Sep 05, 2016 12:22 pm

I recommend reading an excellent article on marine fuel filters written by Bill Grannis. You can find an on-line version of the article at

http://continuouswave.com/whaler/refere ... Filter.pdf

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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby jimh » Mon Sep 05, 2016 12:30 pm

My boat does not have a "fuel polishing system." It just has a fuel filter arrangement that is really very common. The term fuel polishing usually refers to a service provided in which fuel in a tank is pumped out, passed through a filtering system, and then returned to the original tank. On large vessels the fuel system may have several fuel tanks, and typically the engines will be fed from a day tank. The day tank is fed by other, usually larger, storage tanks. The fuel distribution system may have some filtration between the storage tank and the day tank, so that all fuel going to the engine is pre-filtered.

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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby jimh » Mon Sep 05, 2016 12:36 pm

Oldslowandugly wrote:...First time in 40 years of boating. I had left a 1/4-FULL 6-gallon tank for several weeks of very humid weather, and I guess enough condensation occurred...


I have my doubts that diurnal temperature variation in the open space of a 6-gallon fuel tank could generate a great deal of water from condensation of water out of the air, sufficient to contaminate about 1.5-gallons of gasoline. I would be more inclined to suspect that the water found at the bottom of the 6-gallon tank was introduced to the tank either by some sort of splashing of water and entry via a vent or via the filler inlet, or came with some gasoline that was purchased.

To test your theory of the condensation of water out of the air due to diurnal temperature variations, leave an empty 6-gallon tank outside for the same amount of time in the same weather conditions. If there is a spontaneous appearance of water in the tank due to condensation, I will be surprised. I performed a similar test, leaving a vented container outdoors for several months. There was no sign of any water accumulation due to condensation.

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby Oldslowandugly » Mon Sep 05, 2016 2:42 pm

OK, my understanding of "fuel polishing" was that there were several filters in sequence.

A coarse filter like a 30-micron got the large crud. Then progressively smaller size filters strained the fuel finer and finer until the fuel was absolutely clean. The reason for this was because they found that particles in the range of between 5 and 8-microns were the most abrasive and therefore the most damaging to high pressure diesel fuel injector pumps. Thus we have 2-micron and smaller filter elements available.

My question remains: can I use such filters for gasoline?

If there were no difference, why would they make separate models?

As for the water, it is possible I picked some up at a local gas station. I use Shell brand fuel and all of the local Shell stations I use have recently had their tanks removed and replaced with modern up-to-date systems with water alarms and complex filtering arrangements. But I still may have gotten some contaminated fuel from them.

As for my own boat, I store the gas tanks under a flip-up bench which I designed to shield the tanks from rain and splash water. Yet, who knows if some got in.

As for condensation, here on the East Coast you can have 90 degree days with 80 percent humidity or worse for weeks at a time. At night everything gets drenched. All I know is that I need a water separator so I don't get stranded out there.

I found that my 6-gallon fuel tanks ran out of fuel at the pick-up tube with 3/4-gallon or so still left. Since my pick-up tube plastic mesh filters were cracked, I decided to replace them with stock OMC steel filters and extend the pick-up tubes to the rear of the tank. That way the fuel would tend to accumulate at the rear of the tank when underway, and the pick-up would get as much as possible before running dry. However, I inadvertently created a situation where any water would also accumulate and get sucked up. Perhaps that is why I never had a problem before. Any water stayed away from the pick-up. By solving one problem, I created another.

Does anyone know if a diesel rated filter can be used with gasoline?

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby Oldslowandugly » Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:36 pm

I think I found my answer. Here [is a link to literature containing] everything you ever wanted to know about Racor filters and comes with all the specifications:

http://www.parker.com/literature/Racor/Racor_Fuel_Filtration_-_Fuel_Filtration_Products_-_7529.pdf
See page 6.

I found, again, that the 120R-RAC-01 was recommended for outboard motors, but I also found a chart that says the almost identical 120A model can be used with gasoline. This model uses the R12 element that is available in the 2-micron size. That seals the deal for me. Here is what Racor says:

Diesel Spin-On Series
Image

Maximum protection in minimum space The 110A is designed for fuel-injected gasoline engines with high working pressures and also can be used on diesel engines. A metal housing is standard. Other models in the 100 Series, the 120A and 140, offer reliable protection for smaller diesel and gasoline engines used in generator sets, pressure washers and other equipment. Their compact size fits tight mounting locations and multiple ports offer installation flexibility

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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby jimh » Tue Sep 06, 2016 9:05 am

I suspect that the difference between diesel-rated and gasoline-rated filters may have something to do with the volatility of the fuel. Gasoline fuels are more dangerous and perhaps fuel filters for use with gasoline fuel must meet different criteria to be considered safe. Also the media of the filter element is probably quite different for use with diesel than with gasoline.

The spin-on gasoline-water separating RACOR filter I am using--and, sorry, but I don't have the model number handy--has a clear bowl. The intention of the clear bowl is to permit the operator to visually inspect the filter and see if there is a phase separation line in the bowl, indicating the appearance of water. The bowl can also be drained without removal of the spin-on filter, so water can be removed from the filter.

Another useful link to information just about PARKER RACOR 120-series fuel filters--the ones most often seen on gasoline outboard engines--and omitting the hundreds of other filters made by RACOR, can be found at

https://www.parker.com/literature/Racor ... SL0161.pdf

RACOR makes a very comprehensive line of accessories for the 120-series, including filter heads or manifolds with integral primer pumps and accessory vacuum gauges to monitor the suction across the filter for an indicator of the amount of contaminant in the filter. Unfortunately, neither of the linked sources shows any of those options. Actually, I find that information from RACOR is hard to locate. Sometimes their distributors or retailers have more product information available. I am sure you can get a filter element with 2-micron rating for the common 120-series RACOR filters.

There is also a very good prior discussion about RACOR fuel-water separating filters and accessories at

http://continuouswave.com/ubb/Forum3/HTML/020618.html

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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby jimh » Tue Sep 06, 2016 9:57 am

I don't think that use of a filter element specified for use with diesel fuel will be a good choice to use with gasoline fuel. I suspect that the media in the filter and the construction of the filter is probably different for use with different fuels.

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby Oldslowandugly » Tue Sep 06, 2016 10:44 am

I just don't know what to make of Racor's literature. While there is a lot of goods info-if you dig- there is no sense of compatibility between products. It is as if they want you to use a slightly different model for each particular situation. For example, the site recommends the 10 micron 120R-RAC-01 model for a gasoline outboard motor. They only offer the 10 Micron S3240 element for that model. Does that mean 10 Microns is adequate for gasoline? One chart says that a 2 Micron element is available, but then does not list it. Another chart says the 2 Micron 120AS is for both gas and diesel. The same charts reveal that the center threads are M18 x 1.5 for both models, as well as the same clear bowl, gaskets and seals. It would seem that the 120A's R12S 2 Micron element would work on the 120R filter head- but they don't specifically show that. Yet, the 120A and 120R filter heads seem to be identical in all aspects. Very confusing. I think I will shoot off a message to Racor and hope for some clarification.

jimh
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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby jimh » Tue Sep 06, 2016 2:43 pm

Yes, I also find RACOR literature confusing, and particularly hard to find and understand. Perhaps you can find a product manager in charge of the usual gasoline filters used with outboard engine boats who can clear up the product descriptions.

One of the reasons I have not bought a new RACOR filter or assembly is I can never figure out what to order!

I think if I were to start over, I'd get this RACOR filter:

http://www.tdswarehouse.com/products/80 ... on-Filter/

And I'd consider adding the vacuum gauge to show suction across the filter, something like this product:

http://www.tdswarehouse.com/products/84 ... -T-Handle/

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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby jimh » Tue Sep 06, 2016 2:54 pm

Here is a slightly fuzzy graphic with loads of good information on RACOR filters:

RACOR_Filter_Info.jpg
RACOR Filters USCG Approved
RACOR_Filter_Info.jpg (196.16 KiB) Viewed 8474 times


From this information is appears that if you want a filter media with a rating of 2-micron you have to move up to the 320-series or larger filters.

For more information about the newer 2-micron filter media retrofit filters, see

https://www.parker.com/literature/Racor ... -_7738.pdf

RACOR says:

These filters are specifically designed to retrofit existing Racor filters installed on outboard or inboard vessels, main propulsion or power generation engines.

The new S3220SUL and S3228SUL 2-micron filters are offered as retrofits to Racor clear or metal bowl filter assemblies. Recent changes to gasoline fuel blends have resulted in many boaters requesting a more efficient, high performance media for contaminant and water removal. Racor’s 2-micron Aquabloc® media has been used successfully in demanding diesel engine fuel injection system applications. Gasoline users can expect the same high performance and efficiency.

One effect of ethanol blended fuel is fuel tank and fuel system component “cleansing” resulting in more contaminates in the fuel stream. Racor filters trap particles in their Aquabloc® media which also repels the damaging water into the drainable collection bowl


I don't know if you can buy a pre-packaged set with the 2-micro filters. For example, you can get a good deal on a RACOR 490-series from DEFENDER.COM at

http://www.defender.com/product3.jsp?pa ... id=1940998

Then you could buy the retrofit S3228SUL 2-micron filter for about $20:

http://www.boatersland.com/racs3228sul. ... ArN48P8HAQ

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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby jimh » Tue Sep 06, 2016 3:17 pm

For ONE-STOP SHOPPING, try this combination:

The filter assembly with the standard 10-micron filter for $88:

http://racorstore.com/racor-490rrac01-g ... -with.html

The retro-fit 2-micron filter for $21:

http://racorstore.com/racor-s3228sul-re ... l?___SID=U

Add about $10 shipping. You will have a good set up with 2-micron filter element and a 10-micron spare for about $122 delivered. And you get a new primer bulb in the deal, too. And it cleans up the installation, removing several fittings, joints, and clamps. I am almost talking myself into ordering this today.

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby Oldslowandugly » Tue Sep 06, 2016 8:43 pm

Jim, if that model works for you, then the price sure is right. In fact I am amazed at how relatively inexpensive it is to use a quality USA made Racor.

I am not interested in a built-in primer. I prefer to have a bulb primer on each fuel tank fuel line. That way I can hook either directly to the motor should that be necessary. I plan on using dual male-threaded hose barbs on the filter head.

I am still puzzled why the low-flow-rate filters only are 10-micron. But then, so [were] the other models before the [retrofit] 2-micron upgrade.

Am I to surmise that a 2-micron is excessive for a carburetor outboard motor?

I sent an inquiry to Parker Racor. So far I have received an acknowledgement they received it, plus two notices that my inquiry has been sent to the Filter Division. I will report on their advice.

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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby jimh » Wed Sep 07, 2016 9:40 am

Debris in the fuel that is smaller than 10-micron and would be able to pass through a 10-micron filter element is probably not of much concern for a carburetor engine. The smallest passage in a carburetor engine fuel system is probably one of the slow speed orifices in the carburetor, and the diameter of those orifices is much larger than 2-micron. Carburetor jet orifice openings are measured in thousandths of an inch, not in microns.

Recall that "2-micron" means two-millionths of a meter. In inches that is 0.00008-inch or 8-millionths of an inch. We are talking about extraordinarily small objects. You cannot even see something that is 2-microns in diameter with an unaided human eye. A 2-micron fuel filter will filter out particles in the fuel that are too small for you to even see them.

Fuel filtration with 2-micron filters seems to be a recent development related to the use of direct fuel injectors with gasoline engines. (Note, direct-injection is distinct from the use of simple single- or multi-point electronic fuel injection in which the injectors just spray fuel into the low pressure air path before the fuel-air mixture enters the cylinder. Direct-injection gasoline engines are a recent development, beginning with the Ficht and E-TEC outboard engines, and now becoming common on automotive gasoline engines, and they spray fuel directly into the high-pressure environment of the combustion chamber as the piston is rising and pressure is increasing.)

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby Oldslowandugly » Wed Sep 07, 2016 2:24 pm

Yes, it would seem that 2-microns is unnecessary for my application. I received a reply from Racor to my questions. I asked why 10-microns was the only size filter element provided for small outboard gasoline systems. I also wanted to know if the 2-micron diesel element that the 120A used was interchangeable with the 120R. Here is what they said:

10 micron is what most manufacturers use, and yes you can use the r12s [2 micron] on that assembly, the filters are interchangeable. Best regards, Javier Ceja, Racor Technical Service Department


There you go. I can use either filter head with either filter and the drain-able clear bowl. The Aquablock elements can be used with either gasoline or diesel. That certainly makes things easier for me and I can go ahead and order my system.

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby Oldslowandugly » Tue Sep 13, 2016 6:10 pm

Just an update: the extended fuel pickup I installed in the 6 gallon tank worked great. I used the OMC metal pickup and some Sierra fuel line to get the pickup all the way to the back of the tank. The metal head keeps it down on the bottom at the rear where the last of the gas accumulates. I finally ran the tank dry today and it stopped dead. I switched right over to the second tank. When I took the tank home and looked inside- there was about a tablespoon of gas left. Now THAT'S what I was looking for. The water separator/filter is on order. I decided on the 10 Micron gas type filter. If junk gets through then the 2 Micron element will fit it. I scored a great 20% off sale at Overton's on some fuel barbs to make the filter housing and lines quick-connect.

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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby porthole » Tue Oct 04, 2016 10:12 am

jimh wrote:I am almost talking myself into ordering this today.

Soooooo, did you?

For me, personally and based on my background, I would opt for a 2-micron filter media element in any injected [internal combustion] engine--if [a 2-micron filter] were available--using mechanical, electronic, single, multi or direct injection. Fuel injectors benefit from clean debris-free fuel. It is much less expensive to replace clogged 2-micron filter elements than trying to diagnose fuel injection problems. For carburetor engines 10-micron should be more than sufficient.

If I were to buy a new boat I would just run two filters in-line, with a 10-micron and 2-micron elements installed.

If I decide to upgrade my 200 Yamaha with a $20,000 G2, I would definitely have the filtration installed.
Thanks,
Duane
1999 Outrage 21
1999 Yamaha SW Series II 200

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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby jimh » Tue Oct 04, 2016 4:05 pm

I did not order the new fuel filter, manifold, and primer assembly I mentioned about one month ago. I already have one or two unfinished boat projects with parts on-hand waiting to be installed. I will have to tend to them first before tearing apart my perfectly good and working fuel system.

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby Oldslowandugly » Thu Oct 13, 2016 11:02 am

I finally received the Racor fuel-water seperator today after some Post Office shipping snafus. I am happy to say that it is much smaller than I expected. That will make fitting it in the boat splash well much easier. I got the 120R-RAC-01 model and five extra S3240 10 Micron elements, as well as the special wrench that unscrews the bowl. Just in case that is not good enough I also got an R12S 2 Micron element that does in fact fit the 120R filter head. I ordered them from The Racor Store in New Hampshire. They had the best prices and they were very helpful.

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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby kwik_wurk » Fri Oct 14, 2016 12:33 pm

When you mount [the fuel-water separating filter assembly], make sure you can fit a jar under the drain fitting. Whatever you do, don't spin the filter and the bowl assembly too tight.

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Fuel filter: What Micron

Postby Oldslowandugly » Sat Oct 15, 2016 12:41 pm

Yes, I thought about that. That is why even though I measured very carefully, I am glad the unit is smaller than I pictured it. I also ordered the dedicated wrench that unscrews the bowl. I came across a lot of discussion about stuck bowls that would not unscrew.