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Author Topic:   Water Separating Fuel Filters
lhg posted 04-11-2001 08:33 PM ET (US)   Profile for lhg  
The question is Racor vs "All The Others".
I'm talking about "Gasoline, Outboard only.

First off, I should say I believe the "Racor" brand to probably be the best. It seems that the clear bowl water receptor and drain fitting in the bottom is a nice feature. But I never used them because of the 3 to 1 cost ratio, nor have I ever had engine trouble because of water getting through the conventional shaped units. From the one of the most competitive catalog supply houses I know, Shoreway Marine, in NJ, these are the prices:

Complete unit (filter and head)
Racor: $52.49
Mercury OEM: $32.00
Tempo: $26.59
(Other houses have Prime Line and Sierra at similar prices)( I suspect Sierra makes the Mercury OEM Unit)

So there is about a $20 - $25 initial cost penalty to go with Racor.

Racor also makes a conversion filter & bowl that screws on to the other manufacturer's bracket, costing about $32.50

Replacement filters only.

Racor : $17.50 They say replace once a year.
Mercury & others: $6.50 also to be replaced
once a year.

So one can buy 3 standard filters for the price of one Racor. Or you can change and throw out regular filters 3 times a year for the one Racor filter.

Performance: Racor says their product filters 100% of water & contaminants.

Tempo, Mercury and others say theirs' filters 98.8% of water and contaminants.

So it looks like we're talking about just 1.2% of the water and junk getting through. Since I have a V-6 200 EFI engine, with it's OWN water separating filter under the hood to protect the injectors, I can tell that the main Mercury style filter on the tank line is doing it's job. The engines have a warning signal when the engine mounted filter is filled with water, and after 500 hours, the mechanic said the filter was like new, dumped the contents of the filter into a clear plastic glass, found NO water, and did not need replacement. So the primary, non-Racor filters must be doing their job.

So the big question is, how do you feel about the value vs performance aspect of Racor vs "the Others". Just using Mercury's product as an example (the others are all similar), it seems to me that they wouldn't be selling and installing a product on their almost marine engine "monopoly" (85% of stern drives and 50% of outboards) if it didn't do the job correctly.

So I have used the standard shaped filter products for 15 years. I am wondering how others feel about this issue, and whether Racor is worth the high extra cost. Or is it just effective advertizing and promotion regarding the 1.2% additional filtration?

jimh posted 04-11-2001 11:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I think the RACOR gas filter is the cheapest one in their whole line. RACOR products seem more targeted at commericial applications, or diesel engines.

In the total scheme of things, the cost of the RACOR is insignificant when compared to a whole season's use of the boat.

We used to have dual RACOR spin filters on the diesel tank on our sailboat. There was a fuel line manifold and valve system and you could select a filter and isolate the other one. That way you could change a filter while still running the engine on the other one. Or, as happened once or twice, if a filter got clogged you could change to a fresh one.

Downstream of the dual RACORs there was another fuel filter on the output of the low-pressure fuel pump. Then a third and final fuel filter on the output of the high-pressure fuel pump.

It was much easier to bleed the low pressure side of the fuel system, to we liked to keep the RACOR filters fresh, and bleed any air out as soon as we changed them, before it got into the high-pressure side of the fuel system.

We used to change the secondary filter once in a while, but I think that tertiary filter was still going strong at 6,000 hours!

I also had an opportunity to visit a couple of large military ships powered by diesels. They used extensive filtering on their crankcase lubricating oils. The oil was run through a very sophisticated centrifugal filter, spinning at several thousand RPM.

In a large diesel engine the lubricating oil sump might contain 5,000 gallons of oil, so they can't just throw it out every 100 hours of operation. They filter the heck out of it!

It is also common on larger vessels to have a "day tank" from which the engine draws fuel. Fuel is pumped from various storage tankage in the vessel to the day tank for use. It is carefully filtered before being pumped into the day tank, and the day tank is then filtered before going to the engine, all in an attempt to reduce fuel contamination.

There are also services which offer "fuel polishing!" This refers to the practice of pumping a vessel's fuel off into a temporary tank (provided by the polisher) and then carefully filtering it and reloading it back on the vessel. This is done if the vessel's engineer suspects the fuel is contaiminated.

In comparison to these kinds of efforts, I guess we aren't going to extremes if we use a single RACOR on the gas line to the outboard!


compounder posted 04-12-2001 04:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for compounder  Send Email to compounder     
I'm not entirely sold on any idea of superior effectiveness for the Racor, but it is the only product that I am aware of which offers the drainable bowl feature.

I like being able to drain off a little fuel into a baby food jar I keep on hand for that purpose. I do this before most trips and on occasion have gathered a little water. It just alerts me to the condition of my fuel and provides some assurance.

These plastic bowls could be made a little better for the price.....mine have become cloudy to the point that I can no longer perform a visual check, but have to use the drain valve.


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