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Old Stinky Gas & Fuel Water Separators

Earlier this week I took a minute to replace the fuel / water separator filter on a twelve year old Boston Whaler.


Instead of the familiar smell of gasoline fumes - I was nearly knocked over by the overpowering smell of pure turpentine -a weird reaction that happens to really old, really, really bad gas.


This was as bad as it gets, so bad in fact, I'm inspired to type..


Twelve in Whaler years is not old, in fact, it’s still pretty young. Generally a twelve year old Whaler, finally paid for, remains in great condition, still well loved and well care for.

Fuel water filters should be replaced at least once a year, whether they need it or not, definitely more if you detect water - I'm not sure if this one ever was!


It seems the folks that owned this Whaler overlooked this very important and simple maintenance step - which caused us to have the entire fuel injection system rebuilt…

The filter itself looks a lot like the oil filter on your car. They are about fifteen bucks, and generally pretty easy to change - though often located in tight spaces.


Not all boats have a F/W separator, but all should. Some newer outboard motors now actually come with one on the motor itself.


The idea is a simple one. Water is heavier than gas. When gasoline flows through the top of the filter any water that may be present will fall to the bottom allowing only clean gasoline to pass to the motor.


As you can imagine, if you have enough moisture in your fuel tank to actually fill up the filter, water will make it through to your motor - and Internal combustion motors don’t run well on water.


This is an oversimplification of the filters job, as it also filters out other tiny particles and contaminants that a normal inline filter can not.

These filters have become even more essential with the introduction of ethanol into our gasoline.


It’s Friday night, I’ve had a glass of wine, so it’s probably best I not get started on ethanol..


Anyway, to see what’s in your filter most of us carefully pour the contents into a glass jar, any water will quickly separate from the gasoline like an oil and vinegar salad dressing.


Hopefully all you see and smell is pure, golden, clear gasoline!

If you don't, depending on how bad it is, you may need to have your fuel tank pumped out as well. Fortunatly this little Whaler only has a small portable tank.


If your boat doesn’t have a fuel/water separator, you can buy a complete kit starting around $75. They are reasonably easy for a handy person to install - just be mindful of where you're drilling and what's on the other side.


-Always remember it’s the fumes that blow you up, not the liquid!


YCM a different kind of boat dealer


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