Capt'n Pauley

Congratulations on the Betamarine engine, my favorite!

I have a good solution for you. It will give you both an access plate to clean out the tank and a convenient place to add the needed pickups. A company called seabuilt ( makes access pates that can be installed easily from outside the tank. The access hole will give you room to suck out the crap and the cover plate can be used to mount the fittings.
I wouldn't use a drill pump or a vacuum. I've had bad luck with the drill pumps and the vacuum can still spark and light the diesel fumes. My choixe would be a vacuum style oil change pump. It might take awhile but it will be far safer.

Hope this helps!

Cpt'n Pauley

Michael Boniface

Hello Paul,

My name is Miguel Boniface. I and my parents have an 1977 32ft Islander, in San Pedro California.

I have been delighted for sometime with your valuable articles. The last one was "Marine Fuel Polishing Solves the Problem", in

I would like to know if you advise me on one issue with respect to installing the basic system.

We installed a new Betamarine 20hp engine 4 years ago, but the mechanic didn't touch the fuel tank, or even mention the need to inspect the tank, etc. Our ignorance didn't help things.

This summer, four years later and less than 30 hours on the engine, we found ourselves engineless after a sail back from Catalina Island.

Given we were still ignorant of microbes that clog fuel filters, we called in a Betamarine mechanic to inspect/repair the engine, thinking that the problem was something integral to the internal parts of the engine.
Well, the engine was fine, but the RACOR filter and engine fuel filter clogged up.

So we spent 570$ to have him replace filters and due a general maintenance repair.
Since then, I have been reading and reading everything about the root cause of this problem, and the various solutions.
The commercial services run 300-400$, but only cure the problem momentarily.

I am going following your advice and install an on board fuel polishing system. I will use the Walbro pump and another RACOR 500fgss filter.
My issue on, to which I haven't found an answer is:
I believe the system should be independent of the fuel pick-up line and filter to the engine. As such I can use the system at dock as well as when sailing around, during which more sludge drops off the tank walls.

My questions are:
As such I will need to install 2 new pipe fittings to the aluminum tank - one pick-up from the bottom of the tank and another for the return.
How do I install these ? Build an aluminum round plate, and install the fittings onto it ?

before doing that, I want to suck up as much sludge from the bottom of the tank as possible, through the fuel gauge sender plate. There is no access port. Can I use a portable pump that attaches to a drill or maybe a wet/dry vacuum ?

Re. if drilling the new fittings via a plate into the aluminum tank is the answer, I felt that I could do so without fear of the explosion factor. Drilling into aluminum doesn't throw off sparks. Diesel flash point is very high so I felt this would be alright.

I know I have thrown a few too many questions
at you, but I hope you can help.

Kind Regards,
Michael Boniface

John Henderson

I have a Columbia 28 with a 8hp outboard in the motor well. Can I cut and modify the transom to allow the motor to tilt up out of the water to prevent fouling, etc. Presently I must take the motor out of the well and store it in the cabin.
Thanks for your thoughts.


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If you agree. Please send the infomation about your link. I will take it in all posts , pages of my blog.

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Paul Oliver

I just ran into your site and except for the 2x4 event, am enjoying reading. Read the article on hybrids for rec boats. Would it be possible to repower and old sailboat (42' 31,500# full keel) this way. I have looked at all the hybrid websites and the cost is 4 times a rebuild of the Perkins 85 hp. I have unlimited access to vac elec motors and generators of all types at great prices. Can you design around a good vac motor? Thanks.

gerald blizzard

I think you dont have time to do this page do you?....

Paul Esterle

Hi Cap!

Sorry I missed you at the Gam, it was a great weekend.

Your case is a perfect example of inappropriate sealant use. It should have been a Permatex type RTV gasket material on the case and 3M101 on the threads.

There are three ways of removing 3M5200: mechanical, heat and chemical. Neither is 100% effective. Heat is difficult to control, get things too hot and you damage seals, gaskets and fiberglass. Too cold just doesn't work. Mechanical is hard on parts, especially cast aluminum and fiberglass, be careful! There are a couple of de-bonding chemicals on the market that claim to weaken 5200. The problem is the you have some deep areas, around the bolts for example, that will take considerable time for the chemical to penetrate. It is the least destructive method, though. Don't envy you, hope this has helped. Stay in touch!

Paul Esterle
Freelance Boating Writer
"Capt'n Pauley's Place"
The Virtual Boatyard

Capt. Larry Holt

I have found that the factory installed winlass had 3M 5200 on the thru-bolts and both halves of the Lewmar winlass. What do you suggest to remove the winlass for repair??

Capt. Larry Holt
S/V Chateau sur la Mer

I was working on the dock at the GAM, or I would have talked to you there.

Paul Esterle

Glad you liked the book! Rub the bottom paint with a wet rag. If the paint rubs off on the rag, you have soft bottom paint. If nothing comes off, it's hard paint. I'm headed to the SSCA Gam in Annapolis, so I'll be off line for a couple of days. Let me know what you find and if I can help weith anything else!

Take care!

Paul Esterle
Freelance Boating Writer
Capt'n Pauley's Virtual Boatyard
Boat advice for the nautically addicted

Clark Champion

I'm a newby to boating and have an older 28' Carver. Plan to do some blister work this winter and repaint bottom. Read your great book "Mainiaining and Improving ....", but how can I tell if the existing bottom paint is hard or soft paint???


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