Grand Adventure Update plus instructions on how to deal with an engine stall due to fuel supply issues

To: Power Division Members:

We have been experiencing intermittent problems with the engine in Grand Adventure quitting due to air in the fuel lines. Often the engine has run for multiple hours, days, or even more than a week without issue. Typically, this is caused by a tiny air leak somewhere in a fuel system component or fitting. Over time that tiny air leak lets enough air into the system to stall the engine. The purpose of this email is to provide enough information so that you have a high probability of fixing the problem if an engine stall happens to you.

Over the last while we have taken the following steps to try to get to the bottom of this issue:

  1. All fuel filters were changed
  2. The Racor water separator filter was replaced with a new one.
  3. A small fuel shut-off valve was placed in the diesel heater fuel supply line just ahead of the electric fuel pump for the heater. Please keep this in the “closed” position when you are not using the diesel heater.
  4. All the rubber fuel hoses were replaced with new ones
  5. The fuel lift pump (low pressure pump) was replaced.
  6. The starboard fuel tank has been shut off. The fuel is contaminated, and the tank needs to be replaced (we are looking at several options & will deal with later in the year). The contaminated fuel is slowly being taken off the boat, filtered remotely, and put back into the port tank.
  7. The vent in the port tank has been checked to ensure it was not blocked. This is a common problem on boats – both gas and diesel.
  8. Fuel was manually extracted from the fuel line coming from the port tank to ensure that the fuel pickup in the tank was not blocked.
  9. A primer bulb has been added between the Racor filter and the lift pump. This great little addition enables us to quickly prime the fuel system and remove any air through the bleed screws.

Further to the above, about a week from now  a mechanic will be removing the old CAV style fuel filters located on the side of the engine and installing a Caterpillar style fuel filter housing which uses screw-on fuel filters. He will pressure test the system after the new on-engine filter system has been installed. We will update you when the work has been completed and the boat has been sea trialled.

Diesel engines stalling due to fuel issues is not an uncommon problem. Unfortunately, this can happen quite unexpectedly and with little to no warning which can potentially put you in a difficult situation. Therefore, it is important to know how to deal with it quickly. I am not a mechanic but in the attached document I have tried to explain the basics of the fuel system plus an outline of the best & quickest ways of dealing with this situation should it happen to you. I strongly encourage you to read the document in detail and become very familiar with the information. The procedure is quite simple, and I can tell you from personal experience that it is possible to have the engine back running in less than five minutes.

While our objective is to have this intermittent issue resolved very shorty, the document also suggests a very easy step you can take in the meantime to minimize the chances of this happening to you.

I am pleased to say that all other systems including the upper helm chartplotter are currently working reliably. The mechanic will be doing some tweaking to our electrical bus system in the near future.

Wishing you all a great summer.