The Baja Fuel filter … use and care of!
You can start either a fist fight or a great discussion by bringing up the issue of filtering fuel before it goes into your fuel tank on a sailboat. This issue arises in discussion of cruising Mexico.
There is no discussion of dissent about whether fuel is filtered as most engines have at least two filters. Most contain an inline filter near the fuel pump that filters water and debris and most if not all have added Racor system that boaters swear by and at.
The Racor is usually at least a two micron filter with a clear class bowl for fuel inspection.
I will admit that until last week I have never pre-filtered fuel. Never had any signs of the need to. I have once used a pump to get rid of sediment and water at bottom of a tank of diesel after it set for a year and a half.
But, if you read of the approach to Mazatlan by Spiritus on New Year’s Eve, you will remember we had some engine problems related to power loss and RPM slowdown. We solved them temporarily by switching to another tank of fuel.
In the search for a cause, I narrowed it down, after we were in harbor, to the use of fuel from a yellow Jerry can of fuel on our deck. I kept it for uses like priming the Racor if it gets low. I finally put together the string of events leading up to our rough running power loss and figured out that I had just primed/topped off the single stage Racor with fuel from that container.
We recently, in a dock swap meet at Marina La Cruz, picked up a Baja fuel filter for about 200 pesos or approximately $17.00 USD. Never had a chance to use it, as we had not added fuel in our recent travels towards La Paz on the Baja peninsula.
I decided to try it out when we added 10 gallons to the rear fuel tank on the boat. Great fuel a couple of drops of water and just a few small pieces of dirt (probably from our canister).
The I tried to add the remainder of the fuel in my yellow fuel container. This is the one I used that night. Surprise of surprises. It stopped filtering fuel and backed up after about a gallon. Odd, I thought. So I disassembled the filter. The entire cup at the bottom, the Teflon water trap was full.
It was full of water. I know this because when I poured it overboard there was almost zero film so no measurable diesel.
This was an epiphany moment in two ways. First, this is the fuel I used to prime the Racor. Second, wow, the Baja fuel filter actually works.
The unit had three filters, two for debris and a final filter for water. There is much discussion about how and if it works.
See discussions below for a hint of the info floating around the discussion groups.
I am not a scientist but a few tests showed it works. I had contaminated fuel. It stopped the contamination from getting into my tanks.
I now use it to test five gallons of fuel before I put larger quantities into the tanks. I love it. But, there is almost no info on what to do with it once you are finished filtering the fuel. You have a few ounces of diesel to deal with and the screens that hold diesel and the smell of diesel.
I hate leaky things SO, I cleaned it.
Cleaning the Baja Filter after use.
Here is how I did it.
(1) Get a bucket of fresh water. (2) add a small amount of bio degradable soap (Axion in Mexico, or Green in the US) and stir into water. (3) Disassemble the filter into its five component parts (filter housing, spacer, and three filters) while remembering the order they came out. (4) Take each filter and immerse and pull thru water in the bucket backwards to its normal flow. This frees any or most debris and cleans the filter of diesel. (5) Use a paper towel to wipe down filter rings and spacer and aluminum funnel/filter housing.
The next steps are the most important.
(6) Refill bucket with fresh water. (7) Rinse all filters in clean water with no soap. (8) Test Teflon filter for water capture. I love this part. When you used the soap, you may have noticed that water ran freely thru the filter. Now, when you have it rinsed, you will notice it once more stops water flow. You can simply scoop a filter full of water and watch as it just sits there in the filter.
Don’t you love science. So for your science project, repeat what I have done.
Now air dry. We place ours under the dodger which is always a little warm. When dry, reassemble the funnel/filter assembly. Put caps back on. No smell. No leakage. Store where ever you want.