PS Advisor November 1, 2004 Issue

PS Advisor: 11/01/04

Fuel Filter Residue
I purchased a West Marine fuel funnel and use it each time I add diesel to my tank. The rate of flow is not a problem as my typical fill up is usually 15 gallons or less. However, at the end of the fueling, there is always about a half cup of fuel left in the bottom of the funnel. What do I do with it? I donít want to dump it overboard and I donít want to stow the funnel in my locker with fuel in it. How have other funnel users solved this problem?

-Ken Thorn
Solomon's, MD

To deal with residual matter left in filtering funnels, start by tipping the funnel back and forth, which will clear most of the fuel, if it really is fuel. A safer approach, however, is to shove two or three paper towels in the funnel to soak up the residue and then safely dispose of those paper towels.

The two small sizes of these remarkable funnels (see "Reintroducing Mr. Funnel," PS September 2004) each have a circular channel below the bottom of the filter screen to allow a bit of water and dirt to collect without inching up on the filter screen, which would begin to clog the filter. (If the fuel youíre buying contains a lot of water, youíll know it when the filter screen is submerged in water and nothing flows.) The two larger filter sizes have flat pans to permit the collection of larger quantities of water and dirt. If the fuel is absolutely clean, what collects in these reservoirs is, of course, fuel.

To dispose of any residue in the filters, you might consider using 3Mís fuel-absorbing pads. The advantage is that these handy products hold a lot of fuel, like a diaper, and donít drip the way a paper towel does. You can buy one sheet of the 3M pad (about 99 cents) and cut it into four piecesóthat should handle the residue from four fill-ups. Of course you have to dispose of these safely.

For the record, here are the filter sizes and the amount of fluid that remains in the funnel (if kept level). The 2.5 GPM filter retains less than an ounce of fluid. The 3.5 GPM (which Practical Sailor recommends for most pleasure boats) holds 2 oz. of residue, which is easily soaked up with about three paper towels. Both the 5 GPM and the 15 GPM models hold 12 oz., a cup and a half of fluid. Remember, if youíre getting that much water, you should consult the fuel dock manager, or simply find a new fuel dock.


Solar Rechargeables?
Trying to do our part, we looked for a solar re-chargeable battery system using metal-hydride batteries (the kind you can leave sitting in the sun until needed), but couldn't find any. Have you tested these or know if they are a good investment for the environment?

-Ed Freeman
Spokane, WA

We conducted a quick Internet search for "solar battery charger" and came across a number of solutions. For $168, you can buy a charger plus a 10W solar panel. at a website called www.cetsolar.comaccumanager.htm. The charger will handle battery sizes AAA, AA, C, D, and 9V. It will charge either Ni-MH or Ni-Cd. In addition, the charger can run off the boat's 12V battery system.

We have no experience with this device, but feel that it should be workable for a backup battery situation. Charging times for four AA batteries are listed at 3.5 hours. With a 10W panel, that seems a little fast to us, but it's hard to know without trying it.

As to whether it is a good investment for the environment, that depends on how you look at environmental problems. Even taking into account the plastics used and energy consumed to make the solar panel, we suspect that itís a lot friendlier than putting dozens or scores of dead batteries into landfills over the years.

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