PS Advisor: 11/01/04

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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 don’t want to dump it overboard and I don’t 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 youre buying contains a lot of water, youll 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 3Ms fuel-absorbing pads. The advantage is that these handy products hold a lot of fuel, like a diaper, and don’t drip the way a paper towel does. You can buy one sheet of the 3M pad (about 99 cents) and cut it into four pieces-that 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 youre getting that much water, you should consult the fuel dock manager, or simply find a new fuel dock.

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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 its a lot friendlier than putting dozens or scores of dead batteries into landfills over the years.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on marine products for serious sailors for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising or any form of compensation from manufacturers whose products we test. Testing is carried out by a team of experts from a wide range of fields including marine electronics, marine safety, marine surveying, sailboat rigging, sailmaking, engineering, ocean sailing, sailboat racing, and sailboat construction and design. This diversity of expertise allows us to carry out in-depth, objective evaluation of virtually every product available to serious sailors. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser with more than three decades of experience as a marine writer, photographer, boat captain, and product tester. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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