Got water in fuel, won't start, lots of questions. - Diesel Forum - TheDieselStop.com
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99 & up 7.3L Power Stroke Engine and Drivetrain Discussion of the 99 & up 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine and drivetrain in the 1999-Up Super Duty trucks and Excursions. No gas engine discussion allowed except on transmissions and drivetrain that pertain to all models. Please confine discussion of topics in this forum to those items that are specific to the 7.3L Power Stroke engine.

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Old 03-28-2010, 12:49 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Got water in fuel, won't start, lots of questions.

I use a blend of 'alternative' fuels in my 99 7.3. I was pumping more into the tank today when I saw water getting past my oil/water separator.

I think a lot of water made it before I noticed. But the truck won't start, a little bit of smoke, but nothing. It did start up originally. I started it because I didn't think a lot of water made it. It started and then smoked a lot, if I stepped on the pedal, it wouldn't make it past about 1200rpm, so i just let it idle another minute, then shut it off. Now it won't start, it will crank just fine.

I've got a dahl 151 water separator on the truck--its got a drain**** at the bottom. Every time I prime the fuel system, I go below to drain the drain**** and it has water in it, though the amount seems to be going down, so maybe I'm coming to the end of the water.

Can I just keep going in this manner? I suppose i could disconnect the fuel line after the pump and just pump whatever is in the tank into buckets, but I can't get past the truck not starting.

I have great flow after the fuel pump and filter, so that can't be it. It just isn't starting. It'll crank without a problem.

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Old 03-28-2010, 01:19 PM   #2 (permalink)
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You are doing correctly for the first step...getting the water out of the tank. It will not start because you probably also have water in the fuel rails and injectors. Have you checked the filter housing on top of the engine for water?
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Old 03-28-2010, 01:28 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have an aftermarket fuel system which eliminates the fuel bowl, so the filters are under the truck.

My huge concern is this, maybe someone can chime in--is this going to ruin my engine, or is just something I have to work through?

My next try is going to disconnect the supply line from the fuel pump, stick it in a can full of clean diesel and just flush the 3 or 4 gallons through the engine.
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Old 03-28-2010, 01:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Water and injectors don't mix...neither does water in the combustion chamber as if enough could hydraulic the motor. If you are going to do as proposed, open the cylinder up via the glow plugs or injectors.
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Old 03-28-2010, 02:10 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm going to modify my idea. I'm going to disconnect the fuel line that returns to the tank and just run the pump without cranking the engine until clean fuel comes out.
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Old 03-28-2010, 03:26 PM   #6 (permalink)
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That MAY flush the water out of the fuel rails, but I doubt it'll get it all out.

But I don't see much alternative to doing that and then attempting to start till it gets going. If your engine was relatively warm when you shut it down, I doubt you'll have trouble with hydrolocking, as the water that was in the fuel was most likely evaporating by that time. It would take quite a few no-start cycles to build up enough liquid in the cylinders to hydrolock it, what with the valves operating to blow the aerated liquid out thru the exhaust.
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Old 03-28-2010, 04:18 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Couldn't you pull the plug at the end of the head to drain the fuel rails?
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Old 03-28-2010, 04:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks, everyone for any advice. Exactly the reason I come here.

I disconnected the line between my tank and pump. I connected that line to a transfer pump that I have. I pumped whatever was in the tank into the drum.

I reconnected everything, I expect a few leaks, but it is imperative that I get this up and running, I can always go back and tighten.

Tomorrow (since I am totally spent), I am going to get a 5 gallon can of diesel and pour it into my empty tank, this way I know nothing is in there besides residual stuff in the lines.

I will then disconnect the inlet to the pressure regulator and put that line into a pan.

Without cranking the engine, I will cycle the fuel pump until clean diesel comes out. I think 5 gallons will be enough, if not, I'll get more. If that gets it going, all is well. If it doesn't work, I have zero idea on what to do next.
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Old 03-29-2010, 08:14 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Success!!!

I did what I said--disconnect the inlet to the regulator. I poured fresh diesel in the tank and put the key to koeo, plenty of nastiness came out first. I filled up two starbucks venti cups. Then I got out a pan since filling up cup after cup wasn't going to work.

I primed the system twice and a mix of bad and good came out. Tried to start again and it wouldn't.

I put the line into a pan again, but this time tried to crank it and it sputtered!!

I reconnected the line to the regulator and it cranked and stalled, then I tried again--it fired!! Lots of smoke but it cleared up in about a minute.

Finally. This couldn't happen at a worse time. I'm just glad it got taken care of.

Now I just have see what went wrong in my original pump/filter setup, but its gonna rain for the next two days, so that can wait.
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