When we purchased Emet, the Racor fuel filter/water separator was pretty filthy.
Yep, that’s a massive amount of sludge in the bottom of the bowl. This thing required a complete disassembly to be cleaned properly. I looked for some posts on how to clean these things and what I found was exactly that: a post on HOW to clean them. What I was concerned about was the fact that I was going to have to remove the fuel hoses from the filter and I really dreaded getting air in my fuel lines and then having to bleed the fuel system on the Westerbeke. I haven’t done that yet and I really only wanted to deal with the filter first. So, I kept putting it off. I finally felt compelled to clean this thing as the thought of worse problems occurring from leaving it filthy outweighed the smaller problem of having to bleed the fuel lines.
To get ready for it, I got a new filter element. I got the 2010, which is a 10 micron filter and it’s what was in there already. I also got a new lid gasket (P/N 15005) and t-handle O-ring (P/N 11350). There could have been other gaskets that I needed, but these were already on the boat and I had inspected these previously and they looked a little deformed. They weren’t leaking, but since I had them, I saw no since in not replacing them. I got a bucket, about a gallon of fresh diesel (a quart or two would be enough), some Simple Green, a roll of shop towels, a couple of screw drivers (slotted and phillips), a big garbage bag (to use as my work surface), spread the bag on the cockpit floor, put my supplies on the bag, and then went to work.
The first thing I did was made sure that I could get the Racor off the engine compartment wall. Mine is held on with two bolts. Fortunately, the fit is snug enough to hold the filter in place, but not so tight as to prevent me from simply lifting it off without having to loosen anything.
As you can see in the right of the picture, I have a shut off valve on the supply hose that is coming from the fuel tank. I shut this off to prevent fuel from flowing out of the filter when I disconnected the supply hose.
Our tank is above the engine and its level is slightly higher than the Racor. I carefully removed the supply line from the Racor and then taped it in a position where the open end of the hose was in the upward position and as high in the engine compartment as I could get it. This was to prevent fuel from siphoning out of the tank and to also keep the fuel from draining out of the hose.
Next, I had to remove the outlet hose, the one to the left in the picture, from the Racor. There’s no valve on this side which meant that once I had the hose removed, fuel would flow out of the filter until it reached some predetermined level where it wouldn’t, and I wasn’t quite sure where this was. Also, in my mind, this was the critical hose to keep fuel in. I have a nice little “retention dam” on the boat hull directly under the filter that will catch and hold any leaked fuel. Quite thoughtful on Bristol’s part. I placed some paper towels in there to catch any drips. I then oh so carefully removed that hose and used a free thumb to plug the outlet port. I used my free hand to tape the hose in an upward position to ensure that fuel would not flow out of it.
I lifted the filter off its mounting bolts and then carried it outside and set it in the bucket. I removed the T-handle, lifted the lid off, and pulled out the old filter element. A new one is white. This one was black as midnight. I put the filter in the bucket and then emptied the contents of the Racor into the bucket. The sludge didn’t move.
There are 4 screws at the middle of the Racor that hold the bowl onto the upper portion of the assembly. I removed these screws and the bowl came off. It took using a small slotted screwdriver to carefully pry the pieces apart as mine hadn’t been disassembled in decades apparently. Here’s the sludge in the bowl.
I cleaned all the sludge out and cleaned the bowl. I also completely removed the drain plug at the bottom and ran some water through it to make sure that it was flowing properly and that nothing was stuck in there. It was clear. Don’t poke anything in the hole as there is a rubber stopper of sorts in there and you might damage it if you use a sharp object to attempt to “clean it” from the bottom.
On the upper part of the assembly is the turbine centrifuge. This should only be hand-tight and will most likely simply unscrew. Be careful, as under there is a check ball and gasket. I had no problems unscrewing mine. I cleaned the centrifuge and the paper filter holder of the upper part of the assembly. Everything is re-assembled exactly reverse of how it is disassembled.
I put mine back together, but left out the paper filter and left off the lid. I mounted the assembly back on the wall and reconnected the hoses.
I opened the valve and then I slowly poured some diesel in the top of the Racor until it was about 2/3 full. I then placed the paper filter in it and added a little more diesel until it was just level with the top of the paper filter. I put the lid on and tightened the T-handle.
The final test was to fire up the Westerbeke and make sure that 1) the engine would run and 2) check the Racor for leaks.
The good news is that the Westerbeke fired right up and ran like she always does and I saw no leaks from the Racor.
It was quite an easy job, once I figured out that it was quite an easy job.
I don’t know if it really matters if the fuel hoses are allowed to drain empty, but I was very careful to ensure that mine didn’t and I didn’t have any problems. If the Racor output side hose had been emptied, I probably would have used a syringe to refill it.