​Have You Noticed The Black Coating Inside Your Fuel Tanks?

Bruce Mallinson
August 2016

We have talked about this in the past few years, and why diesel fuel turns black in your fuel tanks and leaves a black coating in the tank. This coating is extremely hard to remove, we have tried steaming, bleach, parts cleaning solvent, many different types of soaps and liquid cleaners, and the black residue still stays in the fuel tank. So we called in the cleaning experts and after several tries at their shop, came up with a mixture of chemicals along with custom bent lines to steam clean the inside of the tank to make it look new once again.

Being this is an ongoing problem our technical director John Walko decided to do more research to find out just why does diesel fuel turn black, which means it’s going back to its original state, asphalt. This problem does not exist in older mechanical engines, such as 425-B Cats and Big Cam Cummins. However it does happen in the electronic Caterpillar and Detroit engines. The 60 Series Detroit appears to be the engine with the most Asphaltene problems. Common rail fuel systems such as the DD15 Detroit, and the ISX Cummins from 2011 DO NOT have the Asphaltene problem. So why does the 1995 through 2011 engines have the Asphaltene problems? John’s studies have found the temperature and pressure in the injector tip is high and hot enough to link the molecules found in diesel fuel that creates Asphaltene. The injector does NOT inject all of the fuel that has been heated and pressurized, and returns it to the fuel tank. The Asphaltene is actually a polymer, which is created in the injector tip, then returned to the fuel tank. So even if you install a fuel cooler it WILL NOT fix this problem because of the heat and pressure present in the injector tip where the polymer is created. The chemicals we have today to add to the fuel, made by Fleetguard and PENRAY, are to disperse (dissolve) the polymer back to diesel fuel. This problem is most present at refineries where they treat for it constantly and if your engine produces Asphaltene you should run the chemicals consistently as opposed to waiting for a problem. The labor to remove the fuel tanks, have them cleaned and reinstalled is about $1200.00

Internal Engine Cleaning, We spoke about this about one year ago and the program has been very successful. If you own a 2003 or newer truck equipped with EGR, or EGR and DPF, or 2011 and newer with EGR-DPF-DEF, then you should think about this cleaning process once a year when the oil is due to be changed. This process takes about one hour to perform and the process of flushing the engine with a thin oil with 6 times the detergents regular oil. After the internal cleaning and your oil and filters are then put into the engine, you will be amazed at how long you can drive and the oil on the dip stick will remain clean. Emissions engine eat a lot of soot, and much of it stays in the engine cavities during an oil change, with the internal cleaning process the engine is pressure washed with the ultra-high detergent oil and the cavities are flushed out. The normal price for this operation is $350.00 plus oil and filters, however for this summer we are having a special, $275.00 plus oil and filters. Try it once and see how much extra dirt we can get out of your engine.

The summer heat is here and so are high coolant temperatures. Owner-operators expect a lot out of their trucks and engines today. Years ago on the very hot days especially in the South, many guys sleep during the day and trucked during the night because they could not keep the coolant temperatures down. Charge air coolers, better radiators and electronically controlled engines have made it possible to drive in the 95 plus degree days. The negative of today’s engines is 190 to 195 degree thermostats. We always install the 180-degree stats because it takes 16 degrees to fully open. So if your truck is equipped with a 190 stat then it’s already 205 degrees before it’s fully open. Please don’t be afraid to manually turn on the fan before getting into the hard pull section of the hill or mountain. It’s easier to beat the heat than trying to cool it off after it gets hot. The Pittsburgh Power Radiators are always built with as many tubes that we can fit in the confines of the opening of the hood. Think about this, on a 379 Peterbilt equipped with a 500 horsepower Detroit there are 177 tubes to cool the water and 14 fins per inch. The fins between the tubes carry away the heat. If the same truck is equipped with a 550 Caterpillar engine there will be 234 tubes to cool the coolant. Our 379 Pete radiator has 400 tubes and 16 fins per inch. Plus we use a dimpled tube to dissipate more heat from the coolant. Yes, this radiator cost about $1,000.00 more than a stock radiator, however you’re getting twice the radiator. Than install the 180-degree thermostat and your engine will run cool even on the hottest days. Another truck I used to use on the Big Cam 4 Series Cummins with the low flow cooling system was to install an additional coolant tank. I would use and air tank, mount it back in the frame rails near the transmission or where ever there was space, and run a 1” water line to the front of the tank. I would take the coolant from the engine right in front of the black heater and return out of the far end of the air tank back to the water manifold. Then add about 5 more gallons of coolant to the radiator and the results were pretty amazing. The engine would run 20 degrees cooler on a hard pull for 7 miles. If the mountain were longer than 7 miles, than you would have to drop some gears to keep it cool. One of our clients from eastern Ohio mounted a radiator out of a Camaro with an electric fan on it and once the coolant came out of the tank it passed through the Camaro radiator. Problem solved!

Written By Bruce Mallinson, Pittsburgh Power Inc., 3600 S. Noah Dr., Saxonburg, Pa. 16056. Phone 724-360-4080.