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Thread: Water in fuel?

  1. #1
    dougclinton's Avatar
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    Default Water in fuel?

    I have read so many posts and discussions about the title of my thread that my head is swimming.

    So, there I was last Saturday, a beautiful morning in South Carolina, 0800 or so in the morning, temp about 70*, humidity about the same, clear and a million. I completed a thorough preflight since this was the first flight after annual inspection. Mechanic did replace seals in the gascolator and repaired a primer tube. I dipped both tanks and had 14 gal in the right tank and 15 in the left. I ALWAYS drain the sumps during preflight. No water, and there never has been any in the 6 years I have owned 3002Z. The airplane is parked in a hangar and never been left out in the rain. The last time I washed it was at least a year ago. There are two, $85 fuel caps from Atlee Dodge. I use non-ethanol auto fuel per STC and I transport the fuel myself in a tank protected with a Goldenrod filter. In the 30 minutes I flew I used only the left tank.

    Normal run-up and departure. Flew about a half hour enjoying the sights around Table Rock and returned to the pattern for T&Gs. I always use carb heat from first power reduction on downwind. On climbout from the first (and only) T&G, at about 600' AGL and beginning my turn to crosswind the engine faltered, RPM below 1,000 with significant vibration. Lasted about 3 seconds and then caught for about the same amount of time then stumbled/slobbered again. Never completely quit.
    Made an immediate turn back to the runway and managed the text book emergency landing. Phew!

    Off the runway I checked my shorts and tried a run-up. No way, stumbled, missed, almost quit. Barely got it back to the hangar.

    Today, (two days later) my mechanic started the process of elimination. 1. no water from any sump. 2. Checked spark plugs, 3. Pulled prop through noticing no loss of compression. 4. Checked P leads, which showed some wear on wire covering, which he will repair just in case. 5. He/I tried starting the airplane to move it to the maintenance hangar. For both of us it ran really rough and stalled but eventually he got it going using primer to keep it from stalling. Eventually ran smooth without goosing it with the primer.

    Mechanic removed float bowl from carburetor and all that was found in the float bowl was fuel that was "hazy," perhaps some contaminate. Subsequent draining through the carb indicated only clear fuel.

    So, here we are: No water, ever, from the sumps. No parking in the rain. No recent airplane washing.

    This leaves the question (assuming water was the problem) of how do we get water in the carburetor when none can be drained from the sumps?

    Is this one for the books or has anyone else experienced something similar?

    I have asked him to defuel the airplane and refuel with 100LL from the county tanks.

    I will update once I can gather the courage to test fly the Tri Pacer.

    Doug Clinton
    KLQK
    Pickens, SC

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Water in fuel?

    Quote Originally Posted by dougclinton View Post
    Mechanic did replace seals in the gascolator and repaired a primer tube.
    Maybe have a look at the primer line he repaired, if you haven't already? Check all of the primer lines not just the one he repaired. Check for good fuel flow out the gascolator? Check contaminated car gas?

  3. #3

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    Default Re: Water in fuel?

    I wouldn't pay the mech to defuel your plane, thats easy to do yourself if you have curtiss lock open drain valves. Fuel selector ON and gas can with funnel under main gascolator, drain into 5 gal can or 2 dollar 5 gal buckets til both tanks empty.
    Last edited by SMO22; 06-04-2018 at 08:23 PM.

  4. #4
    Brian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Water in fuel?

    Exhaust valve sticking intermittently?

  5. #5

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    Default Re: Water in fuel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian View Post
    Exhaust valve sticking intermittently?
    Yep, valves stick, have you ran 100LL every so often like the stc says to do? Some mix mmo with gas also to help sticking valves. I dont think its your plugs but might have a look to see if they need cleaned, and you have pretty much ruled out water in gas so that is not it.

  6. #6
    tnowak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Water in fuel?

    Do you have any rubber seals on the intake spider or tubes?
    A few years ago something similar happened to a friend with a Cont. powered Vagabond when he started a turn.
    The rubber on one of the intake tubes had moved/slipped off (slightly) so messing with the fuel mixture to one cylinder.
    Can't be mags unless both play up at the same time.
    Oiled up plug? Unlikely unless something else wrong in a cylinder.
    TonyN

  7. #7
    dougclinton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Water in fuel?

    SMo22, Brian, Tnowak: Thanks for the suggestions. I should have mentioned this is a 1959 Tri Pacer, O-320, 150 hp, not that it makes much difference. I do not consciously add 100LL but do so when I refuel on cross country flights a couple of times a year. So far we have checked all that you gents have mentioned but can't ascertain if a valve may be sticking because it is now running smoothly. Had a similar loss of power on a Grumman Tiger, O-360, a few years back. Turned out to be a piece of the foam air filter came loose and was blocking air to the carburetor. More checking today.

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    Administrator Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Water in fuel?

    Saw a video the other day of a Carbon Cub engine failure where a piece of rubber was lodged in the carburetor restricting fuel. Appeared to be a piece of hose. Di you pull the finger strainer on the inlet side of the carburetor?

  9. #9
    smcnutt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Water in fuel?

    You said in the original post that for the first flight you only used the left tank. I assume the problem remained with the right tank when you tried it on the ground? Checked the fuel screens? I guess water could get in from condensation but since you've not seen any evidence of it, water may not be the culprit.

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    “Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.”
    ― Victor Hugo

  10. #10

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    Default Re: Water in fuel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Pierce View Post
    Saw a video the other day of a Carbon Cub engine failure where a piece of rubber was lodged in the carburetor restricting fuel. Appeared to be a piece of hose. Di you pull the finger strainer on the inlet side of the carburetor?
    I recently had the fuel line hose from the gascolator to carb off, wanted to make sure it was clear, it wasn't, I blew into it and out came a good size piece of rubber threading that was created when the mech. screwed the end down into the hose, must not have lubed it up before cranking down screwing it in and it tore the inside of the hose as he threaded it in, that's what blew out the end of the hose and I think that could have easily gotten caught in the screen inlet to the carb and blocked off fuel.

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