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How to maintain and repair an outboard fuel system

With todays outboards, an immaculate fuel system is essential. To keep a clean system, you need a good high quality fuel tank made of minimum .090" aluminum and preferrably .125". All fuel lines which run under decks or through bulkheads must be reinforced FIRE-ACOL hose or equivalent to meet coast guard requirements. Fire ACOL hose is resistant to the 10% alcohol in todays fuels so you will not have problems with hose deterioration. A remote mounted fuel filter should be placed in an accessable area which is not below deck or in the bilge. Racor is by far the best fuel filter bar none and an outboard filter element has a clear sight bowl which will allow you to see water contamination as well as give you the ability to drain it. It is because of this plastic site bowl that you must mount the filter in an exposed area like a splash well. From the outlet of the fuel filter run either standard alcohol resistant fuel line or more fire acol hose. Always use OEM hose clamps from the filter to the engine and standard all stainless clamps from the tank to the filter.

You should change the filter element at 100 hours of engine use or every year, whichever comes first. Replacement elements do not include the plastic viewer bowl but can be purchased if needed. To remove the filter, use an oil filter or strap wrench. Remove the plastic bowl by locking it in a vise so it can not turn - caution do not tighten bowl in vise, just close the jaws enough that it will not spin freely. Use a filter or strap wrench to remove the element from the bowl. Remove the new element and the two orings and reinstall on the bowl. Reinstall the new filter on the base and tighten as per the instructions on the new filter. Fill with fuel and check for leaks. If no leaks are present then you have successfully installed your new fuel filter.

If you ever find yourself out on the water and need to remove a fuel filter to drain it of water, here is a neat trick which I myself have used several times. If no filter wrench is available and you must remove a contaminated filter while out on the water, take a dock line which is preferrably 1/2" diameter, wet it, then wrap the filter canister four or five times. Hold both ends in your hands and pull the end of the rope which will make the filter turn clockwise when looking down on it from the top. I have never found a filter this method will not remove. Be aware however, once the filter has been removed the gasket will not fit back in its place due to fuel swelling. You will be required to clean the seal and wait for it to shrink before you can safely reuse it.

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