Help! I Need a new Fuel Filter

Discussion in 'Engines and Propulsion' started by PGIJon, Feb 22, 2014. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. PGIJon


    Joined Mar 3, 2012
    836 posts, 39 likes
    Hunter 34
    US Punta Gorda
    Well when I purchased my '86 H34 with a Yanmar 3GM30F, the PO installed a Racor 500FG Fuel Filter. I've read in numerous post that a number of surveyors have deemed that this filter unsuitable for use because they didn't have the flame shield. So, I ordered a heat shield, only it turns out that it doesn't work with the 500FG and in fact there are no heat shields available for this filter. So I've decided to get a new one. My question is 1) is the Marine line Racor 500 series overkill? It processes 60GPH. I use maybe 1.... My question is, what is the best bang for the buck filter out there that is CG approved for the Engine Compartment. Thanks for you your thoughts! -Jon

  2. kentobin


    Joined Jun 9, 2013
    28 posts, 0 likes
    Rafiki 37
    US Novato, California

    Re: Fuse


    ABYC doesn't specifically call for metal bowl fuel filters. It states that all individual components of thefuel system shall be capable of withstanding a 2-1/2 minute fire test when tested in accordance with the Title 33 CFR, Section 183.590 fire test. This includes components outside the engine compartment if a break at any point will result in the discharge of more than five ounces of fuel in 2-1/2 minutes.

    Fuel filters with the plastic see-thru bowls apparently will not meet the fire test requirement so if installed inside the engine compartment, they must have the metal heat shield installed. If you've ever seen this heat shield, you might wonder as I do if it really does much good at all.

    In the argument I was in regarding a diesel fuel filter with plastic bowl, it was claimed that Coast Guard regulations required the metal heat shield. In my research, I found that the rules they were refering to, part 183 subpart J Fuel Systems, applied only to gasoline engines.

    I was to install a water in fuel sensor into the bottom of the bowl of a diesel fuel filter that had the heat shield. I wanted to use the sensor that had the built-in electronics that would simply and directly connect to the existing Yanmar engine gauge panel that already has the alarm buzzer and indicator lamp for this. The sensor was too long to fit between the shield and the fitting for the sensor. I wanted to punch a hole just large enough for the sensor into the bottom of the shield. They were afraid this would violate CG rules. I proved to them that it was not part of the CG rules. They didn't buy it so I ended up installing the standard sensor which does fit, and then having to install the gauge which goes with the sensor and then internally modifying the gauge to provide output to the Yanmar panel.

    ABYC rules are not law, just established recommendations. Funny that they reference part 183.590 fire test which only applies to gasoline engines in their H-33 Diesel Fuel Systems standards.

    It is quite apparent that most people who are supposed to be "in the know" (including me who had a memory lapse) about the rules, including surveyors that I've questioned, are unaware that subparts of the part 183 regulations only apply to gasoline engines. It doesn't make sense to me why subpart I, Electrical Systems only applies to boats with gasoline engines In ABYC rules E-11 ElectricalSystems, it notes; The United States Coast Guard has promulgated mandatory requirements for electrical systems in Title 33, CFR 183 Subpart I

    Sounds like even ABYC is unaware that these requirements are only for boats with gasoline engines.


  3. PGIJon


    Joined Mar 3, 2012
    836 posts, 39 likes
    Hunter 34
    US Punta Gorda
    Thanks Eric... So, would I/we have a leg to stand on if we suffered a fire loss in the engine compartment and the Insurance company denies the claim because of this? Thanks Jon

  4. Maine Sail

    Maine Sail Moderator

    Joined Feb 6, 1998
    10,951 posts, 747 likes
    Canadian Sailcraft 36T
    US Casco Bay, ME

    Course the CFR referenced above applies to gas systems not diesel but many surveyors and USCG inspectors could care less because the ABYC includes the 2.5 minute burn test in the H-33 standard. Keep in mind that the 500MA has less than 4 oz in the bowl!!!

    ABYC H-33:


    Components of the system and the fuel distribution system shall be designed and sized to provide the required fuel flow to the engine at the maximum power setting of the engine.

    All individual components of the fuel system, as installed in the boat, shall be capable of withstanding a 2-1/2 minute exposure to free burning fuel (N-Heptane), or No. 2 diesel fuel without leakage, when tested in accordance with Title 33 CFR, Section 183.590, Fire Test.
    1. Portions of fuel distribution systems located outside the engine compartment if a break at any point in this system will result in the discharge of no more than five ounces of fuel in 2-1/2 minutes including fuel that may drain from the engine. (See H-33.14 for requirements for fuel distribution and return lines.)
    2. Self-draining fill and vent pipes located in a separate compartment from the engine compartment.
    3. Fill and vent external fittings.
    4. Clips and straps not essential for anti-siphon protection required by this standard."

    From Racor:

    Models that include an aluminum bowl or stainless steel shield meet
    ASTM FS1201 certification, are UL-listed, American Bureau of Shipping, Veritas, Det Norske Veritas, ISO 10088, and USCG accepted.

    There are literally millions of these filters installed on boats and I can't recall of a single case of a failure of bowl on a diesel boat to cause an issue.When in doubt install it outside the engine bay and relay on the Marine UL rating and the 3.7 oz bowl contents to challenge the "exception" in ABYC H-33...

    Technically the only filter in the Racor 500 line that meets the ABYC/CFR standard is the 500MAM which is a full metal bowl filter (not see through). If you have a USCG inspected vessel you are and will be required to have the MAM version.

    We just went though this last summer with the re-certs on our yacht clubs launches. The 500MA, which each launch used, was simply not acceptable to the USCG inspectors despite them being diesel engines. We challenged their assertions, with the actual CFR documentation stating "GAS ENGINES", but they did not care.. We were also not allowed to "retrofit" a metal bowl to a 500MA the USCG / CFR requirements are that the filter be "factory made" / tested..... Ridiculous over stepping of authority, and a gross misunderstanding of federal regulations, but they sign off so you do what they say...

    The 500MA has a heat shield bowl and meets the UL burn requirements but not CFR / ABYC.

    The 500FG has no heat shield and meets neither UL or ABYC/CFR.

    If you want to install a 500FG or 500MA the easiest bet is to technically install it "outside" the engine bay. Surveyors are pretty loose with what constitutes an engine bay.

    I see very, very, very few boats or builders who use the 500MAM. Lots use the 500MA and none install the 500FG's any longer... I use the MA filter on our boat because I want to see the fuel and the heat shield certainly helps it meet UL level standards. The ABYC/CFR standards are a few hundred degrees hotter that the UL requirement.....

  5. PGIJon


    Joined Mar 3, 2012
    836 posts, 39 likes
    Hunter 34
    US Punta Gorda
    Thanks as always Maine! Well in any case especially since PO installed the 500FG without the option for the shield, I'm going to be looking for a new filter.... Just wish ABYC would make it clear to the CG, surveyors and Ins companies regarding the difference between Diesel and Gas. I think for the few bucks difference I may go for the MAM however, I really like being able to see what is inside the bowl. -Jon

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