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What can I safely put in the engine room and what is "ignition protected" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Carlos Alvarez   
Tuesday, 02 November 2010 09:11

Many people are unaware of what can safely be used in the engine room of a gasoline-powered boat, and what the term "ignition protected" means.  In this article we'll explore the dangers of various items in the engine room and what needs to be ignition protected.

 


 

This article applies only to gasoline-powered boats.  Diesel is not explosive, and barely flammable, so ignition protection doesn't apply.  A spark simply won't ignite diesel fuel, but will easily ignite gasoline.

The first thing to consider is that gasoline is not flammable!  Really.  It's the vapors that burn, not the liquid fuel.  And in the right concentration, those gasoline vapors very easily ignite into an explosive fireball.  Whether it's an explosion or just a fast fire is a distinction that isn't important on a boat.  And the concentrations required to cause one or the other are very small.  A quarter cup of fuel in the bilge is very easily enough to blow the boat apart and start a fiberglass/wood fire.

This is why it's so important to use only marine (USCG-approved) parts.  The fuel hoses are rated for fire protection and being impermeable (won't allow vapors to soak through).  Car fuel hoses are built to much lower standards because if there's a leak, it just falls on the ground.  Marine carburetors have a special design so if they overflow, the extra fuel goes into the engine, not the bilge.  Marine fuel pumps likewise funnel any leaks into the engine, while auto fuel pumps let the leaking fuel drip onto the ground.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 November 2010 09:57
 
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