Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bilge oil

Bilge oilIt's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

Yup, I've been working on cleaning out the oil from Lady Jane's bilge.

This job was started in Fareham, where there was an oil disposal point just a short walk from Lady Jane, but that came to an abrupt halt when I filled the waste oil container up.

The oil in those containers you see represents the last of the easily accessible oil from the bilge.

Now I have a load of thick smelly sludge in the bilge to deal with. This has obviously been collecting in there for years and years.

I need to devise a method for getting it out, and disposed of. The shape of Lady Jane's bilge makes it really difficult to simply reach in and scoop out the muck.

I think know this next phase of the job is going to be preceded by plenty of procrastination.


  1. At least it will be rust free down there !!!


  2. Hi Tim, if you find any old spanners/sockets or stainless steel bolts etc hiding away in the black sludge, make sure you have a good look at the hull where they had been laying. I work on a 1968 built ex royal navy dive tender (Datchet), and the only problems we have ever found with her hull bottom plates have been where old spanners/stainless bolts etc have been laying in the black sludge for years. Electrolysis can set in in those areas. We found a couple of pits about 5mm deep under a couple of stainless nuts that had obviously been hiding in the deepest part of the bilge for years.
    Sorry to hear about your 'hit and run' incident, have you thought about visiting the 'MAIB' website and downloading a report form?

  3. Hi Steve

    Thanks for that - I had not even considered ectrolysis from tools.

    As it happens I found a 15mm socket down there already.



  4. Anonymous2:16 AM

    There are absorbant cotton?? pads that you get to absorb oil in the bilge if the oil is not too thick....I guess there are a few different companies putting out such products.

  5. I once looked at buying a separator from the same people that make milking machinery, their name ( alfa Laval ) they have a piece of kit that separates the water from the fat in milk and with ajustment it will sort the muck out grom the water of a bilge, so with an industrial pump to get the bilge water to the separator and a tank to hold it there for a few minutes whilst the "spinner" does its work, and all you are left with is oil, a few dirty cones and a lot of clear water. Actually I am surprised that you don`t have a saparator on the vessel already as many of the commercial vessels I have worked on have them as a matter of course for the fuel purification. In the future you may consider having one and attaching it to the lowest point in your tank system just to keep your fuel polished. They are available second hand, and they are a very un-sung piece of kit actually. there is another make but I can`t remember their name

  6. Hi Anonymous

    Yup - I have some of those pads - they are amazing.



  7. Hi Rob

    Lady Lane's day tank has a kind of well in the bottom of it into which any water or debris settles.

    This I drain fairly regularly & check for water.

    Hence no need for a high tech separator.

    This sludge is beyond separator status though - it's stinky awful stuff.



  8. Anonymous1:45 PM

    Is the challenge mainly to access the sludge or is it how to collect it?

    Access is, well, I guess you have to be there to have an opinion. Are you going to have to lift plates all over, or crawl under stuff to get down in the bilge?

    Collecting options might include shovelling into a bucket what muck you can.

    Then dilute the remaining sludge with some used solvent and stirring it around until it is a pumpable consistency and pumping it into containers.

    Finally pour in hot water/TSP solution and scrub that around. When you get bored of scrubbing the bilge with that, pump it into a container.

    You should be good to go after all that.

    Sounds like great fun!

  9. Could all the crap not be pumped through said separator intil all the solids have been collected and then the liquid pumped from the bilge into drums and sold to green diesel freaks.:o))or dumped!

    Just thought that you might be able, with the addition of a small amount of Kerrosene to get the bilge quite clean, just using the separator and a pump! ever the optomist eh :o((

  10. This won't be useful for your situation T, but you might like to know what our naughty gonzo solution for Wendy Ann was. after removing the water we filled our bilges with woodshavings. Left it for a couple of days, returned to shovel it all into rubble sacks and took it to be incinerated (illegal). The shavings absorbed all the oil and had the effect of coagulating the heavier filth enough to enable us to handle it. In our case it worked extremely well, although we had all the sole plates up and no machinery to hinder our efforts. Side effect was that the engine room smelt like a hamster cage.
    On Storebror we use a water based bilge wash called Marinol, made by the same people who do jizer. Its supposedly an environmentally friendly way of dealing with this sort of thing, but I'm not convinced. I believe it has quick-splitting properties similar to Jizer.
    BTW, I can also confirm the electrolysis danger from foreign objects lying against hull. Wendy was full of 'em. Good thing we replaced all the plates at the bottom then.
    Good luck and happy procrastination. S.

  11. Hi Anonymous

    The problem is both getting to the stuff and how to collect it.

    The issue is, although large, the bilge is pretty inaccessible - particularly under where the engine sits.

    The sludge is thick & goopy, so scooping it out is likely to be tedious as there is not really room for a shovel to get in there.



  12. Hi Rob

    The sludge will not go through the pump I have (too thick) - nor the poor old wet & dry vacuum cleaner for that matter :)

    I'm thinking about scouring B&Q or the like for garden implements which could help me here.

  13. Hi Seb, thanks

    For the disposal - I have my eye on some disgusting looking drums stored behind the Macdonalds near me.

    I figure that bilge sludge is even more repulsive that whatever was in there.

    I like the sound of the marinol to wash out after the sludge has been scooped out as best as possible.



  14. Anonymous9:40 PM

    Never hoover fuel, oil or solvent. The fumes pass through the motor and specifically through the commutator which is alive with hot blue electrical sparks when the thing is running. You will have 2-metre flames out the exhaust port of your vacuum.

  15. Hi Anonymous

    Ha ha - too late!

    I did have a fire extinguisher standing by just in case.

    It did have a curious side effect though:

    That wet/dry vacuum never ran so well as it did after trying to vacuum up the sludge!

    That oil must have got well into the motor and bearings.

    Now it runs that good that if I try to run it with no load, it sucks up the shut off float by itself and shuts down the vacuum!