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Discussion Starter #1
A buddy of mine had his fuel gel during our last cold spell, so he put an aquarium heater in his tractor's diesel tank and set it to the lowest temp (I think 40F?). He said he waited a while until the heater cooled to the fuel's temp before plugging it in, then left it on overnight and by morning the fuel was 40F (or whatever it was set to) and all the wax had been melted back into the diesel.

So...this seems too simple. A 20 dollar heater can solve all of your fuel concerns?

There has to be some reason reason why this is a bad idea. Doesn't there?
 

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The only heaters of that type I have seen are glass tube.
My concerns would be;
Normally used in an environment where there is constant circulation and lack of this may lead to "cooking" the element?
If by chance glass fractures cleaning the fuel tank would be a bit o work.
If by chance the glass fractures you would have live electric power immersed in a flammable fluid.

Was the heater he used not made from glass?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I don't know, they make "explosion proof" quartz heaters that are supposed to be much stronger than glass.

Also, they are on a thermostat, so if the fuel around them reaches the preset temp, they shut off.
 

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Seems to me that fuel in the lines and engine are far more vulnerable and the heater would do little if anything for that.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Seems to me that fuel in the lines and engine are far more vulnerable and the heater would do little if anything for that.
Unfortunately I have quite a bit of experience with gelling. :) The engine never just dies outright and doesn't start back up. It starts, runs for a while, and then can't run at higher RPMs, and then dies. You can, in my experience, always start it again (maybe this is different for super low temps), even if only for a little while. So if the fuel in the tank is say 50F, that fuel will get into the filter and gradually warm it and melt whatever is gelled or frozen there.

I mean...it worked for my buddy, and I trust what he tells me, so I know this works. The question is...will it blow up your tractor. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Aquarium heaters are meant to be used in water. It’s possible the sealant used to make them may not last long in diesel fuel .:dunno:
That's what I was thinking. But diesel isn't particularly corrosive, is it?
 

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I really like people who think outside the box.
Get a bucket, put some diesel in it, set it outside, and do a trial run for a couple of days.
:bigthumb:
 

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There are companies that make immersion heaters for diesel tanks and that's essentially what you'd be doing with an aquarium heater.

The only issue I see is that it isn't made for that sort of use. You'd have to take the cap off your tank every time you want to use it and slide it in. Then take it back out every time you want to use the tractor. Aquarium heaters aren't really meant to be bounced around like that . They get installed and left in place for months on end. It'd be pretty easy to break/crack that glass with all that moving around. As long as you're extremely careful with the handling I guess it could work.
 

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Torpedo heaters work pretty good for unthawing things. I have a 390,000 btu unit that you could blast at a tractor and warm every square inch of it up.
 

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That's what I was thinking. But diesel isn't particularly corrosive, is it?
No, but gaskets that are meant to be immersed in water may not do well immersed in diesel.

Best suggestion is steveontheridge2's. Fill a bucket with diesel and drop in the heater. Give a few days and see what happens. Better than trying to clean out your tractor tank due to a partially dissolved gasket.
 

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If you want to heat the tank a little, why not an external heater?
A magnetic heater would work fine on my IH 584 (steel fuel tank)

If you have a plastic tank, epoxy a piece of steel to the tank.

Outside the tank is ALWAYS much safer than sticking something in the tank,,, :flag_of_truce:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
If you want to heat the tank a little, why not an external heater?
A magnetic heater would work fine on my IH 584 (steel fuel tank)

If you have a plastic tank, epoxy a piece of steel to the tank.

Outside the tank is ALWAYS much safer than sticking something in the tank,,, :flag_of_truce:
Attaching a piece of steel to the tank wouldn't change the fact that the tank could melt. Whether it's the heater that melts it or the metal pad you attached to it, the result will be the same.

It would be nice if someone made a drop in heater specifically designed for diesel. I think there would be a pretty big market for that.
 

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Attaching a piece of steel to the tank wouldn't change the fact that the tank could melt. Whether it's the heater that melts it or the metal pad you attached to it, the result will be the same.

It would be nice if someone made a drop in heater specifically designed for diesel. I think there would be a pretty big market for that.
The piece of steel would act as a buffer, never letting enough heat to the plastic tank to allow melting,

I guess if a thin piece were used, the tank could get hot, but, a 1/4" thick piece would spread the heat around,, stopping damage,,
 

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Attaching a piece of steel to the tank wouldn't change the fact that the tank could melt. Whether it's the heater that melts it or the metal pad you attached to it, the result will be the same.

It would be nice if someone made a drop in heater specifically designed for diesel. I think there would be a pretty big market for that.
Someone does - https://phillipsandtemro.com/solutions/fuel-fluid-heating/in-tank-fuel-warming/

They have other options also. Inline, in tank, pad heaters... - https://phillipsandtemro.com/solutions/fuel-fluid-heating/

EDIT: Scratch these. They appear to work by circulating a hot liquid through the probe into the tank. They transfer heat but aren't electric heaters. Back to Google...
 

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That's what I was thinking. But diesel isn't particularly corrosive, is it?
We have used diesel fuel in place of solvent for cleaning cosmoline and other rust preventatives off of paper machinery. Have also use it wash bearings and other greasy items. Other than the fire hazard it worked well. I wouldn’t be surprised if it softened some sealants.
 

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Discussion Starter #17

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The weak link is your fuel lines and filters. An in tank heater will not solve that.

Diesel suppliers/refineries for gas stations etc. add additives to the diesel to reduce gelling etc.

I has been minus 25 Celsius (- 12 F I think) and I have no fuel gelling problems.

I suggest you change diesel suppliers or find an after market diesel fuel additive.

I would not recommend putting a heater in a tank, especially an aquarium heater, as diesel will dissolve the power cord.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
The weak link is your fuel lines and filters. An in tank heater will not solve that.

Diesel suppliers/refineries for gas stations etc. add additives to the diesel to reduce gelling etc.

I has been minus 25 Celsius (- 12 F I think) and I have no fuel gelling problems.

I suggest you change diesel suppliers or find an after market diesel fuel additive.

I would not recommend putting a heater in a tank, especially an aquarium heater, as diesel will dissolve the power cord.
I have a heater on my initial fuel filter, and I've changed suppliers. But the supplier I got my bad fuel from was a reliable major supplier that many commercial customers stop at.

It's easy to do everything right and still end up with some biodiesel or something else that will cause problems. There's really no way to know for sure what you're getting from the pump, and I've had too many problems with gelling to blindly trust gas station diesel.
 

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Internal tank heaters for diesel exist, many standby generators have them installed. If you look for "holding tank heaters" you'll find stick on heaters desgined for plastic RV holding tanks like this one: Amazon.com: Facon 7 1/4 Water Holding Tank Heater Pad for RV Motorhome Camper Trailer Boat with Automatic Thermostat Control 12V DC: Automotive

I'd much rather apply heat to the outside of the tank, or use something approved for diesel immersion if necessary. The better solution is getting your diesel treatment sorted out. I drove 9 hours yesterday and when I started the car it was -32° at the end of the trip it was -11°. I saw probably a dozen diesel trucks on the side of the road, but many, many more still trucking along.
 
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