The web site BALLAD EXCHANGE to exchange queries, suggestions, tips and hints specifically for Ballads from world wide sources  http://albinballad.multiply.com has now moved to a more secure hosting site and the web site is now http://www.balladklubben.se/balladexchange/

Jester Milling who successfully ran the Ballad Exchange for many years has retired from it having sold his Ballad and revamped the old site and set up the latest site up and Peter Ohman who is chairman of the Swedish Ballad Club has taken over the administration of it. The site is www.balladklubben.se/balladexchange and draws information tfrom the old Balllad Exchange.

Seen on the mud flats of St.Germans, River Lynher,Plymouth


RYA Cruising Manager Stuart Carruthers provides advice on storing fuel containing biodiesel.

Since the Fuel Quality Directive was implemented into UK law on 14 January 2011 there has been considerable confusion as to whether this means that recreational boat users will now be using biodiesel.

I must be absolutely clear that the only requirement placed on the recreational boating community on 14 January was that they must use sulphur free fuel if their craft do not normally operate at sea.

Read more information on fuel supplies.

The confusion arose because the fuel supply industry indicated that it would meet its legal requirements by supplying sulphur free road transport diesel (EN590) which by law can contain anything up to 7% biodiesel by volume.

What impact does biodiesel have?

It is difficult to know just how much of a problem biodiesel is in these small volumes; we have it on good authority that road diesel is the only fuel available in most European marinas and this does not appear to have caused the problems that some here have anticipated. Anecdotally I am aware that there are a number of boaters who actually prefer to run their boat engines on road transport diesel as they feel that it is cleaner and burns better.

Increased care over storage

If you suspect that your fuel contains biodiesel or indeed you have chosen to use EN590, increased care is needed in its storage. Due to their hygroscopic nature, biodiesel blends can contain more water than ‘normal’ diesel which can result in accelerated corrosion, sediment formation, and filter blocking. All of this can be controlled by good housekeeping and fuel management.

Bio diesel blends more susceptible to biological attack

All diesel is contaminated with water to some extent, either because it is suspended in the fuel itself or it gets into fuel tanks through faulty seals and vent pipes and from condensation caused by changes in ambient temperature.The latter is a particular problem in common rail diesel injector systems. Because biodiesel is hygroscopic, it exacerbates the problem and biodiesel blends are more susceptible to biological attack by micro-organisms.

Aerobic micro-organisms that consume hydrocarbons, such as fungi, bacteria and yeast, usually grow at the interface between fuel and water in fuel tanks. Anaerobic species can actively grow on tank sides.

Bacterial growth

Bacterial growth can result in the blockage of fuel pipes and filters and increase the problems of corrosion. Prolonged use of contaminated fuel may result in damage to engines.

Bacterial growth can be prevented by eliminating water from fuel tanks and conducting regular checks to ensure that tanks remain free of water.

Where a bacterial growth outbreak has occurred, this can be addressed either by emptying and cleaning the tanks, or by tackling the outbreak with biocide additives and filtering.


Bio diesel is a better solvent than ‘normal’ diesel. As a result it may pick up deposits already in fuel systems and in fuel tanks.

To prevent those deposits from blocking filters, a one-time replacement of storage tank and off-road equipment fuel filters, outside the regular service interval, after 2 to 3 tank throughputs of biodiesel is recommended.

In addition, fuel seals in sight gauges on older fuel storage tanks may be incompatible with sulphur free diesel, irrespective of whether it contains biodiesel, and may require replacing. Users should examine seals and if there are signs of leakage, they will need a one-off replacement of these seals.


The oxidation stability of biodiesel is poorer than that of ‘normal’ diesel. Over time oxidation can precipitate solids with the potential to block filters in fuel distribution systems. To minimise the likelihood of this occurring, it is recommended that users take particular care to ensure a fuel turnover period of once every 6 months and, in any event, no longer than once every 12 months.

Biodiesel blends have a higher Cold Filter Plug Point (CFPP) than ‘normal’ diesel which means it may not flow as well (a phenomenon known as ‘waxing’) in cold weather or stop altogether. However, the fuels made available to the latest standards (BS EN 2869:2010) include additives to prevent waxing and maintain oxidisation stability.

Current advice based on good practice recommends that:

 Fuel in any tank is turned over regularly, at least every 6 months and certainly no more than 12 months.

 When in use, tanks are kept as full as possible, to reduce condensation, however this must be balance against the amount you use and how long a tankful is likely to last you.

 Water must be drained off regularly (although it is rarely possible to remove it all) in order to discourage MBC. Consideration should be given to modifying the drain facilities to make them more effective.

 Seals and components in the fuel system are inspected and, where necessary, replaced.

 Strainers and filters are checked and cleaned more regularly.

It is understood that this is easier said than done. Smaller marinas and boatyards may only have one supply tank and may not sell enough fuel to turn it over regularly particularly in the winter months.

Many recreational craft are laid up over the winter with full tanks for 6 months or more in some cases. A balance must therefore be struck between the amount of fuel bought and the amount of fuel you use.

Where possible you should try to buy diesel that does not have biodiesel in it – see fuel supplies for more information. But remember that the problems described here also affect ‘normal’ diesel as well, albeit to a lesser extent.

If you are concerned about biodiesel and whether there is something nasty in your tank, test kits are now available, which can identify whether contamination is present and its severity. These have been demonstrated to give quick and accurate results on-site.

RYA Cruising Manager Stuart Carruthers.

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Article Published: October 27, 2011 9:26


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Fuel Supplies

There is confusion amongst boat owners about what diesel they can buy and use for pleasure craft propulsion and whether such fuel will cause damage to the boat’s engine installation or increase the danger of microbiological contamination or ‘diesel bug’.

What does the current legislation say in respect of pleasure craft?

The EU Fuel Quality Directive was implemented in the UK on the 14 January 2011. This introduced the requirement for inland waterways vessels and recreational craft that do not normally operate at sea to be supplied with low sulphur fuel.

There is however nothing in this new legislation that compels a supplier to add bio-diesel (FAME) to fuel that is being supplied for use by pleasure craft no matter where it is used. Under the UK Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), it is only obligatory to add bio diesel to diesel supplied for use in road vehicles.

The Government is currently consulting on the EU Renewable Energy Directive and how it will be implemented in UK law. The Government’s preferred option is to expand the RTFO to include all fuels, including fuel supplied for use in inland waterway vessels and recreational craft that do not normally operate at sea.

This again has the potential to affect fuel supplied to pleasure craft; however the RYA has secured assurances from the Department for Transport that although all fuel supplied will count towards the RTFO target, the legislation will not mean that bio-diesel must be added to every drop of fuel. Fuel distributors will have obligations to meet, but how they meet these obligations will be up to them. They will remain free to add more bio-diesel to some supplies and none to others; it will therefore still be possible to ask for diesel without any bio-diesel content.

What about red diesel?

In the UK fuel is chemically marked and dyed red to indicate that it has been supplied for non-road mobile machinery use, as in many cases such fuel is supplied duty free.

Pleasure craft can still legitimately buy marked (red) diesel in the UK as long as the correct duty is paid on the element of the fuel to be used for propulsion.

The fact that this fuel is marked does not indicate the grade of the fuel. Red diesel may or may not be low sulphur fuel and it may or may not contain a percentage of FAME (bio diesel).

What’s available?

The following table indicates which fuels you can legitimately purchase depending on whether you are boating in categorised waters (inland) or going to sea.

The red diesel you buy could be any one of the fuels listedFurther technical information is available see page 5 of the  RYA Fuel Quality Directive infomation leaflet.

What should I buy?

It is the responsibility of the supply chain to ensure that fuel complies with the legislation depending on where it is sold. It is therefore important that every link in the supply chain knows what is being bought and sold. The best solution is to use fuel that is free from bio-diesel (“FAME-free”).

During and since the negotiations with DfT, the RYA has pressed the safety case and risks associated with bio-diesel and contamination. In response, the DfT and many fuel refiners, blenders and distributors have made a supply of BS2869:2010 fuel that is FAME-free available.

• Ask what you are being supplied with. Boat owners are encouraged to ask their supplier what standard of fuel they are supplying and whether or not the specific fuel supplied contains bio-diesel.

• Ask for FAME free fuel. If your Marina has a fuel point, make sure the operator is supplying FAME free fuel. Where a supplier either will not or cannot provide FAME free fuel, consider buying fuel elsewhere.

What should I do if I think I am using Fuel with Bio-diesel in it?

It remains perfectly possible that you may be supplied with BS EN 2869:2010 or BS EN 590 fuels containing a percentage of bio-diesel. If you think this is the case, you should be aware of the potential risks associated with bio-diesel. These can broadly be classified as operating and storage risks.


The key is to know what you are being supplied and the solution, to find a fuel source you are happy with. If your usual supplier will not provide fuel which is free from bio-diesel you have the option to buy your fuel elsewhere.

Still have more questions?

Contact cruising@rya.org.uk or 0844 556 9517.

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Article Published: September 26, 2011 16:45

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