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Installing a Diesel Priming System on Your Boat

Story and photography by Capt. Vincent Daniello

While not normally necessary for just a filter change, if the engine runs out of fuel, air trapped here has to be released by cracking the nuts that secure those high-pressure fuel lines to the injectors and then turning the engine over with the starter. As the fuel spurting from the fittings turns clear of air, tighten those injector-line fittings one at a time until the engine starts. And remember, don’t think you can shortcut having to prime all the way to the injector pump by just cracking these injector lines. It’s risky business. Excessively turning over an engine that doesn’t start risks filling mufflers with seawater from the raw-water pump until that water eventually flows back into a turbocharger or atop a piston.

Photography by Capt. Vincent Daniello

While it’s always good advice to carry spare fuel-filter elements, they may be useless if you don’t know how to prime your fuel system—something to consider when stocking spares for your next cruise.