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Sahara Travel Forum Topics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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Desert Travels - Motorcycle Journeys in the Sahara and West Africa!

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Old 23 Sep 2004
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Fuel Quality

We are doing the plymouth to Dakar this year.

What is the quality of the fuel like south of Morocco. Do I need a separate filter ie one fitted to a funnel? If so where can I get one. I have seen them at aircraft shows for about £20


Ashley Scott
Ashley (dot) scott at EDAW (dot) com
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Old 24 Sep 2004
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we found diesel fuel in Western Sahara, Mori and Mali of a very bad quality. Our LR, in good health, smoked and had lost power. The fuel itself we used was visually dirty (almost dark) and I'am affraid the funnel/filter is not a solution. The fuel base is just not improved by any additives we used to expect in our petrol stations in Europe ... You should take into account lowering the output of your car both propelled by diesel oil and gasoline.
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Old 24 Sep 2004
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In the countries along the Mediterranean, diesel fuel quality is ok if coming from a fuel station. Re-fuelling from barrels is a different story.
Main problems are:
Dirt - there are filters to be used when re-fuelling on the market.
Water - if not yet in place, replace the standard fuel filter with a type with integrated water separator.
For a longer trip, it may make sense to take some replacement filters with you (changing every 10 000 km).

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Old 25 Sep 2004
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1st , let's exclude the issue of dirt/water/sediments/bacteria! in the fuel (which can be avoided simply by using a filter )

Well , one of the ways to measure the quality of diesel fuel , is in the easyness of igniting (flash-point) under a certain temperature.

Easier-(lower temperature required) means much more complete combustion (diesels polute air mainly by not-fully burning all the fuel inyected 'cos either low-combustion chamber temperature , either low compresion , or low-quality fuel.

In this way , African fuel will for sure burn poorer (hence white-diesel smoke ).Its just a heavier fraction , with higher ignition point , and definitely burn poorer at a given conditions .

Also , there's the issue of Sulfur content , with the new "eco-diesel" , European diesels have cut the sulphur content in diesel almost to zero , while in Africa , diesel has all its sulfur content , which makes kinda lubricant for the fuel (inyection) pump . In this way , older diesels (Land rovers Series , etc..etc. ) will certainly suffer more wear with European fuels than with African ones.
Say that African diesel is much more "heavy" ,and "lubricant" than the new eco-diesel stuff.

There's also the issue of Nitrile ,Neoprene and Viton gaskets in the inside off the fuel pump . In order to cope with the new (European ) more volatile -smaller fractionated- and actually thinner diesel fuels , new rubber matterials are used in the o-rings ,seals ,etc.. of the inyection pumps. These new seals will grow/inflate/soak under old-style african diesels.

If unsure , a good (and illegal) way to test-run the suitability of a given engine to run on 3rd-world diesel is to run it on heating diesel. Heating diesel -blue or red- (Gasoil) is practially the same as what is sold as diesel-fuel in Africa.

Having said that , most old-style diesel vehicles (mechhanical fuel inyectors ,CAV /Bosch style rotodiesels) will run actually better with African fuels than with eco-diesel.

Hava nice day.
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Old 21 Feb 2005
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Hello to all

I read with very attention the messages above and i would like to ask, what kind of problem i can have, if i go to Africa with this heavy gasoil, with a Defender TD5? Do i need extra cautions? What kind of filter you talk?
Thanks very mutch
Carlos Soares
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Old 22 Feb 2005
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Too much sulphur in fuel is not good for the engine oil, and causes the formation of sulphuric acid, this could possibly cause higher than 'normal' wear. A simple way to counter this is to use an oil with a high TBN (total base number) or change with the usual oil more frequently.

A way of countering contaminated fuel is to use a sedimemter to spin out cak and water close to the fuel tank (LR make one), and for diesel that doesn't produce the power (low cetane number)or if using heating oil (!!) - get some cetane booster additive and put it in the fuel at every filling.

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Old 23 Feb 2005
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Originally posted by lrmud:
Hello to all

I read with very attention the messages above and i would like to ask, what kind of problem i can have, if i go to Africa with this heavy gasoil, with a Defender TD5? Do i need extra cautions? What kind of filter you talk?
Thanks very mutch

Our Defender 110 TD5 with only standard LR filters went 65.000 km thru africa with no real problems. The only place we felt the fuel was noticably worse was in Eithiopia where we had lots of smoke and a lot less power than usual when we were in Addis. West and north africa wasn't that bad in our opinion since we (luckliy?) had no difficulties. But we were careful to change filters, engine oil etc a lot more often then we do here at home. The same goes for draining the fuel filter. It may be that this extra attention prevented problems that otherwise might have popped up if neglected.


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Old 23 Feb 2005
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Comparing fuels (diesel) from several "sahara countries" I would only rate as really bad fuel the one in Libya.
It is very cheap but you'll notice a significant loss of power in the car.
Comparing with Libya, diesel from other north african countries is preatty good!

For Morocco, Mauritania and Senegal, just keep away from local jerricans and tanks, fill up in "real" fuel stations and take a new fuel filter from home and you shouldn't have much problems.

Desert Crocodiles of Mauritania: http://cibio.up.pt/crocodilos/en
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