66. Fuel me once, shame on you! Fuel me twice, shame on me! Fuel me thrice and I’m an idiot!

on

It seems I’m cursed when it comes to high pressure fuel pumps.

The FiTech integrated surge tank/HP pump assembly I received broke before I even got the chance to start it up!  I had just completed plumbing the new fuel system – which was a task in itself (these hoses and fittings aren’t cheap so I tried to reuse as much as I could) – when I went to install the first of 2 electrical leads to the new pump.  As I began running the nut down to secure my first wire the nut and binding post BROKE OFF in my fingers.  Yes, the binding post literally snapped under thumb pressure.  I suspect someone at the factory had used too much torque when running the nut down before it left their doors and that had created a small crack/stress point in the post.  Compounding the issue is it’s clear that these posts are cast brass (or something that looks like brass) then machined to final dimensions.  The fracture surface looks pretty ugly, I’m not sure what to think when it comes to the quality of these binding posts.  In any case, thankfully I had sourced this unit through Jegs Performance and they were quick to send me out a replacement while I work with them to get the original returned.

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New surge tank going in – looks sexy doesn’t it?!  My closeout panel got a little Swiss cheesed in the process, oh well.
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WTF.  Horrible looking casting porosity at the fracture surface.
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The included washer and lead are barely thick enough – this places the highest stress point at the last thread.  This binding post design gets a 2/10.

After a few days the new surge tank arrived and guess what?  When I removed the nut from that same binding post the washer had been squeezed so hard that it had deformed enough to grip the nut!  So yeah – FiTech, if you’re reading this – you really ought to take a look at your End of Line processing to ensure you’re not putting bad product out into the field.  The binding posts on my replacement unit look OK but my fingers are crossed that there isn’t some residual stress or micro-fracture that’s going to lead to post failure down the road.  The FiTech hardware has a 1-year warranty, I hope I’ll never have to use it.  Convincing them that the binding post didn’t fail because I overtorqued it would also likely be an uphill battle.

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Washer has deformed itself onto the nut!
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Lock washers to push the stress concentration to somewhere north of the last thread.  The lock washers will also allow me to not torque down too hard on the nuts – I don’t want to put any more load on these posts than I have to!  I’ll follow up with some torque stripe paint so I can visually see if they back off.  For such a critical electrical connection it’s crazy to think FiTech would go so cheap on their post design.

I generally dislike lock washers (I don’t think they’re all that effective) but in this case, I opted to install an additional lock washer between my terminals and their respective nuts.  I didn’t go much over finger-tight on the nuts and I’ve torque striped them so I can keep an eye for them backing out.  It’s pretty nutty to have to treat this hardware so gingerly because having a strong electrical connection is critical to ensuring you don’t get intermittent contact loss.  Nutty.

So I spent a few hours getting everything installed and wired up.  I also decided to add some additional relays to take the load off my ECU – the fuel pump wire coming from my ECU now only serves as a signal wire which trips 2 relays; each running power to their respective pumps and both fused and fed with their own electrical wires.  Previously I had used the wire coming from the ECU as the primary power source for both pumps, splitting them off and fusing just a few inches before the pumps.  At one point during my fuel pump troubleshooting I had felt the fuel pump relay (inside the fuse box) and it was toasty to the touch.  This should keep that circuit running at low load.

Pumps and filters secured – CHECK
Lines plumbed – CHECK
Electrical routed – CHECK

Time to start it up! – not so fast … 😦

I primed the fuel system by cycling power a few times so the pumps could run between power reboots but my fuel pressure gauge indicated it was not holding pressure.  After each priming cycle pressure would build to 60 psi but then drop off once the pumps powered down.  The LS motors need 60 psi at the rail during cranking to start the motor, otherwise the chambers aren’t getting enough fuel to start the engine.

This one had me going in circles for a while until I figured out that the Bosch 044 pump must have some type of built-in check valve to retain positive pressure in the system after shutting down.

Unfortunately the local hose & fittings shop doesn’t carry check valves so it was off to Amazon to find something.

I found this unit made by Vibrant Performance.

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Junk.  Don’t buy it.

It was DOA.  I installed it into my fuel system and it couldn’t even hold 1 psi.  I figured I must have gotten a faulty unit (of course, that’s just my luck!) so I opened the case and found the wimpiest, most worthless check valve in the history of check valves.  The “check” was a rubber gasket cut into a circular disk with about 20% of it un-cut so it created a flap that would blow open in one direction.  Flow going in the other direction woul push the rubber flap against a smaller diameter hole – but the rubber flap doesn’t create a positive seal and pressure just leaks right by.  Basically it’s a garbage design.  I reassembled the valve and I could blow through in both directions as I would a straw.  Amazon’s getting a return request on this one!

Getting desperate now – I needed to get a check ASAP so I could bring the car to an upcoming event – I scoured Amazon for another Prime eligible check valve; hey, I’m cheap and didn’t want to pay the $40 shipping charge from Jegs/Summit!

OK, last ditch effort, there’s another valve that seems to be positively rated but I’m pretty darn sure this is a “Made in China” special – note, I don’t have any moral (or other) issue purchasing stuff made in China, but I’d already been burned by multiple poor quality issues with this fuel system and was reluctant to jump into the pool for another soaking.  Anyway, this valve would be here in time for when I needed it and if worse came to worst, I had an idea on how I could jury rig the car’s fuel system to start despite not having a check valve.

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No-name Amazon check valve!
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It’s got a metal-backed seal and spring loaded.  Already I can tell this thing is a billion times better than the Vibrant Performance unit.  I can’t blow through it in the opposite direction, a good sign!

New valve has arrived, I installed it and it’s not holding pressure.  Hmm… something is up.  I eventually figured out what was happening and got the car to a point where I could at least start the car up and drive it around the block – little victories!  (More details on everything I did to get the car going in my next post!).

For the sake of Science, I purchased ANOTHER knock-off pump from eBay.  Yes, that makes 3 counterfeit pumps I’ve now purchased – what am I thinking?  I was getting desperate about needing to make the upcoming car show so I figured if all else fails, I can revert back to my original fuel system and use this third knock-off pump – it should have enough life to get me to the show and back.  Thankfully I was able to get the new system working before having to resort to going back to square one!

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It’s trying really hard to look like the real thing!  But I know without doubt this is an imposter!

I made a YouTube video going over my knock-off Bosch 044 pumps, comparing them to photos I was able to find of genuine units.  I also go over the new fuel system design in detail.  Click on if you’re interested in seeing more!

Fixing my broken fuel system – YouTube link

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