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Letter Re: Notes on Fuel Transfer Pumps and Fuel Filters

Jim,
Your info on using electric fuel pumps from junked cars [1] (also included in your new book) was great. Here’s a twist you may not have considered: Use the pumps from GM vehicles. They are essentially submersible gasoline pumps. Rig one with wires and connector and discharge hose. The pumps are about the size of 2 D-cell batteries–so they can fit fit down barrel bungs, underground tank fillers, holes in most 5 gallon buckets. They are designed to operate the fuel system around 30 PSI on most gm cars (pressure limited by relief valve in injection system) so they can lift fuel a considerable distance. If you have an acquaintance at a garage you can come up with used functional pumps for free. They occasionally get replaced because they become noisy. Sometimes the brushes get short and they become intermittent and require a thump to start.

If the pump comes with a filter “sock” I’d keep it. These pumps have small clearances. Make sure the pump is completely immersed in fuel before starting and try to avoid pumping from the absolute bottom of the tank. Also, most fuel injected vehicles have a pressure test port on the injection fuel rail (gasoline vehicles)–almost always in the form of a tire valve or a 1/4 flare Schrader valve (the older refrigeration hose connection). After the Hurricane Katrina evacuation disaster we used this expedient to provide fuel for relatives returning home from a filled up vehicle we didn’t need to use for a few days. Always connect the hose then start the vehicle. Expect some residual pressure in the fuel system when connecting with the attendant squirt of gas.

Whenever transferring fuel keep a fire extinguisher handy, have someone sitting in the “donor” vehicle ready to shut it off in case of trouble. Connect the two chassis together with a jumper cable to the bumpers, to prevent static buildup. Transferring fuel via a non-conductive hose can build up a very high static charge. Use common sense.

If circumstances require using reclaimed, substitute or home made fuels consider using a Wix 33006 filter. It is the primary fuel strainer used on 123 chassis Mercedes diesels. It is about the size and shape of a C-cell battery with a straight hose barb on one end and a right angle barb on the other. The beauty of this filter is it is a strainer rather than a paper filter element. It is see-through plastic and can be back flushed with a little gasoline. Consider putting one of these upstream (suction side) of any spin on diesel fuel filter. With “iffy” fuel it can be flushed several times thus extending the life of throw-away filters. It is also a good filter to install on a small transfer pump, siphon hose etc. It’s clear construction gives you a window into the fuel system. It can give you early warning and the ability to deal with bad fuel, fungus, etc in a more intelligent manner. On gasoline engines, the old bronze element, glass bowl filters are awfully hard to beat, and still available. – TiredTubes