Sudden complete loss of fuel delivery

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Vonkie
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#1 Sudden complete loss of fuel delivery

Post by Vonkie » Fri Apr 27, 2018 1:49 pm

Dear Boffins

This morning I went to fetch a very excited friend to drive 150 miles for breakfast. I was clearly getting too cocky about My Lady's reliability, now that the hot start issue seemed fully and utterly addressed.

Anyway, beautiful drive some 80 miles, and then beautiful drive back some 50 miles. Apart from the odd sense of fuel starvation every very seldom, especially uphill. Nah. "Timing". All great.

Then, on the highway (motorway), after a stint of 80-90 mph for some 5-10 minutes (and 65-80 mph for most of the way before that), sudden clear loss of power felt in 4th gear. Accelerator would not deliver more fuel. Pull over slowly to the left and see if downshift (once the Moss box allowed it) made any difference. No. Power steadily going. Exactly like when one runs out of fuel. By the time I was pulling over into the emergency lane, the fuel was gone and the engine cut out, so I freewheeled the last little bit.

I knew I had at least half a tank of fuel left in her. Open bonnet, see if any pipe to fuel filter leaking or sprung open - no signs of any leaks anywhere. Start: starter turns beautifully, but not a drop of fuel coming through.

About 10-15 minutes of idiotic head scratching later, not having tried her at all, I try again, and she fires nicely. Close everything up, idle is fine, power is fine, another 20 miles or so, with one further occasion of (very slight and momentary) fuel starvation in 4th, but for the rest driving as if nothing had happened. Got home (thank heavens), and on switch-off she "dieseled" quite a bit. Never done that before. Some 2 hours later started her up, and she fired no problem and idled fine, if a tad rough, at about 750 - 800 RPM.

Obviously, the planned 180 mile roundtrip on Sunday would now be unwise, at least in this car.

Going to have her seen to before I can risk another substantial drive. Once before, she had fuel delivery problems (got stuck out in the sticks somewhere and could not get going at all), and she had had her filter bunged up with some silicone from a sealing job, and the wire connections to the fuel pump were a tad ragged, and got replaced.

Bear in mind I have no tools (or knowledge) and simply take her to my guy to get sorted. She is going in on Wednesday. Would much appreciate ideas of the most likely issue (condenser? Ignition timing? Fuel pump?)
Frank
1963 3.8 FHC

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Peter27
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#2 Re: Sudden complete loss of fuel delivery

Post by Peter27 » Fri Apr 27, 2018 2:38 pm

Hi

When you opened the bonnet to check for leaks, how did you verify fuel was not being delivered? That you had a sudden loss of power would tend to point to electrical gremlins but you say no fuel was being delivered when you checked under the bonnet. Problem as described could be the result of a number of things but the first place I would go looking for the problem is with the in-tank fuel pump. If you are sure this is delivering fuel correctly at the filter housing (inlet) then check the filter and the pipe to the carbs. Are you sure the entire system was cleansed of the silicone 'gunk' when you had the earlier problem?
1963 3.8 FHC

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#3 Re: Sudden complete loss of fuel delivery

Post by Heuer » Fri Apr 27, 2018 3:14 pm

Check you have the correct fuel cap. There should be a small hole to allow air in and thus prevent a vacuum forming. If there is no hole or it is blocked the pump will not be able to overcome the vacuum formed. Leaving the car stand awhile allows the vacuum to release and the car will start.
David Jones
S1 OTS OSB; S1 FHC ODB

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#4 Re: Sudden complete loss of fuel delivery

Post by 64etype » Fri Apr 27, 2018 3:49 pm

Dirt in the fuel tank could be accumulating on the fuel "sock' at the end of the pickup tube when the engine is running. Falls away when the suction stops. Begin again when the pumps starts drawing fuel. (Assumes the pump is functioning, of course).
Eric

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#5 Re: Sudden complete loss of fuel delivery

Post by mgcjag » Fri Apr 27, 2018 3:53 pm

Hi Frank....the running on (dieseling) dosent sound good...lots to check out possible causes are low octane fuel, the spark plugs are faulty or the wrong grade, the carbs out of tune, or the ignition timing is faulty. ... Steve
Steve
1969 S2 2+2 & Building a C type replica

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#6 Re: Sudden complete loss of fuel delivery

Post by NickJ » Fri Apr 27, 2018 4:01 pm

Frank
This sounds v familiar! First of all is your fuel pump clattering because of no fuel going through it? If yes remove the pickup pipe from the fuel tank. In my case there was no filter gauze on the end. With a torch take a look into the tank. You may well see a lot of gunge in the bottom. If so drain the tank, remove the sump and clean it out. Also clean out the pump as, with no gauze, you'll get crud in there as well. My problem was paint flakes from the filler neck falling into the tank. With the suction from the pump it would block the bottom of the pickup pipe and so one would draw quietly to the side of the road as the engine cut out. Leave it for a minute or two and the crud would drop down and off you'd go again. Hope it works!
NickJ
Series 1 FHC Shropshire

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Vonkie
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#7 Re: Sudden complete loss of fuel delivery

Post by Vonkie » Fri Apr 27, 2018 4:10 pm

Thanks David:

1. All I meant by "not a drop of fuel coming through" was that the engine would not fire at all - the starter was spinning merrily. Not that I could ascertain anything meaningful from opening the bonnet other than that I could not detect any visible leaks, not around the carbs nor at the fuel filter, nor in the pipes from the filter.

2.Nope, not sure all the gunk was properly removed - although was assured the tank was removed, flushed, new banjo joint fitted (the banjo joint was gunged up), new epoxy primer, new additional filter in tank, renewed connections to fuel pump.

3.Originally the car came with an aftermarket lock-up fuel cap. On the strength of your info on the forum, I insisted on a cap with a vent-hole. Got one (the star shaped variety, that Haddock and Mueller call "fluted", rather than the more correct coin-design one for the 1963 car). It has a visible breathing hole in the exterior of the cap (very similar to the one on photo no. 6 on page 140 of Haddock and Mueller, although off-centre rather than dead centre), which one can peer through quite effectively to see daylight if cap removed and held up to the eye.

There has always been a marked fuel smell about the car. Enter the garage or the car after she has stood for a day or so and one smells fuel.

Presumably you agree it is unwise to embark on a 180 mile drive on Sunday before this mystery is addressed?

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Frank
1963 3.8 FHC

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#8 Re: Sudden complete loss of fuel delivery

Post by Vonkie » Fri Apr 27, 2018 4:18 pm

Thanks guys - did not see the other contributions while I was responding to David's.

Most likely seems a combination of ignition timing and possible gungy thingy (or thingies) intermittently clogging filter. This is particularly likely as the very occasional little swallows tend to occur when going uphill - this syndrome preceded the first fuel bomb-out, and was well addressed by the flush out last time. So maybe this is a recurrence.

Thanks a lot people. Will keep posted.
Frank
1963 3.8 FHC

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chuffer
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#9 Re: Sudden complete loss of fuel delivery

Post by chuffer » Sat Apr 28, 2018 7:05 am

Hi Frank
If “not a drop of fuel coming through” didn’t actually mean that, then presumably it could still be electrical. Like something breaking down when it gets hot. Could be condensor, coil or the dreaded black rotor arm for example.

Ray
S1 FHC 3.8, XK Convertible

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44DHR
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#10 Re: Sudden complete loss of fuel delivery

Post by 44DHR » Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:34 am

Hi Frank,
Just to clarify the point made by Peter at #2, did you open the bulkhead fuel filter glass housing and physically examine the filter inside ?
The point being that the fuel travels through the filter from inside to outside, so although the glass housing will always appear clear to debris on an external visual inspection, the filter could be partially blocked inside. This would permit driving at lower speeds, but as you travel faster the carbs can’t draw enough fuel from the system and the car will cough and splutter with fuel starvation.
Worth a look and replacing the internal filter if it’s history is unknown ?
Regards,
Dave
Dave Rose
1967 Series 1 4.2 FHC

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Vonkie
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#11 Test drives yielded the odd swallow

Post by Vonkie » Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:44 am

Well, I took her out for 2 test drives today, total 20 miles, with my son taking videos of the second one for my guy.

I was trying to induce incidents of fuel swallowing. This means when there is a mild break in the smooth acceleration in 3rd or 4th gear (usually uphill), with an almost imperceptible judder, but not one that makes the car judder violently, nor one that makes a whoo-whoo sound in the acceleration, i.e. not obvious serious fuel delivery problems.

Start up was fine. Idle at first was rough, but when the engine was fully warm, the idle was perfect and smooth. Absolutely no dieseling on switch off this time.

First trip yielded hesitation in 3rd gear while choke was still on 1/4 (before I had driven the first 2 miles), and when choke then put to zero, she smoothed out. A long, slowish (35 mph) trip up a long steep hill in fourth gear was smooth as a baby's bottom. But then there was one incident of hesitation in 4th, and on the second trip one such incident on the long uphill and one further one a little further on. This is mainly a matter of my feeling the engine is not responding smoothly and evenly to the pedal in the way I have got to know her. It is very rare and very slight.

Now. Before my first incident where I lost all fuel out in the sticks (on that occasion, dismantling the pipe in front of fuel filter had no fuel coming through), where, after a flatbed home she started up again at 2 am, and silicone was found in a banjo joint at the fuel filter, and all was flushed out, and connections to fuel pump were improved, she had a syndrome of occasionally juddering uphill in second or third, or even when going straight but very slowly in second. The flushing and cleaning sorted this syndrome completely.

Then, recently, every now and then (very rarely) she would do a little blip swallow somewhere in a drive, and recently when the engine was cold, she would hesitate at first and needed more choke than I was used to before warming up.

On the trip on Friday, on the way to the breakfast joint, she twice hesitated uphill in third or fourth, so that we could both notice it. On the way back, I even remarked that the swallowing syndrome had completely disappeared and the engine was running so smoothly uphill in 4th gear, when the power went (after 137 miles of driving that day). There was no judder, or hesitation, or any such syndrome, just a steady drop in power with accelerator having lost all its effect, until the engine cut out before I even managed to come to a complete stop at the side of the road. First attempt to start her yielded a spinning starter without any engine fire. 10 to 15 minutes later, second attempt fired fully. Thank goodness I did not flood her with several attempts.

So, does the above not support the main hypothesis as some gunk in the tank getting into a suction or filter point just at the right or wrong moment and or angle, and then settling again? It also seems as if ignition timing and carberettor tuning should be attended to.
Frank
1963 3.8 FHC

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#12 No I did not go inside the tank or filter

Post by Vonkie » Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:47 am

Hi Dave, sorry, I posted my long ramble before I saw your post.

I have done zero breaking and entering of any description! I am unfortunately ill equipped in all respects for such endeavours.

:oops:
Frank
1963 3.8 FHC

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#13 Re: Sudden complete loss of fuel delivery

Post by 44DHR » Sun Apr 29, 2018 9:51 am

Frank,
If it is a normal bulkhead mounted fuel filter with a glass bowl, there are no tools required to open the glass bowl.
The glass bowl containing the filter is held in place by a retaining strap which has a large threaded shaped nut which is undone by hand to reduce the pressure on strap around the glass bowl holding it in place in the housing. Very quick and simple to undo and check the internal status of the filter inside. Just try blowing through the filter to see if it is blocked.
Regards,
Dave
Dave Rose
1967 Series 1 4.2 FHC

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#14 checking filter

Post by Vonkie » Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:57 pm

Ok, Thanks Dave - will make some time tomorrow to try. Test drove her again today and she was fine except for

(a) initial hesitation when engine cold (needing to go back to quarter choke as feeling fuel starved at first uphill);
(b) one incident of pronounced "dieseling" on switch off (5 other switch offs were 100% smooth); and
(c) very intermittently suddenly idling rough (mainly idle is fine); and
(d) very occasional very slight little swallow when driving relatively quickly in 3rd or 4th gear

I'll see if I can detect any gunge in fuel filter tomorrow.

Frank
Frank
1963 3.8 FHC

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#15 silicone in fuel line filter

Post by Vonkie » Mon Apr 30, 2018 4:41 pm

Opened the fuel line filter bowl and checked inside. First, the filter is the paper concertina type, not the gauze disc depicted in the manual. There was just the filter unit and a metal spring. The filter had one piece of what looked like hardened silicone on it, and the end of the spring pressing against the filter unit was caked in the stuff. There was also some of it on the end of the filter unit. The washer to the filter unit was also slightly loose and had tiny bits of what looked like sealant coming off its edge.

The bowl itself was pretty clean, apart from having 2 little pieces of the silicone stuff in it, and very slight fine sandy sediment. Removed all the silicone stuff and washed whole in petrol.

Helluva thing getting it back without dribbling petrol on start-up, until I realised the tight spring fit around the outlet tube that comes out of the interior of the vehicle (i.e. does not simply sit loosely between the lip of the tube and the indentation on the filter unit). Now it fits pretty snug (I was worried I would break the glass if I went nuts on it), and does not leak at all - drove her 12 miles.

Some intermittent rough idle (mainly good smooth idle), and two occasions of swallowing fuel in 4th gear accelerating uphill, but for the rest, no problem. No dieseling on switch-off. Presumably the business end of the fuel system should again be thoroughly checked for this gunk and perhaps a new fuel filter in the fuel line filter fitted with a perfect washer.

The one pic shows the piece of silicone stuck to the paper filter and the other pics show that piece (R side of watch) and the other pieces prized from the spring end.

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Frank
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#16 Re: Sudden complete loss of fuel delivery

Post by 44DHR » Mon Apr 30, 2018 5:37 pm

Frank,
Good progress.
Although you have found some silicon debris in the bulkhead filter, it would be the debris that you can’t see as microscopic particles within the filter that would concern me, so as these filters are very cheap I would replace it as a matter of course. Try blowing down the open end of the filter to try to detect the flow from inside to outside, which is the way the fuel would travel.
I’m unsure what carburettors you are running, but often these have individual filters at the inlet points to each carburettor, which if you have found debris which have somehow got past the filter and onto the outside of the filter and around the retaining spring, these debris next stop would be heading for the carbs. Those individual filters are often very small and the slightest debris would affect the carburation, hence they also would need to be checked, or if you don’t have filters on the carbs, the float bowls could need to be checked for debris.
Regards,
Dave
Dave Rose
1967 Series 1 4.2 FHC

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#17 Re: Sudden complete loss of fuel delivery

Post by Heuer » Mon Apr 30, 2018 6:38 pm

As Dave says there are three gauze filters in the SU's which will be worth checking (if you have SU's) and then the gauze filter in the tank. Worth draining the fuel and removing the tank sump to check the filter and clean out any debris.
David Jones
S1 OTS OSB; S1 FHC ODB

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#18 carb float bowls or filters

Post by Vonkie » Tue May 01, 2018 6:57 am

Thanks, will replace the filter, and have the carb filters and float bowls checked, as well as filters at fuel tank and tank itself. Yes, it’s the stock 3 SU carb set.

The last time, there was silicone caught in the banjo joint at the filter on the fuel tank side.

Issue now is - what is the source of the silicone?

Should I take it that -

(a) the occasional fuel starvation feeling I get accelerating uphill in 4th is due to this?

(b) the sudden complete power failure on the highway on Friday was due to this?

(c) the 2 dieseling incidents and intermittent rough idle experienced over the last 4 days have nothing to do with this and are probably due to ignition timing?

Thanks for all the help guys!
Frank
1963 3.8 FHC

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#19 Re: Sudden complete loss of fuel delivery

Post by 44DHR » Tue May 01, 2018 9:10 am

Hi Frank,
I was going to ask you the same question as you had stated at your first posting #1 that you had initially had a “filter bunged up with some silicone from a sealing job”.
My first thoughts would be that someone used silicon around the top of the petrol tank opening where your fuel pump is located under on the early 3.8 E types and used silicon to seal the gasket surface. Perhaps some excess then dropped into the tank and made its way through the system.
With regard to this being the sole source of your problems at a) and b), it would certainly make itself felt at higher revs such as in 4th on sustained long runs as any restriction on the fuel supply would cause fuel starvation to the carburettors. As you slowed and returned to lower revs, the fuel delivery would “catch up” and replenish and maintain the correct levels in the carburettor float bowls.
A rough idle at issue c) could be caused by individual fuel bowls being blocked at their internal filters, which would be more noticeable at low idling revs.
The only solution is as you stated, as having now found silicon debris, get the rest of the fuel system checked and cleaned out.
Regards,
Dave
Dave Rose
1967 Series 1 4.2 FHC

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#20 little culprits

Post by Vonkie » Tue May 01, 2018 12:46 pm

The little pinprick bits at the bottom of the bowl must be the smaller particles the cousins of which are messing around the carbs.

And the brownish sandy residue seems pretty harmless?

40 miles today. Fuel hesitation at top of 3rd and accelerating in 4th returning, albeit very intermittently, a bit more often, becoming rarer as the engine heats up.

Tomorrow she will go back to the clinic with some patient informed consent!

Thanks - will update.

In the meantime, her hot start and cold start (leaving c-tek off overnight) are now so reliable that, once the fuel delivery issue is addressed, overnights after long drives seem very much on the cards.

With all this fuel stuff, she is still doing well on economy. I had zeroed the trip meter when she was last brimful, and then noticed she had done 200 miles, despite showing between 1/4 and 1/2 tank. A bit nervous, I went to add 40 litres, but only 39,7 fit in - brimful again. So, she did 203 miles on 39,7 litres. That's 23,2 miles per gallon. Yes, most of it at 70-80 mph, but still. I had also lost some fuel dribbling out of the filter for the two attempts while I was too idiotic to affix it back properly. I use 95 (we don't have higher, but we are at 1600m above sea level!) and religiously add Valvemaster (some laugh at me for this).

By the way, the images still tend to duplicate - and I always have to delete one.

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Frank
1963 3.8 FHC

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