To deal with movement between...
To deal with movement between components flex lines are necessary in any fuel system, this is generally done with standard “rubber” or braided hose. For a number of years the additives in fuel have created problems in the fuel hose, but they were nothing compared to the issues with ethanol. In most cases ethanol lowers fuel mileage, it corrodes metal parts, causes rubber and plastic parts to deteriorate, absorbs water and shortens storage life. The best way to protect your street rod’s fuel system is to use rigid stainless steel fuel line, stainless clamps and fittings, keep the flex line to a minimum, and use hose that is specifically for ethanol.
I have a ’39 Ford with a 350 Chevy, and I had planned on using fuel injection, so I installed a stainless tank and an electric fuel pump. To get my project on the road more quickly I installed a four-barrel carb and a bypass regulator.
The car ran well for a month and then I noticed a strong fuel odor when it sat in the garage after use. I rechecked the float settings, and all hose connections and found no problems. At this point I should mention that the feed line is braided stainless AN-6, and the return line is braided stainless AN-8. They were purchased from a well-known supplier, and it is also a very well-known brand.
A week ago when I pulled the car out of the garage my wife saw fuel pouring from under the car by the rear wheel. I cleaned up the mess, regained my composure (it scared the h--- out of me), and pushed the car back into the garage. Based on where the fuel leaked from I removed the fuel line from the tank to the filter and tested it for leaks. To my surprise, about 30 inches in the center of this 8-foot line leaked like sieve. There was no physical damage to the hose so I cut it where the leak showed up and found the rubber lining had a long crack in it causing the leak.
My wife and I ran a Jr. Fuel car for about 10 years on methanol and never had a bit if trouble with the braided stainless line. The only fuel sold in New Jersey is E85, and I was wondering if the ethanol in my fuel is causing a problem? I use a fuel stabilizer that is recommended to combat the effects of E85, but should I use a different type of fuel line?
According to our latest information there are currently no gas stations in New Jersey dispensing E85. Although New Jersey is one of the states not requiring pumps to be labeled showing the percentage of ethanol in the gasoline dispensed, E10 or E15 is most likely what you’ve been getting. To find out exactly how much ethanol is in the gas you’re using, purchase one of the inexpensive ethanol test kits on the market. They can be found at parts stores and on the Internet.
While the fuel in question may have less ethanol than you thought, that doesn’t mean it’s not the source of this problem. To get an expert’s opinion on this issue we went to the guys who know everything there is to know about fuel systems, the team at Aeromotive. Here’s what technician Brett Clow had to say:
E85 is 85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline. This is a fuel that is considered an alternative to gasoline, and can only be run in vehicles that are either specifically tuned for E85 or have a “flex fuel” moniker from the manufacturer indicating they have built-in sensors and fuel calibrations to allow them to be run on standard gasoline or E85, or some mixture thereof.
E15 is typically standard gasoline, that is 85 percent gasoline and 15 percent ethanol, and may be what you are thinking of when you say it is the only fuel sold in New Jersey, as the EPA is now mandating in certain areas that pump gas have a minimum 15 percent ethanol content.
Regardless, the question of fuel line compatibility with ethanol is a good one, and in fact the issue with permeation or vapor-walk, where fuel vapors can be found to literally walk through the fuel line, is a problem with pump gas/ethanol blends as well as E85.
Over time, alcohol-based fuels tend to extract the oils from a rubber composition, which can cause the line to harden and then become porous. Eventually, the fuel line material that is left can crumble or break down and shed, clogging filters and compromising the line, creating a potential leak path for the fuel to pass through the wall of the line.
Although various materials are available for smaller OEM-style fuel lines, when it comes to finding larger, high-flow performance fuel lines, the best and safest material (especially for use with fuels that are alcohol based, or have a high alcohol content) are lines constructed of PTFE, or what is sometimes referred to as Teflon-based line (trademark/reserved). This material is impervious to alcohol, and is available from various, reputable hose manufacturers. It can be found in the common AN-06 to AN-10 sizes and with a stainless exterior braid for abrasion resistance and with a black outer sleeve for cosmetic purpose mainly.
There are several important things to know about selecting and installing PTFE hose:
One, PTFE hose for use in fuel systems should have a carbonized or conductive core to minimize static electricity building in the line, which could cause perforation of the liner, creating a potential leak path.
Two, PTFE hose requires the use of special hose ends, so you won’t be able to reuse hose ends that were installed on rubber braided fuel hose.
Three, PTFE hose may have a somewhat reduced bend radius compared to rubber composite hose, and if overbent may kink, damaging it.
Four, PTFE has superior service life, being virtually unaffected by the fuel flowing through it, but this type of hose is more costly than any other type, so once again, “You get what you pay for!”
There are several companies that offer a good quality, carbonized hose and a reasonable selection of the appropriate hose ends. AN sizes for the hose are still somewhat limited, especially if larger than AN-10 is required, but that should be changing as the awareness of, and demand for this type of product continue to grow. Aeromotive will be bringing out a line of carbonized PTFE hose and the appropriate hose ends in the near future.
Balancing Act and the Rest of the Story
Any sort of communication from a law firm ranks second only to the IRS on the list of those we would just as soon not hear from. Recently we were advised that a law firm objected to a portion of a story we did in the Apr. ’12 issue of STREET RODDER, called “Balancing Act”, in which we installed tire-balancing beads from Counteract.
To gather information we contacted the manufacturer in Canada and a U.S. distributor who supplied the product and additional information. In that story we said in part: “Made from recycled tempered glass that has been given a non-stick coating to keep them from clumping together, once the beads move into position, static electricity keeps them there, according to the manufacturer.” It was that statement that prompted the letter from an attorney to them.
The correspondence from Counteract went on to read: “Please see attached a letter we have just received from a lawyer representing one of our competitors in the United States. They are requesting you retract ‘any and all statements stating or inferring that the CBB operating by virtue of static cling or otherwise will remain arranged along the interior surface of the tire in a balancing arrangement after tire rotation has ceased.’” To honor that request we retract the statement that static electricity keeps the Counteract beads in place.
We certainly didn’t intend to misrepresent the product or mislead our readers, but now with apologies to the late Paul Harvey, here’s the rest of the story. Approximately three months after the issue with the Counteract piece hit the newsstands one of the tires containing the beads was punctured and was damaged badly enough that it couldn’t be repaired. We decided to bite the bullet and replace all the tires as they were well worn. We hung around the shop as one of the original tires was removed from the wheel. We will simply say only a small portion of the beads appeared to be loose at the lowest point of the tire. We can’t say why the rest of the beads appeared to adhere to the interior of the tire.