Fuel Systems & Fuel Line Safety

Over the years I have bought & sold more than 40 different Things. After I get the little beauties home, and in the course of checking them out closely, I invariably find two prevalent problems:

  1. The wiring behind the dash panels looks like there is 6,000 feet of 12 different colored wires that every previous owner contributed to for radios, CD players, shortwave radios, GPS, chargers, converters, arc welders, as well as numerous lights, lap tops, and accessories.
  1. The cloth-covered gas line coming from the stem pipe under the rear of the car going into the engine compartment to the fuel pump is usually run through the rear tin without a grommet or steel line, or both.

So, fuel line safety is the subject for this article, because I am saving the wiring subject for a later article, along with the fact I hate wiring.

I have taken out more than one line that was worn through and leaking because of the sharp edge of the rear tin. When the car came from the factory, this was a steel line. But I have only had maybe five cars with this line intact when I purchased them.

The Thing can show up with some downright strange configurations installed by some previous owner. I had one with a sharp hole in the rear tin wearing on the gas line and this my friend, is heading towards a hazardous situation called fire. It was an easy fix, and I will explain it here so you can do it yourself, if you find your Thing in this condition.

  • Cut a 3 to 4-inch piece of steel gas line.
  • Now take some rubber gas line, and cut two pieces about ¾ of an inch long and split them down the middle. This can be 3/8-rubber line found at any O’Reilly’s or NAPA store, and it’s slightly larger than the hole in the rear tin.
  • Put the rubber hose over the steel line and put it through the rear tin and then slide the other rubber line on from the opposite side.
  • Clamp them both with the two pieces of rubber slid up against the tin as snug as you can get them.

Now you can put the fuel carrying gas line on each end, and have the protection of steel going through the rear tin and thus making a safer configuration. Obviously, if you have the steel line available to go back through the tin, like the factory set-up, this is preferable. I just don’t seem to have a 1-foot long piece around when I need it.

I use clamps on all fuel connections – period. That means under the gas tank, as well as where the fuel line connects coming out of the frame horn in front of the engine by the left rear wheel. Do the connections in the engine compartment also.

Check the fuel strainer in the tank every so often because this is where the reserve sump is, and it also collects junk and water. Check it by removing your gas gauge sending unit from the tank, and looking inside. Do this when you are low on fuel, and keep flames, sparks, heat, and stupidity away from the gas tank.

The location of the clear plastic fuel filter can be important also. I have found if you place it on the driver’s side of the air intake vents in the engine compartment, the fuel will stay cooler. This is because it is in the incoming air stream. Never locate the fuel filter up under the front of the engine. This puts it in harm’s way for rocks, sticks, and general road debris, as well as additional heat coming from the oil cooler outlet. Some parts houses offer glass inline filters, but I don’t recommend using them. I’ve seen them break, with bad results.

Keep the gasoline filter inside the engine compartment. With more and more ethanol being added to the fuel these days, heat is a real problem. Ethanol raises the octane, but lowers the boiling point of the fuel. Not good on the Idaho high desert at 70mph and 105 degrees!


– Mike Humeston