Operation IDIocracy: So the Heavy Thing is Done… Now What? Finishing the Fuel System, Transmission Linkage

The one million side quests of Vantruck continues! I definitely faced an artists’ conundrum here these couple of weeks. The fun challenge of stuffing the engine in and the custom engine mount was over. Now I was facing all the drudgery of actually finishing the damn thing. Typical project vehicle stuff, if I am led to believe.

Really, after the city left me and ol’ landy alone, the “pressure” was a little off but I still used it as rage-motivation to crank through all of these tasks, all the while starting preparations for what eventually became buying the New Robot Trap House. So here’s a tour of everything that went down after the fuel tank was mated and the transmission could conceivably one day drive the wheels.

Transmission Shifter Linkage

One of my mistakes with Snekvan was when I sent it off to the methy scrap man, I forgot to take out the transmission shifter linkage and bracket. I probably just forgot, or assumed it was the same as the C6 transmission. Well, this wasn’t the case.

While the C6 bracket from Vantruck did “fit”, the E4OD’s linkage pivot is in a very slightly different place.

Enough to make it very annoying for me to look at, but not enough to affect the functionality. This photo also made it look way worse for some reason because of perspective. The plastic bushings have enough slop in them to be self-aligning, and the linkage itself floats enough that it can accommodate.

The more important piece I was missing from Snekvan was the connecting link between the shifter crank and the transmission. Luckily, this was simple enough to just bash out.

I measured the center distance between the two cranks in the Park position and synthesized a link from two rod end bearings/Heim bearings I had in my random mechanical detritus bucket. The bar in the middle is a 1/2″ regular steel rod from the hardware store that I cut threads into.

The joints are just 1/2″ bolts. This thing is very very simple in principle. The rod ends are not the best long-term choice, because they are not sealed or booted, but they are fine for now. I tightened everything together and managed to accidentally pop Vantruck out of Park while playing with the shifter handle.

Oh, sorry. I mean, after the paint dried. You know…

Fuel System This n’ That

I’m basically replicating the fuel system I put together for Spool Bus a short handful of years ago, with some refinements. It’s modeled off the thing a lot of people do to the IDI van chassis, namely relocating the fuel filter head to the chassis instead of inside the engine cave, and adding an electric lift pump to help with priming and fuel flow. Since I already removed the mechanical diaphragm pump from the engine during the building, I have no choice here!

I started with a generic fuel filter head that was modeled after the OEM type for the F-series. In this application, they bolt onto a bracket which is bolted to the engine. I’ll just be mounting it to the frame instead.

Now with fittings! The large hole is where an OEM fuel heating element sits. I won’t be using that (maybe I should…) so a common thing people do is run a 1/2″ NPT pipe tap through it and seal it with a plug. Outlets that I’m not using were also closed off with 1/2″ and 1/4″ NPT pipe plugs.

I drilled two holes towards the upper part of the frame rail, similar to where Spool Bus had its filter mounted. The filter shown was one I stole off Econocrane when I replaced it after its reboot. It seemed fine, so I decided to start with it for now. The filter is big enough in diameter that I decided to stand the filter head off from the frame (see the two nuts between it and the frame rail) so I can at least get a strap wrench around it or something later.

On the other side, mounted using one pre-existing hole and one drilled hole, sits the new fuel pump. This is a Facet 40313, one of their most powerful ones. Econocrane benefitted from the motorized pump, and Vantruck may some day in the future as well, but for now this will get the job done.

It’s way quieter and less power-hungry than the motorized external fuel pumps too, and I’d almost rather just put two of them side-by-side if needed later.

I created a second “Dongle of Diesel Distribution” using much the same fittings I made the first one with.

This thing will sit over the left valve cover or thereabouts, acting as the highest point in the fuel system. The solenoid valve will let me purge the feed line into the return system to perform burping of the fuel system such as after a filter change or servicing. The bottom-most fitting runs with a short flexible line to the injection pump to minimize the volume of fuel or air sitting around in there.

I modeled up a Fullmetal Diesel Snail to be whipped out of folded 1/8″ steel strips. This was just hand-cut using my heavily re-geared Craftsman bandsaw, which now rips up to 1/4″ steel without much effort.

Finished Fullmetal Diesel Snail. I actually don’t own a sheet metal brake or multi-tool, but have gotten quite creative with vise grips, clamps, and lever arms.

Editor’s Note: A reasonably-sized combo sheet metal implement is high on my list of New Robot Trap House tools, as are more tubing fabrication tools.

The new Dongle of Diesel Distribution is now mounted and connected.

On the other end, I’ve hooked the sump up as well. All feed hoses are 3/8″ low-pressure petroleum-rated hose, and return is 5/16″.

I made these little miniature snap-in brackets in order to keep the lines roughly parallel. They feature a mounting hole if I choose to zip it to something, which I did:

The fuel line enters the engine via the transmission cutout and is secured to the body roughly underneath here.

Fuel Filler Hose Shenanigans

One of the annoying but necessary to tackle issues is the fuel filler neck. On Vantruck, it’s been rotting out and leaking ever since I got the thing. It was also apparently a bodge job by Centurion to get the van fuel tank fitment to route to the Ford dually fender fuel doors. Fill hoses are usually bespoke OEM-only parts that are fit to a specific vehicle model. So I had to now somehow replicate this using the parts I pulled from everyone, and what I can synthesize from generic COTS parts.

The first step was knocking all of the old hoses off the metal necks, and this was an exercise. They were so old and stiff it was basically like bending plastic. There was no way I was going to re-use any of these hoses.

So I ordered some generic 2″ fuel hose elbows (not coolant/heater hose. Don’t swap these two, because the rubber used is different despite both being nondescript black boingy tubes) and found one that gave me roughly the exit angle I needed from the tank.

While the angle was close enough to bend slightly, the length wasn’t sufficient.

To bridge the gap, I cut a chunk out of a second hose I had. I then made an extension/coupling nipple using a chunk of the old metal fill pipe and a tubing bead roller I bought around this time in anticipation of making more intake parts:

Basically, I was pricing out how many couplers I might need for the intake and decided it was far better to invest in one of these so I could make as many big hose couplers I wanted out of crappy used exhaust pipe instead of cute shiny aluminum tubing. Its first real use was making this fuel fill hose coupler!

All hooked up! This should be enough to remind me… right?

Next up: The big final boss battle I had signed myself up for. While all of this was going on, I was studying the blade and designing up the L.E.W.D: Legacy Electrical Wiring Distribution.

This will be an attempt to make a near-OEM quality integration of the custom wiring I needed to make to interface the E4OD to a pre-ECU chassis, because I don’t tolerate spaghetti “iDk eLeCtRicItY” wiring.