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Hot Rod Power Tour! A Red Dirt Roadtrip

OK, the original plan was to do the long haul in Buttered Toast, our twin-turbo Buick wagon, but after thrashing hard for 2 weeks to get the details handled, it became obvious that it just wouldn’t be a good idea to try to run the car without any kind of real road test. So we decided to make a portion of the tour in the ’71 Buick GS convertible, but it too needed some details handled. We spent a week replacing header gaskets, installing new carpet and door panels, mounting the power window switches, FINALLY routing the exhaust tips through the bumper, and installing a little bit of a stereo system. We got it done in the nick of time. Or so we thought.

Day 4, which is in St. Louis, is where we were planning on the meeting up with the tour. STL is about 7-8 hours from my house, so we hopped in at 10am and headed out. We made it to Miami, Ok (150 miles) and stopped for gas. That is when the problems began. The engine died on the way to get gas, but it still had a 1/4 tank. We started to go get a gas can, and then I reconsidered and went back to the car. It fired right up. Weird. We hit the gas station, filled up the tank and then I managed to overfill the damn thing, it started puking fuel out of the vent. We purged a little fuel and got back on the road. Within 10 minutes, a fellow highwayman flagged us down, saying we were leaking gas. I pull over to find fuel pouring out of the gas cap. Apparently, we trapped an air pocket in the tank. Had to dump about 3 gallons of the precious go-juice on the asphalt as 100,000 pound big rigs blasted past at 80 miles per hour. Here is the wierdest part- when we cycled the fuel pump on, it started purging fuel from the filler neck. I have never seen that before, apparently it can happen when there is a trapped air bubble. We get back in and start driving. 15 minutes later, the AFR (Air Fuel Ratio) meter on the Holley HP EFI control screen pegs lean and we lose all power. Crap.

I pull over and call Aeromotive. Even though the pump in the GS in not an Aeromotive pump (we did bring an A1000 as a back up), they helped out with some diagnostic advice. What we discover along the way is that the fuel is getting too hot, boiling in the pump and causing cavitation (no fuel, just air). Cavitating a pump will kill it quickly. I have written about this very fact  in every single fuel pump story I have ever written, in fact I just wrote one for Fastest Street Car Magazine last week. I have experienced flow-induced cavitation, but this was a new one for me. In the end, we were able to drive for 20 miles, the pump would overheat, let it cool, then drive 20 more minutes. We tried several things along the way, like replacing some filters, etc, but to no avail. In the end, the fuel pump had to be replaced. The biggest problem is that the A1000 requires a much bigger feed line than what we had available, so we searched for a parts store in Springfield, MO that had a high-pressure inline externally-mounted electric pump, technically, off an ’85 Ford F150 with a 302. We found one, bought it and installed it. Once that was done, it was relatively smooth sailing for the next 200 miles to St. Louis.


Our lunch stop at Lambert’s (home of throwed rolls) in Ozark, MO became dinner. It was fun, I have some video that will be uploaded soon. We woke up this morning in STL ready to meet up with the Power Tour. More adventures await!


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