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Monday, June 27, 2011

Installing a Fuel Surge Tank on an Elise

Well, it's a pain if, like me, you're not mechanically inclined. Although, installing in itself isn't really the problem, it's more about removing stuff that's tough.

The FST I chose is made by Radium (Radium is actually an element in the periodic table), and it looks like this:

Very pretty design.
Anyway, it comes with a bunch more stuff, likes hoses and wires for controlling the pump that's inside.

What does a FST do will you ask? In short, it's to prevent fuel starvation. The problem is that the fuel tank on the Elise/Exige as a crappy design in the sense that the fuel pickup is on the left hand side so, when turning left, hard, if the tank isn't 3/4 full, the fuel shifts on the right side and therefore, the fuel pump sucks air instead of gasoline, which as you might expect really isn't that good because air + air doesn't really detonate that well.

So, the FST basically acts as a 'proxy' so to speak. It contains a reserve of about 1Qt and when the stock fuel pump is sucking air, the FST can still provide gas to the engine for a short amount of time.

My troubles started at step 1...
I had to disconnect the stock fuel line so, I bought a tool at the auto shop. Problem is that I bought somewhat of a generic tool and of course, the Lotus won't accept that. Ended up going online and buy the proper tool:
Now, that worked a whole lot better. This tiny little thing is designed for Toyota and some other brand I can't recall. $13 and it works very well. Although, I had to unscrew the fuel rail because the line is too close to the engine block and the wider part of the tool was too big and would not fit. Ugh.

Step 2, I had to take out the filler hose. That took me a couple of hours.
I forgot to mention that I had to get the AC removed in order to be able to install the FST. I didn't use it and it's pretty crappy anyway, so I got rid of it and its 50 some lbs.

Back to the darn hose. Taking it out took a while because it was hard to push it down towards the tank, just to be able to bend it enough to remove it from the filler neck (where you insert the fuel nozzle). I lost a nut in the overflow hose too. Ugh (and it never came out, R.I.P).

Finally, I got it out and I had to cut about 1" off it to insert some gizmo that does something that escapes me. Putting it back in was a bit easier as I put a tiny bit of grease on the inside perimeter of the hose, so that it would slide onto the aluminum pipes easily. Then, I had to tighten the metal collars and that was no sinecure either. Ugh.

Step 3. Started in the morning around 11AM. I connected one hose that goes to the aforementioned gizmo. Wasn't too bad. Then I had to remove the under panels (diffuser and under tray) because that's the only way to connect the power cable that will feed the FST. Plugged the cable in the FST and re-routed it until the little black box, next to the ECU.

It was a pain to open the plastic box but I got it figured out and I connected the cable. I also screwed the fuse assembly and the other little box on the FST holder, which was simple enough.

I had then to remove the seats, the black plastic thing behind them and the foam. Annoying but it didn't take all that long and I took advantage of that to get rid of the grills that cover the speakers (they vibrate, which is irritating).

Connected the white jumpers and put the remaining connector through the little hole.
I had then to cut the fuel line, which was surprisingly easy and then connect it to the hose that I ran by the firewall, on the back of the car. When I pulled that hose, I also pulled the other hose that connects to the fuel rail, and then I connected them both.

I checked for loose stuff and didn't see any, so I primed the FST and started the car. Initially, everything looked fine but when I looked at the FST, one fitting was not tight enough and gas was leaking out. I tightened it a bit and when it seemed alright, I started the car again.

So far, nothing to report. I still have to put everything back (foam, plastic panel, seats, wheels, etc) but that's relatively easy. It will have taken me about 4-5 hours to do everything basically, and I work very slowly.

I'll run some more leak tests during the week and hopefully, I'll be good to go by next week-end!