7.3 fuel leak...solved

Bikersmurf

Expedition Leader
I've been chasing leaks on my '96 7.3, just had the HPOP oil reservoir off which was leaking from it's base.

As bikersmurf said, Dog house, air cleaner, air intake hoses, turbo heat shield, intake resonance box... then it’s a major pain to reach it all blind. You really need as much room as you can get from both the radiator side and doghouse sides as you can get. remove the passenger seat, 4 bolts. I wound up disconnecting the electrical junction and bugee cording the harness aside, bungee cording the upper radiator hose aside as well to give myself more room. Removing serpentine belt and alternator requires a tool I rented from O'Rielly's (15mm socket on a long flat bar to take tension off the tensioner). Once the belt is off, the alternator is just three bolts, the positive cable, and a connector, worth it to get a little more room IMO. A 3" inspection mirror and a couple well placed lights are your friend, as is a magnet on a an extension if you drop a bolt, and a step stool. Deep breathing and decaf coffee.

As I look at it, I see why a lot of the truck guys move the fuel filter bowl out of the valley completely and down to the frame rail, which eliminates 5-6 possible leak paths, and makes a 7.3 van filter change a snap, vs removing the air intake system and heat shied.

I did my trans cooler lines 2yrs ago, I removed the grill and radiator, replaced all the rubber hoses and the OEM 20yr old radiator while I was at it, one of the tank seals was weeping. The radiator hoses too "while I was in there".

Good luck!
With the ambulance package on a ‘97, removing the single 32 lb alternator is a job on its own. So I’ve not removed it to access other things. It’ll come out without removing the A/C and heater lines... but just barely. It’s not as simple as removing a normal alternator.

I’ve never needed a special tool to remove tension from the serpentine belt... I usually slip the box end of a second wrench over the open end of the first to double up the leverage. I think the last time I did the same trick with a 3/8” ratchet and a box end wrench. I mention this in case someone has to replace a belt late some night in the middle of nowhere... cause it’ll never fail in your driveway. :D
 

KlutchInd

Member
Well I freed up some time and made a little more progress. Got the serpentine belt off. 15mm socket with a cheater pipe and I was able to move the tensioner. Then went after the alternator. Damn that does not come out easy. Just like you said Smurf, it barely comes out. Not looking forward to putting it back. That gave me clear access to the fuel line on the passenger side.

The driver side is a different story. I was able to move enough wiring out of the way to follow the hose to the head and it's jammed in there. So I went and removed the ac condenser which wasn't bad actually. Unfortunately the end of the hose is still jammed down behind there. Not sure if I can get a wrench in there. Tom were you able to get on that without moving (not sure what that is) the next big ass thing? I thought maaaybe I could get a wrench in there if I moved the radiator hose.
 

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Bikersmurf

Expedition Leader
If you remove the thermostat housing all of that hose and pipe will get out of the way. I've not pulled that line, as far as I can remember so I'm not sure how much it would help.

Pulling the water pump would also free up some space... but so would the rad and the a/c & heater lines that run across the top just under where the hood seals to. I've had all that out when I upgraded the steel ('97) a/c lines that rusted out to newer aluminum ones (from an '01).
 

CaulkinsCo.

Member
If it's not too late consider a regulated fuel return, I think mine was around $150 to make. You can run the returns down the bell housing. Could probably dig up some photos of you need.

If you have all the old stuff out just look at it for a minute and I'm pretty sure you will agree that it's just a stupid setup.
 

KlutchInd

Member
If you remove the thermostat housing all of that hose and pipe will get out of the way. I've not pulled that line, as far as I can remember so I'm not sure how much it would help.

Pulling the water pump would also free up some space... but so would the rad and the a/c & heater lines that run across the top just under where the hood seals to. I've had all that out when I upgraded the steel ('97) a/c lines that rusted out to newer aluminum ones (from an '01).
I'll find out in a couple days but I have a feeling I'm to have to pull the water pump.
 

KlutchInd

Member
If it's not too late consider a regulated fuel return, I think mine was around $150 to make. You can run the returns down the bell housing. Could probably dig up some photos of you need.

If you have all the old stuff out just look at it for a minute and I'm pretty sure you will agree that it's just a stupid setup.
Regulated fuel return? I don't know that one. Is that different than a remote location?
 

CaulkinsCo.

Member
I made it so I could be off on the name, filter and regulator are mounted on the frame, both fuel rails now exit down the bell housing to the regulator. It fixes the dry injector problem with the factory setup, I think #8.
 

CaulkinsCo.

Member
I think it's technically called a full regulated return system, plenty of info and kits for the trucks, it's just much easier on the van with access to the rear of the engine.

Factory is some kind of half return system that they made work by adding a larger injector at the end of the fuel rail.
 

KlutchInd

Member
Well I kept pulling stuff off and I can finally access the driver side fuel hose. Had to pull the radiator hose, thermostat housing, vacuum pump and power steering pump bracket (that's what was in the way). Now that I've pulled the serpentine belt, thermostat, upper radiator hose...I'm planning on replacing them. Besides the fuel filter housing and lines what else should I look at replacing while I have all this out of the way?
 

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CaulkinsCo.

Member
At a loss for what it's called or what it does but there's a line from the exhaust to somewhere around the thermostat, is a hard line that can plug up. Should be easy to get to at this point and make sure it's not getting packed full.

Maybe someone else can chime in with more details.
 

KlutchInd

Member
Long story short, I got the fuel bowl replaced. Decided to remove the turbo. It might be possible with the turbo installed but much easier with it out of the way. Although removing the turbo was a fun little project all on its own. Realized it wasn't coming out without removing the up pipe collector. Cracked that pulling one of the bolts out so I had to order a new one. And ordered all new bolts while I was at it. Of course new gasket for the turbo and oil seals for the pedestal. Fuel bowl came out and went in ok. I cut the fuel lines with some dykes. A little trial and error but it came out and went back in. Getting the fuel drain hose reconnected was a challenge as it didn't have any play in length. Now the fuel bowl and turbo are back in. Getting all the front stuff put back on now. The alternator is probably the most pita. It barely fits and you have to decide when to attach the cables. I attached before and snugged the negative, snugged the positive after it was in place. Word of advice, don't snag the negative on the pulley below and wonder whats blocking you from getting the alternator back in place. That was a ten minute swear infested wrestling match. So all is back on the front of the motor, new serpentine belt, thermostat and upper radiator hose. Now I've got this one connector that I can't remember if it was plugged into anything and if it was can't see where it belongs. It looks just like the one that goes into the side of the airbox.
 

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KlutchInd

Member
Aaaaand I did something. Starts up fine. But now it's got a check engine light, idles and runs rough, lots of white smoke and no power. So my Sunday night consists of reading forums.
 
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