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Fixing What the Professional Fixed


NAXJA Member
This isn't a daily driver, but it isn't a tow rig either. I don't know where else to put the farm truck. This seems the closest match.

I have been acquainted with this truck for nearly 30 years. It belonged to a good friend and is the truck with which he started his landscaping business. It helped move The Bride and myself when we bought our first home. Sometime around 10 to 15 years ago my friend called and asked me if I wanted the truck. I could have it for the cost of towing it home from his mechanic who had declared that the clutch could not be fixed. I found it inconceivable that a clutch could not be fixed. The Bride however did not want to add another vehicle to the fold, so I called my Dad and asked him if he wanted it, and I would fix the clutch. My Dad took it. I tore into the clutch and found that the mechanic had installed the throwout bearing incorrectly. GM added some spring tabs onto the clutch fork in the late '80s/early '90s and it messes some folks up. I once fixed the exact same problem on 3rd gen Camaro, again in a situation where a professional mechanic couldn't figure out the problem. With the clutch fixed the truck went on to serve my father until he died. Then the truck came to me, in spite of the wishes of The Bride. It now serves as a bit of a farm truck and wood hauler.

Last fall the truck started running badly. It was acting like it was running on half its cylinders. I threw a set of spark plugs at it (maintenance it needed anyways) and that didn't change the picture. Winter came and it just sat. This spring I tore back into the problem.

At this point the truck would not even start. However, with a bit of starter fluid down the butterflies it would start right up and run smoothly until its snort of ether was gone. That told me my problem was on the fuel side of the equation. I could hear the fuel pump running, so I looked to see if the fuel filter had been changed recently. Yes, in fact it had. Two years ago. By me. I had written the date on the filter. Thinking it might be plugged I pulled the filter. No problem blowing through it. Odd.

GM provided no test port for fuel pressure on the TBI system, so I simply disconnected the fuel line at the back of the throttle body and turned on the truck. No fuel. Strange.

Now back to the fuel filter. I took it out and turned the truck on again. Fuel came out onto the ground. Okay, that is what I would hope for. I got a Varmint to watch while tried blowing air through the fuel line from the pump outlet to the disconnected end up by the throttle body. Nothing came out except air, which came through freely.

Evidently the pump had just enough umph to get fuel to come out at the filter, but not enough to get it up to the throttle body. Odd. I am thinking I have never had an electric fuel pump fail in this fashion. Generally it is either all or nothing with an electric fuel pump.

If I could have easily accessed the fuel pump I would have pulled it right then and there, but this is one of those glorious situations where you have to remove the bed to get to the pump. Yes, I have done the game where you try to drop the tank just a bit and then fuss with the fuel lines for an hour, but I am getting too old for that game, and I have three young men who I feed (and they eat like horses). They can add some muscle to this situation. So I ordered a new fuel pump, sock and tank seal (big O-ring) and waited for those to arrive before tearing into this.

Once parts arrived and I got the bed off and hosed off decades worth of dust and debris I pulled the pump and found this:


Note that this was a job done by a professional mechanic.

And that is why you pay attention to fuel line types.

This is how that came apart:


Note that I don't think the mechanic deliberately swapped in cheap fuel line. Reason being, the cushion at the bottom of the module was in the same state:


The issue is the quality of parts used by the professional. All he had to do to get his money was to get the truck running again. By the time any problems came up he could safely say it was out of warranty.

There is a reason prices vary on parts.

I went with a Delphi pump. It came with very different fuel line and clamps:


Looking at the tank you can see another thing the professional failed to do:


The sealing surface was never cleaned. You can see the difference where I started wiping it clean. Odds are the mechanic did the bed tilt method of replacing the pump. Access is poor that way, and never gets good. If you fight to drop the tank you at least gain good access once you win the battle. Tilting the bed never gets you good access. You do the whole job badly. And this is one of the reasons that method is the worst option. There is no way to clean the sealing surface of all the dust that falls in when you pull the pump assembly. You end up sandwiching all that dust in place. Dust happens to make a poor sealant. This is how that surface needs to look:


And this is a better gasket. The tabs make sure it stays centered.


Here is the new, better, fuel pump with what should be the right type of hose:


And here was the cherry on top:


The professional mechanic evidently didn't do well with disconnecting the fuel pump ground, cut it and spliced it by just twisting the wires together and taping them. Yeah. Professional.

The difference between a professional and an amateur is that the professional does it to separate you from your money. The amateur does it for the love of it (amateur-amor-love). I have very little use for the professional.
Its tough to find a shop that does quality work. My take on this is that mechanic pay isn't good enough to attract quality mechanics. They can make better money doing something else.
I don't know. The three nicest houses in my neighborhood all belong to mechanics. They make good money.

I think it is more a matter of ethics.

It is not that it is hard to find a good shop. It is hard to find someone who hasn't substituted a moral weathercock for their moral compass.
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I had nearly the identical failure on the connector hose from pump to sender on my MJ about 15 years ago....no idea who to blame as I had only had it a few years at that time.
Bad mechanics are like any other profession.... you get the good detail oriented folks, and then you have a few bad apples that don't do good work or flat out don't care unless the job is paying well.

Glad you got this all worked out Anak.
Delphi 🤣 Tom, I thought I knew that you knew better than that.

Carter here. I don't like changing out fuel pumps.
I bet you can remember when Black and Decker was a reputable brand.
This is true. Before I bought my new metal cut off saw I had been using an old Black & Decker Industrial for a decade. I bought it used. No idea when it was built, but it was a beast!