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1961 Continental Fuel Pump Concerns

Hi Bill,

I recently purchased a 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible for my business to use for wedding chauffeur service. It is a beautiful white convertible that has some real appeal for weddings. The car has a recently rebuilt 430 engine (<3000 miles) and most of the components on it have been rebuilt or replaced with new parts. When I bought the car it had a Holley electric fuel pump providing the fuel to the otherwise stock fuel system and carburetor. The fuel pump is located inside the engine bay on the driver-side fender near where the fuel lines enter the engine bay. The Holley was pushing the fuel through the original Carter 3 port fuel pump which was still on the engine, but the push rod had been removed. When I drove the car from Georgia (where I purchased it) to Dallas Texas, I noticed every time I would stop somewhere for a few minutes (10 to 30 minutes), when I would start the car back up, it would start just fine, but after a minute or two the car would sputter and die. Then it would be very hard to start, and acted and smelled like a flooded engine. I had to hold the pedal down and crank it over many times with the throttle opened wide before it would finally sputter and start. Once it was restarted it ran fine, but it would darn near deplete the battery each time I had to start it that way. Also the fuel pump would be quite noisy after retorting (possible cavitation). So it definitely seemed like a vapor lock or heat soak related issue as the car started perfectly every time when cold.

When I got the car back to Dallas I disabled the electric pump (by disconnecting the wire) and put in a new push rod for the mechanical pump. I also rebuilt the fuel pump with a kit I purchased from you guys. When I put the rebuilt pump back in the car along with the new pushrod, initially the car would not start. So I plugged in the electric pump to "prime" the mechanical pump. I then disconnected the electrical pump and the car started like a champ. I turned the car on and off several times in the garage and the mechanical pump seemed to work fine. A week or so later I drove the car to a friends place and after talking with him for 20 minutes I came out started the car and left. About 2 minutes down the road it sputters and dies. Same problem, but now with the mechanical pump. I also have noticed that the car smells strongly of gasoline when it is parked hot. Now my question to you is how to best remedy this problem.

Here are some other things I observed that may be relevant. When I rebuilt the fuel pump, I noticed in the shop manual that the original fuel pump is supposed to have a thermostatic valve installed behind the third (return port fitting) on the fuel pump. Mine did not have this thermostatic valve. I also noticed the rebuild kit did not have one. Is this valve needed? Also all my fuel lines are rubber from the fender to the pump to the carburetor. Should I use metal lines instead? Would using a phenolic spacer under the carburetor help? Also could the air filter box valve be sticking and causing these kinds of problems? I noticed the air cleaner box looks like it is pulling air from the exhaust manifold area when the car is cold. I have not managed to check it yet hot.

Any how, because of the nature of my business I need this Lincoln to be very reliable. Brides are not happy when their get away car dies on the road in front of all their wedding guests. Any help is appreciated.

Chris

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Greetings Chris -

Problems such as you describe are sure no fun but I can assure you that when these cars were new and plentiful they did not drive around with such fuel and vapor lock type of symptoms. Your Lincoln appears to maybe have at this time more than its share though. Because you have recently purchased this vehicle it is more difficult for you to diagnose with limited maintenance history available. We always recommend restoring the original fuel delivery and carburetor to the original set up and using the electric pump as a backup only. You seemed to have begun doing this already.

The first item that I would address is the strong fuel smell. Any fuel leaks are not allowed and as you probably know, they can accelerate with devastating results. A complete fuel system inspection is in order by a technician who is well versed in such problems. If the fuel smell is from the carburetor for instance it may indicate that a carburetor cleaning and overhaul is overdue or that the fuel pressures are too high.

On the other hand if you have a rotted, cracked or corroded fuel line or hose, the pumps can draw in some air with the fuel when operating and then leak fuel when the engine is turned off. If the complete system is examined and evaluated as suggested above I am sure that you will find some easy to repair faults.

To answer your specific questions, the thermostatic valves are recommended and always in place on any pumps or vehicles that we deal with. Proper coded rubber fuel lines are allowed because of the necessary flexibility that is needed between the body and the engine.......but for the most part steel lines are used on the engine from the pump to the carburetor because of durability and heat. The carburetor should have all of the original spacers and air intake systems.

After reading the above Chris please contact us for further specific information and I am sure that we can help get you back on the path of happier driving.

Sincerely,

Bill