Bettering Our Fueling: Dodgy Pump Removed, Another Replaced



Let’s continue the on-going saga of getting our 1965 Clark Cortez motorhome to run reliably …

Back in 2019 when L and I got our steel beast, we noticed there was an additional fuel pump connected between our engine’s original mechanical fuel pump and carburetor. For those not mechanically inclined, this is odd for a few reasons: First, there should never be a need for an added fuel pump. Also, it was an electric fuel pump so the way it was wired meant it was running the entire time the ignition was on and running. Third, engines with carburetors (pre-1990 engines) should never need an electric fuel pump. Yet, the worst part was that this second electric fuel pump was casually lying on top of our engine — literally. It wasn’t fastened to anything so it would bounce and slide around when we drove.

All of this means that at some point in our Cortez’s life, someone purposely added this electric fuel pump … but why? Well, we weren’t sure, though it could have been due to a few reasons involving the original fuel pump being faulty … or it struggling to pull fuel over an about-15-foot distance from the fuel tank to the engine … or it not getting enough fuel to the carburetor when driving at higher altitudes. Either way, we weren’t happy with the electric fuel pump’s safety and mounting so we planned to remove it and, while we were at it, install a new mechanical fuel pump in case it was faulty.

Another reason for tackling this job was because I believed the carburetor needed attention due to the Cortez puttering around since we got it started … and due to a heavy smell of petrol when the engine was running. The additional fuel pump could have been the part of the cause. 

Heading into Chicken House Three, L and I were greeted by our Cortez. We had parked it inside because there were holes in the roof after we removed several items when angle grinding underseal and rust (Part One and Part Two). Being inside Chicken House Three also meant we were protected from the worst of Virginia’s summer heat. (Thank you for the opportunity to park here, Beverley and Don!)

Before any work started, I explained to L how a fuel pump works then showed her what we needed to do to get the original pump off the engine.

Donned with fancy lady gloves, as L calls them (or purple disposable gloves to everyone else), as always she was super excited to get stuck in … until she claimed to see a huge spider, which I can only guess meant she was looking for a cheeky way out of doing the work. Surprisingly, she still did the work (so maybe the spider comment was to scare me!).

I handed her a spanner and she set about undoing the two mounting bolts …

until I heard her request this: “Just confirm what I’m doing … by starting it.” Grabbing the spanner, I found she had already loosened both bolts and they only needed removing.

With the inlet hose and outlet pipe quickly disconnected — so neither of us got much petrol on us — we tried to remove the pump … but the alternator and its mounting brackets were in the way. Quickly attacking the bolts with a socket and ratchet, they loosened and the alternator was moved to give clearance.

Finally, the old pump (which turned out to be an original), was swiftly removed, along with the old gasket.

Next, we headed inside the Cortez to remove the additional electric fuel pump. Due to it simply sitting on our engine, that task was quick and easy.

Past that, the fuel inlet and outlet hoses were removed and the old pump was happily thrown in the bin. To be thorough, we also threw away the old rubber hoses that were positioned between the mechanical fuel pump, electric fuel pump, and carburetor. 

Returning to the front of the engine, I got the new mechanical fuel pump out of the box and pre-oiled the inside so that there would be no delay in oil lubricating the pump when the engine was fired up.

The new pump was simply slid into place and quickly bolted to the engine with a new gasket preventing oil leaks. New hoses were cut, installed, and secured from the fuel line at the back of the engine bay to the fuel pump and then from the fuel pump pipe to the carburetor.

Now we were ready for a test run …

Attempt One.

L jumped in the driver’s seat to start the Cortez and check for leaks inside while I crawled under the front of the Cortez to check for leaks outside. With the first click of the ignition, we both confirmed we were ready …

and with the second turn of the key the Cortez lurched forward, nearly rolling on top of me!

The steel beast was still in gear! Fortunately for me, the movement of the RV shocked L and she immediately let go of the key, killing the power to the engine.

After a bit of a terrifying moment and me thinking L was going to kill me, we confirmed the Cortez was out of gear and tried again …

and surprisingly, the engine roared to life … for five seconds before it died.

This wasn’t particularly shocking because the remaining fuel in the carburetor was used up and the new pump would have to pull fuel from the fuel tank at the back of the Cortez all the way to the engine at the front of the RV. The good news though: So far, no fuel leaks!

Attempt Two.

The engine turned over for several seconds with no signs of even attempting of firing up. We turned the ignition off for a few seconds. We waited before trying again. Still nothing. Not wanting to overheat the wiring to the starter motor, we waited more minutes …

Attempt Three.

Key in. Click for the ignition. Click for the start …

and the engine turned over twice before roaring into life!

It sounded great (for our old engine), and the better news was that there were still no fuel leaks! 

Did this actually make a difference or help our retro ride? L and I do believe our RV is safer because we removed the electric fuel pump. I also feel it will be a bit easier to adjust the fueling on the carburetor. Yet, the biggest difference is our V8 engine certainly seemed to start and run better.

Author: Andy

Ey up! I’m the calm, laidback, English one of the two. If L is the fuel, I’m the engine -- Without her, I’m pretty happy being sat still. That said, when I’m out and moving I make the most of it. I’m super squeamish, a stickler for the rules, and if I’ve not had a cup of coffee in the morning it’s probably best to let me be. I love fishing, hiking, and vehicle mechanics and I’m not scared of learning something new!

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