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Dirty Bird Fuel Pump Swap: Installing a LT1 Racetronix Pump

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photos by: Greg Lovell

A Former Magazine Project Car Gets an Much-Needed Fuel Pump Upgrade, Courtesy of Racetronix and AntiVenom Performance

If your engine is fuel starved, you’re asking for trouble. While the LT1s actually have a pretty decent fuel pump and pickup assembly design, age is starting to hit them. As they’re crossing, or reaching the three decade mark, fuel pumps are starting to roll over and give up. Although we’ve done plenty of fuel pump upgrades in the past, we’ve never had a chance to do a Racetronix swap on a LT1 for our readership, but we’ve been wanting to give it a whirl.

When Greg Lovell needed to do a Racetronix fuel pump swap on his famous 1995 LT1 Formula, known as the Dirty Bird (although Greg has since sold the car), we had to be there. Greg has actually been the go-to guy for installations over the years in many different publications, so we’re happy to be able to bare witness to a few installs lately on his personal vehicles. Also, as the owner of AntiVenom Performance, he’s done a lot of these swaps, so we knew we could pick up some good installation tips and tricks by watching the master at work.

LT1 F-Bodies have a fuel pump that’s inside a plastic fill-bucket. The inlet for the fill-bucket and check-valve system, in combination with the fuel pump, are made to suck gas from the bottom of the tank. This design keeps the bucket full and the pump constantly immersed in gas, regardless of the fuel level. It’s actually a really good design that allows the engine to run on low fuel, not be fuel starved during cornering, and so on. The Racetronix fuel pump borrows from this design, and adds to it with the high performance/high flow Walbro Fuel pump design.

The characteristics of this pump make it more capable of handling modern fuels, and handle more horsepower.

“RXP Turbine-Tech fuel pump which supplies 255LPH of fuel at 43.5PSI at 13.5V*. Racetronix RXP pumps use new turbine technology to reduce pump noise, improve reliability and provide enhanced compatibility with Ethanol enhanced fuels. This pump and harness combination will typically support 600 flywheel horsepower.” – Jack Levinson, Racetronix

The Plug & Play Harness is also a great investment as it requires no crimping or soldering. The connectors are weather/water proof, as is the fuse holder. These harnesses are considered to be some of the best out there, and Racetronix spares no expense in their production. Check out the parts used here — there’s also some additional upgrades you can get with the kit for higher horsepower applications.

Greg Lovell and Kyle Miller are the masterminds and muscle behind, and in front of, the camera, and this is what we learned during the installation…

Part I: Fuel Pump Replacement

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Getting to the fuel pump is the obvious first step. At this point, the exhaust system comes down, the pan hard rod is unbolted, and the fuel tank is (very carefully) pulled down.

 

Note: Some F-Body owners want to suggest cutting your trunk floorpan and installing a trap door to gain access to the pump, but we’re not huge fans of hacking up cars for the sake of fuel pump access. However, the information is out there if you’re just determined to do this mod…but you’re on your own.

 

After carefully lowering the tank to the shop floor, they pop off the float arm with a small screwdriver, carefully so they don’t damage the sender while working on the bucket. The assembly comes out easily at this point.

 

Then it’s time to separate the bucket from assembly. Using a knife comes in handy here, a hammer to break the seal would too, but thankfully we didn’t need to go there.

 

Since the fuel pump is full of gas, it gets put away in a safe place until it’s time to deal with it for disposal.

Since the fuel pump is full of gas, it gets put away in a safe place until it’s time to deal with it for disposal. The zip ties around the foam gasket at the top of the new fuel pump from Racetronix are removed, and the new o-ring for the sending unit is prepared for installation.

 

6. The seal is an important piece that keeps out debris and moisture from the tank and fuel system. Making sure the o-ring is seated firmly and well-lubricated is imperative.

The seal is an important piece that keeps out debris and moisture from the tank and fuel system. Making sure the o-ring is seated firmly and well-lubricated is imperative. After this, the new fuel pump is placed.

 

The seal is an important piece that keeps out debris and moisture from the tank and fuel system. Making sure the o-ring is seated firmly and well-lubricated is imperative.

A bead of the glue that came with the pump is run around the edge of the bucket. The installers are careful not to overdo it with the glue, that would cause it to drip everywhere.Using a soldering iron, the plastic is tacked in a few places to hold it in place until the glue sets. Heavy duty tape or ties work too — they will keep the bucket shut until the glue can do its job. Time is a good investment here, leaving the glue to set overnight to get the best bond is worth the break. Racetronix recommends a minimum of three hours drying time at room temperature, but the more the better. Once that’s squared away, the expanded end of the pump’s flex tube is pushed back onto the black push lock connector. Sometimes, a little silicone grease is needed if the connection is tight. After that, the gear clamp is tightened without tightening it to the point where it begins to distort.

 

11. After inspecting the tank one more time to make sure there’s no rust or dirt inside, the pump assembly is placed once the installers are totally sure that the tank is free of contaminants.

“Be absolutely certain that there are no contaminants in the tank, we’ve had fuel pumps failing in hours of installation from debris in the tank.” – Jack Levinson, Racetronix

Since we’re using the Racetronix Plug & Play wiring harness, it’s time to get that squared away.

Part II: Plug and Play Harness Installation

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The relay and ground lead for the chassis are mounted together on the bolt as shown here. The bolt is found just in front of the rear tire on the drivers side. We use the provided silicone grease packet to coat the head of the bolt, threads, and ground lead — this will prevent corrosion on down the road.

 

3. Plug in the connectors and connector locks like the above picture shows. The sending unit plugs into the Racetronix harness and that plugs into the chassis connector.

Plug in the connectors and connector locks like the above picture shows. The sending unit plugs into the Racetronix harness and that plugs into the chassis connector.

 

4. Next up is running the power cable along the brake lines, crossing over the top of the transmission housing to the passenger side 1/4 panel. Mount the fuse holder to the back of the alternator using the large bolt with the washers provided in the Racetronix kit. Connect the lead for the power to output stud on the alternator — to prevent corrosion, use some silicone grease. You’ll need to make a small cut in the edge of the boot to get the wire to go in.

Next up is running the power cable along the brake lines, crossing over the top of the transmission housing to the passenger side quarter panel. Mount the fuse holder to the back of the alternator using the large bolt with the washers provided in the Racetronix kit. Connect the lead for the power to output stud on the alternator — to prevent corrosion, use some silicone grease. We then make a small cut in the edge of the boot to get the wire to go in. After securing all of the wires, the job is done!

 

The keys to both the pump swap and wiring harness installation are taking your time and following the instructions that comes with the kit, precisely! Regardless of any advice you find on the internet, the manufacturer knows best, and they can also easily tell when you did something that will void the warranty.

While Greg and Kyle make it look easy, they’ve probably done this more times than the average enthusiast. Most of us will only tackle a fuel pump once or twice in our lives (per project car, anyway), so you can spare the time to do it right. Racetronix includes fully illustrated instructions with their pumps, it’s a smart move to use them!

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