EFI Conversion- Part 1
It didn't take very long for me to decide to change to fuel injection after starting my Big Block Chevy for the first time. Although nothing compares to how a good old fashioned Holley carb looks sitting atop any engine. The ease and simplicity of EFI conversions today are leaps and bounds from where they were just a few years ago. The price point at which these conversions are at makes it an easy decision.
Companies like Holley and Fast Fuel Injection, to name a couple, are producing multiple EFI conversions from simple throttle body setups to multi-port injection. After plenty of research I chose the FiTech Easy Street 600 Fuel Injection System. FiTech is a relatively new name in fuel injection and as of now that is all they focus on.
One aspect I really like about the FiTech throttle body is that there is no external computer to wire up or mount. Just a small hand held touch screen that can be mounted inside the car or simply plugged in when needed. All the electronics are hidden inside the throttle body and the new Easy Street 600 comes in a gold anodized finish, resembling the carburetors of old when tucked under an air cleaner.
Picking the EFI setup for the engine is just one of the puzzle pieces. You will have to decide fuel supply and return, in tank mounted electric fuel pump or in-line, fuel filters, various fittings and fuel line. For this article I am focusing on the fuel delivery system and installation. I could have gone with a frame mounted in-line fuel pump and filter being that I already had a new polyurethane fuel tank installed in my 54 Belair. However, the fuel tank is only 14 gallons and is not EFI ready, meaning baffles for fuel sloshing around or a fitting for attaching a fuel return line.
So I turned to Tanks Inc. Their 1953-54 Chevy car 18 gallon fuel tanks are EFI ready. It is internally baffled with a reservoir tray for fuel pump, assuring the fuel pump will not run dry. Tanks Inc. also offers an In-Tank Fuel Pump as well. This combination makes an EFI conversion a breeze. With an in-tank pump it will run quieter, cooler, and last longer, not to mention a lot more efficient and less clutter underneath the car. Decision number two done, now on to the nitty gritty of installation.
First thing I did was put a pen to paper and map out what I was going to need. Starting at the back of the car with the fuel tank, along frame rails where I would run the fuel line, to the top of the engine where the throttle body would sit. It's a good idea to map this all out ahead of time and get everything needed in one shot, saving you some time running back and forth from the parts store. I'll list everything I used from front to back, but first some fuel tank prep is needed.
The Tanks Inc. fuel pump will need to be fit for the depth of the fuel tank. With some simple measuring I had the depth I would need for the fuel pump. Full instructions are supplied with the fuel pump for determining the length for your fuel tank depth. There is a supply and return on the underside of the fuel pump mounting plate that you will need to cut to length. The old carpentry phrase measure twice and cut once applies to more than cutting wood. With the lines cut to length I installed the fuel pump onto the line and secured it with the supplied clamp. Then slid the foam cover over the fuel pump and used the supplied zip ties to secure the cut return line to the fuel pump body.
Next, I wound the fuel pump pigtail around the top of the feed line and plugged it into the fuel pump. After installing the sock filter to the bottom of the fuel pump it was ready to drop into the tank.
Using the gasket and hardware I inserted the fuel pump and fastened it down. With a flashlight I could see through the fuel gauge sending unit opening and verify that my pump was in the correct location, which coincidently was the next part to install. I knew I had an adjustable sending unit in my old tank and just needed to transfer that to the new fuel tank. After removing the old tank from the car I removed the sending unit and measured and adjusted for the deeper 18 gallon tank. Simply unscrewing the slide bolt on the sending unit will move it up and down.
Once I had it set to the correct depth, I re-tighten the slide bolt and installed the sender into its new home using the supplied gasket.
Since I am setting this up tank up for fuel injection I needed to plug the original bottom fuel line port. A 3/8" NPT pipe plug wrapped with thread tape is all that’s needed. To vent the tank there is a fixed push on the hose nipple on top of the fuel pump plate. I used a length of 5/16" fuel line and ran the hose to the underside of the fuel tank filler tube and capped it with a standard GM vent fitting used for rear axles, fuel tanks and so on. Just make sure the vent line is higher than the fuel tank.
I then made a pigtail for the fuel pump so that once I had the tank installed I wouldn't have to drop it back down for any reason. Using crimp on terminals and soldering them after crimping, which I highly recommend, I used heat shrink tube to seal them up and fastened it to the terminals on the pump. For the fuel supply and return lines I installed two 1/4" NPT to AN6 Fittings into the fuel pump sealed with thread tape. And for the fuel hose I opted for Earls Vapor Guard 3/8" EFI Hose for both supply and return. The 15 at the end denotes length.
Earls also recommends using their Vapor Guard Push On Hose Ends and Clamps so you don't damage the inner lining of the hose. Using the Vapor Guard Straight Hose End AN6 to 3/8" and Vapor Guard Hose Clamps, I attached both 15 foot sections of Vapor Guard hose to the top of the tank. Wrapping it up by attaching the filler tube was all that was left. Then it was time to get back under the car.
With the car up securely on jack stands in the front and my hydraulic bumper jack under the back and locked into place, it was time to get the new tank installed. The straps supplied are only finished on one end so you will have to bend and drill the other end for fitment. I used a ratchet strap across the bottom of the tank to hold it in place. One end on each leaf spring and tightened up held the tank firmly in place so I could fab up the tank straps. I bolted the straps up on the back of the tank and formed them by hand to the contour of the tank.
Then, using a sharpie I marked where I needed to make my bends for the front. Unbolted the straps and used my workbench as a form. For my tank I had to trim some off and I duplicated the finished end with a double bend on the bolt through end for strength. Drilled a hole for the stud and bolted them up into the car. The Tanks Inc. fuel tank has a very nice finish and looks great under my old 54 Belair. Not to mention it will supply me with everything I need to feed that thirsty FiTech throttle body! Look for my next article that will cover installing the rest of my conversion.