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Project Lucas, Fuel Leak Fixes

It’s been a while since Lucas has been featured in a post here. Mainly because he has been flawless, but also partially because I haven’t driven him much.

He was flawless… but it wasn’t his fault he had a hiccup.

I decided the other day to jump in and take him to work for a change. A drive I have done a few times since the engine swap and haven’t had an issue. This time was slightly different.

The engine fired into life nicely, with no apparent issues, even after sitting for a few weeks. I back the car up the drive, noting a slight fuel smell. Thinking it was just exhaust fumes from the cold start, I ignored it and began to head off down the road.

What I couldn’t ignore was the niggling feeling that the raw fuel I could smell was wrong. Lucas normally has no fumes in the cabin, and no real smell, so alarm bells started to ring in my head.

A couple hundred more meters down the road and the smell wasn’t gone, so I turned into a side street and popped the bonnet.

Raw petrol was pouring from the hose on the outlet of the fuel filter, about an inch away from the exhaust manifold which was quickly becoming rather hot. Not ideal.

Having no tools and raw fuel pouring out, I shut the bonnet, hung a quick U-turn and made a swift retreat home. I’ve gotta say, that was a very stressful drive home, and far more stress than I needed that early in the morning.

Thankfully I made the 500m drive home fine and proceeded to quickly wash the fuel off the inner guard, check it wasn’t going to keep leaking, shut the bonnet and change cars to head to work.

He then sat in the naughty corner feeling sorry for himself.

This weekend I grabbed some new 8mm EFI hose and got to work. These were two of the last hoses that I hadn’t replaced since I got the car (the other was the cold start injector hose). They were all on the radar, but I ran out of hose when I did the rest of the hoses and left this as a “they’re easy to get to, I’ll change them when I get more hose”. Well, I didn’t get more hose in time, so it forced my hand. That’s a good lesson to not leave old hoses for later, just replace them; I was in a rush to have the car back on the road after the engine swap, and it nearly bit me.

This is where the hose decided to finally give way

It’s way closer to the manifold than I am comfortable with and the hard-line creates something of a natural drip loop above the manifold.

I noticed even before removing it that one of the hoses (not the one that failed) was the wrong rating. This should be R9 hose, which is EFI pressure rated and made of different rubber so is less likely to have fuel permeate it. The hose on the car was R7, which is really designed for carburetted engines and not as resistant to fuel.

I drained the filter and removed both hoses.

It’s no real surprise that the hoses failed after all this time. The newest of the pair was date marked 1996, while the other was a couple of years older, having been made when I was about 6 years old.

The oldest one was the one that failed. Both hoses were very soft (you could easily squeeze them closed by hand, which you can’t do with the new hose) and when cut open the inner layer of rubber had gone soft and gummy, like it has absorbed fuel. The “better” of the two hoses was also showing signs of cracking

While I was there I also replaced the cold start injector hose, as this was visibly old but had no date stamp.

I cut a pair of nice new hoses for the filter, making the inlet hose slightly longer as the old one was kinked in the bend before the filter. New clamps were used, along with a new shiny P-Clamp to hold the hose.

I removed the air intake hose, turned the ignition on and opened the flap to trigger the fuel pump. This successfully primed the system, with no leaks. Great success.

So that was a very lucky escape on that one. Had I just ignored, or not noticed, the fuel smell, I don’t know how far I would have gotten before something far worse happened.

So in saying that, this now lives in the passenger’s glovebox. it’s a perfect fit.

I hope I never have to use it, but it’s good to know it’s there.

Since Lucas was already in the garage, there were a couple of other things I wanted to sort.

One was a decent wash and vac, but the other was to remove the passenger’s front door card and reconnect the window switch I forgot to connect last time it was off.

I very carefully popped the clips, removed the screws and pulled the bottom of the door card away. This allowed me to see the connector I needed to join

Luckily I could just reach up from the bottom of the door and reconnect it blindly, and I managed to do so without causing any damage to the door card, which is always a risk when messing with it.

The window now works from its own control again, yay. I did spot something a bit weird while I was there; a section of hose in the drain channel at the top of the front guard

This isn’t meant to be there, it serves no purpose and is just blocking the flow. It was a little further down when I first found it, I had moved it before taking the photo. Some careful poking with a pick and then grabbing it with needle nose pliers removed it.

There was a significant amount of old dirt built up around where it was, so I cleaned that out with compressed air. Now the drain channel can drain completely freely. No idea how long that hose had been lost there, but I suspect it’s a decade or two.

Lucas then got a nice wash, and a couple of spots touched up with polish to remove some marks in the paint

The interior was treated to a decent vacuum since it was full of leaves and tree debris from living outside. It’s a very inviting place, with warm white LED room lights, wood grain, and plush fabric seats.

The reason for all this, other than not burning to death in a car fire, was actually to go to a car show I was planning to go to before Lucas had his whoopsie.

A few friends were planning to attend the final of the local Cars and Coffee meet for the season, so I was planning to tag along. After a solid day’s work, we were ready to go.

My wife and I enjoyed a lovely cruise up the coast. Lucas drove perfectly and loved to stretch his legs.

The show was a success. Some great cars there, and I’m looking forward to going again sometime in the new season later in the year.

Out of all the cars there, Lucas was the only Rover. There were a couple of other British cars, namely a Reliant Scimitar, Morgan Plus 8, a few Minis, a TR7 race car and a couple of Trumphs.

Lucas is due for a WOF in the next couple of weeks, so I will need to book that in and hope he passes again. Not much has changed, and he’s only done a shade over 500km since the last one, but it’s always a gamble with classic cars.

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