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  #1  
Old 01-24-2011, 07:15 PM
kweiss kweiss is offline
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Fuel bowl heater (how critical?)

Am wondering how critical this element is? I am figuring that it is more critical in colder climates but would like everyone elses take on it? Does anyone know what the resistance should be on the element when testing?
I have a 2003 7.3 PS and woke up to below zero temps this morn and the truck fired up right away and then a few moments later it acted as though it was struggling to run and would not take an acceleration with out dying and have dificulty starting again. The temps did warm up into the lower 20's and the truck would start and run fine as I could tell.
So I am left to believe that the fuel pump appears to work fine so is the problem with the fuel going to the injectors at a cold temp?
Anyone had this problem? I have 2000 7.3 and have never had this problem?

Kevin
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Old 01-24-2011, 07:40 PM
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where do you live? what state? i live in indiana and have deleted my fuel bowl. no problems what so ever but i also put extra anti gel additives in my diesel....
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Old 01-24-2011, 07:43 PM
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Funny you should ask - I JUST discovered my heater was messed up while replacing the water drain valve. It is now unplugged. To answer your question - the fuel bowl heater comes on very infrequently and at very, very low temps. I forget what all the parameters are - but the bottom line is trucks runs FINE without it.

Your problem sounds alot more like gelled fuel. Drain a sample from your filter using the water drain and observe it when it gets cold outside - or if your single (or want to become that way... ) put your sample in the freezer and measure temps until it gets cloudy.

Keep us posted!
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Old 01-24-2011, 08:31 PM
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So, to prevent future problems, shouldn't many people just simply unplug the fuel bowl heater?
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Old 01-24-2011, 08:35 PM
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A lot of us have. I know of a few in much colder areas that have theirs unhooked as well.
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Old 01-24-2011, 08:38 PM
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Well when you mention it comes on in very low temps...wonder what that magic number is. I registered -12 this morning here in Wilkes Barre this morning.....Could it have helped?

Kevin
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Old 01-24-2011, 08:43 PM
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Still have my stock heater element in my fuel bowl. Not sure how much it heats, being theres a constant flow of fuel going thru it respectivly, not sure on the voltage or any other values. Try some anti-gel treatment on the next tankful is my only suggestion.
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Old 01-24-2011, 09:02 PM
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Yeah, it would be easier just to carry a spare fuse and leave it hooked up. You can always unplug it after it blows and replace the fuse. Might not every give you a problem
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Old 01-24-2011, 09:09 PM
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Interesting that you ask this question because I was wondering the same thing a short while ago. I decided to pull out my dealer brochures from way back when and see what kind of info I might find. I later made some phone calls to see what else I could find out. According to the Ford tech I spoke with, the fuel bowl heater is part of a fuel treatment system developed to help satisfy a specific requirement for extreme conditions such as the arctic circle, northern Alaska/Canada etc. This was necessary for Ford to satisfy the contract for ambulances and other emergency vehicles. (probably Navistar as well...)

One of the requirements is that the 7.3 needed to be able to start on it's own in temps as low as -10 degrees without being plugged in. Having a heater in the fuel bowl helps accomplish this apparently. The heater is designed to do two things...pre-heat fuel to the injectors and provide a supply of heated fuel back to the tank to warm the incoming supply. This is the reason there is a mixing chamber at the fuel pickup assembly (because dumping warm fuel into a 36 gallon tank of cold fuel doesn't do squat). There was also some issue with the type of fuel used in those extreme climates but I don't know if the fuel bowl heater addresses any of those concerns (super dry fuel apparently...).

At any rate, as I continued to listen...it was further explained that the fuel bowl heater wasn't really that effective as originally hoped and some fleet owners chose to disable the fuel bowl heater and install a regulated fuel return system. The regulated return had a supply of warm fuel (once the engine warmed up) and it did a better job of mixing with the cold fuel from the tank and eliminated the possibility of blowing the PCM fuse if the fuel bowl heater shorted out. Most ambulance drivers just kept their rigs plugged in and that was enough to keep the engine fluids warm and ready to go when a call came through.

So, most people have unplugged their fuel bowl heater and removed the mixing chamber in the tank so none of this matters any longer. If you drive where it's super cold, then you might choose to install a regulated return system or maybe even the FRx that RiffRaff sells (should provide the same benefit), plug in the block heater and unplug the fuel bowl heater and you'll probably be good to go. (although, if it was that cold...I would leave the fuel bowl heater connected and carry some extra fuses...)

Here is the page of the brochure that talks about the fuel bowl heater and the 'special' type of metal used in the injectors to deal with the dry fuel.

I get a kick out of reading this old propaganda.
Attached Images
File Type: pdf pages 4 and 5.pdf (1.95 MB, 106 views)

Last edited by Shake-N-Bake; 01-24-2011 at 09:15 PM. Reason: grammer
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Old 01-24-2011, 09:19 PM
kweiss kweiss is offline
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So after reading the posted info and talking to some close friends on the matter I have decided that maybe my issue was a slightly gelled fuel? Its the only thing that really makes sense.
I have dumped some diesel 911 in the tank and hopefully I dont see this situation again.
I think the internet has revolutionized the world of mechanics and technicians!

Kevin
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Old 01-24-2011, 09:22 PM
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It's so useless it can hardly be critical. The bowl heater only comes on when you turn the key on, so if the fuel in the bowl has gelled and the heater will actually turn on in an attempt to thaw it out it won't do any good. If the fuel in the bowl is gelled it will also be gelled in the fuel lines and fuel pump, so what good does the fuel bowl heater do. It won't thaw out the lines and pump so you're screwed anyway. We've already heard from a couple posters this winter who had gelled fuel and that heater didn't help them at all. JMHO
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Old 01-24-2011, 09:34 PM
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I had my fuel gell on me last winter and the only thing that eventually got me out of the pinch was some 911 sitting in the truck over night.
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Old 01-25-2011, 12:04 AM
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Don't underestimate these trucks. Mine started this morning just fine on one cycle of the plugs (key on wait for WTS light to go out then start immediately after) and it was supposedly -4 here last night. I haven't had a working fuel bowl heater in probably a year and I did not have a block heater plugged in. The truck was parked in its normal parking spot no garage no nothing just nosed up to the snowbank at the end of my driveway. It ran a little shaky for a minute. Not romping just shaky then smoothed itself out in about a minute and it was good to go. And that was on fuel with no Diesel Kleen in it and the truck hadn't moved in 2 days of temperatures like that.

Just my opinion that people underestimate what these old trucks are capable of if you treat em right and work em like they like.

Edit: let me add that I don't recommend running no additive or not plugging in when temperature dictates. Just expressing that these trucks are capable of more than a lot give credit for.
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Old 01-25-2011, 12:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaysonPSD View Post
It's so useless it can hardly be critical. The bowl heater only comes on when you turn the key on, so if the fuel in the bowl has gelled and the heater will actually turn on in an attempt to thaw it out it won't do any good. If the fuel in the bowl is gelled it will also be gelled in the fuel lines and fuel pump, so what good does the fuel bowl heater do. It won't thaw out the lines and pump so you're screwed anyway. We've already heard from a couple posters this winter who had gelled fuel and that heater didn't help them at all. JMHO
Great logic Robin! You used a lot less words to communicate what I was trying to say.

Does anyone know if the later engines have the AIH or Fuel bowl heater? I would expect that Ford would have abandoned these systems by now...
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Old 01-25-2011, 12:58 AM
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Originally Posted by gchavez View Post
Great logic Robin! You used a lot less words to communicate what I was trying to say.

Does anyone know if the later engines have the AIH or Fuel bowl heater? I would expect that Ford would have abandoned these systems by now...
Nevermind, you prolly mean the 08-11 years...Don't know either.
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