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89 7.3 IDI - Not starting SAGA. Any ideas?

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Old 07-05-2013, 04:40 PM
DieselRugger DieselRugger is offline
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89 7.3 IDI - Not starting SAGA. Any ideas?

First off I would like to apologize for the length of this, but the saga has been going on for a while and I want to give you all of the details.
The truck is a 1989 F-350 7.3L IDI automatic.
My wife and I bought this truck back in the spring of 2011 to be used to pull a small horse trailer, definitely more truck than we NEED, but we like the truck.
When we bought the truck we would often have to have it plugged in when the weather was a bit cold but it would still start. After a while I replaced the glow plugs thinking that would take care of the problem and then we were having issues with the WTS light and it not wanting to start. Then I replaced the GP controller and fixed the problem and then it has been working well for the last few months.
Two weeks ago my wife took the truck to pick up the trailer to have it inspected. She brought it all back to the house and parked in the driveway. She backed it in the driveway and it was parked on a slight incline with the front of the truck “uphill.” My wife called me at work and said that the truck would not start. We have a membership with an organization similar to AAA but for people that transfer horses. They sent out a mechanic to the house to try to get it started. He ended up replacing the GP controller and starting solenoid (according to him they were burned out.) He then ended up using gas vapors to getting the truck to start and mentioned that the truck lost its prime.
The next day my wife tells me that the truck will not start. We ended up calling the same vehicle assistance company and told them that we wanted to have it towed to a different mechanic. Once it was there they said that the truck started and they could not get it to not start. They kept it for a couple days and it was starting for them, however they mentioned that the fuel lines were looking old and needed to be replaced soon. We were told that it was likely that air was getting drawn in through the cracked and worn fuel lines and that was likely what was causing the truck to lose the prime. We went to pick it up and it would not start. So we left it there and had them replaced. They replaced the fuel lines and when we went to pick it and truck fired right up. As long as we have had the truck, it has NEVER fired up as quickly as it did once we picked it up.
We thought that it always took a little while for the truck to crank up…. Typically after the wait to start light went off, and we turned the key, it would take maybe 5-7 seconds, sometimes a bit longer if it was cold and had been a while since we have driven it. After the fuel lines were replaced, it would take about 1 second to fire up. Seeing how long it used to take, made me think that the GP controller was getting burned out.
On Tuesday she took the trailer to get inspected and dropped it off and came home. She went to pick it up this morning (Friday) and the truck will not start.

Does anyone have any ideas where I should start now? Are there any gurus in the Richmond, VA area that would be willing to take a look at it and give some thoughts? At this point we have put ~$1,300.00 in it over the last two weeks and each time it seems to run great for a few days.
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Old 07-06-2013, 10:02 AM
joe f350 joe f350 is offline
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frist i would check the return lines for leaks and would check the lines going to the tanks sounds like ur sucking in air to the fuel system thats were i would start
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Old 07-06-2013, 10:20 AM
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Along the lines of what Joe's saying, do you know how much fuel was in the tank you were using when it gave you problems? If you were at around 1/4 tank there's a good chance the cone of failure failed and the truck was sucking air at the fuel tank.
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Old 07-06-2013, 11:26 AM
DieselRugger DieselRugger is offline
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Thanks for the suggestions!

Since all of the fuel lines were replaced at the shop and it fired up quickly every time then it sat for almost a week with out being cranked... Is it possible that over that week it lost its prime again?

What is the "Cone of Failure"? I take it by the name that is fails often.
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Old 07-06-2013, 11:45 AM
DieselRugger DieselRugger is offline
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I did some looking around and it seems like CHEVY_EATER has been dealing with this problem before. How difficult is it to replace in my driveway? Also once that is replaced how difficult is it to reprime the engine?

I really do appreciate the help!
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Old 07-06-2013, 12:44 PM
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not starting after sitting with the engine facing up hill is a classic sign of air intrusion through the return lines.
you said they replaced the fuel lines.
did they replace the lines under the truck, or did they do the return lines, caps, and o-rings on top of the engine?
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Old 07-06-2013, 01:05 PM
DieselRugger DieselRugger is offline
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I am not sure if they replaced ALL of the lines or not.

The truck is now and has been parked on a level plain.

But it is sounding like replacing the "cone of failure" and the other fuel lines are going to be the next step.

Has anyone done this job?

How also do I go about repriming the engine?
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Old 07-06-2013, 01:21 PM
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to re prime, i put a facet duralift electric fuel pump in the circuit.

i turn the key on, and by the time the glow plugs are warm the fuel system is purged and primed.

without an E-pump, you are going to have to remove and fill the fuel filter, put it back on, and then usually crack an injector line loose to bleed the air and get it fired up.
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Old 07-06-2013, 03:24 PM
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The pickup cone is a very common problem, search in this forum for fuel tank pickup and you'll get a lot of reading. They get old and brittle after time and crack and fall off making the last 1/4 of a tank of fuel unusable. So if you can run your tanks down to E this isn't your problem.

If your no start/hard start issue happens with a full or near full tank this is not your problem either.

To change you either empty and drop the fuel tanks, or remove the bed. I've done both, prefer to pull the bed. MUCH easier unless you have a bad rust problem.

I've heard you can do the front tank without removing either, haven't tried it myself, but I have looked since I read that and it does look like there's enough room to do it.

I'd start topside though if you're not sure if this is your problem. Replacing return lines and O-Rings is much easier and quicker. Then if persists you can check your tanks.
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Old 07-07-2013, 09:50 AM
DieselRugger DieselRugger is offline
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Well I think that we do not get the last 1/4 of our fuel because I think that the gauge is off.... once the tanks are full the needle is way past the "F"

But the truck has been not starting with full tanks, so it sounds like this might not be the problem either.

TJC Transport, I judge by your post that you have hooked up your electric pump permanently? If I am having prime problems this sounds like it might be the option to fix the problem. What year truck so you have this one?

Thanks again for your help!
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Old 07-07-2013, 10:52 AM
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this is our most common issue with the idi.
an idi is one of the best running diesel engines when it's running.when it's not,they can be a bear to get going again because if the fuel drains back,then you need to use the starter for turning over the lift pump to re-prime the system rather than just for starting the engine.
if your interested in converting to an electric fuel pump where all you need is juice from the battery to get primed again in the event of such a common occurrence with this engine,then searching for electric fuel pump here will be all that's required.
http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/se...archid=9878940
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Old 07-07-2013, 11:41 AM
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I've heard of using a hand pump, bulb style like they use in the boating world. Place inline near the filterhead, then pump it while holding the schraeder valve open. My local walmart sells them.
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Old 07-07-2013, 12:04 PM
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i have a 88. i mounted the pump up high in the engine bay at the filter housing inlet. i can run it momentary, or constant. it is in line between the lift pump and filter.
i have all the fittings and block off plate to eliminate the lift pump, but it has not been done yet due to my leg being so bad i can not get under the truck.

well, that ain't exactly true. i can get under the truck just fine. but once down i need a crane to lift me back up to a standing position.
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Old 07-11-2013, 11:36 AM
DieselRugger DieselRugger is offline
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Hey y’all. I am trying to get a good deal on one of these Facet Dura-Lift electric fuel pumps. I have emailed and PM’d GenLightening but I have not heard back yet.

I am guessing that I would be looking to get the FAC-40285, 33gpm 12v, 4-7psi for my 7.3L IDI. It looks like the going rate is around $125.00. Anyone know where I might be able to get a better deal on one?

Thanks again for all of y'all's help. I hope that once I get this pump and installed by F-350 will be back to being reliable!
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Old 07-11-2013, 05:39 PM
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you found the right guy to beat that price.it's summer,perhaps he went on a trip or something though.how long has it been since you sent him a pm?
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