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88 E350 Diesel Fuel Leak.

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Old 03-21-2018, 02:17 PM
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88 E350 Diesel Fuel Leak.

Short Version:

Does anyone have personal experience changing the injection lines on a similar van? A little out of my element on this one and looking for more info on the process to gauge whether or not it's something I should attempt myself (not much experience) or if the headache/margin for error isn't worth the money it would save me.


Long version:

Greetings, all. Recently purchased a 1988 E350 conversion van with a 7.3 liter IDI diesel 156,000 miles. I'll start by saying Fords/vans/diesels are new to me. In fact, for the last 3 years I didn't own a vehicle at all, so please bare with my ignorance.

I soon found it really did not want to start after sitting for even 10-12 hours. Just cranks and cranks and cranks sometimes draining the battery in the process. Moderate plume of white-ish or light blue-ish smoke when it does fire up, but it seems to go away after idling for a bit. Once it's been running for a bit it has NO problem firing back up after short periods of being off. While driving I'll occasionally get this sputter, subtle jerking or seeming hesitation to shift. Feels a lot like a tranny problem but it's so inconsistent I cant get it to act up for a mechanic.

Last place I took it to said it was the injection lines leaking (the individually shaped metal ones) where they meet the injection pump and speculated that the occasional jerking that was happening was a result of the fuel delivery system becoming aerated which would also explain the struggle to start (it can't keep the fuel primed when sitting). I asked them to check the glow plugs as well and they said they were getting power, but I don't think they ohmed them out.

The shop wanted $2200 to replace all 8 lines. I think I found the kit for all 8 a little cheaper at US Diesel Parts, but the shop still wants something like $800 for labor.

That said, do any of you know if this is really a 7-8 hour job for a professional?
Have any of you done this personally? (on a van this old) and can you shed some light on the difficulty?
I'd assume to change the fuel filter as well, but if I were to get the lines replaced is there anything else that should be addressed while in there?
Do any of you have a favorite mechanic (shop or mobile mechanic) in the northern CA region?
As mentioned above, once its running I "can" drive it all day, it's only died on me once and my buddy just purged the fuel filter a little and she fired right back up, but if there's air in the system am I hurting anything by driving it? Could this cause other damage or harm the life expectancy of the engine?
Also wondering what kind of trouble I'd be facing if there was water in the fuel....

I was very much misled by the seller, but either way the van is home. ANY insight, tips, tricks, etc. are greatly appreciated. Thank you!
 
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Old 03-21-2018, 09:31 PM
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I'd find the leak before I did anything.
Once it's pinpointed you can gauge the fix from there
Throwing parts at a problem is not a wise financial move.
 
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Old 03-21-2018, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by vettex2 View Post
I'd find the leak before I did anything.
Once it's pinpointed you can gauge the fix from there
Throwing parts at a problem is not a wise financial move.
The shop said it was the injector lines and showed me a photo of the fuel pooled up below what I believe was the injector pump. Perhaps I need to edit my original post.

Guess I can run it, poke around under the hood and look for active dripping or beading.
 
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Old 03-22-2018, 10:59 AM
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yup, you need to get eyes on the actual leak first
 
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Old 03-23-2018, 07:46 PM
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There are a couple possibilities for leaking lines at the injectors.

#1. You've got the steel high pressure supply lines that go from the injector pump to the injectors. These are suppose to have isolator clamps on them. If these clamps are missing the hard lines can crack. This option is less likely unless someone has been messing with the engine in the past. Replacing these lines is not a 7-8 hour job for a shop!

#2. Is the much more common issue on the IDI's. It's the return fuel lines. There are plastic caps on each injector with nipples with a rubber hose that connects each injector to the next one. There are o-rings that seal the plastic caps to the injectors. These O-rings are usually the source of the leaks. You don't just replace the o-rings. They sell a complete kit with all the O-rings, caps, hoses and clamps. Changing these is a bit of a pain but should be do-able.

If either of these happen you will get air intrusion that will make it hard to start. The return line kit is a whole lot cheaper then the hard supply lines are. I would verify that the hard lines are cracked before even considering a shop. There are plenty of shops that would rip you off by saying it's the supply lines when it's actually the return line kit that's bad. So always verify the problem.

You can see what's involved here:https://www.oilburners.net/threads/i...th-pics.59594/

Or search and ask questions on the IDI forum here on FTE: https://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/forum117/

Being in the van will make it more difficult on parts of the job. But having access to the rear of the engine via pulling the dog house inside the van makes it easier on the other parts of the job. I did this on my 91 7.3L power F-Superduty truck. The truck sits high enough to make it a pain, but I got it done. These engines are simple enough that anyone with some mechanical skills should be able to do most of the basic repairs on them. Search the two forums I linked above and ask questions and you should be able to fix it yourself. The IDI is a very basic diesel and is quite simple to work on compared to the newer Powerstrokes.

Is yours a Turbo or a N/A?
 
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Old 03-31-2018, 07:19 AM
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I also have an '88 IDI van. There are a lot of places that these can leak fuel and they will pool under the IP. I would definitely NOT pay that kind of money without making sure. The first item to check would be the return lines already mentioned. Pretty inexpensive.

As far as doing it yourself, how handy are you wrenching? Changing the lines would be a bit time consuming, but not overly difficult.

How long does your wait to start light stay on? How fast does it crank over when you try and start it?

An air intrusion will usually allow you to start the van and then it will die after about 5 second. Then you have to crank it quite a bit for it to start again.

The hard starting you mentioned is usually a Glow Plug issue. You can take a test light and touch each one. If it lights up they are good, if it doesn't they are bad. For the $$ and since you don't know what brand are in there I would simply change them all to eliminate it as a possibility. Read through the GP sticky thread in the IDI Diesel section. It will explain a lot and point out what brand plugs to get.

Get in contact with a user on here named Genscripter. He is in California and is very knowledgeable about the IDI van's.

So here is the million dollar question........ What is the purpose of your van and do you want to spend some $$ to make it reliable for you?

I have spent a bit on mine for maintenance to make sure it is reliable, but Now I wouldn't hesitate to drive it coast to coast. I have don't a number of long road trips in it (Indiana to Texas and Florida) and DD it every day to work etc.
 
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Old 03-31-2018, 03:24 PM
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$2000 for injector lines is a complete freaking rip off. Who are these guys? This should be reported to some kind of authority, be it the police or some kind of governing regulatory body. 8 freaking hours to replace some injector lines? I'm going to have my whole engine out of the van in less time.

I can't comment now (heading to my kid's soccer game) and I'm currently doing an IDI swap in my van this week, but I'll try to check in on this as much as possible.

If I were the OP, I'd move this conversation to the IDI forum: https://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/forum117/ They can help you with the leaks better. As for Van-specific stuff, I highly recommend reading up on my IDI Van Website: IDI Online ? DIY Repair for the 6.9 and 7.3 IDI Diesel Van (and other vehicles) Since there isn't crap on the internet for the IDI Van, I've taken it upon myself to build up a decent repository for all my repairs. Expect a flood of new articles and videos with the upcoming projects.


UPDATE: If you are remotely handy, use this article as a guide and put the injector lines on yourself: http://www.nickpisca.com/diesel/fuel...der-at-the-ip/ All you need is a 5/8" open-ended wrench. Also, buy a set of injector line caps and lines from rockauto and install them while you are swapping the lines: https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/...ation+kit,6010
 
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