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Old 04-03-2018, 04:35 PM   #1
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Electrical gremlins

I'm not sure if I'm in the right place but I'll start here. I recently bought a 1991 Ford Sportsmobile. It's been sitting undercover for a number of years. We are trying to fire it up. I've rekeyed the ignition and installed a new battery. It cranks well and wants to fire but isn't getting fuel. There are 2 fuel tanks and the front one has fuel that we have added. My question is this. The fuel pumps don't seem to be pumping. I found a silver toggle switch on the bottom of the drivers side dash. Is this to switch front and rear tanks? I have a Chilton manual but am having difficulty locating the pump relay. I think it is on the passenger side inner fender in the engine compartment? I suspect I'll have to drop one or both fuel tanks but being basically lazy I'd like to hear it run before I dive too far in to it. I've separated the fuel lines on the fuel rail and when the ignition is switched on nothing issues forth. I'm sad. Help. Mike
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Old 04-03-2018, 05:37 PM   #2
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I have little experience with a van of that vintage, but you have proven there is no fuel flow. Why don't you try to add a few gallons to the second tank? I've seen the fuel selector valve stick and not switch tanks despite changing the tank selector switch position. If that's the case, adding some fuel to the second tank should get some fuel flowing. Have you checked the fuses for the fuel pump? I think you should be able to hear the fuel pump run for a couple seconds when turning the key to the on position, (if your close to the tank). How about the fuel filter? Try disconnecting the fuel line before the filter and then turning on the key to check for flow.
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Old 04-03-2018, 05:58 PM   #3
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Thanks, I'll try that. I am curious about the way the tanks switch over. My experience is with diesels and they have all had tank switches located on dash. The only switch I can find on this is one low on the bottom of the dash. It might be the tank selector. The manual is no help and I don't have the Ford E250 owners manual so no help there either. Some one told me that some dual tank setups had automatic selector switches. It's worth a try putting 5 gallons of fuel into the other tank. I suspect I'll end up dropping both tanks in the end but wouldn't be heartbroken if I didn't have to. We have tried listening for the fuel pumps powering up but don't hear them. Mysterious mystery.
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Old 04-03-2018, 06:53 PM   #4
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Fuel tank switches are usually marked but who knows on yours. Process of elimination? Any other switches to try or have you ruled them all out? Any signs of alarm system which might have a cutoff? I'm pretty sure you don't have access to the previous owner by what you've said. Can you get in touch?

Post a pic of the rear tank so we can tell you if it's factory or aftermarket. Does it have one or two filler doors? Are two filler necks jammed in to one door by chance? This would point to Transferflow. They are still around.
My TransferFlow tank had a plate on it.
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Old 04-03-2018, 07:02 PM   #5
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That's been my experience. The tank switches on my F350s were always somewhere mid dash and marked. This thing had a bizarro security setup that we removed along with a lot of radio/phone wiring. The switch I'm referring to doesn't look like part of that. It's going to require more upside down investigating with a flash light. The van came out of New York as salvage. I think the P.O. passed away and it sat in a salvage yard for a while. The only thing they managed to do was bend the drive shaft with a forklift. I bought it last fall and have been working away on it slowly. Now that it's warming up it's time to make it work.
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Old 04-03-2018, 10:23 PM   #6
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I've had several E-series vans of all years and I don't recall being able to hear the fuel pump on most of them. The security wiring etc. you removed is a red flag for me. I bet there's some disconnect switch somewhere. If you want to rule out the fuel pump then disconnect the fuel line at the filter (inside frame rail just about right under driver's seat) and see if it spurts fuel when cranking. Messy but foolproof!
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Old 04-03-2018, 10:28 PM   #7
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Im not sure if the van has one, but i remember my 95 F250 had a switch in the passenger side kick panel that turns the fuel pump off in the event of a roll over or hard impact.
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Old 04-04-2018, 07:24 AM   #8
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Thanks all. I have the "inertia switch" and it seems good. The fuel filter is our next stop. I noticed in the Chilton manual that some vans had external fuel pumps mounted on a frame rail. I should be so lucky. T he nice thing about this rig is that although it is from the land of rust there is not a lick of rust anywhere except around the propane tank area. It's showing 100k miles on the odometer and it looks like it spent its life in the southwest. It's worth fixing.
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Old 04-05-2018, 01:07 PM   #9
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Investigation with a volt meter is in order. So is a set of factory Ford shop manuals(normally available on Amazon for under $100) The manual will show you exactly where to take voltage measurements, and what to expect. Without the manual, I'd at least try to measure the voltage at the plug for the pump, on top of the tank if internal, or along the frame rail. If no voltage, you might be able to fire the pump with a jumper directly from the battery just as a test.
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Old 04-09-2018, 06:52 PM   #10
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Good advice. As I'm too cheap to purchase a factory manual and the Chilton I did buy doesn't tell me much specific to my 1991 E250 but is more broad in it's coverage I guess the volt meter is the way to go. I did some investigating under the dash and found the the switch I saw earlier is aftermarket and probably has nothing to do with the fuel tanks. A friend who owned an 87 Ford E150 Sportsmoblie says his had 2 tanks with out a dash switch. The fact that I'm working on it out side and the weather is not cooperating isn't making it any easier.
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