NOVEMBER 16 MSCC FEATURE FRIDAY: THE BALLAD OF THELMA PART THREE—TEST DRIVING THE 400 CHRYSLER LEAN BURN AFTER THE EFI RETROFIT

0
398

 

After reinstalling the collector and the gas tank and connecting the pump to the gas tank, I was left with very little to finish up so I was able to wire up the rest of the harness and run the return fuel line to the tank.

The harness was pretty simple: you pull power and ground directly from the battery.

 

There’s a coolant sensor that installs in place of the factory one (at least in my case). RPM from the negative post of the coil, O2 sensor and a few relays that needed a home bolted to the firewall.

 

I ran through the setup on the touch screen on the control module and was able to fire the car for the first time after everything was installed as per the instructions. She fired right up but this was the moment I discovered that I didn’t install a new oil filter in the place of the one I removed. I would have been very happy at this point, but instead I now had a lake of green oil to clean.

 

Later that same day… after I got my giant mess cleaned up, oil back in the car, new oil filter on I was able to start Thelma and celebrate.

 

After my first drive I was happy with Thelma. She had punch where before she had cough and stall. The EFI Kit was the answer to the problem of the Lean Burn debacle. I don’t think I mentioned this but I also removed Thelma’s Lean Burn computer(?) from the side of air filter. In the place of the opening I installed some black duct heavy duty tape – the type they use to tape gorillas to each other. I kept the Lean Burn unit in case I need a doorstop.

 

 

The only thing I didn’t like about the install was how close the fuel pump was to the exhaust pipe. Heat and fuel pumps are a bad combo so I built a heat shield out of piece of galvanized sheet metal to give the pump a bit of a barrier. I’m sure this is completely unnecessary but it makes me happy.

 

 

Over the next few days tooling around in the car was great, but then over the Mother’s Day weekend I put 60 miles on her and found the pump was getting really loud. Other than being loud, I didn’t notice any performance problems. Another 60 miles home – pump was still loud but car ran fine. I started googling loud fuel pumps and felt better as some people experience loud fuel pumps on aftermarket EFI installs.

 

 

Then the next weekend I took the car for a drive and she was fine until I put my foot into her and she would go real lean and hesitate. I figured that the line between the pump and tank had collapsed and after removing my heat shield I found I was exactly right. I had too tight of a turn on the line and eventually she sucked the line closed. I removed the rubber line and not without some difficulty I put in a short piece of steel line to aid the bend from tank into pump. This cleared up the noisy pump because it was now not working so hard and got rid of the lean issue on full throttle.

 

 

I’ve had the car on the road now for about four months since the install and am very happy with the car. Thelma is not a high-performance car by any stretch of the imagination but she now is without the telltale signs of being a Lean Burn car. She doesn’t hesitate under hard acceleration, she doesn’t stall at intersections and she doesn’t have trouble with steep hills. She’s just a great running car.

 

 

A couple things I still notice is that if you don’t give her a few minutes to warm up she may still stall but if/when that happens it doesn’t happen after more than five minutes of having her running. I took her on 400-mile trip and she was perfect – and if you keep your foot out of it she’s gets really good mileage too.

 

 

There are a couple of things I haven’t done yet that I’d like to do this upcoming Spring that will help a bit—not the least of which is new spark plugs and wires. I’d also like to install an aftermarket ignition system because it plugs right into my EFI kit and I like to see how much better Thelma can get.

 

 

I’ve never had a tuner car before so I’m having a lot of fun now being part of the tuner scene… in Thelma, my 1977 Chrysler Newport.

 

By Angus Sutherland–Car Addict in Residence

 

Angus Sutherland is a freelance contributor to MyStarCollectorCar. He’s got his hands dirty on many occasions so he knows all about the less glamorous side of the hobby. Take a look at one of his automotive odysseys  in his blog The TR6 Project.

 

print

 

 

- Sponsors -