Fitting fuel-injection (or a late model injected motor) to your old school ride isn’t as simple as merely bolting it in, joining some wiring and twisting the key. Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) requires a vastly different fuel system to old school cars, where a carburettor, mechanical pump and a couple of lines were all that were required to make an engine run.
As EFI operates at far higher, finely-metered, pressure than a carbie this means you need a powerful electric pump and, due to EFI’s sensitivity to fuel starvation, a way to ensure the go-juice is always there ready to be fired into the chamber by the injector.
Thankfully, Aeromotive has just released a solution to these problems in the form of the Phantom In-Tank EFI Fuel System. Available as a kit for both returnless and return-equipped fuel systems, the Phantom set-up makes it a simple job to get your tank plumbed for EFI.
The premise of the system is simple: is you fit a modern fuel pump inside a bolt-in cradle inside the tank, with a foam anti-surge member attached to the bottom of it. The lines run from the top of the cradle out to the engine, with both return and non-returning kits available from Aeromotive.
We fitted a Phantom Universal kit to Mark’s EK Holden, which is copping a grumpy 304cui injected V8 from a 1990s Commodore, but the idea behind this swap would also work on a carburettor-fed engine converting to EFI.
BOX O' GOODIES
It turns up in one large box containing all the hardware required, but not the drill bits, hole saws and the like to actually install it, or plumb it to the rest of your fuel system. We already had the awesome 75L custom fuel tank from Shaun's Custom Alloy, finished off with two baffles to stop fuel surge, and we also supplied our own fuel sender assembly to show the amount of petrol Mark's EK doesn't have, too.
The custom tank done by Shaun's Custom Alloy is a real piece of art. Ryan designed it and had Shaun build it using precise measurements. It's a trick bit of gear made specially for Mark's car.
First up we plan exactly where the pump cradle and also the fuel sender units will sit in the custom tank made by Shaun's Custom Alloy. The yellow foam piece is the anti-surge unit that is cut to the correct height for your tank, preventing fuel starvation. It surrounds the cradle assembly and ensures it is always bathed in fuel.
GET BRAVE, KIDS!
Taking a holesaw to a custom-made piece of art worth $1000 isn't for the feint-hearted but Ryan has steady hands. After drilling a pilot hole he punched through the 6mm sheet to provide an aperture for the new cradle assembly. He also later cut a smaller hole nearby for the fuel sender assembly.
Not all fuel tanks are the same dimensions or depth, so the Aeromotive Phantom system comes extra-tall and you cut the cradle down to suit your tank's individual depth. It's crucial to be precise here as, if the pump sits too high in the tank, you'll have problems picking up fuel from the bottom of the tank which could mean running out of fuel prematurely. The actual fuel pump (the silver cylinder in Ryan's hands) is then attached to the cradle, plumbed and wired as a whole plug-and-play unit.
Attaching the cradle to the tank is simple thanks to the template Aeromotive supply with the Phantom kit. Bolting it in place it guides you to precisely drill the holes for the cradle's bottom plate, which has 10 studs fitted to it, allowing the cradle to slip into the tank and over those studs.
The fuel sender (which does not come in the kit) came from Classic Instruments. It is used to show the correct level of fuel in the tank on the gauge so you don't want to stuff up how this bad boy sits in the tank. Ensuring the correct length/depth is paramount to a good, working, reliable fuel gauge!
TAP IT IN
We drilled the holes for the fuel sender and then tapped the holes instead of using the supplied bolts (for a neater finish for the customer).
READY TO ROCK!
Bolted up and ready to be plumbed and wired into the rest of the fuel system, we removed the Phantom pump cradle and sender assemblies to blow the tank out of any swarf from drilling those holes. The hole installation took around two hours, working slowly but methodically. No special tools were required; just a holesaw, drill bits, tape measure, texta or Sharpie, hacksaw, file and a tap set for the sender assembly.