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Old 02-26-2008, 01:59 PM   #1
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Got Fuel? I don't

i ran out of fuel yesterday in the blue bird with DD 6V71. UGGG!

i'm along side the road in the snow, not the best working conditions. Got a ride to the gas station, put 10 gallons of diesel into the tank....cranked and cranked and cranked until my batteries died. She just wouldn't fire.....

got 2 pair of heavy duty jumper cables connected to F250 super duty and another set connected to suburban. Cranked and cranked and cranked.....still nothing.

i read somewhere that the DD doesn't need to be bled and will just fire on it's own after it runs out of fuel. hmmmm

eventually connected a temporary fuel line from a 5 gallon can of kerosene to the inlet on the fuel filter and she started. I was able to drive her the 1/2 mile to a friends house which took all 5 gallons of fuel...it cycles a lot back to the tank via the return line.
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Old 02-27-2008, 02:43 AM   #2
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Re: Got Fuel? I don't


Don't know about Detroits, but some diesels have a little priming pump that you work by hand. The air may then eventually clear out if you just get enough fuel up there to fire.
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Old 02-27-2008, 08:09 AM   #3
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Re: Got Fuel? I don't

Don't Detroits actually use the fuel as part of the cooling system for the cylinder head? I thought I remembered hearing that once and that would explain why they return so much fuel. Anyway...

Even with my primer pump it can be a REAL pain to get my 6.6 primed after it runs out of fuel thanks to a lack of a check valve anywhere. To prime mine it really is easiest to just use an electric pump to at least get fuel to the filter housing. Maybe you need to do the same thing. You just won't have to hammer on a little primer for an hour after doing that.
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Old 02-27-2008, 10:26 AM   #4
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Re: Got Fuel? I don't

Hi Jason, DDs are not self priming. I have a 671 DD (I suspect the 6V71 is the same except in "V" form) and, after running out of fuel, I had to prime it with a garden sprayer connected to the fuel filter.

Check with Idaho Frank, he has plans for the sprayer.

Good luck and remember not to run out of fuel.
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Old 02-27-2008, 11:25 AM   #5
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Re: Got Fuel? I don't


There ARE electric "lift" pumps for diesel. The guys who hot rod diesel pickups use them. One brand is FASS. Might be the ultimate safeguard against the priming problem. But they are big $$$.
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Old 02-28-2008, 01:27 AM   #6
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Re: Got Fuel? I don't

it took me at least 6 hours of work over two days to get her all fixed up. I was beginning to think that i had a hole in the fuel line allowing air to enter or something.....everythign is ok now. I added an electric diesel lift pump near the fuel filter. In a perfect world the pump would be near the tank, but it's michigan, 10 degrees, and lots of snow. Turned the pump on for just a few seconds and she started spraying fuel. Finished connecting the pump to the fuel filter, pushed the start button and everything is just fine.

I've primed a few different diesels before, and all of them had a manual primer pump on them, but i can't seem to find one anywhere on this DD. The next guy that runs out of fuel will appreciate the new 12 volt lift pump!

i should shoot a photo of that....

thanks for the advice guys
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:31 AM   #7
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Priming a Detroit Diesel

Do not allow a diesel engine to run out of fuel. Do not run a starter until the batteries are dead. If the bus is parked level, 5 gallons will be sufficient to supply the engine. The fuel path for a Detroit Diesel is different than other engines. The fuel enters the primary filter, thru the mechanical fuel pump, to the secondary fuel pump to the engine injectors. The circuit makes the fuel clean. The easiest method of priming a DD is to use a gallon garden sprayer for priming. First step for priming is to remove both fuel filters and fill as full as possible and replace filters. Take the garden sprayer and cut end off at nozzle, and slide on a piece of 3/8th fuel hose about 6 inches long. Remove any convenient plug from the primary fuel filter and install a 3/8th barb fitting. Pump the sprayer for pressure, and begin to start the ngine. The engine may immediately start but allow engine to run at a high idle for a minute. If engine should slow, add more pressure from the sprayer. The engine fuel pump is a gear drive positive flow pressure, but will not pump vapor. After engine is running good, stop engine and replace the filter plug. Having a remote start switch near the engine and an electric primer pump is also good. All diesel engine owners should also carry the required fuel filters. Mostly the primary filters catch the most trash. On many DD powered vehicles, the fuel lines are steel, and the supply line check valve will fail, for several reasons, or the line will develop pin holes. The prime and restart will be difficult. Carrying containers of fuel is wasted effort, as the garden pump is some insurance. Starting fluid is also good to carry for an easier start. Frank in Idaho
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Old 02-28-2008, 09:29 PM   #8
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Re: Got Fuel? I don't

Thanks for the great post, Frank. Your knowledge is priceless.

I can walk you through the priming procedure per the Ford manual for your 6.6 if you want, Chuck. It might not be a bad idea to do a "dry run" ( ) so that if it happens you are prepared. Just let me know. I think I even have some pictures.
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Old 02-29-2008, 12:34 AM   #9
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Priming diesel engines

There are as many ways of priming a diesel engine as there are engines. The Detroit Diesel engines are different as the engine use a 2 stage filtration system. Other engines also use 2 filters but only filter the fuel one time. I have primed many diesel engines. One tough engine to prime is the VW diesel in a Rabbit. The damn small hand pump is worthless. I now use the garden sprayer on most any engine needing primed. Thanks for the offer, as I welcome any new methods.Sorry, I do not know your name, but thanks, Frank
My other bus RV is a Blue Bird with a IHC 7.3 with a lift pump to the injection pump.
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Old 02-29-2008, 12:57 AM   #10
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Re: Got Fuel? I don't

on any vehicle that i run on wvo i install a small hand primer pump designed for a boat. It can be purchased from wal-mart during the summer months for under $20...might be under 10, but i can't remember.



after running out of fuel, i pump the boat primer till it gets too hard to squeeze, then i use the small stock hand pump built into the side of the injector pump...then i go back and pump the boat primer a few times, then do a little more pumping on the stock pump until i can feel that it's pushing fuel, then the engine usually starts. sometimes it runs a little rough at first and i find it helps if i go out and pump the boat primer a few times while the engine is running at idle to help get any air that's left out of the lines. I've had super good luck with this system, and it's very cheap yet simple and reliable. I've used this method on both the 6.6 liter ford and IH dt360. I can easily get one of these engines started after running out of fuel in under 2 minutes.

another thing i like to do when i have a geni or shore power available is put the battery charger on before i start working on the fuel system just in case she takes a bit more cranking than i anticipate, a fully or slightly overcharged battery makes the starter produce a lot less heat and turns the engine over as fast as possible.

i've "cracked" an injector on these engines, but found that it's really not necessary. It seems that the return line is pretty good at getting rid of air. I also started a 5.9 cummins after it ran out of fuel using only the small stock hand (or in this case finger) pump on the side of the IP.

This DD gave me a lot of trouble, mostly because i could not find a stock hand primer and was under the assumption that it would prime itself after running out of fuel.

another method of priming that i have not used, but heard was common on the old military 6x6's was using air to pressurize the fuel tank to a few psi (you wouldn't want more than 5 or 10 psi...to much and you'd start to deform your tank) and the air pressure in the tank will force the fuel through the lines and into the injector pump. May want to disconnect the fuel line at the fuel filter before pressurizing the tank to get the air out of the line...then reconnect and do a little more air pressure to force fuel through the filters and into the ip...
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