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Old 04-26-2023, 12:21 PM   #1
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'97 T444e Airlocked (HEUI)

Greetings,

I ran my '97 t444e (390,000 miles) out of diesel while idling on our property. Batteries are good, I filled the tank 3/4 full, changed fuel filter, and haven't been able to get the skoolie to run. It has been sitting 3 months now.

Researching, I learned that I probably 'airlocked' the fuel system. It was a totally new concept to me.

This engine has HEUI type injectors. I cannot find very much information on purging air from this type of fuel system, apart from the unhelpful suggesting that I 'crack' the fuel lines at the injectors.

-Bambi

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Old 04-26-2023, 06:16 PM   #2
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Check that your electric fuel pump is working. 7.3 will run without it until the siphon breaks, then will not restart.

I have seen brake cleaner used to start and keep a 7.3 running until it caught prime and would run on its own, but if you've never done that, get a pro to help.
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Old 05-07-2023, 04:46 PM   #3
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Thank you for the advice. Even though I've done it before, I don't want to use ether because it's risky and in my opinion a last resort. I have suspected the fuel pump as an issue, however mine is NOT electrical, it IS mechanical.

Diagnostic button on the dash threw me some codes:

152
543
152 (repeat)
224
543 (repeat)
615
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Old 05-07-2023, 04:57 PM   #4
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theres a fuel pressure test port right on the regulator.. you can put a gauge on that port.. when cranking you should see the neecdle on a fuel PSI test gauge bounce up to like 45 then it will decay down and then bounce back up.. this is due to the stroke nature of a mechanical pump... it drives off of the cam so the pressure builds with every 2 revolutions of the engine.
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Old 05-08-2023, 08:05 AM   #5
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I have found a safer way to start a diesel that has lost prime or has been sitting for a long time is with a gallon garden sprayer with diesel in it. Get a straight shot into the intake and spray while someone else is cranking (try and do it w/o intake heater on...like a Cat has, glow plugs should be OK) Of course set the nozzle for a very fine spray, this way you aren't using engine killing starting fluid.

Funny story: I have a Perkins diesel engine in one of my welders and the way they started it in cold weather was an injector in the intake manifold with an igniter....called a blow torch preheater, THINK ABOUT THAT!
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Old 05-08-2023, 09:39 AM   #6
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You need to reprime the fuel system. Unscrew the filter and pressurize the fuel tank with an air nozzle and rag. Reinstall the filter and then crank the bus while depressing the schrader valve near the filter. Once you have fuel there, the engine should be close to firing, so crank it at safe intervals until it does. Don't overheat the starter.

Your codes indicate to me power loss or memory loss from dead batteries. If the ecm/idm failed that'd keep it from starting for sure, but I don't think running it out of fuel would cause the ecm/idm to fail. Be sure to have good charged batteries, and it wouldn't hurt to be charging them while you're doing all of this.
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Old 05-12-2023, 09:43 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Booyah45828 View Post
You need to reprime the fuel system. Unscrew the filter and pressurize the fuel tank with an air nozzle and rag. Reinstall the filter and then crank the bus while depressing the schrader valve near the filter. Once you have fuel there, the engine should be close to firing, so crank it at safe intervals until it does. Don't overheat the starter.

Your codes indicate to me power loss or memory loss from dead batteries. If the ecm/idm failed that'd keep it from starting for sure, but I don't think running it out of fuel would cause the ecm/idm to fail. Be sure to have good charged batteries, and it wouldn't hurt to be charging them while you're doing all of this.
Pretty much bang on, I've removed the cap entirely with the filter right out, have a 2nd person crank over the engine and see if the mechanical pump is filling up that fuel bowl. Once its full you are mostly there. Just need to finish filling the heads with fuel to the injectors.

If you don't have fuel filling the bowl. Start at the tank and work to the pump. First thing I would do since it ran out of fuel, take the supply line off from the tank, blow air back into the tank. Running out of fuel can plug the pick up from crap sitting in the bottom of the tank. I have seen that on a lot of ag tractors/Kubota out front mowers also bad for it.
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