Should You Put An Electric Fuel Pump On An Older Imperial?


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Question from Kerry:

A friend puts electric fuel pumps on all his cars wired to a little toggle switch hidden up under the dash. When he wants to start one of his cars that has been sitting a while, he turns on the fuel pump to refill the carburetor so the motor doesn't have to crank so long.

He also likes the idea of a backup fuel pump on older cars as he frequently takes long solo road trips.

I have purchased but not yet installed a 6V electric pump to go on my 54 Imp. As slow as the 6V system cranks, it is a real chore to crank it enough to get the gas system filled up enough to get gas into the engine. Once it does though she fires right up.


From Dick:

I should have been more tolerant of this situation. In the case of a car which sits for long periods, and thus needs a lot of cranking, I can certainly see the need for an electric fuel pump. A 6 volt car is more likely to need one than a 12 volt car, because of the more energetic starter. In fact, I do have an electric pump on my 47 Packard, for exactly this reason, as it often sits for months at a time without being started. The problem is that most such installations are done in haste and without particular attention to position of the pump, and often cause vapor lock by introducing restriction in the line from the tank to the mechanical pump. If the pump is installed so that it doesn't cause problems, I'd agree it is a good idea to save wear on the starter.

I think the electric pump should be mounted in a cool, protected location, away from exhaust system parts, and as low as can be arranged so that there is less chance the pump will have problems keeping its prime. I mounted mine near the tank, on the frame, as low as I could without making it vulnerable to road hazards. I still notice more tendency of the car to vapor lock since I put it on, though, so there is definitely some restriction added to the fuel line.

I have another car, identical mechanically, without an electric pump, and it also sits for months. To start this the first time after disuse, I dump a tablespoon of gas into the carburetor- it fires right up and by the time the prime is used up, the mechanical pump has picked up the load. This car has never had vapor lock in the 28 years I've been driving it. It is a convertible, so it sees a lot of very hot parade use in this high desert community, a recipe for vapor lock if there ever was one!

From Steve:

I think this all boils down to: If you have a classic car that sits for months w/o being started, take off the air-cleaner housing and move the throttle by hand....look down the carburetor's venturis and see if the accelerator pump squirts some fuel. If it doesn't, dump a little fuel down the carburetor's venturis before firing her up. <--that way you will save a lot of wear and tear on the starter.

OR, you can install an electric fuel pump and run the risk of having vapor-lock....and run the risk of having your car "reject" that new-fangled part you put on because you are too lazy to take the lid off of the air cleaner to see if your carburetor pumps gas upon start-up after sitting for an extended period of time.

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