As enthusiasts, when we are working on our cars, we concern ourselves with many aspects of the fuel system that feeds the power we enjoy each time we hop behind the wheel. While there are superstars like carburetor jets, injectors, and pressure regulators that receive all the attention when the wrenches start flying, there is also an area that doesn’t receive enough love. One such area that merits more focus is the fuel tank.
It seems like second nature to regularly dissect a carburetor to finely tune the liquid diet of the engine, but when considering the place we store all that precious liquid, we often ask a simple yes/no question of “does it leak?” Actually, there is a lot more you should consider when pondering the proper fuel tank for your pride and joy. That is why we recently contacted Rick’s Tanks in El Paso, Texas, about the fuel tank in our project car, Blank Slate. We are planning to upgrade to a 1,000 horsepower EFI-fed LS engine in our project, and the fuel demands necessitate a fuel tank that will not suffer from any shortcomings that could cause fuel delivery issues. To get some insight about how modern technology has helped improve hot rod fuel supply, and how enthusiasts can best utilize today’s technology for their application, we asked Hector Guerrero to tell us a little bit about their custom tanks and why we would need one for our application. He told us, “In many instances, our new RestoMod tank will suffice, but sometimes space, chassis design changes, or simply needing the ultimate in fuel supply, mandates that a custom tank be utilized.”
Current technology has blurred the chronological line between modern and classic, specifically where fuel injection is being installed on classic cars and carburetors are being installed on modern engines that once featured EFI.
Our tanks can be upgraded to use our Vapor Series pickup system, which is impossible to starve on the street or track. – Hector Guerrero, Rick’s Tanks
As Hector eluded to, Rick’s has just released their RestoMod line of fuel tanks that are designed for those wanting a fresh, clean, and modern upgrade for their factory fuel tank, and you can check out a full article on those tanks right here. If you’re planning on driving into the deep end of the performance pool, Rick’s Tanks has custom tanks available with options to make sure you can use all the handling and horsepower your car has to offer. They do this by considering both the quantity and quality of the fuel supply to the engine. Fuel Quantity
Supplying the proper amount of fuel to an engine is key to optimal performance. By determining how much fuel your engine will need at any particular load rating, you can ensure that there will not be any lean occurrences while your engine is buzzing its way to redline. All the proper injector and fuel-line sizing cannot compensate for inadequate fuel supply if it never makes it out of the tank. That is why Rick’s offers several different custom configurations that are suited to meet the needs of a wide variety of applications. Their custom-built tanks are designed to fit into the original tank’s location, utilize the factory mounting system, and they are chock full of upgrades and benefits.
Rick’s custom tanks are made using 303/304-grade, mill-certified stainless steel, and each tank is machine-formed, hand-assembled, and TIG-welded in-house to ensure superior quality. Another upgrade over some other tanks is the addition of internal baffling to keep fuel available to the pump during heavy acceleration or hard cornering.
Since these tanks are custom-built, they can benefit from additional clearance being engineered-in for added room around exhaust systems and chassis componenets. They can also be outfitted with an additional, second fuel pump to supply cars with ultra-high horsepower, supercharged applications, or those burning E85. With the horsepower we plan to throw at project Blank Slate, that extra pump will come in handy.
All in-tank configurations use a lock-ring to secure the fuel pump assemblies inside the tank. Rick’s also has single and double-feed fuel pump hats that provide for an additional pump using a single lock ring.
Using this pump configuration, fuel supply can be increased by choosing a higher-flowing pump, or by adding additional pumps to the already-installed assembly to meet the needs of those far-reaching horsepower numbers.
You can’t move any amount of fuel if you can’t get it to the pump. That issue has plagued enthusiasts for decades, and it has only gotten worse with the increased performance that many cars are experiencing today. The number of 500 to 1,000+ horsepower cars that are being driven on the street today attest to the fact that street performance is the best it has ever been. The downfall is that the additional fuel required becomes harder to control at these horsepower levels.
You can’t pump fuel that has sloshed away from the pump’s intake, and since cars turn left and right as well as accelerate, merely having a sump to pool the fuel might not be enough to keep it flowing consistently. For those situations, Rick’s Tanks offers their Vapor Series of fuel capturing assemblies. According to Hector, “Our internal pumps can be upgraded to use our Vapor Series pickup system, which is impossible to starve on the street or track.” This fuel pick up system features multiple pick ups that are dispersed within the tank to ensure that fuel reaches the pump, no matter which way you turn. They also offer tanks with sumps for those who prefer to go that route. The Rick’s sump tanks are ideal for drag racing, and recommended for off-highway use. The unique design has proven successful for wheels-up launches and sub-7.50 second quarter-mile e.t.’s.
Rick’s also offers bolt-in and weld-in lock ring assemblies for those who might already have an adequate tank, but want to upgrade the fuel flow. Installing one of their lock-ring-style fuel assembly mounts opens a world of possibilities to any of the fuel pump configurations that Rick’s Tanks offers via their anodized, billet fuel assembly hat and baffle system. In addition, their lock-ring assemblies will also accommodate the 2010 through 2015 Camaro SS, ZL1, and Cadillac CTS-V pump modules when 6.5 to 6.625 inches of internal tank depth can be achieved.
OE-style Pump Ratings And Usage
750 hp naturally-aspirated carburetor
600 hp naturally-aspirated EFI
450 hp forced-induction with carburetor
600 hp forced-induction with EFI
340 LPH Pump
1,000 hp naturally-aspirated carburetor
850 hp naturally-aspirated EFI
850 hp forced-induction with carburetor
700 hp forced-induction with EFI
400 LPH Pump
1,200 hp naturally-aspirated carburetor
1,050 hp naturally-aspirated EFI
900 hp forced-induction with carburetor
750 hp forced-induction with EFI
450 LPH Pump
1,300 hp naturally-aspirated carburetor
1,100 hp naturally-aspirated EFI
950 hp forced-induction with carburetor
800 hp forced-induction with EFI
900 hp naturally-aspirated carburetor (E85)
750 hp naturally-aspirated EFI (E85)
700 hp forced-induction with carburetor (E85)
550 hp forced-induction with EFI (E85)
Due to the modular design of the OE-style pump hat assembly and the possibility of doubling the fuel pump assemblies on thier custom-built tanks, Rick’s has made fuel supply available for applications from very mild to extremely wild. The OE-style fuel pump assembly can be utilized with single, or dual pumps rated at 255, 340, 400, 450 liters-per-hour, as well as E85 applications. The SS Camaro pump is good for engines making up to 650 horsepower, the ZL1 Camaro pump will supply engines making up to 800 horsepower, and the Cadillac CTS-V pump will safely feed a thirsty 1,000 horsepower engine. That being said, these pumps will need a pulse-width-modulated controller for proper operation. While this custom tank is best suited for those running an EFI system, it is also a great option for you carburetor guys as well. You get all the benefits of an in-tank fuel system that can deliver adequate fuel, and all you need to do is add a bypass regulator near the carburetor so the un-needed fuel returns to the tank.
The Point Of No Return?
The benefits of whether to use a return or returnless fuel system has been debated ever since the one-line-wonder started showing up on cars. A returnless system will help to reduce evaporative emissions, which is a big reason why the OEs began using this style fuel system. Many returnless systems – like the ones offered by Rick’s Tanks – use OE-style fuel pumps and will need a Pulse-Width Modulated (PWM) controller to vary the power to the pump. This is to reduce fuel flow if less is needed – like when idling or under light load, and speed it up when load is increased and more fuel is needed. If the pump is not able to provide the necessary flow due to increased engine performance, use of a fuel pump booster can increase the voltage supplied to the pump even more, to supercharge your fuel pump’s performance. All fuel systems using Rick’s Vapor Series and any of the modern fuel pump modules will be a returnless system. Fuel tanks using one of Rick’s fuel pump hats (with either one or two in-tank fuel pumps) will utilize a return-style fuel system.
So long as there are internal-combustion engines, enthusiasts of all makes and models will be tweaking the fuel supply of their rides, but thanks to Rick’s Tanks, they’ll never again have to worry about where they’re keeping all that power-making liquid.