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Copper fuel line on vintage car


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I would like to consult AACA expertise on the choice of fuel line material for the restoration of a 1925 car.

Previous problems led me to restore the whole fuel supply system. This included laying on a temporary twelve-feet length of simple reinforced rubber fuel pipe, between rear tank and bulkhead vacuum tank, thereby superseding the badly blocked (original) copper fuel pipe (5/16" OD).  

I have been able to find a supplier of correctly-sized copper replacement  pipe only in the UK; otherwise, the nearest  product here in the US would be a cupronickel alloy. I have not yet located a supplier of compression and threaded fittings suitable to it.

But is there now in existence an alternative and  satisfactory flexible line -perhaps of armored construction- which could prove much more straightforwards to route  along the chassis than traditional metal  pipework? 

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You don't say what car you have but many early cars had brass rather than copper. Copper will work harden and may break. NAPA sells bulk fuel line in different sizes you may consider that. What size is the tube, OD?

 

Dave

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Hi, Thanks for that. The pipe is 5/16 OD. I had a quick look at NAPA website but didn't find anything suitable. Have had no other suggestions - it may be that copper or copper/nickel is the only way to go.....

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I agree with the Cunifer suggestion. Really great stuff.  I get mine with the brand name SUR&R  Easy bend. 

 

No need for pipe bending machine/tool/whatever when using Cunifer. Just easy bends with hands. For really tight bends I use a hand bending tool.

 

You can get copper from Mcmaster Carr at a very high price. P/N  8955K241             Not suggested.

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7 hours ago, Frank DuVal said:

I agree with the Cunifer suggestion. Really great stuff.  I get mine with the brand name SUR&R  Easy bend. 

 

No need for pipe bending machine/tool/whatever when using Cunifer. Just easy bends with hands. For really tight bends I use a hand bending tool.

 

You can get copper from Mcmaster Carr at a very high price. P/N  8955K241             Not suggested.

thanks very much! 

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20 minutes ago, jan arnett (2) said:

When you get a flare tool spend a couple of extra dollars for one and don't buy the cheapest one you find.  It will make life simpler and safer.  

ha! I have just this minute ordered one online actually - I hope it will work well for me...

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Good advice from mark.

Definitely differences between cheap and expensive tools.

Some cheap one are OK but in the flare tools I wouldn't be trying to save a buck unless you deal well with frustration.

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15 hours ago, cahartley said:

Nothing wrong with steel brake line except it's more difficult to flare.

 

As long as it sits in a garage most of the time, doesn't get driven in the rain, and Ethanol fuel is never sent through the insides. I've given up on regular steel tubing for any automotive application. Even that coated steel stuff fails from salt (I know, antiques should never be subjected to it, but my daily drivers do. I'm tired of replacing brake lines the second time).  :o

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4 minutes ago, DavidAU said:

All the old cars I have ever played with have had compression fittings with brass olives.

Does anyone have information on when compression fittings were first commonly used?  I can tell you that Pierce-Arrow never used them thru their end in 1938.  Pierce used 45* flares with Long Nuts on their copper tubing, which was either 5/16 or 3/8 depending on model.  OP has a 1925 auto (no make provided in this thread yet), and I can't recall ever seeing compression fittings on any car of that vintage.

 

I suppose "olives" is autocorrect for "ferrules," or is that Aussie nomenclature?  :-)

 

Now that Cunifer is available, I'd use that for new work, but I've never had a work-hardening failure with "soft  copper" tubing on multiple pre-war cars. 

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1 hour ago, Grimy said:

Does anyone have information on when compression fittings were first commonly used?  I can tell you that Pierce-Arrow never used them thru their end in 1938.  Pierce used 45* flares with Long Nuts on their copper tubing, which was either 5/16 or 3/8 depending on model.  OP has a 1925 auto (no make provided in this thread yet), and I can't recall ever seeing compression fittings on any car of that vintage.

 

I suppose "olives" is autocorrect for "ferrules," or is that Aussie nomenclature?  :-)

 

Now that Cunifer is available, I'd use that for new work, but I've never had a work-hardening failure with "soft  copper" tubing on multiple pre-war cars. 

I think that "David AU" is, as it turns out,  referring principally to British cars (many exported new to Australasia in the late teens and  through the 20's).   I too have not seen British vintage fuel lines fitted with anything  other than compression fittings. Flaring is seen on the the oil lines though.  

'Olives' is not particularly autocorrect- they are what British plumbers call 'ferrules". 

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Is your car British or American?  My concern was authenticity since you're going to a lot of effort, and compression fittings would be a judging gig on a 1925 American car if judged in the USA. Obviously, go with what's authentic where you are. 

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Oh yes, thank you. Point taken!.  It is American. The valuable information I have learned from my enquiries on this site have led me to restore more authentically, rather than take easier courses.....  

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Compression fittings on automobiles usually wont pass inspection. In Mass they automatically fail and require towing the car away. They are not a great product for fuel or brake lines.

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Compression fittings on automobiles usually wont pass inspection

 

I'm surprised about this.  All the Ford V8's from 1932 to the 50's have a compression fitting on the fuel line at the tank, on the line from the fuel pump and at the carb.  Some models also have a compression joiner half way along the main fuel line so it can be fitted up in the chassis.    

 

The term "olive" is probably English. I see that McMaster Carr call them sleeves and the parts dealers call them Ferrules. 

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I remember a "Model Garage" article where Gus Wilson solved a fuel delivery problem where someone left out a ferrule or it was cracked (hey, it was 40 years ago!). So I would think the story was about what the factory had installed. These stories usually were about cars less than 10 years old at the time.

 

McMaster Carr makes up a lot of terms for their items that the industry does not use. Like nipples that are "Fully Threaded" instead of the correct "Close Nipple".

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