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Old 06-23-2013, 09:02 PM   #1
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Default Non-serviceable Volvo Penta fuel cell, serviced

My 2000 VP 5.7 GSi-PEFS recently stopped building power above 3500 rpm. Also, the fuel pump(s), which had whined since I bought the boat last year, had started whining very loudly.

Thanks to previous threads on THT and elsewhere, I determined that the fuel cell was likely to have an internal restriction that limited power and caused whining due to pump cavitation. Sure enough, when I removed and disassembled the (supposedly non-serviceable) fuel cell, I found one of the pump inlet screens plugged almost solid with an unknown fine powdery material.

Both upstream filter/separators were clean, so I'm not certain where the contamination originated, but other people have found that it's likely to be paint from inside the fuel cell itself.

I cleaned the screen with aerosol carb cleaner, then cleaned and wiped all the accessible areas inside the fuel cell. I reassembled the fuel cell as carefully as I could, reusing the original O-rings (lubricated and guided into place).

In the end, the fuel cell went back together with no leaks, and the engine runs like new again. The pump whine that eventually became obnoxiously loud is now completely gone, the boat runs up the expected speed and rpm at WOT, and the engine runs smoothly at all rpm.

I suspect I'll have to clean the fuel cell again, so I'll be trying to source Viton O-rings of the appropriate sizes. But for now, servicing the non-serviceable part solved two operating problems (high noise & low power), and saved me from laying out $700 for a new fuel cell, at least for a while.
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Old 06-24-2013, 04:31 PM   #2
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O ring source

http://www.mcmaster.com/#o-rings/=nc675o
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Old 06-24-2013, 06:18 PM   #3
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Default Non-serviceable Volvo Penta fuel cell

It was most likely paint from the fuel cell itself.
You may want to check your fuel pressure regulator as well.
My Volvo Penta (Gxi) has a regulator next to throttle body.
I was getting poor fuel economy and hard starting.
Turns out the fuel regulator was almost completely plugged with black goo
(paint from fuel cell).
This was from a previous cell, new ones have eliminated this supposedly.
Regulator has a very small screen on it to filter fuel.
Volvo Penta has a bulletin out to remove this screen and put an e-clip
in its place, even if you buy a new one.
At least it is very easy to remove and replace.
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Old 06-24-2013, 06:19 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by H2OBUG View Post
Thanks for the link! I didn't have the presence of mind to measure the O-rings before I put the fuel cell back together , so I'm still researching the sizes. So far, they seem to be:

AS568-037 (2-1/2" ID x 1/16" cross section), 2 req'd
AS568-039 (2-3/4" ID x 1/16" cross section), 2 req'd
AS568-112 (1/2" ID x 3/32" cross section), 4 req'd

I probably won't pull the fuel cell again for another month or two, but I'll try the new O-rings then and report the results.
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Old 06-24-2013, 06:28 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by auburnbuilder View Post
It was most likely paint from the fuel cell itself.
You may want to check your fuel pressure regulator as well.
My Volvo Penta (Gxi) has a regulator next to throttle body.
I was getting poor fuel economy and hard starting.
Turns out the fuel regulator was almost completely plugged with black goo
(paint from fuel cell).
Thanks for the info. I haven't inspected the regulator yet. I'm getting 30 psi at idle (in spec for my GSi), but of course that doesn't mean the regulator is clean. Next time I pull the fuel cell, I'll do a visual on the regulator as well.

My fuel pressure gauge now lives on the boat, so I'll be better prepared to diagnose any odd fuel problems when I'm running.
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Old 06-24-2013, 06:32 PM   #6
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Nice DIY job! Sure feels good to save 7 bills
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Old 06-24-2013, 07:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yabbut View Post
Thanks for the link! I didn't have the presence of mind to measure the O-rings before I put the fuel cell back together , so I'm still researching the sizes. So far, they seem to be:

AS568-037 (2-1/2" ID x 1/16" cross section), 2 req'd
AS568-039 (2-3/4" ID x 1/16" cross section), 2 req'd
AS568-112 (1/2" ID x 3/32" cross section), 4 req'd

I probably won't pull the fuel cell again for another month or two, but I'll try the new O-rings then and report the results.
The o rings are metric! Been there, done that. 3mm x 73mm if I remember correctly.
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:54 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by lakemonster1 View Post
The o rings are metric! Been there, done that. 3mm x 73mm if I remember correctly.
Aagh! Now I'm really kicking myself for not measuring the O-rings (and their grooves) before I put them back in. I'm not too eager to guess the sizes, or to disable the boat during summer if I guess wrong, so I may just watch the fuel cell for leaks and leave it alone until the fall. I live in the boonies, which means I can't just run down to the local O-ring emporium to get exactly what I need. Oh, well, lesson learned...
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Old 06-25-2013, 06:32 PM   #9
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I've got some left over as I ended up replacing the entire fuel cell later. The low pressure pump ended up giving up. They were expensive at 2 bucks a piece. Pm me if you are interested.
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Old 07-06-2013, 06:58 PM   #10
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Can you give me a little more info on the location of the clogged screens. I took out what I think was the high pressure side....the one that sticks out farthest from the motor. It has the torque screw that was sealed up holding it in place. I haven't found a screen yet. Thanks for your help.

Rick
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Old 07-06-2013, 08:07 PM   #11
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Can you give me a little more info on the location of the clogged screens. I took out what I think was the high pressure side....the one that sticks out farthest from the motor. It has the torque screw that was sealed up holding it in place. I haven't found a screen yet.
My pumps have screens in the inlet pipes. One of my pumps had so much fine material clogging its screen that the screen looked like a flat matte-finish metal plate. I blasted the "plate" with carb cleaner, and the screen mesh became clearly visible.
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Old 07-07-2013, 04:54 AM   #12
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So, the cylinder is actually the pump correct. I took the one out that had the Schader valve up on top and had the one screw holding it in place. It has 2 o-rings on the bottom and it goes into the housing of the pump. Should there be a screen in the bottom of it? On the inlet where the 2 o-rings are?
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Old 07-07-2013, 05:22 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Rick2752 View Post
So, the cylinder is actually the pump correct. I took the one out that had the Schader valve up on top and had the one screw holding it in place. It has 2 o-rings on the bottom and it goes into the housing of the pump. Should there be a screen in the bottom of it? On the inlet where the 2 o-rings are?
Yes, you took out the high pressure pump, and there should be a screen in the lower (inlet) end (with the two O-rings).
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Old 07-08-2013, 07:41 AM   #14
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That's what I thought. I'm gonna spray some carb cleaner but I don't have a screen just a brass bottom looks like fuel goes around the sides. Thought I was in the right spot.
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Old 07-15-2013, 03:00 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by auburnbuilder View Post
It was most likely paint from the fuel cell itself.
You may want to check your fuel pressure regulator as well.
My Volvo Penta (Gxi) has a regulator next to throttle body.
I was getting poor fuel economy and hard starting.
Turns out the fuel regulator was almost completely plugged with black goo
(paint from fuel cell).
This was from a previous cell, new ones have eliminated this supposedly.
Regulator has a very small screen on it to filter fuel.
Volvo Penta has a bulletin out to remove this screen and put an e-clip
in its place, even if you buy a new one.
At least it is very easy to remove and replace.
What exactly is the "fuel Cell?" As opposed to the fuel pump portion with the brass inlet is it part of the fuel pump assembly?

Any one got a photo? think I have this issue myself on my 2001 Four Winns Vista 328 with twin 5.7L GSI's.
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Old 07-15-2013, 03:29 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by 7cstevan View Post
What exactly is the "fuel Cell?" As opposed to the fuel pump portion with the brass inlet is it part of the fuel pump assembly?

Any one got a photo? think I have this issue myself on my 2001 Four Winns Vista 328 with twin 5.7L GSI's.
The "fuel cell" is the whole assembly that includes both fuel pumps, the fuel/water separator, and the metal casting that the pumps and the fuel/water separator are mounted on.

In the non-marine automotive world, the assembly would probably be called the "fuel pump module", or something more descriptive.

I think the term "fuel cell" is laughably ambiguous for that assembly, but... that's what they're called, and this is what they look like:
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Old 07-16-2013, 06:16 AM   #17
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If they simply put the pump in the fuel tank all of that expensive and prone to failure crap would not be needed.
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Old 07-16-2013, 11:10 AM   #18
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If they simply put the pump in the fuel tank all of that expensive and prone to failure crap would not be needed.
TTaxi made some good points about the risks of running a pressurized fuel system in the engine compartment, especially when that system includes frequently serviced parts (like filters). It can be done, but the cost may be more than necessary.

I think the Volvo fuel system is good enough in concept. For example, I'd rather have an external pump module than two separate supply systems in my two tanks. It's the execution of the Volvo concept that made it into a joke.

I've never seen paint applied inside carburetor bowls, so why is the inside of the Volvo fuel cell painted? And why is that paint vulnerable to normal fuel ingredients? The fuel cell is arguably easier to service than a single carburetor, so why are carbs readily serviceable but no service kit is available for the fuel cell?

Those are rhetorical questions, because I think I know the answer: as a corporation, Volvo Penta couldn't care less about controlling maintenance costs. Similar example: why do outdrive bellows have to be replaced so frequently when CV joint boots on front-wheel-drive cars see much harsher service than non-rotating bellows? Same answer.
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Old 07-16-2013, 12:05 PM   #19
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Where is the fuel cell located?

Isn't the fuel system pressurized from the fuel cell to the fuel injectors? Opportunities for a leak if so. Seems to me there are more opportunities for a leak with this configuration than in a system with a hose that runs straight to the fuel injection rail. Less connection points to fail.

It is done in automobiles. It is done in airplanes. No reason that it cannot be done in a boat situation except for lack of desire on the part of the boat builders/engine builders.
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Old 07-16-2013, 02:09 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by jethro1 View Post
Where is the fuel cell located?

Isn't the fuel system pressurized from the fuel cell to the fuel injectors? Opportunities for a leak if so. Seems to me there are more opportunities for a leak with this configuration than in a system with a hose that runs straight to the fuel injection rail. Less connection points to fail.

It is done in automobiles. It is done in airplanes. No reason that it cannot be done in a boat situation except for lack of desire on the part of the boat builders/engine builders.
The fuel cell is on a bracket fixed to the upper front of the engine, near one of the cylinder heads. For sure there is high-pressure hose running to the engine, and just adding high-pressure hose would add minimal risk (in my opinion).

But... one seemingly unavoidable fact of boating life is the requirement for large, frequently-serviced fuel filters with water separators. For me, that seems like the biggest challenge in the design of a tight high-pressure fuel system. I don't know much about aircraft fuel systems, but typical service intervals for automotive fuel filters are approaching thousands of hours, and they're typically small sealed filter cans with small, easily sealed fittings.

I don't know how reliable the large peripheral seal can be made (to high pressure leaks). Sure, oil filters use the same interface to seal high pressures, but oil is more viscous than gasoline, and far less of a fire risk. My engine only holds just over a gallon of oil, so a large oil leak means my engine can dump maybe 1/2 gal into the bilge before shutting down due to low oil pressure. My fuel system, on the other hand, will happily pump many gallons of gasoline through a similar leak without missing a beat. It could be done, but I wouldn't want to be the engineer who signs off on that design in today's legal climate.

Using a bigger version of automotive inline fuel filters would work, but joints would need to be pretty much bulletproof to frequent connection and disconnection. It can certainly be done, but they'd probably get even more expensive than today's common mass-produced parts.

And the multi-tank design would be even more dicey (you'd need pump selector switches to keep from burning up the pump in one "dry" but fume-filled tank).

I'm a huge fan of making boat fuel systems more like cars', but not in this particular area, especially when the existing design can be made to work extremely well by doing a little intelligent engineering.
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