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Subject: [TD] Long - Changing the Fuel Filter In my 1999
Date:     Sun, 18 Jul 1999 13:56:29 -0700
From:    "Fitch R. Williams"
To:        TurboDiesel

TurboDiesel mailing list -

I did the oil and fuel on the 1999 truck early this AM. The truck only has 12.6K on it, but I wanted to see what if anything had collected in the fuel filter so did that too.

This was the first fuel filter change on the 1999 - and it is a totally new type of fuel filter to me. The 1995 truck has a spin-on type that looks just like a short fat oil filter - hard to reach in its on truck location, and one gets clawed by the truck like it was an angry cat until practice shows how to avoid that - but other than that a piece of cake to change. The 1999 truck has a cartridge type.

I purchased a filter some time ago at Acton Auto Parts (A Car Craft Franchise) to have one "on the shelf" just in case. The "Car Craft" brand filter is the "Fleet Guard" filter in a Car Craft package. I have the filter I purchased at Hunter Dodge in Lancaster (for $40.00) yesterday and a Car Craft filter purchased from Acton Auto Parts for $19.95 - both boxes open side by side. The "O" rings in both came in a separate little flat plastic envelope that have identical paper stickers with the numbers 54039 on them in identical type font and size. The filters have the same embossing on the bottom. The instructions in the envelope with the "O" rings are Part No. 54030 Rev. "-" in both packages. Identical in every way based on the eyeball comparison. So if I don't get them from Cummins, I can get the exact same thing up at my local Auto Parts store. No more $40.00 fuel-filter-ripoff at the Dodge dealer for this Cummins Owner.

I write off the wasted $18.00 + 8.025% sales tax (would have almost have purchased a second filter a the local auto parts store) to tuition. So far, so good. Lesson learned.

The filter changing process could use some study ... I will do better next time.

I read the instructions (Part No. 54030, Rev."-" ) through all 11 steps - not exactly my first mistake, but close.

Step 1: Drain the filter.

Alas, looking the situation over I think successful completion of that step with the filter on the truck is going to be impossible. There is no drain! I tried anyway. I am determined if nothing else. There is a valve and a long rubber hose that is used to drain water out of the fuel filter, but it will drain till the free surface in the fuel tank is below the end of the hose - a conclusion I felt was supported by the eventual physical presence of more than a quart of Diesel in the big oil drain pan I had placed under the truck to catch the stuff, and some sprinkled on the driveway, and it is still running. I shut off the drain valve.

So I decided, in the style of the latest "fad" that is sweeping the program management lexicon, to develop a "forward plan" (as opposed to a backward plan?) which included as its first step, "waive" step one and move "forward" to

Step 2: Disconnect the water sensor connector.

This at least went well, having learned the hard way to do it on the 1995 truck. Using a loooong screwdriver, I "gently" slightly raised the end of the retaining clip and it slid right off. I love it when a plan comes together.

With the clearly significant trend of one-in-a-row successful step completions to build on I moved "forward" to

Step 3: "Loosen canister retaining nut on header while holding canister."

That too went just fine - at which point if I had been a freshly trained true believer eyes glow in the dark program manager I would have declared the whole process a success, waived the rest of the filter change as unnecessary and inconsistent with better-faster-cheaper, claimed the milestone, and moved "forward" to the next high priority task. However, since it is "my" truck, and no amount of "chartsmanship" will make it run a this point, I shook off the "Go Fever" and plodded on.

Step 4: "Twist and remove old filter cartridge from canister"

Step is un-necessary. I managed to catch the canister and discovered an undocumented feature of this new fuel filter - the cartridge sticks to the top filter bracket (AKA header), removes itself from the canister no twist required, rains fuel all over everything turning the canister into something only slightly slipperier than a greased pig. One can not really get two hands into that location from below, so I had to dislodge it with one finger of my other hand approaching from 12:00 O-clock high - it has a genuine splashdown back into the canister - I don't drop the canister in the fresh wash of diesel fuel over my gripping fingers but that is pure luck. I only spilled another cup all over the engine getting it out of there. I shouldn't have worried - that was just to get all involved "used-to-the-water" so to speak.

Step 5: "Lubricate gasket and O-ring and then install on new filter cartridge. Done!

Step 6: "Replace center O-ring with new one provided.

Also done! We're rooooooooollinnn now!

Step 7: "Install new filter cartridge in canister."

Slips right in, gasket sits on canister rim, life is good. Visions of finishing before breakfast are dancing in my head. Nedra has some of those delicious multi-grain bagels to toast, and a new jar of King Kelly orange marmalade to slather over the cream cheese as it melts in to the hot bagel. I can hardly wait. I try not to drool into the filter.

Step 8: "Install canister on header with drain aligned as shown, and tighten retaining nut to 10 ft-lbs."

Wait a minute ... something is wrong here ... bagel visions dimming ... why am I not supposed to pre-fill this thing? Suspicion nags at me, my viscera rebels at the thought of "not" pre-filling it - but the instructions, part No. 54030 Rev. "-" are silent on the subject. Could anything with that impressive a part number, Rev. "dash" even, be wrong? I remember reading that this truck has an electric fuel pump - and that the electric fuel pump makes it self bleeding - and that running it through several cycles will purge the system. I'm doubting it ... but I also don't want to spill a bunch more fuel on the ground to clean up before biting into the Bagel (note: doing maintenance before breakfast is hazardous to your judgement), so I follow the instructions. Big mistake - but I don't know it yet.

My misgivings ease a bit because I have an opportunity to use my obscenely expensive genuine Snap-On 40 - 200 in-lb rachet-click-type-micrometer-setting-torque-wrench. I get out the wrench, wipe it down with a clean cloth even though it lives in a plastic case, in a drawer. I do the math without a calculator (risky with my blood sugar this low), carefully adjust it to 120 in-lbs - attach an 8" extension and a 14mm socket. I turn the wrench less than half a turn and "Click" - its done. Just like that. Sort of like a 4 hour date, loooong foreplay, and then the "moment". I wanna do it again (!), but ... oh well ...

I re-wipe the wrench, carefully turn it back to its minimum setting for storage until the next opportunity, gently place it in its plastic storage case, and put it away. Sigh ...

Step 9: "Reconnect water sensor electrical connector." Click - done! I'm a pro.

Step 10: "Prime fuel system."

Right! Use the electric fuel pump. Get in truck, insert key, donger goes off cause the door is open, turn key, I can't hear if the pump runs. Close door, turn key on and off - nothing - no noise. Roll down window and try again. No noise. I think - well, maybe it has already done "it" while I was distracted by the donger. I move "forward" to

Step 11: "Start engine and check for leaks. Correct as needed with engine off."

I turn to the start position, truck instantly starts, Euphoria! Then instantly dies. Euphoric bubble bursts into a memory replaced by reality. Waste! No leaks - but I sense that is a hollow victory - claiming credit for no failures in a test not run as it were. At least the engine is off, ready for leak correction if only I had some to correct.

I turn it to start for 10 seconds - quit - hear pump running. Ah Ha! Pump only runs if you try to start it? Try it again - Yes! Pump runs. I do this a while reveling in my new found expertise. Then try to start it.

Crank, nothing, wait a minute, crank, nothing.

Use 14mm wrench, long extension, and loosen one of the plugs on the top of the filter. I wonder if I just found the reason this and the nut are both 14mm - is Cummins really this organized? Do my newly practiced key trick - fuel sprays all over the place and I quickly tighten it up. I doubt I have fixed anything but hope springs eternal. I try again.

Crank - wait - crank. Nothing. I'm beginning to really regret not pre filling the filter.

Loosen banjo bolt on line to fuel pump. Do my Key-trick. Fuel sprays all over the place but some air comes out (or is it just my imagination?) - quickly tighten it to stem the shower. Fuel is dripping from underside of cowl. I wonder what the torque is for that banjo bolt. I wonder if I will smell Diesel fuel in the passenger compartment.


Crank and crank. Once more ... and ... Houston we have ignition. The fan blows diesel vapors and liquid fuel all over the place - gets on my glasses and "T" shirt. I turn it off after a few seconds. Don't want it hot - will have to douse it with Gunk and water during obviously required cleanup process. I'm estatic - the truck is running.

I smell like a puddle of Diesel, but the truck is running. I go into get coffee to share the good news and celebrate because the truck is running. Summarily banished from house - Nedra says remove stinking clothes in garage, then streak to bedroom. There was a time .... I tell her the "truck is running" over my shoulder as I head back out to the garage. Her stern expression doesn't change .... I keep going back to the garage still holding my empty cup. Nedra demonstrates one of the million reasons I love her and delivers a hot cup of coffee to me in the garage.

The coffee is good, really good, better than that even, made from fresh ground Kona. The cup seems unusually slippery, coffee smells faintly like Diesel - no oily patches float on the surface - so I drink some more of it.

I spray gunk all over the truck engine and up under the cowl. I keep lots of spray cans of Gunk around - my old tractor leaks oil from lots of places. I get the GUNK at COSCO in shrink wrapped packages of 8 cans. I let it soak while I finish the coffee before it gets cold. Hose it off. Remember to remove the catch pan, soap the driveway, hose it off.

Still have oil to change - drive is wet and smelly, so I drive to the gas station to use the engine heat to dry it off and expose the driveway to the high desert sun - its 80F and its only 8:00 AM. I've been 2 hours doing this "10 minute" job. Its starting to get hot - it was shorts and "T" shirt at 4:20 AM when I fed the horses - not a good sign up here in the desert - prelude to a "cooker".

Got to station, realized I had forgotten my wallet on the workbench.

New "Forward" Plan - waive fuel stop - truck is already hot enough to change oil - it won't really "need" fuel until Wednesday at the earliest anyway. Drive home. Let the engine idle for a few minutes to cool, enjoy the cool breeze from the air conditioning.

Oil change goes like the practiced activity it is. Drain plug torqued to 44 ft-lbs - very important on a 1994 and later Cummins. Used my 27 year old 30th birthday present from Nedra, a Sears ($59.95 "then" when my take-home pay was $250/week) which makes it more expensive than the $189.95 "now" Snap-On) Micro Adjusting 20 - 200 ft-lb torque wrench with a 1/2" to 3/8" drive adaptor installed. Pull, "click", done.

25 years of familiarity reduces the intensity of the torque-"moment", but I have come to have high regard for the wrench over the years, and on its trips to the company metrology lab for calibration it remains within specification with out any adjustment year after year, solid as a rock - amazing. I remove the 1/2 to 3/8" drive adaptor, carefully turn it back to the 20 ft-lb setting, place it in its rubber mat lined drawer, think a moment about its history, and then close the drawer. Some things are just plain "good". Rest of oil change is easy.

I streak into the house, take a shower, and come down stairs to Nedra placing the warm bagels on the table ....

Fitch"the bagels were as good as I had imagined"Williams In Southern California


Last Update: July 19, 1999: