Topic: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

We are looking for a fuel cell for our ranger, and was wondering if anyone has any low buck recommendations that will pass tech.  Our driveshaft blew out last race and took out our stock tank so we are looking to upgrade.  Its going to be placed in the bed so we don't need the FIA certified tank.  We are looking to do this as cheaply as possible.  Thanks

1998 Ford Ranger 4.0 High Output
Organizers Choice Award Thompson Motor Speedway 2017
Class C Winners NHMS 2018
Hit'em With the Hein

Re: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

If you want "as cheap as possible" then I'd suggest putting a new OEM fuel tank in.

Fuel cells are expensive, plumbing them properly isn't cheap. If you have a factory in tank pump it may (probably not) work with a fuel cell. To get the full benefit of a cell you'll need to make a custom pickup setup that draws from all four corners or go with Hydramat.

Even though non-FIA rated cells are technically allowed, you'll get more scrutiny at tech with one.

Sorry For Party Racing! - 1985 Pontiac Firebird - Car #35

A race car exists only in two states: broken or in the process of becoming that way.

Re: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

As mentioned, going bake to OEM/Stock is the cheapest but if you are set on going with a cell, used is your friend.  As long as it is metal can with a bladder and a standard top plate you can do it less expensively.  Keep in mind, no matter what you use, you are going to have to protect the cell itself, plumb it and add a couple different grades of fuel filter in most case (coarse before the pump and OE-level of filtration after).  Most teams seem to struggle with reliability for the first couple of races after the conversion...so with all that, it is a big commitment.

4 (edited by chaase 2018-06-20 06:52 AM)

Re: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

Your best bet for saving money is to buy used. We got the fuel cell in the Saturn for a couple of hundred dollars off of Craigslist.  I would suggest you start looking there and eBay

Here is one for $100.00 in Eastport, but it may be smaller than you want.

https://longisland.craigslist.org/pts/d … 41719.html

1992 Saturn SL2 (retired) - Elmo's Revenge -  Class B winner, Heroic Fix winner x2
1969 Rover P6B 3500S - Super G-Rover - I.O.E Winner, Class C Winner
1996 Saturn SW2 - Elmo's Revenge (reborn!), Saturn SL1 - needs a theme
1974 AMC Javelin - Oscar's Trash heap - Organizer's Choice

Re: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

A list of things you'll need to sort out to install a cell:

1. The cell itself. Used ones can be found cheap, but it must have 3 things to be Lemons legal. 1) a metal outer shell 2) a non metal bladder inside the shell 3) foam filling the inside of the bladder. If it doesn't have those 3 things it is not legal.

2. Mounting. You'll need to build a cage to mount the cell in securely. where you mount the cell should not directly mount to the roll cage. There are a lot of threads here on mounting. I'll try to link a few.

3. Fuel pickups. Most fuel cells just come with those silly duck feet pickups that are horrible for road racing. If you want it to work decently you'll need an updated pickup method. There are two common options:
A) Cheapest is go with walbro puck pickups (https://www.polyperformance.com/walbro- … ke-pickups) and build a 3-4 pickup system that connects to the out port on the cell. If you go with those make sure one of them has a bleed hole (there's a couple versions of the pickup). Those pucks will close when exposed to air to prevent adding air to the system, if you don't have a bleed hole in one and you run the cell dry you'll suck all 4 shut and they won't open again for a while because of the vacuum. We have a system like this and it lets us run to almost bone dry with warning that we're close to empty. Our system looks like this inside the cell (not my pic, but similar)
http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/attachments/general-4x4-discussion/1275818d1396845177-fuel-cell-pickup-solutions-dont-include-walbro-pickups-2014-03-21-17.29.08.jpg

B) The other highly recommended but pricier option is to buy a Holly Hydromat. Expensive but highly functional.

4. Fuel pump. You'll need to decide where you want your pump. The internal vs external pump debate has a lot of pros and cons on each side. If you want to do it cheaply, go to your local parts store and ask for a pump from a 1989 Ford E350 Van with the 6 cylinder. It's an inline pump that is almost 100% identical in form factor to a Walbro inline, it's under $100, and it's in stock most places. Mount it somewhere that it's protected, but has some air flow. We've used one for years now in both our daytona and now our saab.

5. Fuel lines. You'll need a way to run fuel from the cell to the engine. Keep your stock fuel lines, and use them for a much of the run as you can. From your cell to those lines you will want quality hose and AN fittings. These are not cheap. Summit racing has decent prices on their own brand of AN fittings and hose. eBay can also have good prices on used NASCAR parts. Use as little soft line as you can to get from the cell to the factory hard lines. If you use push-lock AN hose add a hose clamp to the hose ends. They aren't supposed to need anything, but I've had brand new assembled push lock pop off when used on an oil cooler and cost me a motor. If that happens with fuel you're looking at a burnt car.

6. Fuel sender. You do not actually need one, but they exist. They will be more money though. Cheapest way is don't use one, figure out your average gallons/hour fuel use, and base things around that.

20+ Time Loser FutilityMotorsport
Turbo Dodge Powered E36 Build
2008 Saab 9-5Aero Wagon
Retired - 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby 2011-2015 "Lifetime Award for Lack of Achievement" IOE, 3X I got screwed, Organizer's Choice

Re: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

Couple threads with examples of the cage you'l need to build to mount the cell in.

https://forums.24hoursoflemons.com/view … p?id=22054
https://forums.24hoursoflemons.com/view … p?id=21613

20+ Time Loser FutilityMotorsport
Turbo Dodge Powered E36 Build
2008 Saab 9-5Aero Wagon
Retired - 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby 2011-2015 "Lifetime Award for Lack of Achievement" IOE, 3X I got screwed, Organizer's Choice

Re: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

Slightly off-topic but why not use JIC-37 vs AN and save a little money?

1990 RX7 "Mazdarita" 
1994 Jaguar XJ12 (Winner C-Class 2013 Sears Pointless)
1964 Sunbeam Imp (IOE 2013 Sears Pointless)
1980 Rover SD1 (I Got Screwed 2014 Return of Lemonites) (Sold -> Houston.  Gone and forgotten)

Re: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

cheseroo wrote:

Slightly off-topic but why not use JIC-37 vs AN and save a little money?

JIC-37 and AN are essentially the same thing, just that AN is made to tighter tolerances (supposedly). You can use either, just more people know the AN name vs JIC-37.

20+ Time Loser FutilityMotorsport
Turbo Dodge Powered E36 Build
2008 Saab 9-5Aero Wagon
Retired - 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby 2011-2015 "Lifetime Award for Lack of Achievement" IOE, 3X I got screwed, Organizer's Choice

Re: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

Thanks for all of the info....we are going to just replace the tank with one I found in from a local auto wrecker.  We want to do one, but the team is split, so maybe over the winter we will do it.

1998 Ford Ranger 4.0 High Output
Organizers Choice Award Thompson Motor Speedway 2017
Class C Winners NHMS 2018
Hit'em With the Hein

Re: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

stano316 wrote:

Thanks for all of the info....we are going to just replace the tank with one I found in from a local auto wrecker.  We want to do one, but the team is split, so maybe over the winter we will do it.

That is probably a better plan. There is a fair amount of planning and lots of little things to address when reworking the fuel system,

1992 Saturn SL2 (retired) - Elmo's Revenge -  Class B winner, Heroic Fix winner x2
1969 Rover P6B 3500S - Super G-Rover - I.O.E Winner, Class C Winner
1996 Saturn SW2 - Elmo's Revenge (reborn!), Saturn SL1 - needs a theme
1974 AMC Javelin - Oscar's Trash heap - Organizer's Choice

Re: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

I'll gladly add on, that whatever you think your budget is for the cell... it will easily double before it reliably gets you around the race track all weekend. I've participated in ~4 fuel cell installs and they've all blown past their initial budgets by staggering amounts.

Think of a fuel cell as a "last resort". As in:

- your build idea is so incredibly bat-shit stupid (and likely awesome) that there's no possible way to make the stock fuel tank fit / work
- you are part of the 10% that is legitimately competing for an overall win and need to extend your driving shifts for as long as possible

Those are really the only two reasons for a cell. "Safety" can be argued back and forth all night, so I'll leave that one alone.

In summary, make all efforts to keep your stock fuel system in tact. Your local Lemons tech inspector will thank you, as will your wallet.

The Pentastar whisperer

Re: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

I always see those posts saying that it will cost twice what you budget. And I can't help but think this is from people that don't plan fully. I knew exactly what I needed before i bought anything, and our cell went in and worked perfectly the first time for the budget I planned. When we moved it to the saab it took a day and again worked perfectly the first time.

Integrating into the stock system is not hard. Most cars have a supply and return line from the stock tank. Attach the supply line to the fuel pump using good connectors and minimal soft line. Connect the return line to another port on the cell again using minimal soft line. Throw any other emissions stuff away. If your car has a returnless system don't run the return. Draw a diagram of your system up front and make a list of every connector and hose you'll need, and then spend the money on good ones. Everything will work fine.

20+ Time Loser FutilityMotorsport
Turbo Dodge Powered E36 Build
2008 Saab 9-5Aero Wagon
Retired - 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby 2011-2015 "Lifetime Award for Lack of Achievement" IOE, 3X I got screwed, Organizer's Choice

13 (edited by TrenchFoot 2018-06-22 03:00 PM)

Re: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

We decided to put in a cell for a couple reasons outside the typical ones. First, our vented cap would leak when the tank was full in in hard turns. (We got flagged for fuel spill twice and got lucky the judges let us fix it after the second time. The first time I came in the fuel had dried and judges couldn't decide what we were leaking so they let us back out.) Secondly, we were starving for fuel when we were down to about 1/3 of a tank in long sweepers.

We went with a 14 gallon Jaz cell (bladder and foam) and a set of 3 Walbro pucks. There isn't a great way to go cheap, this stuff costs what it costs but the Jaz was the cheapest we could find. The cage took at least twice as long as I planned to install and the washing machine enclosure we used took time as well. But I'm no fabricator, so plan your time accordingly.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned is the support in the middle of the tank. I heard that supporting the full weight of the cell from the lip is a dicey decision so I put some rubber bumpers for support on the bars that protect the underside.

Low Road Racing:  Mustang II/Sunbird/Spirit AMX

We will not compromise our morals and build anything but a class C car.
"You take the high road, we'll take the low."

Re: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

I'll just throw in my $.02 on this. stock is the cheapest and will pass tech with the least scrutiny. I went with a RCI 22 gallon cell, added foam, a cage, custom in tank sump, complete AN lines tank to carb. Still cheaper than the Fuel Safe cell but requires a bit of fab work that may or may not be within your teams ability to do safely.

Here is a pic of it and the cage I built for it. It passed tech @ Gingerman last weekend

http://i66.tinypic.com/24m9r36.jpg

15 (edited by SpaceFrank 2018-07-09 10:23 PM)

Re: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

Bayley wrote:

Think of a fuel cell as a "last resort". As in:

- your build idea is so incredibly bat-shit stupid (and likely awesome) that there's no possible way to make the stock fuel tank fit / work
- you are part of the 10% that is legitimately competing for an overall win and need to extend your driving shifts for as long as possible

3. Your 50+ year old stock filler neck design relies only on the integrity of the gas cap seal to avoid spilling fuel on hard right-hand turns when the tank is full, your idiot teammates lost both of your high-quality reproduction gas caps and you couldn't get another one, you went enough races without correctly fixing the gasket on your crappy used cap that the judges got tired of ignoring the stains on your quarter panel and told you to get your shit together, you bought a different new gas cap from an ebay store that looked good but was actually worse and caused you to pour fuel onto the track at MSR, and finally Lemons HQ got fed up and told you not to bring the car back without a fuel cell installed.

*walks away whistling*

Command Pilot/Flight Director, Escape Velocity Racing
Index of Effluency, Heroic Fix, Class C Trophy, now hopelessly gunning for Class B.
Currently 1-2 vs. Team Fairlylame in the Class of 1964 Championships

Re: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

Thanks Frank!  That helped me decide which way to go on our '62 Valiant with the same design as yours.

Re: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

So we are pretty much done with our setup, its plumbed, mounted, and almost wired. We are using the stock ranger fuel pump mounted in the tank, just like factory. All we have to do is run our fill, which will looks like it will be where the door is on the bed.  This weekend we should have it done.  This pic is prior to plumging, but at least shows the location, and how we mounted it.  its not going anywhere, its protected by the cage and frame. The factory one, was about 3 inches off the ground and plastic, so this is definitely an improvement safety wise.

https://i.ibb.co/nwnf8YW/IMG-8660.jpg

1998 Ford Ranger 4.0 High Output
Organizers Choice Award Thompson Motor Speedway 2017
Class C Winners NHMS 2018
Hit'em With the Hein

Re: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

TheEngineer wrote:

I always see those posts saying that it will cost twice what you budget. And I can't help but think this is from people that don't plan fully. I knew exactly what I needed before i bought anything, and our cell went in and worked perfectly the first time for the budget I planned. When we moved it to the saab it took a day and again worked perfectly the first time.

Integrating into the stock system is not hard. Most cars have a supply and return line from the stock tank. Attach the supply line to the fuel pump using good connectors and minimal soft line. Connect the return line to another port on the cell again using minimal soft line. Throw any other emissions stuff away. If your car has a returnless system don't run the return. Draw a diagram of your system up front and make a list of every connector and hose you'll need, and then spend the money on good ones. Everything will work fine.


I agree, we have a return-less system, went with the stock pump, and kept it simple.  It cost exactly what we expected it to, and wasn't too expensive overall. Granted its cheaper for us because its in the bed, which acts as an enclosure, and the cab is completely separated, but planning is key.

1998 Ford Ranger 4.0 High Output
Organizers Choice Award Thompson Motor Speedway 2017
Class C Winners NHMS 2018
Hit'em With the Hein

19 (edited by SpaceFrank 2019-01-17 04:50 PM)

Re: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

Dudefladge wrote:

Thanks Frank!  That helped me decide which way to go on our '62 Valiant with the same design as yours.

If you managed to snag one of Dan Stern's reproduction caps before he ran out, they work pretty well. We were also able to mostly fix it for the remainder of our stock tank's last race by creating a new gasket for the cap out of thick rubber cut from an old radiator hose. If you're running stockish suspension and not pulling high Gs on right-hand turns, you'll probably be fine. At least until you get faster and/or the judges start to notice. (Protip: don't paint your left quarter panel white.) Definitely replace the grommet where the filler tube enters the tank; these are available on the aftermarket last time I checked.

Our problem was a combination of (A) developing the car into a surprisingly tight-handling momentum machine, (B) losing all our good gas caps, and (C) leaving the gasket situation half-assed for a few races in a row. There are a few Mopar A-bodies running Lemons with a stock fuel system.

That being said, I don't want to talk you out of a fuel cell if you have the time and funds to do it. I can send you pictures of our installation if you want.

Command Pilot/Flight Director, Escape Velocity Racing
Index of Effluency, Heroic Fix, Class C Trophy, now hopelessly gunning for Class B.
Currently 1-2 vs. Team Fairlylame in the Class of 1964 Championships

Re: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

Hey Frank,

Yes to pics, please! Stock tank is shot, so we are going with a cell. Looking at the non-FIA type to cut costs.

Re: Fuel Cell Recommendation for Pickup

Good info but ever one kind misses the recert date or do not use the cell after date on mostly all fuel cells. Most club racing do not ask or look for it. I think at some point they will.

TheEngineer wrote:

A list of things you'll need to sort out to install a cell:

1. The cell itself. Used ones can be found cheap, but it must have 3 things to be Lemons legal. 1) a metal outer shell 2) a non metal bladder inside the shell 3) foam filling the inside of the bladder. If it doesn't have those 3 things it is not legal.

2. Mounting. You'll need to build a cage to mount the cell in securely. where you mount the cell should not directly mount to the roll cage. There are a lot of threads here on mounting. I'll try to link a few.

3. Fuel pickups. Most fuel cells just come with those silly duck feet pickups that are horrible for road racing. If you want it to work decently you'll need an updated pickup method. There are two common options:
A) Cheapest is go with walbro puck pickups (https://www.polyperformance.com/walbro- … ke-pickups) and build a 3-4 pickup system that connects to the out port on the cell. If you go with those make sure one of them has a bleed hole (there's a couple versions of the pickup). Those pucks will close when exposed to air to prevent adding air to the system, if you don't have a bleed hole in one and you run the cell dry you'll suck all 4 shut and they won't open again for a while because of the vacuum. We have a system like this and it lets us run to almost bone dry with warning that we're close to empty. Our system looks like this inside the cell (not my pic, but similar)
http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/attachments/general-4x4-discussion/1275818d1396845177-fuel-cell-pickup-solutions-dont-include-walbro-pickups-2014-03-21-17.29.08.jpg

B) The other highly recommended but pricier option is to buy a Holly Hydromat. Expensive but highly functional.

4. Fuel pump. You'll need to decide where you want your pump. The internal vs external pump debate has a lot of pros and cons on each side. If you want to do it cheaply, go to your local parts store and ask for a pump from a 1989 Ford E350 Van with the 6 cylinder. It's an inline pump that is almost 100% identical in form factor to a Walbro inline, it's under $100, and it's in stock most places. Mount it somewhere that it's protected, but has some air flow. We've used one for years now in both our daytona and now our saab.

5. Fuel lines. You'll need a way to run fuel from the cell to the engine. Keep your stock fuel lines, and use them for a much of the run as you can. From your cell to those lines you will want quality hose and AN fittings. These are not cheap. Summit racing has decent prices on their own brand of AN fittings and hose. eBay can also have good prices on used NASCAR parts. Use as little soft line as you can to get from the cell to the factory hard lines. If you use push-lock AN hose add a hose clamp to the hose ends. They aren't supposed to need anything, but I've had brand new assembled push lock pop off when used on an oil cooler and cost me a motor. If that happens with fuel you're looking at a burnt car.

6. Fuel sender. You do not actually need one, but they exist. They will be more money though. Cheapest way is don't use one, figure out your average gallons/hour fuel use, and base things around that.