When a 1-hour lunch turns into 2.5
Being stranded on the interstate really gives you time to reflect
By Brian Letendre, UCORA
It was about 98 degrees air temperature, about 108 on the pavement, and I was on the way back from the nearby Wally-World buying some wash supplies for “Bumble Bee.” On the on-ramp, the 2006 F250 lurched and bogged down slightly, but after a moment, came back to life and accelerated onto the highway for my short, 3-mile trip back to work. It was my lunch break and I was just running an errand.
Less than ½ mile from my exit, my 2006 F250 chugged a couple times then abruptly died. I put the transmission into neutral and hit the 4-way flashers and let it roll down the shoulder as far as the inertia would take me. When it stopped. I put the transmission into park, and restarted the truck. It came back to life, so I put it in gear and continued my cautious roll toward my exit. Another 100-yards and it died again. This time, I was only able to gain a small distance before I came to a complete stop. Put the truck in park and try again, nothing. The Bumble Bee would not start. After my mind raced through the worst; High Pressure Oil Pump, Injectors, etc, I had to call my work, since I was on lunch, and a tow truck. While I waited, I would troubleshoot the issue with the guy I consider my 6.0 genius and the best mechanic I have ever used. We determined, I needed more info before a problem could be surmised.
The tow truck operator arrived and the fee just to hook the truck and get me to my work, 2.7-miles away, was a cool $86.00. It’s no wonder I didn’t have him drop me off then take the truck home; a 40-mile bill would have made me cry. My next step was when I called on the good friends I had in the Christian Off-Road Association, Saint Louis. Over my many years of rock crawling and being among the founders of United Christian Off-Road Alliance, I have never taken for granted the value in good friends, and even more value in good friends with big trailers. A huge shout out to John, the President of CORA-STL and he come to my work after we both were off, and we loaded my truck on his trailer using a high-lift jack and some pure ingenuity.
For all you Ford haters reading this, this picture I am sure will make you smile, and I can take the jokes, but just know, the shoe has been on the other foot plenty in the life of the big yellow Ford.
So John towed me home and we pushed the truck into the shop. Over the course of the day, the best guess for what to look at first was the Ford frame mounted fuel pump.
After some headache getting the new pump from the parts store, my repair was delayed a couple days and finally, Saturday morning, I was able to get under the truck and get the frame-mounted pump replaced.
I opted to replace the entire HFCM (Horizontal Fuel Control Module) since mine had never been touched and the replacement would be much easier than breaking it open and replacing just the pump.
The first step was to unplug the 2 wiring harnesses going into the Fuel pump.
**Writers note: ALWAYS remove BOTH negative battery cables when working around the electrical and fuel in your truck.**
After the wiring was removed, I then worked on removing the 4 quick connect fuel lines from the housing.
I had read online many places that a simple tool, which cost about $8.00 would make the job much easier, so I decided to buy one.
This simple fuel line removal tool did it’s job very well. After a slight learning curve, all 4 fuel lines came off very easily, even after 110,000 miles of road grime and JB-Crud was under the truck. After the fuel lines, were removed and residual fuel draining, all that was left were 3 nuts on the backside of the frame holding the until in place.
My pneumatic ratchet made quick removal of the nuts, and I removed the housing by lifting in and then back slightly to clear the other lines and cables on that area of the frame.
In the time of about 1 ½ hours, I had the old fuel pump completely removed from the truck and the residual diesel fuel drained into my catch pan.
The next step was simply to reverse the process and insert the new HFCM. First, I placed the unit into the frame rail and mounted the 3 nuts on the backside. Then the fuel lines slid right back on with a quick *click* and they were locked in place. Finally, plug in the two sets of wires… and it was done! The reinstall took me only about an hour total, and that included some touch up of rusty frame with a quick shot of black spray paint. Now, I was really starting to sweat. If this did not fix the truck, I was going to have to dig deeper in my pockets and pay for some help.
I rolled the truck out of the shop, said a brief prayer, and turned the key. My 2006 Ford roared to life and idles great. I let it run for about 10 minutes at idle to make sure any air was bled out of the system. Finally, I took “Bumble Bee” out for a test drive and the truck performed great!
What caused the stranding on the highway? The final break in the chain was a fuel pump, but what about contributing factors? Admittedly, I have never replaced the fuel filters on the truck, so I will take the blame on this one. I know the Ford haters will point to other things, but this had nothing to do with the heart of the 6.0.
So I did it! This new shop on my property had been broken in with it’s first job. I, the accessory installing and electrical enjoying guy with little to no mechanical knowledge, was able to complete the repair. Had it not started, what would I have done? I have no idea. When it comes to the heart of vehicles, I am a lot less confident than I seem. I am always willing to try, but usually not on my own. I am just glad that adventure will wait for another day.
God bless and I can’t wait to see you again when our roads cross.