Quick and easy-that’s one of the sweetest phrases known to man. It’s also one that most auto enthusiasts dream of, though rarely seems to happen when working on your ride. How many of us laugh and roll our eyes when someone says “it bolts right on!” Yeah, right.
When Project Bullzeye recently received a host of great performance upgrades, it gave the 318 Wedge engine everything that it needed to really come alive. The Dart began the day with 126.6 rwhp, but thanks to the carb, ignition, and exhaust upgrades, it had gained an amazing 27.6 rwhp and 22.5 lb-ft of torque.
These upgrades that were done previously were just the first phase of making more power with Project Bullzeye. The ultimate goal is still up in the air, but we are aiming for something between 400-600 horsepower in the future when we do a complete engine and transmission swap.
We currently run a mechanical fuel pump on the Mopar small block, but we know that we will have to upgrade the fuel system with the future upgrades to the powertrain. This is something that can be done now or later, but there is a solution that can be done now.
We had to look no further than Aeromotive and their new Phantom Fuel System. When some powertrain upgrades typically require a second upgrade with fuel delivery, the Phantom Fuel system is one that will accommodate our current fueling needs with a carburetor, as well as our future needs when we yank the old 318 for something bigger and more modern – such as EFI. This one kit can handle carburetors or fuel injection with a simple by-pass pressure regulator, also available from Aeromotive.
AEROMOTIVE PHANTOM 340 FUEL SYSTEM
- Turbine pump mechanism increases durability
- Modular design can be cut to height to fit almost any fuel tank
- Black anodized hanger assembly
- (3) ORB-06 Ports – Supply, Return, Vent
- Fuel resistant baffle / basket (Includes: Foam and Bladder)
- High flow pre-pump filter
- Works with EFI or carbureted fuel systems
- Supports up to:
- 1000 hp carbureted naturally aspirated
- 900 hp carbureted forced air induction
- 825 hp EFI naturally aspirated
- 700 hp EFI forced air induction
Even if we switch to an EFI system later, the fuel pump in the Phantom kit will work with the low pressure required by a carburetor because of the return-style configuration that we’re using. Typically, a carburetor requires lower pressure – about 6-9 psi – while an EFI system could be upwards of 45-65 psi.
The classic solution would be to use an in-line pump mounted on the frame near to the tank. Though they do work, stand-alone pumps can be noisy and they can run hot, which in turn heats up the fuel, thereby possibly causing vapor lock.
It also means more parts hanging in harms way and it only takes an errant piece of tire casing laying on the road to end your day in a bad way. Aside from potential problems, making provisions for an inline pump and the required filter means cutting a tube and mounting the components where they were never intended to be, and sometimes isn’t much room for them in the first place.
Even fitting the fuel system with a high performance in-line pump meant a steady stream of fuel to the engine was questionable. One problem was that most older tank designs were not adequately baffled, so fuel sloshing in the tank can cause possible cavitation problems. This is why the Phantom Fuel system can solve so many of these issues with one simple kit.
The best part is that the Phantom Fuel system is easy to install into virtually any stock fuel tank, trick enough that the Aeromotive Phantom Fuel System was named the Best New Product in the Street Rod/Custom Car category at the 2013 SEMA show. The Phantom system uses a high performance in-tank fuel pump that features a simple, yet very effective foam baffle to ensure fuel is always being pumped to the engine.
Aeromotive Phantom Fuel System Installation
For far too long, getting fuel to the engine meant piecing together parts from multiple manufactures and hoping that they would all work together in a cohesive way. With the introduction of the Phantom, Aeromotive has made the task of re-plumbing the fuel system a one-stop experience, because everything that’s needed can be purchased from Aeromotive.
The Phantom System is an in-tank pump designed to be installed in virtually any fuel tank, with a modular design that can easily be modified to fit regardless of the tank’s depth. Simply measure the depth of the tank, then cut the components to the correct length to fit inside the tank.
One trick feature is the foam and rubber baffle that the pump hanger sits in. It ensures that the pump is sitting in a pool of fuel, so starvation due to fuel sloshing in an un-baffled tank is a thing of the past. The baffling will eventually drain, but not fast enough to starve the engine for fuel. Once the fuel sloshing around in the tank settles, the fuel levels are restored inside and outside of the baffling.
The Phantom’s upper hanger is anodized black and has three ORB-06 ports (supply, return & vent). The return port is the reason we can use one pump for both carburetor and EFI, without it, the system would require a different pump for lower pressures.
Using the pump retainer ring, the location was marked, and using a 3-1/4-inch hole saw the hole was cut. Next, the installation ring was placed over the hole so the smaller holes for the retainer ring could be drilled, marking only one hole first.
With the mounting ring set in place, one hole was drilled using a #2 drill bit and a mounting screw was dropped into the hole. This step was repeated on the opposite side, and with two screws aligning the ring and securing it in place, the rest of the holes were drilled. Any burrs were removed using a pneumatic angle grinder equipped with a rotary file.
The next step was a vitally important one: the tank was thoroughly vacuumed out to remove any and all metal shavings. To be sure there was no debris left in the tank, we held the tank at different angles and checked it again, vacuuming out anything that was left.
A tape measure was used to determine the exact depth of the tank and measuring from the bottom up, that measurement was transferred to the foam baffle. The excess needed to be removed, and Aeromotive recommends using a serrated knife or a hacksaw blade for this job, but we discovered that a pair of scissors worked just fine.
The fuel pump retainer ring was installed; it has a slot that is used to slide the sheet metal of the tank through. When it was completely inside the tank, it was lifted so that the posts are pointed up through the mounting holes – we were careful not to drop it. Then, using the installation ring as a guide, the foam baffle was fed down into the hole and positioned correctly. With that, the installation ring was removed.
Although the installation ring is a beautifully machined piece of aluminum, it is used as a guide for drilling the mounting holes and then to feed the foam baffle into place. It is only used for that purpose, but we wouldn’t be surprised if you use it to make a wall clock for the garage – yeah, it looks that nice.
Using the depth measurement as a guide, the hanger bracket was cut a little shorter than the depth. The hanger bracket has to be long enough to securely hold the pump, but not too long as to come in contact with the filter that attaches to the bottom of the pump.
The black outlet hose that connects the pump housing to the hanger assembly was cut to length and the pump was attached to the hanger using the supplied hose clamps that were positioned into the notches on the hanger bracket. A smaller clamp was used on the outlet hose/pump housing connection.
The electrical connections running from the hanger to the pump were made prior to installing the assembly. Aeromotive made this part easy too, as the two connectors are of a different size, so you’ll know if you try to put the positive lead onto the negative pin that they won’t fit. Nice touch.
Holding the ring up, the thick foam rubber gasket is dropped down over the studs and the hanger assembly is dropped over them both. For ribbed tanks, or tanks that have un-even surfaces of up to ¼-inch, this thick gasket will still seal the unit, but Aeromotive recommends that for surfaces with larger deformities, a fuel resistant silicone sealant may be used in addition to the gasket.
When installing the nuts, Aeromotive recommends to install two of the 10-24 lock nuts, positioned 180-degrees apart, and then tighten them down so that approximately ¼-inch of the studs are showing. This will compress the foam rubber gasket enough to then install the nylon sealing washers and the rest of the nuts, just be sure to remove the two started nuts and install the washers on them, also.
Using a crisscross pattern to ensure that the unit is tightened equally, the nuts are tightened until the gasket forms to the tanks surface and that the assembly is perfectly “flat” to the tanks surface.
It goes without saying that the hanger assembly should be correctly oriented before installing and tightening the nuts so that the fittings can be accessed.
In this case, it was oriented so that the ports were facing forward, and since it’s nearly impossible to access the Phantom once it’s in the tank and the tank is back in the car, it’s recommended that the braided steel fuel lines be attached to the unit before the tank is installed back into the car.
Putting a Phantom into this OE style replacement tank was just what the designers at Aeromotive had in mind. It turned out that even though there were some ribs along the top of the tank, the area over the deepest part where the new pump needed to be placed, was nearly flat. The rubber sealing ring, however, allows for variations of up to a quarter inch in the tanks upper surface.
Aeromotive supplies ½-inch thick foam rubber strips that will hold the tank away from the trunk floor. These are put in place and the new tank is lifted back into place and held in place with the stock straps.
The stock tank found in the Dart was was covered with 40+ years of road grime and no doubt was just as bad inside. It was designed in a time when all that was needed was a large fuel inlet and a small outlet along the bottom.
The tank had done the job for a long time, but rather than try to clean and restore it, it was decided that it would be easier just to replace it. Thankfully, a re-pop model was available and would serve as the starting point for this install.
Reinstalling The Tank And Plumbing The Fuel System
Aeromotive has the pieces necessary to connect the Phantom to the engine as well. They offer a complete line of fuel pressure regulators, specialty fittings and plumbing kits to do the job the right way the first time. One call to Aeromotive with your specific details and one of their sales reps can hook you up with everything you need.
The Phantom Fuel System is available in two sizes: the Phantom 340 and the Phantom 200. The Phantom 340 is capable of supporting up to 1000 naturally aspirated hp in carbureted form and up to 825 naturally aspirated horsepower on EFI equipped engines. The Phantom 200 is capable of supporting a 750 hp carbureted or 550 hp fuel injected, in naturally aspirated configurations.
Because of the design of the fuel pump, you can also plumb this as a return-less fuel system. Returnless means you won’t have to run a fuel line back to the fuel tank from the caruburetor, but you will need to include a module called a Pulse Width Module (PWM), which allows the pump to cycle itself on and off to maintain lower pressures.
The pulse modulation from the pump allows the pump to get the fuel necessary to the fuel log and maintain dialed pressure without overworking the pump. This makes it convenient for those with a classic car, but Aeromotive recommends running a return-style system whenever possible.
With the pump in place and the tank back in the car, the supply and return hoses were run first to the pressure regulator and then up towards the engine compartment. The return line ran from the regulator back to the tank. A carbureted engine requires 4-9 psi of pressure while an EFI system is 35-65, and Aeromotive offers pressure regulators for both applications.
Even with the redundant filters that Aeromotive have engineered into this system, fuel can never be too clean. So Aeromotive recommends an additional fuel filter be installed between the pump and engine and they offer a nice selection of both in-line and canister types to do the job.
We used one of Aeromotive’s Fuel Logs on our Holley. Like all of their fittings, it’s made from billet aluminum and features a nice anodized finish to keep it safe from fuel and other road hazards.
With the host of fittings and braided steel hose that Aeromotive offers, this part was easier than you might imagine. The fittings are CNC machined and feature a smooth transition, which means quicker fuel passage as well as drastically reduced turbulence. They are designed to AN and MS specs to ensure that they mate together seamlessly.
We do recommend that you plan out the system before buying the parts. It doesn’t have to be perfect or even pretty, but by drawing out a schematic you will have a better idea of what you will need to do the job. To make sure you have clearance from the air cleaner, and you can run the fuel lines through the compartment, try different angled fittings first before you assemble the hoses to them.
Wiring up the Phantom system’s fuel pump is pretty basic as well, but it’s not wired directly to the battery: it uses a relay system that requires a “Key-On” hot lead and a grounding wire to energize the relay.
When tripped, the relay, which is also connected to a hot lead, runs the power through the pump and is then grounded. One nice thing about aftermarket electrical systems such as what Painless Wiring offers, is that they have dedicated circuit and fuse just for electrical fuel pumps. This makes things easier, but isn’t necessary.
When running the electrical leads, we took care to make sure that the connections were secure, but also protected with shrink tube. The wires themselves were run through plastic split loom and away from anything hot or moving to ensure their protection. You can never be too careful with electrical leads.
Also, never underestimate the ground wire when wiring in any device. It’s been our experience that over the years a lot of our electrical problems came as a result of a bad ground. We made sure that ours were secure.
According to Jesse Powell of Aeromotive, “The market was demanding some thing like this. We believe it’s the right system for the right time and we’re proud of the fact that is just plain works. The key feature really is the baffle design. It holds the fuel around the pump at all times, even during hard launches or cornering.” He seems to be right. The Phantom system has definitely addressed a need many enthusiasts face and have done so with a product that is not only easy to install, it gives enthusiasts a wider latitude on what future upgrades they can make.
The key feature really is the baffle design. It holds the fuel around the pump at all times, even during hard launches or cornering. -Jesse Powell
We will continue to work on Project Bullseye in the months to come and we’ll be sure to keep you in the loop on the progress we make. You know that we’ve added a Holley carb and Weiand intake manifold to the engine and we all know that combination works very well and looks great on any engine.
Thanks to the steady fuel supply with the Phantom fuel system, these two components will now work even better, and thanks to the Phantom, we now also have the luxury of deciding if we want to test one of the EFI kits on the market. Hmmm decisions, decisions.
To see more offerings from Aeromotive and their Phantom fuel systems, check out their web site where you’ll find just about everything you’ll need to convert your aged fuel system to something modern – and reliable.