In the previous issue (June ’14), we continued to show our never-ending appetite for more horsepower and built a stroked LS3 for our fourth-gen project, Black Betty. Everything was going fine until we took the car to Westech Performance in Mira Loma, California, for a tune and some dyno pulls so we could truly enjoy the fruits of our labor. Unfortunately, low fuel pressure starting at about 4,000 rpm drove us to abort the dyno session until we could figure out the problem. Mathematical calculations showed the stock fuel injectors should have been able to supply plenty of fuel for the amount of horsepower we were making. Taking this into account, we turned our focus to the fuel pump. Black Betty is now 13 years old, an age that furthered our belief that a tired fuel pump was the culprit. We figured that since it was time for a replacement, we might as well upgrade it while we’re in there.
We put in a call in to the folks at Aeromotive and told them about our fuel delivery woes and approximately how much horsepower our engine makes. They suggested we go with the Stealth 340 fuel pump (PN 11169 – GM Inlet, $180). The Stealth 340 is an in-tank pump that offers superior flow throughout a wide range of pressure, at 40 psi it delivers more than 340 lph (liters per hour), which is quite a bit more than our stock GM pump was able dish out, even working to its full potential.
We were confident the new pump, with its increase in fuel flow, would easily cover the needs of Betty’s current horsepower level. However, if we ever plan to “up” the horsepower even more (you know we will), we got in touch with our friends at FAST to improve our game in the fuel injector department just to be on the safe side. The stock LS3 injectors are rated at 41 lb/hr. We told the tech gurus at FAST how much power we were making and they suggested we go with a set of their 50 lb/hr injectors (PN 30507-8, $400). They’ll offer more than enough fuel for our car’s power output, and we felt it was money well spent. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
So we headed over to Don Lee Auto in Rancho Cucamonga, California, to install the new fuel pump. Now, you can do this one of two ways: drop the rearend, suspension, and exhaust to get the fuel tank out; or you can go the easy route and cut a hole in the trunk above where the fuel pump is located. Being the hot rodders we are, we did it the easy way and cut a hole in the trunk. The benefit of doing this is that we now have an easy access point should we have to do any maintenance on the fuel pump ever again.
As a side note, we waited to install the larger-capacity fuel injectors until we got to Westech Performance. Due to the fact that Betty was carrying a tune that was fine for the smaller injectors. With the larger injectors’ ability to flow more fuel, we didn’t want to risk fouling the spark plugs.
1. The Aeromotive 340 Stealth fuel pump kit comes with everything needed to make the install smooth. Keep in mind that this is referred to as a universal kit, so we had to make a minor modification to the factory plastic fuel sump. We’ll get into that in a minute.
2. To get to the fuel pump in an ’01 Camaro you can either lower the rearend, loosen the suspension, and remove part of the exhaust—all of which is a royal pain in the butt—or, if you’re not worried about keeping things original (ours is far from factory fresh), you can cut out a hole in the top of the trunk area. Don Lee Auto’s Rick Galloway had previously done this modification on a ’99 Camaro, so using that as a mental template, he measured and marked off a 12.5x7.5-inch rectangle centered about 5.5 inches from the rear of the raised trunk area.
3. With a drill and a 1⁄4-inch bit, Rick made starting holes on all four corners. It’s important to be careful not to drill too deep and accidentally puncture the tank. Now, the guys here have done this before so they used a cutoff wheel but made sure to go very slow and shallow while cutting the opening. Using snips may be the smart move if you’re doing this in your garage or driveway. Unfortunately, the fuel pump in an ’01 Camaro is in a slightly different location than in a ’99, so the cut had to go all the way to the rear of the raised trunk area surface.
4. Before removing the fuel lines and pump, Rick cleaned off the dust from the top of the pump with compressed air so as to not get any dirt or debris in the fuel tank upon pump removal.
5. With a flathead screwdriver and hammer, he nudged the retaining ring counterclockwise to loosen the pump assembly from the tank.
6. Once loosened, he was able to remove the fuel lines and unclip the sending unit from the top of the pump assembly.
7. With that done, Rick was able to remove the fuel pump. Be careful lifting the pump assembly out of the tank, as the sump will be full of fuel.
8. With the pump providing over 13 years of service, you can see here how much debris accumulated in the filter screen. Ours was also folded in half.
9. The main issue we had was that the internal fuel line had a pinhole (arrow), which caused inadequate fuel pressure at high rpm. This also caused hard starting, as the fuel system was not able to retain pressure once the car was turned off.
10. Moving on, Rick removed the factory fuel pump from the assembly.
11. Installing the new Aeromotive 340 pump required a cut to be made at the bottom of the factory rubber pump housing in order for the new pump to come through the bottom. Hang tight. This will make sense in a second.
12. Rick then took a measurement from the top to the bottom of the fuel tank to determine how far the fuel pump will need to stick out of the sump. He then matched it up with the top of the fuel pump assembly to the bottom of the Aeromotive pump. Here you can see how much the pump sticks out of the rubber housing. This will ensure the pickup point of the pump will reach the bottom of the fuel tank.
13. Being the Stealth 340 is a universal pump, a simple modification had to be made to the factory sump. This entailed drilling 1⁄2-inch holes in the side and bottom of the sump to ensure plenty of fuel reaches the pump.
14. With the factory pump and wiring removed, the Aeromotive-supplied wiring harness clips to the top of the new pump.
15. At this point, Rick cut the factory black (ground) and gray (power) wires about 2 inches from the top of the pump assembly.
16. He then crimped the new wiring in with the old. The red Aeromotive-supplied wire goes to the factory gray wire (power) and both black wires (ground) go together.
17. Although Aeromotive supplied a 5⁄16-inch rubber fuel line in the kit, it was a little too short for our application, so we used comparable fuel line cut to the necessary length.
18. Here’s how it looks properly assembled.
19. The strainer screen was then attached to the bottom of the pump.
20. Here’s the pump assembly all wired up and ready to go back in the tank. The holes in the plastic sump will now help ensure fuel makes it to the bottom of the pump. Although fuel slosh is a slight concern, we spoke with quite a few people who have done this upgrade and they’ve not experienced any issues.
21. The pump assembly goes back in the same way it was removed. Only now the fuel pump will be getting fuel from the bottom of the tank and not the bottom of the sump. All that was left to do was attach the sending unit and reattach the fuel lines.
22. To cover up our new access hole, we got a piece of black sign stock from nearby Swifty Sign in Rancho Cucamonga. We cut it to our specs then drilled a couple of small holes and used self-tapping screws to cover our tracks. Although not shown, we later sealed the access panel with Dum Dum tape to keep out moisture and dust. We now have easy access should any other issues arise with our fuel pump. If you don’t mind cutting a panel in your trunk area, this is the way to go. Our access hole looks pretty good, and once the carpet goes back down, there’s no way to tell we were even there.
Back at Westech Performance
To address fuel delivery under the hood, we picked up a set of FAST 50 lb/hr injectors to further ensure our stroked LS3 gets plenty of swill. It never hurts to be on the safe side. Besides, you never know when we’ll do something else to increase the power. It’s just the kind of thing we’d do.
23. If you’ve ever tried to change injectors on a fourth-gen, then you know what a pain it can be. To make life easy, Westech Performance chassis dyno technician Eric Rhee pulled off the fuel rail in order to plug in the new FAST injectors.
24. Before making any dyno pulls, Eric spent a good amount of time dialing in the proper air/fuel mixture for the new injectors. He also confirmed that the new fuel pump and injectors offered plenty of fuel, so our worries of going lean are now a thing of the past.
25. After a few pulls on the chassis dyno, and Eric making numerous tweaks via his laptop, we ended up with a very stout 496 hp at 5,952 rpm and 488 lb-ft of torque at 4,426 rpm. Did we want to hit 500 hp? Absolutely. And we could have if we spent time fudging around with tire pressure and other shenanigans, but we opted to keep it real. This car is now totally streetable and very trackworthy. The next step is to get this thing back out to some events and have some fun. And that’s what it’s all about, right?