Author Topic: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?  (Read 25809 times)

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Offline Benjamin

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Hey folks,

I'm asking.

Overflow tubes, petcock conversion, Pingel petcock - how come folks don't simply install an in line valve?  Does it restrict fuel flow significantly?  Anyone ever tried this?

Thanks in advance for any replies.

- Beej
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Offline two_wheeled

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2013, 07:23:12 pm »
If the stock vacuum-operated petcock works, there is no need.
It's only when that leaks AND the carb floats leak when you get hydrolock.
Double whammy = big whammy.

Offline Easy13

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2013, 07:32:21 pm »
There's not a lot of room between the petcock and the carbs to install what in essence is another petcock.  Vacuum petcocks, if functioning properly are the most convienient: they open and close on their own.  Manual petcocks are more "sure", i.e., there's less there to fail, but they rely upon the rider to turn them off.  The final root answer is to have drain tubes, so that if the vacuum petcock fails, or the rider forgets, the gas aint gonna flow into the cylinders.  Drain tubes should have been on these carbs from the factory.  Just my $0.02.
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Offline DVanecekOld

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2013, 07:57:47 pm »
Beej-I've been sort of wondering the same thing, and yes, I'm not sure physically how you would do it?  Related to this, since this bike is total gravity feed, a longer fuel line or even a curl in the line, shouldn't make any difference should it? Couldn't the line even go down and back up? Just wondering if that would open the door to putting a manual shut off in the line, or would it cause other problems? Would it increase the chance of vapor lock?  Justa newbie here but I made sure I took my tank off two weeks ago and unhooked the fuel line "just to be sure" I don't have a bike full of gas in the spring, happy to say not a drop is coming out of the tank. But yeah, Easy13's two cents seems to be the biggest problem, how would you mount it and still get to it easily.   

My 1982 Yamaha Vision has a manual shut off cut into the line, it is easy to do on that bike, the vacuum petcocks on these Yamaha's are worthless!  BUT if I forget, it does have overflow lines so I will just get a small puddle after several hours, no hydro lock.  SISF will get my carbs someday!

Offline MizzouMike

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2013, 08:01:49 pm »
Some of us are not smart enough to remember to turn it off....  That would be me....   And when I do remember to turn off the manual petcock on my other bike, I then get about 500 yds down the road before the bike dies and I then have to remember to turn it back on.   

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Offline Jim Snyder

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2013, 08:23:01 pm »
I did the Pingel fuel valve almost 4 years ago and I have myself trained to turn the gas off about 100 yards from all destinations. The valve is never "on" unless I am on the bike. Peace of mind ? You bet.
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Offline Big John

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2013, 08:33:47 pm »
An inline valve still doesn't protect the engine unless you turn it off. The real fix is the overflow tubes. Terrible that Kawasaki decided to delete them. I am still not a fan of vacuum operated petcocks. In my mind, the petcock is a redundancy in case a price of trash holds open the float valve in the carburetor. If the petcock is vacuum operated then the same trash in the tank is likely to hold open the vacuum petcock, eliminating its redundancy. So now we talk about adding an additional valve that we can turn off that would be a redundancy to a redundancy.

In my mind the overflow tubes protect the engine. The petcock protects your garage floor from being covered in gas.

Offline Hazy

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2013, 08:42:38 pm »
Can't we all just agree that the only reliable, non user interaction needed solution is overflow tubes? Seems like this argument comes up every 6 months or so.  >:(

Install overflow tubes. The end.
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Offline Rev Ryder

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2013, 09:13:57 pm »
My family came to visit over the Thanksgiving holiday.  My Mother-In-Law about went bonkers because my wife allows her dog, Sir Pantsalot Flash P. Underfoot, to spend a LOT of time indoors.  He's on the furniture (GASP!), he's in rooms unattended (HORRORS), he gets in your face (OK Flash, Granny says you gotta go outside).  But beside the dog's continuing puppy behavior, he is relatively well-mannered (though extremely hyperactive) and he is thoroughly, trustably house broken.  He's as reliable as my Mother-In-Law.  He will tell you when he needs to go out and if he can't get out, he will hold it for days until he dies and his body relaxes.

My 06 with overflow tubes is not nearly as dependable and so she is not permitted indoors and must spend all of her days (and nights) on the back walkway away from house or garage.  She can only watch my other two Connies and mama's Magna in the shop along with the five jetskis (none of which have overflow tubes) from a distance and is only permitted indoors while actively supervised and then only for short stints.

Yes, Granny, the bike has to stay outside, but the Flash can jump all over you.  It's as it must be.  You see... I trust the puppy won't kill me in my sleep.
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Offline Steve in Sunny Fla

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2013, 09:31:53 pm »
Rev, I don't do this often, but c'mon, get real with that. 

1) fuel doesn't just catch fire on it's own, there need so be an ignition source.

2) I have seen several hydrolock situations wherein the fuel was discharging back into the airbox, and of course, down to the ground. So how that different / more susceptible to spontaneous combustion with overflow tubes?

3)Why did the OEM use them in so many other applications if the potential fire hazard is so high?

And Big John, you have it a bit backwards. The fuel valves are designed to control the fuel level, and can't really hold back the head pressure from a tank of fuel, especially when the needles are tired. The petcock is the main flow volume control, not the needles. JMO, steve
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Offline Rev Ryder

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2013, 01:14:00 am »
Steve you have to know I have to bite my tongue all the time on this one.  I've been in two garage fires and have had to extinguish a good friend who was badly burned. My burns were quite  minor, his were disfiguring (face, neck, and arms).  Both of these fires were the result of gasoline leaks from vehicles that no one thought was going to get ignited but they did.  Mike McComas of Pampa Texas would be dead today if I hadn't put him out as he was running blind, on fire from the waist up from getting fuel on his t-shirt.  Tell me to get real when gasoline is non-flammable. 

I know that overflow tubes are the best guaranty against hydrolock. That's not exactly rocket science.  But I believe I've seen as many hydros as you have and have seen how much fuel is generally on the ground.  It just isn't that much in my experience.  I've seen bikes with a gallon in the crankcase and probably another quart in the airbox, cylinder and head, but still only have a two foot radius or smaller wet spot under them. Sure, any fuel on the floor is a hazard, but the more there is the risk is exponential.  How big would that spot be if the whole two gallons was on the floor?  Two gallons loose on the floor, heck one gallon, with a surface area of ten or maybe fifty or more square feet is going to create a highly volatile atmosphere.  ANd then you're going to have to show me a garage that doesn't have an ignition source... even if it's just you walking in and turning on the lights, or an air compressor kicking on, or the block heater on your truck parked nearby, or who knows what all.  I generally turn off my compressor, but like petcocks, I forget to do it sometimes and it may be on and cycle many times over the course of a week before I notice it.

My son came over last week and wanted to replace the fuel pump on his 1986 Brat.  I made him do it outside after he started pulling stuff apart and leaking gasoline on the shop floor.  Gasoline on the ground outside is much less likely to be ignited and then the initial flare up will be smaller and the chances of being trapped by flames is tremendously reduced.  Yeah, my 06 is outside right now.  I rode her today, but she's outside and will remain out there. You tell me to get real, but just look at how many gasoline fires take out garages, homes, and shops everyday.  THe news is full of them.  Firefighters say the reason they are so devastating is because folks don't think it'll light as easily as it will or flare as explosively as it will.

When the McComas fire happened we were in his garage working on our cars.  I didn't have heat in my shop at the time so he invited me to come use his shop to assemble a big block I was putting together.  He was swapping out the fuel from his AMX making a switch from gasoline to methanol and wound up with a gasoline spill of a little less than a gallon.  He was out from under the car looking for a fire extinguisher (because I was telling him about how strong the fumes were) when the fire went off.  Three other people were in the single car garage and pushed their way past Mike and out the door while he was spinning on fire.

 I tried to get him down, but the little sucker(probably only about 5' 5") was supercharged, adrenaline strong and I couldn't get him off his feet.  So I just stuffed him in the corner against the door and covered him up with my body. and covered his head and face as best I could with my hands, arms, and face trying to shut off the oxygen.  The smell of burning flesh and hair was putrid.  When I thought he was out and stepped back, he immediately flashed back into flames as did the front of my shirt and one arm.  I grabbed him again and this time got the fire out and got him outside without either of us re-igniting.

At that point there were shards of skin hanging off his ears and face maybe eight inches long.  I had lost my beard and eyebrows, and had some blisters, but he was really burnt badly.  I went back in and got the fire put out with several bags of floor dry and a lucky throw of it under the car.  Most of the fuel on the concrete had already burned by that time and I was able to put out the objects (broom, cardboard boxes, wood and plastic shelves) in the room that were still burning or throw them outside in the snow.  All of that took less than three minutes I suppose, but it seemed an eternity.  Rodney, Billy, and the other guy (his name escapes me) once outside, realized we didn't come out and they tried to re-enter, but I had Mike against the door and they couldn't force their way back in because of it. Rodney took him to the hospital that was only a few blocks away.  Mike's wife was in their kitchen cooking his lunch 20 feet away and never knew any of this was going on.  Had no one been there with Mike there's no telling what would have happened.  Most likely he would have perished and his house been lost over a little gasoline on the floor that he had said, "You don't really think that could light do you?"  A few minutes later he was disfigured for life.  Because we got the fire out and he received excellent medical treatment in minutes, his scars have largely faded from their earlier dark brown to an almost normal flesh tone color which makes it much less noticeable.  But that took a dozen years or better.   

Maybe because of that or because I've been in funny cars on fire or because my workplace burned to the ground once because of a fuel tank leak (I was not involved or even present when it started) or whatever, maybe because of my experience I am over-sensitive to the possibilities, but I do not think that I am being unreal at all.  I've seen what's REAL when gasoline (or alky or nitro or paints or thinners) combust.  I wouldn't intentionally put any vehicle in my shop or garage that I KNEW had a fuel leak.  So if hydrolock is not a matter of IF but WHEN, why would I put one in there that used a fuel leak as a so called "safety" measure?  That, to me, is what is unreal. 

What worries me most about overflow tubes is that a bunch of guys up north have garages under their homes in their basements which is also where their coal or oil fired furnaces are.  That scares the bejeebers out of me and I'm thousands of miles away from that situation.  I'll take a bent rod and a ruined engine to a fire any day.  That's my opinion and obviously not shared by anyone else.  That's fine.  I really do try to bite my tongue and deal with that.  But I don't think I'm being unreal. 
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Offline Steve in Sunny Fla

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2013, 02:36:54 am »
 Rev, first off, I'm sorry to hear the story of your friend catching on fire. But then, I've been alive for awhile too, and have had some experience with fires, too. Like the time I caught a field on fire and almost burned a house down when I was a kid. Or the time my bunsen burner with alcohol in it  tipped over in the basement of our 60 year old home and I tried to put it out with water (now I know alcohol floats). Or the time I  caught my arm on fire while searing meat and the oil blew up, almost catching the kitchen on fire, with the kids in the house. . Or the several times engines backfired and caught the carb, intake, wires , my hair and all on fire. Oh, and my Mom burned to death in a fire in 2007.

 So yeah, I've btdt too. I'm not beginning to suggest that fire is to be taken lightly, but I think that a 7 gallon tank of fuel, copiously venting from the tank and carbs on a constant basis is somehow exponentially more dangerous because of overflow tubes, well, that just doesn't work for me.  So on this, we'll have to agree to disagree. Heck, every time you ride your bike, you have a tank of explosive gas nestled between your n*ts with sparks, combustion and fire constantly going on under the tank. Petcocks, carbs, and fuel lines fail. sparks jump. Why do we ride these death traps at all - are we crazy  :-\  So in the end, all I can say is that if someone sees overflows as a threat, they should just not have them, but they still don't make my bike any more dangerous to me or my shop than it was already.  Steve
« Last Edit: December 18, 2013, 02:41:56 am by Steve in Sunny Fla »
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Offline Rev Ryder

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2013, 03:22:08 am »
I am not out to ridicule anyone Mike.  Not you certainly not Steve... but I disagree with your assessment that you will notice gas leaking and therefore be safe.  I doubt folks all get off their overflow equipped bikes and stand there a few minutes to see if they leak anything (which most likely will not occur while you are watching) before going off to do other things.  If we were so thoughtful, we'd never forget a manual petcock and this all becomes moot in the first place.

It is unlawful to store gasoline in an unapproved container and I doubt anyone here would be so foolish as to keep fuel in something like a milk jug or a mason jar or a plastic bucket.  Why would that be?  Isn't that like asking for a fuel spill?  And that's a gallon maximum, not a 7.5 gallon tank.  I doubt, that even with overflow tubes, anyone would ever get a five gallon spill.  They COULD, but I doubt it would happen.  But I don't want a gallon on my floor.  And with the dozens of hydrolock events I have witnessed firsthand, I have never seen more than probably a half pint on the floor (likely less) with the rest of the fuel safely confined within the engine and airbox where, A. it is NOT exposed to as much surface air and thus does not create the fumes that fuel spreading over a concrete floor would create; B. where what fumes that are generated are far less likely to come into contact with an ignition source; and C. said fuel that does escape does not constitute as nearly as serious a spill as with tubes in place.  Yeah, my engine is likely to get jacked.  To me that is far and away the more satisfactory outcome.  Yeah, we don't agree.

The only persons likely to agree with me will be your fire safety professionals and they couldn't care two cents about your/our precious connecting rods.  I saw this thread start and kept my mouth shut like I do 98% of the time.  I shouldn't have let Hazy's comment push me over the edge... but I did.  I know I am alone arguing against overflow tubes (obviously no firemen or fire marshals here), and so Hazy's comment seemed a little pointed to me though I'm sure he didn't realize that or intend it that way.  I should just keep my mouth shut, but I do worry about people making what I... I said "I" as in "ME", what "I" consider bad choices.  Now before anyone over reacts to that statement let me please point out that I am probably NOT the guy folks think of as a safety Nazi most of the time or a guy who always makes good choices.  My wife would say I'm easily the biggest risk taker she has ever known and she's not too far from right I'd reckon.  Heck, look at the video in my sig line and that should be clear enough right away.  But there's a lot of crazy stuff I'll do before I mess with a potential gasoline fire unless I'm really expecting I can deal with it.  In the race car I had a fire system and fireproof gear.  I wasn't afraid of fire... at first.

Maybe I am a safety Nazi.  I think someone riding without a helmet is foolish.  I rode without boots again this afternoon (I was in dress clothes) and couldn;t help but remember the last time I did that I spent six months in a wheelchair.  I think managing risk to life, limb, and property (in that order) is important and worth serious consideration.  But I still make choices that when you think about them are clearly foolish.

 I take my jetski 20 miles offshore to fish.  I want to have ludicrous horsepower in my antique Concours.  I wheelie-ed (and will again) the turbo virtually every single time I rode it and did so at some pretty high speeds (up to 80+mph).  I rode it at triple digit speeds a lot and then often in places where it just was idiotic to do so.  My point is that if I am willing to take these kind of risks that are clearly life threatening, why am I so against a silly little thing like overflow tubes?  I guess because I've been so close to losing the fire battle already a few times and know it's one that the ONLY way I can mitigate or reduce the risk to an acceptable level is to avoid the possibilities altogether, because skill or experience or expertise haven't proven very effective for me in this area.  Call me a ninny or whatever.  I'm good with that.  I'm not arguing... I'm presenting the argument that I believe is correct.  I'm just really amazed that no one else sees the dangers as unacceptable, though they would never ever intentionally pour a gallon or more of gasoline on their floor. 

You say that it won't happen.  I say it will.   That's where we differ. You say the risk is worth the reward, I say it isn't.  That's all this amounts to, nothing more, nothing less.  I fully agree with Steve's assessment that  it's not a matter of "IF" it's a matter of "WHEN."  That's what all risk management comes down to in the end isn't it?  We all have to decide that     
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Offline Rev Ryder

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2013, 03:49:16 am »
So in the end, all I can say is that if someone sees overflows as a threat, they should just not have them, but they still don't make my bike any more dangerous to me or my shop than it was already.  Steve

Well, didn't see this post before I made mine, but this is where we do agree... that someone who sees a threat in them need not have them.  I would not have them except I bought a bike with them.  They will probably remain on the bike for as long as I own it unless I have reason to pull the carbs, in which case I will remove them.  In fact, I bought this bike with the intent of removing the carbs altogether, but have since decided not to EFI an NA bike of my own (though I will likely end up doing one for someone else next year). 

 I agree that we have to learn to live together despite very different opinions on this topic.  But in order to do this we have to both be able to speak our minds on the subject, wouldn't you agree?  You still have hundreds of voices to my one so I do not see myself as a threat to you.  If anything, folks will more likely think I'm looney tunes for disagreeing in the first place.  That's fine. I fully respect you as an engine builder and "shleper" of so many things Concours. You've always been willing to put yourself out there and have brought a lot of fresh thinking to an old scoot.  Some of your innovations are absolutely brilliant IMHO (for what that's worth coming from me), I just don't see this as one of them.  Sorry.  But, you know there has to be one weirdo in every crowd, right?  ;)


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Offline EBAD

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2013, 04:02:20 am »
I have installed a shutoff valve ahead of my stock vacuum petcock. It is under the tank, I just reach under the tank and flip it. I'm lazy but still want to avoid hydrolock
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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #15 on: December 18, 2013, 04:25:06 am »
So.....many people are against the manual petcock like the Pingel, but yet would be OK installing a secondary manual on/off valve in addition to the OEM vacuum-controlled unit.  I don't get the logic there.

I went Pingel several years ago after a couple of years with the Bergmen manual conversion.  I also have overflow tubes.  I store my bikes in the carport, never in the basement, and when I have to put the Connie in there for work, I always pull the fuel tank first, just because I am like Rev Ryder and have a tremendous fear of fire due to vented/spilled fuel.
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Offline Steve in Sunny Fla

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #16 on: December 18, 2013, 11:15:21 am »

 I agree that we have to learn to live together despite very different opinions on this topic.  But in order to do this we have to both be able to speak our minds on the subject, wouldn't you agree?  You still have hundreds of voices to my one so I do not see myself as a threat to you. 

 Some of your innovations are absolutely brilliant IMHO (for what that's worth coming from me), I just don't see this as one of them. 

Rev, not and never will be an issue of "threat". This isn't a competetion, never has been. We're both grown, with our own set of experiences to draw from. I know you're just speaking your mind.

 And keep in mind that overflow tubes aren't some innovation of mine (I wish they were) because kawasaki saw fit to use overflows on just about everything else other than the concours. This is keihin's innovation, not mine. My voyager had them. Heck, I just did a Brute Force 750 ATV that had overflow tubes.

   I do agree with you about the weirdo part, but not because we disagree on overflow tubes  :nananana:  ;) :rotflmao: Steve
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Offline Steve in Sunny Fla

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2013, 11:23:38 am »
One thing I'd like to point out is that the overflow tube setup includes a hose system to route the fuel to a single discharge. For those storing, etc, I don't see why they couldn't add another level of protection by simply putting the overflow discharge hose into gas can or other suitable covered container. That way any overflow is contained, and very little is even venting to atmosphere. Steve
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Offline Greg

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #18 on: December 18, 2013, 11:42:59 am »
I bought a 2000 a year ago, and installed a $7 manual petcock that I bought at a small engine shop, cutting into the fuel line just below the vacuum petcock, and secured it with tiny worm gear hose clamps. It's tight, but there is still room to get my gloved fingers in there to turn the valve. I placed a small label reading "Gas?" to my gauges to remind me to turn off the petcock after every ride.

I had to rebuild my own carburetors shortly after buying the bike because it had the dreaded stumble, and finally quit running altogether. If I had the money, I would have sent them to Steve to rebuild and install the overflows. Since I didn't, I took care of it myself after some thorough research on this forum.
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Offline donaldj

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #19 on: December 18, 2013, 12:10:03 pm »
Very interesting and informative conversation. Thanks for the opposing views.
Donald

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #20 on: December 18, 2013, 01:18:39 pm »
Greg, you seem to be the only one who has answered my question, got a picture??......my question was.........".I'm not sure physically how you would do it?  Related to this, since this bike is total gravity feed, a longer fuel line or even a curl in the line, shouldn't make any difference should it? Couldn't the line even go down and back up? Just wondering if that would open the door to putting a manual shut off in the line, or would it cause other problems? Would it increase the chance of vapor lock? " .................

Offline WillyP

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #21 on: December 18, 2013, 01:24:24 pm »
So.....many people are against the manual petcock like the Pingel, but yet would be OK installing a secondary manual on/off valve in addition to the OEM vacuum-controlled unit.  I don't get the logic there.

I went Pingel several years ago after a couple of years with the Bergmen manual conversion.  I also have overflow tubes.  I store my bikes in the carport, never in the basement, and when I have to put the Connie in there for work, I always pull the fuel tank first, just because I am like Rev Ryder and have a tremendous fear of fire due to vented/spilled fuel.

A lot of us feel the manual petcock wouldn't work... for us... because we know we'd often forget to turn it off. Or on. However, A manual off in addition to the vacuum operated petcock means that when the bike is off for some time, or in the garage, we will remember to turn it off. If we forget to turn it off the vacuum petcock is still there.  It's not a perfect system, but it's a little better than just one or the other.
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Offline Rev Ryder

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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #22 on: December 18, 2013, 01:27:01 pm »
One thing I'd like to point out is that the overflow tube setup includes a hose system to route the fuel to a single discharge. For those storing, etc, I don't see why they couldn't add another level of protection by simply putting the overflow discharge hose into gas can or other suitable covered container. That way any overflow is contained, and very little is even venting to atmosphere. Steve
And that would be a valid remedy that addresses ALL of my concerns and would prevent even that pint of fuel on the floor.  But alas, we're back to an "always turning off a petcock" type solution that makes the tubes desirable in the first place.   
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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #23 on: December 18, 2013, 01:37:54 pm »
  I like the conversation. In my case a man has to know his limitations. I know I will NOT turn off a manual petcock EVERYTIME. You know, "brainf@rt syndrome"! So that leaves me with the potential gas on the floor syndrome if my oem petcock and float valve fails. Any way you cut it there can be a failure, human or mechanical. So far the mechanical parts have worked for 20 yrs. My brain has not!!  ??? 
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Re: How come we don't all install in-line fuel valves to block hydolock?
« Reply #24 on: December 18, 2013, 01:40:15 pm »
We've been 'round this topic so many times. There's at least one who installed an electric solenoid (Zorlac?) but I think he said he wouldn't recommend it or do it again. Someone suggested an electric or vacuum pump, but that would need a very low pressure regulator. Some who have tried adding a valve have had problems with getting sufficient fuel flow.

Everything is going to be a compromise.

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