EFI in the El Camino

Illustration for article titled EFI in the El Camino
Illustration for article titled EFI in the El Camino
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Last weekend I began the install of the Holley Sniper EFI in my 1987 El Camino. I started the day dropping the fuel tank to install a new sender/fuel pump which doesn’t require a return line and then I mounted the throttle body. I got as far the coolant temp sensor before I realized that I didn’t have a place to install it so I had to order a water neck spacer with a 3/8 npt port. Sure wish this was mentioned in the manual or the 20 writeups I perused, but I digress.

Fast forward to yesterday when I was able to spend about 6 hours wiring everything, running fuel hoses, installing the water neck spacer, welding an O2 sensor bung, and generally getting everything ready to go. Once everything was buttoned up, I turned the key to allow the fuel pump to prime the system and then hit the key. It fired right up and settled into a nice smooth idle that was way too high. Once the car reached temp I turned down the idle, let it sort itself out for a few minutes and then dropped it in gear and headed out for a test drive.

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The character of the car has completely changed and it feels like it has a bunch more power. The throttle response is instant and I have to pull away from any stop carefully or the wheels spin. A lot. Today is chilly and damp out and stomping on the gas at 25 will also get the wheels spinning. It’s a riot.

Overall, the Sniper system install is easy. I would say the hardest part is dropping the tank for the sender. The rest is simply running wires and fuel hoses. I connected to the car’s hard lines, but were I to do it again I might simply run a fuel line straight from the tank to the throttle body as it would be fewer connections to fail.

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The ECU is currently in learning mode which apparently takes a bit of time to get through. After that is completed you can start modifying the base tune if you want. I will also be installing a Holley Hyperspark distributor and CD box so the computer can control the timing. That should be a nice improvement. It currently just uses the HEI distributor which I curved a while ago. It seems to work fine, but more control will be nice.

I have run into one problem which is that my brakes aren’t working. The brake pedal will push all the way to the floor. It will pump back up, but then slowly falls again. Which I think sounds like a leak in the master cylinder? Though there is no apparent visible leak. Or perhaps the check valve on the brake booster has gone bad? I plan on replacing the check valve and then moving on from there. It’s odd that it would coincide with the efi work, but I can’t see how the two are related? The booster has a hose that runs to the throttle body - same as it would with a carb. I am at a loss.

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Luckily, I’m “working from home” for the “foreseeable future” so I should have time to tinker.

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