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Copper from Lowes for fuel line?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Stevie Nash, Nov 6, 2013.

  1. Stevie Nash
    Joined: Oct 24, 2007
    Posts: 2,999

    Stevie Nash
    Member

    So I've been looking for something softer than steel for fuel line. I've been looking at 3/8" NiCopp (10% nickel, 90% copper) at the auto stores and online and it's working out to to just under $5 a linear foot. That's some expensive shit!

    I happened to be in Lowe's plumbing isle for some home improvement supplies and I saw 3/8" cooper line that was about $1.30 a linear foot.

    I've seen copper for fuel lines before and thought it looked great. Is this just the regular home improvement copper. Is there any issues with today's fuel running through 100% copper?
     
  2. Drive Em
    Joined: Aug 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,748

    Drive Em
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    You will have no problems, but get ready for the keyboard brigade that is coming with all sorts of answers as to the contrary........
     
  3. slddnmatt
    Joined: Mar 30, 2006
    Posts: 3,679

    slddnmatt
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    No kidding....
     
  4. hotrodgypsy
    Joined: May 10, 2011
    Posts: 282

    hotrodgypsy
    Member
    from reading,pa

    copper will crack easier the standard fuel lines...I like the looks also.had some polished on my trips...
     
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  5. Stevie Nash
    Joined: Oct 24, 2007
    Posts: 2,999

    Stevie Nash
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    So it gets brittle? Or from blunt force? Can't see 4-6 psi causing a problem...
     
  6. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 17,044

    gimpyshotrods
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    Work-hardens from vibration. Cracks ensue.

    You can play Russian Roulette every day and still die old, of natural causes. Does not mean that is safe.
     
  7. Drive Em
    Joined: Aug 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,748

    Drive Em
    Member

    All metal work hardens. My Ingersol Rand air compressor has a factory copper line going from the compressor to the tank... It has been going strong for 28 years.
     
  8. slddnmatt
    Joined: Mar 30, 2006
    Posts: 3,679

    slddnmatt
    Member

    Its like anything, if you install something like an idiot you'll have issues, if done correctly it will out last most of us..
     
  9. 59 brook
    Joined: Jun 12, 2005
    Posts: 1,017

    59 brook
    Member

    if the copper line were connected with short pieces of rubber hose ,wouldn't that eliminate the vibration induced work hardening. after all in a high rise building pumps are used on copper pipe filled with water at an avg of 90psi. this lasts for yrs and yrs of 24/7 use
     
  10. drtrcrV-8
    Joined: Jan 6, 2013
    Posts: 1,249

    drtrcrV-8
    Member

    Over time copper tubing, especially in installations where it can vibrate, tends to work harden & get brittle. Most racing associations & restoration groups have outlawed it for fuel lines for this reason. Would reccommend the extra effort to use properly supported steel(copper plated if you want the color) or stainless: the car you save might just be yours!
     
  11. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 17,044

    gimpyshotrods
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    Radical different resonant frequencies.
     
  12. slddnmatt
    Joined: Mar 30, 2006
    Posts: 3,679

    slddnmatt
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  13. castirondude
    Joined: Jan 26, 2012
    Posts: 496

    castirondude
    Member

    I've been told that copper is illegal for fuel lines.

    I've used it as well with no problems.

    I like the compressor argument. Ditto with phone lines swinging in the wind. copper isn't particularly sensitive. Just make sure it doesn't flex at all...

    Sent from my Verizon 4G LTE smartphone
     
  14. 1955IHC
    Joined: Aug 20, 2013
    Posts: 636

    1955IHC
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    I have used it and mounted it properly and not thought twice about it. However that was just in the engine bay for aesthetic purposes. It sure beats the hell out of the plastic oe stuff they use today. No b.s. little brother called me when his brand new truck wouldn't run right last fall. I go look it over and the driveway is covered in fuel. Had to drop the tank to gain access and pulled out a nice squirrel nest the plastic fuel line had very suspect looking teeth marks in it.

    Sent via Illinois Bell Telephone Company's Car Radiotelephone
     
  15. Steve!
    Joined: Sep 27, 2011
    Posts: 268

    Steve!
    BANNED
    from at the gym

    The biggest mistake that I've seen is running the copper from a block mounted on the firewall to the carbs on the engine, because the engine is going to vibrate and move while running and that is what can cause the copper to crack. The safest way is to run a flexible line from the chassis to the engine and then mount the fuel block on the engine and run the copper to the carbs. As far as running copper from the tank to the front of the car, I don't think that it would cause any problems as long as it's mounted solidly and routed well, but again I would use a flexible line from the chassis to the engine.
     
  16. 1955IHC
    Joined: Aug 20, 2013
    Posts: 636

    1955IHC
    Member

    X2 No matter what material is used that should always be done!

    Sent via Illinois Bell Telephone Company's Car Radiotelephone
     
  17. wood470
    Joined: May 21, 2008
    Posts: 226

    wood470
    Member

    Copper fuel lines work fine if you have flex line from frame to engine. my problem is with Lowes. Buy auto parts from an auto parts store nothing from Lowes. I bought a dishwasher from them with a forty dollar mail in rebate. when I mail it in with all proper docs they refused the rebate saying it had to be installed by them to be ellidgable for the rebate. I told them their salesman told me about it sold it to me to take with meand they told me my problem was with their salesman. o talk to himtheysaid. I wont buy from Lowes and you should be careful. these big conglomerates come in and run all the local merchants out then jack up their prices send all the profits to headquqrters and provide a bunch of minimum wage jobs for the local economy. Shop your locally owned buisness s
     
  18. I bought a fridge and if. .... Oh. Nevermind.
    I have a 62 Olds with copper fuel lines that where put on in 62. Still going strong.
     
  19. Hackerbilt
    Joined: Aug 13, 2001
    Posts: 6,240

    Hackerbilt
    Member

    I was all for using copper but I bought a roll 2 weeks ago to make a pwr steering cooler and it wouldn't bend worth a crap!
    Using a line bender tool it kinked or collapsed on every try!
    The remnants are still sitting in my garbage pile...$20.00 wasted.
    Bottom line...Copper tube isn't what it used to be!
    Be careful.
     
  20. I think the biggest problem you'll have is trying to keep the damn stuff looking nice and coppery. It'll turn green a day after your first time out in the rain, if it doesn't happen earlier just from the condensation. Give it a quick spray with clear lacquer to keep the tarnish off.
    My big-ass Emglo air compressor has been going strong for 25 years with its copper lines.
     
  21. Mike51Merc
    Joined: Dec 5, 2008
    Posts: 3,826

    Mike51Merc
    Member

    My granddad was a truck/auto mechanic from the 1920s to the 1970s. Thanks to him I have about 20 rolls of copper tubing in various sizes along with drawers full of fittings.

    They surely used copper for air brakes and fuel lines back in the day

    I think the "work hardening" problem occurs if the tubing is left blowing in the wind, wiggling in the air as opposed to simple vibration.

    It's probably a good idea to anchor it down as much as possible and definitely use rubber hose for flexible connections to the engine and gas tank.
     
  22. J'st Wandering
    Joined: Jan 28, 2004
    Posts: 1,653

    J'st Wandering
    Member

    I used flare fittings with copper for an oil line. It broke at the flare from work hardening from the flaring operation.

    Use compression fittings.

    Neal
     
  23. gas pumper
    Joined: Aug 13, 2007
    Posts: 2,949

    gas pumper
    Member

    Copper is still used for refrigeration and air conditioning. Buy the stuff for HVAC at a supply house for plumbing. We had R-22 systems that would get to 475psi when things went wrong. All kinds of pulsing and vibrating in big A/C units.
    Proper support is the answer.
     
  24. I can only offer my experience,I had a Model A roadster highboy pickup back in the 60 that had a flathead with 3 deuces,,all plumbed with copper line.

    It worked fine for many years,then one hot & dry summer day driving on a 4 lane road at about 50 MPH the engine caught fire,,flames flickering over the windshield and I'm in the middle lane.

    There were two of us up front and 2 ridding in the bed,,,I took a evasive move and dived to the outside lane and managed to get off the road into the grass,we bailed out and the grass caught fire.

    About 15 minutes later the fire department showed up and put out the huge fire I started on a farmers pasture.

    Needless to say there was a lot of damage to the car and after the wrecker hauled the car home I found the copper line to the center carburetor was split.

    I will profess up front that I didn't use any rubber lines at all,,I think this was my downfall.

    I sold the truck for near nothing and never saw it again.

    Bottom line,I don't think I will ever use copper for gas lines again and the only suggestion I can offer to anyone considering copper for fuel delivery system is to make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy,hopefully you will never have to use it but it's just plain common sense to have one in any rod or custom.

    Even old rubber gas lines can split. HRP
     
  25. Dan Timberlake
    Joined: Apr 28, 2010
    Posts: 1,258

    Dan Timberlake
    Member

    Hi gas pumper,

    Are (single) flared connections used much in refrigeration systems? I'm guessing soldering/brazing may be almost standard, but maybe for the leak tightness, not the "strength."

    The metal at the outer edge of a single flare gets brutalized. Thinned out, and stretched. It's easy for a flaw to form in the edge and even tear in the flaring process.
    In a double flare the start of the tube stays essentially the same diameter, so all the stretching is done in continuous metal, not to an edge, like the technique used to tear a phone book in half.
    I'm preeeeety sure that is part of why double flares are found on OEM auto brakes and fuel.
     
  26. Mike51Merc
    Joined: Dec 5, 2008
    Posts: 3,826

    Mike51Merc
    Member

    Copper flare is used for propane lines. Compression fittings are outlawed. Why? Thermal expansion and contraction will loosen compression fittings.
     
  27. prpmmp
    Joined: Dec 12, 2011
    Posts: 1,049

    prpmmp
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Last edited: Nov 7, 2013
  28. mopar57
    Joined: Apr 24, 2012
    Posts: 77

    mopar57
    Member

    I am an a/c mechanic and every a/c has copper lines in them.The biggest thing to look for is the thickness of the copper.There is three types K,L,M. K is the thickest and M is the thinnest.I would use L,thays what we use in a/c units all day long.
     
  29. prpmmp
    Joined: Dec 12, 2011
    Posts: 1,049

    prpmmp
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    K thanks! Thats Pricey! Pete
     
  30. Stevie Nash
    Joined: Oct 24, 2007
    Posts: 2,999

    Stevie Nash
    Member

    Didn't think about the copper not bending properly. Maybe I should just go with the NiCopp, it's considered automotive grade. I figure I need about 15', I want to replace all the way back to the gas tank.

    I wonder what the 10% nickel content does for it?

    Doing the calculations, I would save about $49.50. I guess piece of mind for $50 isn't all that bad.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2013

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