Installing a new Racor 500MA primary fuel filter

You know what they say, the secret to a long lasting engine is clean fuel.. My engine a volvo penta 2003T has only some 800 hours on it, but it had a really old Lucas CAV fuel separator which didn't even have a filter (see pic below).. scary stuff.


So the only filter was the secondary 2 micron filter. This was a recipe for trouble.. I had visions of the engine cutting out in bad weather when the fuel in the tank gets all churned up and blocks the secondary fuel filter with crud.

This is a project I had been planning for some time, but was anxious about fiddling around with the fuel system. Looking at different fuel filters the Racor turbine series 500MA was impressive, and also cheaper in the long run because the replacement filters were only $10. I also wanted to install a vacuum gauge to tell me when the filter needed replacing before the engine cut out at an inopportune time.. So bought the fuel filter and vacuum gauge, which cost $300 in total! expensive, but this was only the start..

The piping was the biggest pain in the butt. First found the rubber fuel hoses from the engine to the filter and tank were cracking so decided to replace them except I couldn't replace with with the cheap $10 fuel hoses from west marine.. These hoses had special end fittings which meant getting them from Volvo at a total cost of $200!! ouch. this was getting really expensive..

Next was pipe fittings to connect everything together.. OMG I didn't realise you needed a PHD to figure out all the different thread fittings and standards.. NPT, NPTF, Flared 30, Flared 45 and these were just the commonly used threads in the US, let alone the british and ISO standards. My copper piping needed 5/16 flared 45 fittings and the fuel filter and gauge needed 1/2 and 1/4 NPT.. so finding the right adapters was a monumental pain in the ass. After visiting west marine, home depot, svensons you name it, I went on the internet and found this site Highly recommend it. They source from the one manufacturer that has the biggest selection of pipe fittings in the US.

After that debacle, I then had to figure out how to install the much bigger fuel filter in my small engine compartment. Ended up having to bend the copper piping (which you need a special tool for) to lower the fuel filter so that it fitted.

The final result: Shiny new Racor 500MA fuel filter (30 micron filter) with a vacuum gauge and new fuel fuel lines.. Ain't she a beauty 🙂


Got an interesting idea from a volvo guy at the stricly sail pacific boat show. He suggested installing tee fittings with taps that can go to a fuel pump to enable fuel polishing using the filter if and when I get bad fuel. Mulling this "enhancement" now..