Second-generation Ford Lightning owners such as myself are used to having to get crafty in making aftermarket products function on our beloved single-cab trucks. The Lightning’s limited run and lack of direct-fit support in the aftermarket realm has left us to fend for ourselves or band together through forums and Facebook groups to discuss the best method to achieve an end result.
Thankfully, early gurus provided information on how to solve almost all the performance dilemmas of the early Lightning days through a do-it-yourself process documented online. However, with the Modular motor regaining a high-horsepower focus through the use of modern power adders, and engine swaps becoming increasingly common, the early days of home engineering are being left in the dust.
This unfortunate truth doesn’t hit any harder than in the fuel tank. The original fuel pump hanger from Ford dangled two fuel pumps on a thin metal bracket. Fuel would be sucked from the fuel tank’s baffled region through a wafer-thin sock filter before being pushed through the pumps, and into a Y-connector. From there, the fuel would head towards the fuel line that is measured in fraction of an inch form.
Providing power to the pumps is small-gauge wiring that attaches to the fuel pump hat. These wires provide dual amperage based on engine load in the form of a high- and low-voltage switch. Similar to how a Boost-A-Pump works, this multi-voltage method keeps fuel pumps alive longer than constantly running them at full voltage.
The electrical architecture, fluid flow, and pump placement provide adequate performance in stock form, but issues quickly arise once you begin to modify the truck for performance. In the case of my 2002 Lightning, I quickly found issues appearing in all sections.
Ford used a single harness to connect the two in-tank pumps through the use of a jumper wire. This is immediately problematic since the factory pump harness uses a different connector than the aftermarket. Add in the strain of wiring two or three power-hungry pumps onto a single 18-gauge wire and the factory in-tank wiring sounds like a recipe for disaster — or at least another venture into dropping the tank.
When searching for reasons why my Lightning stuttered at wide open throttle and frequently had burnt plugs, all answers pointed to the inside of the fuel tank. Ford decided to use a plastic Y-connector internally to bridge the two pumps’ fuel flow into one. Once again, on pump 93 this wouldn’t be a problem, but once you add more fuel flow and E85 into the mix it’s yet another point of failure
In my case, I was pleased to see the fitting had already been replaced with a stainless steel Home Depot-special, but the hoses were rough and showed signs of potential leak points. While checking fuel pressure during wide open throttle pulls, I would only see 40 to 45 psi in high mode, even after bypassing the low switch. I wanted to test my theory externally, but after a small spark caught a fuel vapor, my plans of pressure testing the pumps and connector turned into watching a small, but spectacular, bonfire in my driveway.
The final straw for me was the hose size. It’s commonly accepted that the factory fuel lines will hold close to 700 horsepower, but my goals far exceed that number. The idea of risking an expensive engine build to avoid running aftermarket lines was quickly dismissed.
Aftermarket options remain few in this day and age of Lightning ownership. After all, Ford’s latest Lightning reincarnation was a slap in the face for most enthusiasts. However, a few companies still understand the potency of these sport trucks and the cult following that stands behind them. Deatschwerks noticed the lack of available drop-in pump hangers on the market and decided to bring its high-quality fuel components towards the truck side.
Aside from being aesthetically the nicest piece that I will never see again, the Deatschwerks X3 Series Fuel Pump hanger for 1999-2004 Ford F-150 Lightning provides enormous benefits compared to its OE counterpart. Besides increasing the fuel delivery capacity, the Deatschwerks kit fixes the factory shortcomings. Everything from wiring, pump placement, and fuel flow are addressed, while factory functions like the fuel level sensor remain intact.
The DeatschWerks unit allows for up to three pumps to be mounted on its hanger. I decided to go with two DW 400 pumps and leave the third slot open in case things get out of hand. However, not everyone is shooting for the moon and can choose the DW 100, 200, or 300 pumps to fill the void in the billet pump holder.
Instead of trying to funnel the fuel from up to three pumps into a single fitting, DeatschWerks implemented an internal flow junction in the top hat that gives flow priority to the main pump, and allows the remaining pumps’ fuel to be added in. The fuel then exits the top hat through a -10AN fitting. Which brings me to my favorite part of the kit: the deletion of Ford’s pop-on fuel line fittings!
Delivering power to the pumps are a series of 5mm power terminals located on the bottom side of the top hat. The main pump receives a dedicated terminal, while the second and third pumps share a terminal. What excites me about this is instead of depending on an antiquated high/low switch, you can run staged pumps through an aftermarket ECU. Although my Lightning is currently on the stock ECU, I decided to bypass the high/low switch altogether by running a Deatschwerks dual pump wiring kit.
The pump configuration, flow, wiring, and billet build of the DeatschWerks unit all make sense, but it’s the hanger’s ability to cater to the wide demographic of Lightning owners is where it stands out. You can have a bone-stock truck and decide to run two DeatschWerks 100 pumps, or go big with three DW 400 pumps that would produce 1,200 lph with only a 54-amp load. You can run up to a -10AN fuel line from the top hat forward, or scale it back to a more modest -6AN.
The hanger is more than just a fancy pump holster, it modernizes the truck’s fuel system to stay competitive in all forms of racing. So, if you’re like me and want the best for your truck without finagling a fuel system together yourself, then DeatschWerks has the solution.