Talk about confusing... the "thing" on the rail is a fuel pressure dampner - According to the manual, it smooths out the pulse (ah, that's it, a pulse dampner) from the injectors binging up and down. My DVD manual states not to confuse this with the pressure regulator. the drawing of the regulator looks very different. The manual specs say the pressure on the rail should be 50 psi, key on, engine off, and 50 psi, key on engine on. That's exactly what I got when I re-did the gage test.
My friend the mechanic took a look under the hood, and he indicated that this is the regulator. Stopped in to Ford to get a new hose for the EVAP system (hose is deteriorating, flaking off maybe related; I don't know ) and asked him to look up the regulator on his computer. He didn't show it to me, but he said, yeah, its right on the fuel rail... Ugh.
So who knows.
I used a propane wand to look for intake leaks - intake sucking up propane through a bad gasket and revving the engine. No leaks that i could see anywhere, around any hose connection downstream of the MAF.
Also got my 13 yr old son to stuff a rag in the exhaust to create back pressure to listen for an exhaust leak around the manifold to see if the manifold might be sucking in fresh air just above the O2. No such luck. I could hear exhuast hissing from around the muffler somewhere, as expected, but nothing up by the exhaust manifold. Also heard my son hissing about not being able to keep his hands on the rag! Told him I couldn't do it myself and needed his help. Suck it up son, and do it
So I picked up a vacumm gage and will check all the vac lines, but from what I can see they all have some vacuum.
Not sure what else I can check. Might have to break down and take it to F.O. R.D. double ugh.
Any other thoughts? I am getting desperate