Saturday, 1 August 2009

all hands to the pump

In which we learn, yet again, that sometimes you can get fixed on the wrong answer to a problem.

We've been flogging off our surplus tents on ebay, and buying kayaks, as Katie is now of an age to ardently want to paddle her own canoe. So Thursday had us trundling up the motorway to Gloucester to pick one up.

I'd changed the car's HT ignition coil the day before; but as we got near Gloucester, the engine started dying on us, and then picking up again. So we would swing in to the hard shoulder and wait for it to recover again, and so continued in fits and starts.

We got the canoe and tried it out on a stretch of the Stroudwater canal. It was dense with jenny-green-teeth, and ponged of sulphur dioxide. Which is odd, because although Stroud was one of the places where the industrial revolution started, the dark satanic mills have been adapted to more modern purposes than turning waterways into the foul-smelling, foamy sewers that they used to be when I were young.

We passed a moorhens' nest, right in the middle of the canal, rising neatly out of the green carpet like a citadel in the middle of an endless plain. Except that it had lots of little moorhens sitting on top.

As we continued in fits and starts along the A38 towards Bristol (I thought it would be a safer option than the motorway) I listened for the fuel pump, and indeed noticed that it would occasionally cut in with a frenzy of clicking.

I got the jack handle from the back of the car and gave it to Katie. "When the car slows down again, I want you to hit the bulkhead under the glove compartment," I said.

We went on. The engine faltered. "Hit it now!" I said, a little sharply.

She did.

The engine picked up straight away.

"There was no need to shout," said Katie in a Very Huffy tone.

And so we got home. And I took out the fuel pump, and took it to pieces, after reading up in the manual and even watching a Youtube video of How To Do It. You can get everything on the internet, apparently.

The points looked like this. There's a horrible ridge on the upper one.

This is what they looked like after I'd cleaned them up, with lots of whetstoning and emery papering. They probably could do with being replaced, but I needed the car working in a hurry.

Putting it back together...

And then I switched on the ignition and the pump chattered away furiously for ages.

And ages.

And eventually I primed it by sticking a hose on the pump's outlet orifice, and sucking furiously.

I got a mouthful of petrol. I gargled with mineral water, gobbing it promiscuously out onto the road; then I had a cup of tea, then a bottle of beer, by which time the mouth was starting to feel like we could still be friends.

And the pump was working fine.