My kingdom for a good pump

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By PG Jonker

Returning from holiday 2013

A year ago, travelling home after holiday with my bakkie, with my caravan in tow, the engine on two occasions gave a violent jerk.  So violently that I thought it best to pull off to see whether the caravan’s brakes might have become stuck in some mysterious way.  I walked around the bakkie and the caravan, felt whether the caravan wheels were hot (they were not) and did the mandatory kicking of the wheels.  I’m not sure why, but as everyone always does it, it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Nothing noticeable happened though.   I took it as a good sign.

After that I travelled home without any further problems, putting the jerking down to an extreme headwind.  I never really thought of it again, until many months later.


Easter 2013

Easter weekend a friend borrowed my bakkie.  He called me from Botrivier and asked whether the bakkie is supposed to lose power and stutter uphill.  I advised him that, to my best knowledge, that was not how the manufacturers intended the engine to function.  I also suggested that he desist from driving like an asshole and that the matter should then take care of itself.

He did not have any further problems.  I just assume that my suggestion was taken seriously.  However, I did have the bakkie serviced and had the plugs and all that could have caused the jerking, checked out.


August 2013

Five months later, one stormy night, the bakkie spluttered to a standstill with my son on the N1 just outside Cape Town.  He was blissfully unaware of the danger in which he was, sitting in the bakkie at a point where a barrier prevented him from totally pulling off on the right hand side of the road.

Late that night the bakkie and my son were deposited at my front door by a flatbed truck.  The engine would swing merrily, but there was no fuel.  The fuel pump stopped working.


Pump 1(a)

As the fuel pump is situated in the tank, and as the replacement pump was quoted as R8000, my mechanic of more than a decade decided to rather fit an impeller pump in the fuel line under the bonnet.  This pump had a rather annoying whining sound that was audible up to 50km/h.  However, as it cost R330 instead of R8000 I was quite happy to live with it.

Sebring pomp

Yet, the next working day the bakkie died on me inside of the parking garage where I work.  My mechanic came and towed me in.  He concluded that the dead pump in the tank would not allow fuel through.

Oorspronklike pomp

Pump 1(b)

So now the tank had to come off in any event.  However, as the replacement pump would still cost R8000, I settled for the mechanic’s suggestion that he simply replaces the pump with a spacer.  For this purpose he used a fuel filter that incidentally turned out to be an exact fit into the rubber housing from which the pump was removed.


So now I was a happy traveler again.

After three months of uneventful travelling, the pump on a few occasions seemed unable to overcome the vacuum when cold.  After fiddling with the line a bit, though, it would start working again.  Until the Sunday a week before my departure for the December holiday.  Fortunately it died in my back yard.  Paaah!


Pump 2

OK, now the impeller pump was replaced by a much sturdier looking diaphragm pump.

Huco pomp

The mechanic advised me that the instruction manual to this pump states that, in the unlikely event of fuel starvation, the return pipe from the carburetor to the fuel tank should just be blanked off, and that this should then take care of the fuel starvation problem.  However, he never had it before, and he suggested that it should not be necessary.

The bakkie then ran like a charm.  We went off on holiday, and it was towing like a dream.  Problem solved.

Not so.


Returning from holiday 2014

Upon my return from holiday, once again with my caravan in tow, we encountered a heat wave in Worcester.  OK, for the folks living in Worcester it was probably a day just like any other summer’s day, but for ordinary people it was extremely hot.  I guess about 40 degrees.

And then, just as I gunned the bakkie over the bridge at the fire brigade, it gave a single violent jerk, and then proceeded in ordinary fashion again.

I immediately had that sinking feeling in my stomach.  You know, that “Aaag, nee my ***!”-feeling.

I’m 80km’s from home, I had my family with me, and both my bakkie and my caravan were fully laden.

After a pit stop at the garage we proceeded, but with me now driving with a very even right foot not to elicit any unwanted responses from the engine.  Halfway between Worcester and the Rawsonville weigh bridge I felt the engine losing power, and then there would again be a surge in power.

So now what?  We’re so close to home.  Do we see how far we go and hope we make it back home?  It might work out fine.  Or then again, it might not.  Imagine I get stuck inside the tunnel with my rig.  Or before the tunnel, in the searing heat, at a spot without cell phone reception.

We decided to rather play it safe, and pulled in at the Rawsonville weigh bridge.

Believe you me, even under that tree, with a mild wind blowing, it was extremely hot.  I’m tempted to give you the uncensored explanation of how hot it really was, but I will desist.

I had a chat with my mechanic on the phone then.  He reminded me of the blanking off of the return pipe.  However, there was no way that I would attempt even something ostensibly that simple without proper supervision.  In any event, my wife told me that, regardless of what I might try, she and the kids will wait at the weigh bridge for alternative transport.

Nou ja, one hour later the road side assistance guys knew where the Rawsonville weigh bridge is.  They will tow me in to Worcester, which is the nearest town.  That would be no good, I told the guy.  I need to get all my stuff home.  This is Friday afternoon, 3 January, everyone is still on leave.   OK, they will give me a quote to tow me home instead of to the nearest garage.

I accepted their quote to deliver me at home for more or less the price of three full tanks of fuel.  I did not see much of an option.  Even my friend in Worcester who might have been able to assist was still away on holiday.  What’s his story, going on leave in December, I ask you!

A friend came driving past and happily waved at us, his hooter blaring.  I thought he had no reason to be thát happy.  Asshole.

A further 90 minutes later the tow-truck arrives from Paarden Island.


Ten hours after my departure on a 360km journey, I got dropped off at home with my bakkie on the truck and my caravan in tow.

Upon the arrival of the truck in our street our neighbours came out and took pictures.  I felt so welcome, I did not think they would have missed us that much, you know.


Pump 3

I now requested my mechanic to rather source me the genuine real replacement pump.  In twelve months’ time I had two scares, and had to tow the bakkie in 4 times, all related to the fuel pump and its alternatives.

I’m happy to report that the genuine replacement pump has since been sourced – now for R3800 instead of the initial R8000.  It seems as if not two providers quote the same price.  Adding this to what the alternatives attempts cost me (inclusive of being towed home) it would eventually come down to the same price as what it would have been if I obtained the original pump at the price first quoted.

Now I’m just waiting for a spot in the queue at the workshop to have the job done.  In the meantime the bakkie is doing fine.  The current pump just does not like towing a caravan when it’s 40 degrees Celsius.  Apart from that it still pumps like a charm.



2 Responses to “My kingdom for a good pump”

  • Oulike storie.

    Jy ken seker daai een van “het jy ‘n pomp? Ja. Nou steek hom in jou alie”

    Klink my jy sal ook na dese so vir elkeen wil sê wat jou ‘n petrolpomp aanbied.


  • I’m happy to report that the new pump has since been installed. The Huco pump remains as a back-up pump, with only the fuse removed so that it would not pump before formally being recommissioned.

    I had a colleague drive around with the bakkie for a while with no ill effects. So I’m hoping I’ve got the matter sorted!