The Fool Pump
By Rick Cogbill a.k.a. Slim Shambles
Basil has a saying, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.
Work on an Escort, and it’s comeback time!” Such was our
experience in the case of the Phantom Fuel Pump.
The 1988 Ford Escort came in with the complaint of surging and stalling. Sometimes it wouldn’t start at all. The car was towed in during the weekend, and though it started on Monday morning, the fuel pump was noisy.
Tooner ran a fuel pressure test, pronounced it sick, and handed the car over to Beanie for a new fuel pump. The Bean didn’t appreciate having to remove a full fuel tank, and said so. However we assured him that it was because of his great skill, (and not because he was the apprentice) that we had entrusted him with such an important responsibility. I think he almost bought it.
Later, with the car running smoothly and quietly, I turned the keys over to the owner, in exchange for some appropriate monetary compensation.
The next morning, he handed the keys back to me, along with some appropriate words that I wouldn’t want my kids to hear.
“Tooner,” I hollered appropriately, “that Escort fuel pump is noisy again, and it wouldn’t start three times last night. Now fix it right this time!”
“Beanie!” hollered Tooner. “Put another fuel pump in that Escort, and do it right this time!”
Now Beanie was hollering. “Well, get me a part that isn’t a piece of junk this time!”
To the Bean’s credit, we had seen a batch of noisy pumps lately from our suppliers, and we thought this was just one more. But that didn’t make the sun shine any brighter.
That little car was beginning to think Slim’s Auto Repair was home, for two days later he was back, on the hind end of a tow truck. The owner choose not to accompany the car in person, which was a wise decision.
Tooner crouched on one side of the car brandishing a crescent wrench, while Beanie held him off with a pry bar. Both of them were inventing new ways to describe the looks and intelligence level of the other. At that moment Basil intervened. “Gentlemen, control yourselves! Stop acting like children.”
“Exactly what I was saying,” I agreed, trying to hide my ball peen hammer behind my back. Tooner and Beanie growled menacingly at me.
Basil thought for a moment and quoted,
“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs, and blaming it on you...”
Tooner stared at him blankly. Basil sighed, “Rudyard Kipling? The immortal poem, ‘IF’?”
Now we all stared at him blankly.
Basil moaned. “Why must I suffer amongst the heathen? What I’m saying is, direct your anger to where it belongs-the problem is with the car, not each other!”
“Oh,” said Beanie dropping the pry bar. “Why didn’t you say so. The way I figure, it can’t be the pump. It must be in the control system.”
“Exactly,” continued Tooner, tossing aside the crescent wrench. “Let’s grab the electrical diagram and trace the power source.”
My jaw dropped as the crew worked smoothly together, and in no time discovered a faulty fuel pump relay. Sometimes it worked fine, and sometimes it would create a voltage drop, causing the pump to run slow and noisy. Other times it just wouldn’t work at all.
A new relay and everyone was happy.
Except Tooner. He’s been going through old issues of Automotive Parts & Technology trying to figure out who Rudyard Kipling was. He’s sure that he must be some famous mechanic or something.
I allowed myself a knowing smile. You heathen, I thought smugly, everyone knows Kipling used to play first base for the Blue Jays.
(Back to list)