“Uh, oh” I thought “We could be in trouble”
It came on all of a sudden, for no apparent reason. We were driving along and suddenly we lost power and slowed down. I shifted into 4th gear to try to rev it up again, with no success.
Then it righted itself. Relief.
But short lived.
It happened again. For no apparent reason the car started losing power. This time however I could see someone coming towards me so I flagged them down.
“My car is losing power” I said to the driver
“Hmm” he said (they speak very slowly in the outback “I don’t know. I’m not a mechanic.”
That’s something we found out yesterday. Not many people travelling around the outback are mechanics or mechanically minded. Lots of cowboys so if we had a problem with our horse we would have been ok, but now with our horsepower!
“Middleton isn’t very far up ahead” he said “You might get some help there.”
So we limped along, travelling fine one minute, no power the next. After what seemed like hours I saw a sign “Middleton 8km”. At least we could walk that if we broke down!
But we made it. I limped into the pub (that’s all there is in Middleton) and put the bonnet up. Immediately half a dozen blokes came over “What’s wrong?” they all asked. So I told them what had been happening “Hmm, sounds like fuel.” they all responded.
As it was too late in the afternoon to do anything then and there, and there’s no mechanic in Middleton, we decided to retire to the pub verandah and talk it over. “Yep, fuel” everybody said. But that’s when they diverged
“I think it’s your fuel pump”
“You probably need a new fuel filter”
“Dirty fuel. Where did you fill up last?”
I got up this morning with all the advice ringing in my head. As the fuel filter’s a bugger to get to, and Doc changed it just before I came away, I decided to go with the dirty fuel theory and check out the tank.
“Have you got a length of garden hose I could use?” I asked Val, the proprietor of the pub. She looked around. There was lots of hose everywhere and she finally found a piece about the right length. Problem was I couldn’t get it into the fuel tank. And neither could anybody else.
I changed tack and decided to test the fuel in the spare jerry can I filled up at the last servo. In lots of 2 litres we poured it into a fruit juice bottle, checked it and then poured it into the car’s fuel tank. That was all ok, so nothing wrong with the fuel then.
I still wasn’t happy about having to check the fuel filter, and I didn’t have a new one anyway. I decided to just take the car for a test drive up and down the road near the pub. Not going too far in case I had to walk back.
First one way then the other, then back again. Then repeat the exercise. I did this 3 times and … nothing. The car was fine. We decided to chance it and drive to Boulia.
And here we are. Not only did we make it to Boulia, but the car performed better than it has for ages. It’s always revved quite high and in 5th gear felt like it needed another gear change. That’s gone and the revvs have dropped. It’s better than new.
So we’re here and we’re about to head out to hit the dirt for the first time on this trip as we drive towards the Northern Territory and Alice Springs.
I’ll be back in touch in a few days.