For some time while I was a teenager I had a problem with my fuel pump. The problem was handed down to me from my father when he gave me the car, and with the problem he gave me the solution. Having limited funds as do most teenagers I was forced to use my father’s solution for what seemed like an eternity.

The problem was that the fuel pump, at random, would stop pumping fuel. Much later on I would figure out it was a pump diaphragm issue but for now I simply dealt with it. More comical, perhaps even disturbing than mechanical, the “solution” taught me humility among other lessons such as setting my priorities in the proper order.

Driving along with a smile on my face I would suddenly find myself sputtering to the side of the road. The smile turned to nervous dread as I found a safe spot to stop and exit the car. I wished the fix was as simple as stories I had heard from others such as banging on the fuel pump with a wrench, but my problem wasn’t stuck mechanics.

As people drove past with strange looks on their faces and sometimes even laughing, I would at this point perform the “solution”. First I removed the fuel cap. The next step requires pressure to be built up in the fuel tank until the pump diaphram reset itself. How do you build pressure in your fuel tank while on the road? With the only device available to you….. your lungs.

Placing my mouth inside the fuel filler I would make a seal with my cheeks and chin. Next I placed my hands on either side of my face to keep my cheeks from exploding and to prevent the pressure pushing my face away and breaking the seal. The next 2 minutes went like this:

Inhale through the nose.
Exhale through the mouth.

With lungs straining, cheeks aching terribly and a great fear of accidentally inhaling through my mouth (it happened occasionally from the immense pressure in the tank) I would continue to blow until one of three things happened….. I couldn’t blow anymore, I lost the seal and had to start over or I inhaled and passed out from the fumes.

Once the solution had been completed I walked, lightheaded, back to the cockpit. A quick prayer to the gods of British Iron and I would flip the ignition to “on”. If the fuel pump clicked, all was good. If not, back to the blowing. 1 out of three times resulted in a failed attempt.

They say money can’t buy happiness but whoever “they” are never saved enough money to fix their SU fuel pump. I was very happy that day!