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Great Australian Engineering Print E-mail
Written by Hartley Heaton   
Sunday, 08 March 2009 15:42

Roger Eveleigh and I decided one weekend, about 1974(ish), to go fishing in the Lunsemfwa river where it runs parallel to the Great East Road some 40/50 miles east of Lusaka. We had heard that there were some large fish in the river so went to see for ourselves.

Neither of us had a four wheel drive so decided to take my Australian Ford Falcon pickup. The roads although not good were not that bad, anyway the vehicle had a sump guard so why should I worry.

We turned off left and drove into the bush some 20 miles eventually coming to the river. Having done a quick survey, up and down the river for a few hundred yards, we started unpacking things, sorting out the rods, chairs, drinks etc and were just settling down when a guy turned up on his bicycle.

It turns out that he had been following us by way of a trail of oil that we had been left behind along the road. I looked under the front of the car and, sure enough, there was a large puddle of oil. The dip stick showed that the engine sump was empty and I did not carry any spare in the vehicle.

I asked the chap, who told us about the problem, if he knew of anywhere we could buy some oil and were told 'No' but he would see what he could do. He then whistled up a canoe from the other side of the river and went across bike and all. My thoughts were 'Well that will be the last we will see of him'.

I then set about finding out just why I had an oil leak and discovered what I can only consider great Australian engineering. There was a small plate that covered a hole in the Sump Guard; it was through this hole that you got to the sump drain. The plate was held on by a bolt put in from below. The bolt however went through the sump guard and touched against the engine sump. What had happened was, I had knocked the sump guard against a rock which in turn pushed up the bolt and the bolt went through the sump, end result oil ran out.

We weren't too sure how we were going to get out of our predicament but it was obvious that we were not going to do it with a hole in the sump so I set about finding a way of fixing it. In my tool kit I had a couple of tubes of Araldite so mixed a small amount of it to use to seal the hole. I pushed and shoved the glue into the hole but it would not bind because no matter how often I cleaned the sump there was always a small amount of oil that leaked out. Having put my thinking cap on I worked out that if I wedged a cloth between the sump guard and the sump I could hold the glue in place, praying for it to dry.

We now started working out what we were going to do. Walk to the Great East Road, about 20 miles, hitch a lift to Lusaka, get some oil and then somehow get back. Question, who was going to do the walking? I drew the short straw.

By this time we had given up the idea of fishing and had packed up the vehicle and I was just getting ready to set off, leaving Roger to look after the car, when there was a shout from the other side of the river and across came our friend with a can of diesel oil. Well my vehicle was petrol but what choice did I have. We paid for the oil, giving extra for his trouble, and I filled up the engine.

On the way back we stopped a number of times to make sure that the leak had been stopped, very little got past the Araldite. We made it home OK and I took the vehicle into the work (E.W.Tarry) the next morning and had the workshop fix the hole for me.

Moral of the story, always carry spare oil when heading into the bush or hope to meet a nice Zambian.