Houston, I think we have a problem…

Part 1 of a hopefully very occasional series.

So there we were, cruising gently down a fairly major dual carriageway, just left Sintra on the way to Mafra, 4.30 on Friday afternoon… and the van lost power. Totally. Change down. Still nothing. Neutral. Revs drop to zero, and the dash goes all Las Vegas.


The fuel gauge was very low, but not as low as it (ahem) has been. But it was the most likely reason. We’d got momentum, and the gradient was with us. Hazards on, hard shoulder, and roll.

A couple of km, one slip road, a roundabout and a set of red traffic lights later, we came to a gentle halt outside a tyre fitter’s workshop.

In I wander, all sheepish, and explain the predicament we think we’re in. No fuel to hand, but the boss sends a fitter off with a jerrycan. We have fuel. The van still doesn’t run.


It wasn’t a great consolation that it wasn’t an empty tank.

Some light fiddling later, we all decide that whilst there’s definitely some fuel getting to the injection rails, it’s nowhere near enough. And, yes, there’s a spark. Disconnect some more pipework, and the pump starts to sweat and shuffle Its feet. A mere dribble instead of a hearty jet.


It’s now well gone half five, and where the wotsit are we going to get an injection pump and when?

Ten minutes on the phone later, and the boss has a source, and a price – and it can be collected now. Do we want it? A quick wince later, and the only answer possible is given. Of course.

By seven, we were on the road again. Not cheap (two hours of labour at €35/hour was reasonable, all in, and fuel at cost – but the pump must’ve been gold plated) but as painless as possible, excluding the financial aspect…

If you’re going to break down, there’s far worse ways to do it. Just so long as we don’t make a habit of it…

This entry was posted in By Country - Portugal, Van stuff. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Houston, I think we have a problem…

  1. Simon B says:

    I’m glad it worked out so well! I have the reputation for “throwing out the anchor” when things go wrong and getting stuck (litterally, in the middle of a very busy Thames, in an identical situation when diesel injector pump failed). You have given the ideal illustration of keeping cool, preserving momentum / status quo at all costs, to the benefit of all. A good lesson / reminder. Thanks

  2. Pingback: Palaces. Lots of Palaces. | Wherever the road goes…

  3. Pingback: Six months on… | Wherever the road goes…

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