Saturday, November 20, 2010

I Loathe This Time Of Year

I do. I loathe this time of year, because of all the stupid pressures that come with schools trying to wrap everything up, and communities playing pre-Christmas sillybuggers, and orchestras trying to have wayyy too many practices and performances and birthdays and Christmas and, well, yes.

Never enough time to fit it all in. Always something or someone forgotten. And if, Cthulhu forbid, anything actually goes wrong, you have to go to positively Herculean lengths to fix it.

So yesterday, Natalie's car died. She was on her way back from Launceston, having taken the Smaller Son for his double-bass lesson (yes, he's graduated from violin. He looks ludicrous playing an instrument roughly a hundred and forty-five times his own size, but he loves it, and he's good at it.) when somewhere in the boonies past Nunamara, the car -- in her inimitable technical jargon -- went 'phoot'. And stopped.

Of course, there's usually no mobile phone signal out there. But yesterday, perhaps due to her shiny new iphone or perhaps due to remarkably kind weather conditions, she managed to get half a call through to me. Couldn't reach the RACT, no. But she could reach me, and I could reach the RACT.

The operator was really nice. Naturally I didn't have Natalie's RACT membership card or number. And I only had the first two letters of her license plate, because that was all Nat gave me before her phone and Telstra conspired to funk out together. And I couldn't actually remember the model of car... but I knew it was a very dark grey Honda. Yeah. Two-door. Sports. That.

Anyway, the operator dug Nat's details out of the database, and volunteered to try to call her to let her know help was due. (Miraculously, that call went through. Natalie is still marvelling at it.) And I packed up the Mau-Mau, and we drove out to where the afflicted car sat by the roadside, and I collected the two boys, and went back home. Eventually, a tow-truck dropped Natalie off and continued through to Scottsdale. Scratch one family vehicle for an indeterminate period of time.

So this morning, I went down to run the pump. And it started just fine, sure. But as soon as it came under load, it started to cough, labour, and limp. Didn't generate any pressure to speak of, either. I ran through the usual routine (spark, air, fuel-flow) but the fact that the pump was starting so nicely made me think something else was afoot. And indeed: when I opened a backflow stopper, the water that emerged from the actual pump/impeller chamber was disturbingly grey. Not mud-grey, because our mud is brown, but super-fine metal shavings grey.

I think the impellers are fucked, to be honest.

I checked the water level in the tank, and then I cursed. Evidently the failure occurred during the last run of the pump, because we've got maybe a week of very carefully water usage left.

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuckity fuck.

So I've disconnected the pump, as one does. And meanwhile, I've picked up Jake's good friend who's visiting for the afternoon, and I've dropped the Mau-Mau at a birthday party. The party-people will return the Mau-Mau, and Jake's friend's dad will come to collect his son (I hope!) sometime this evening. This is all necessary so that Natalie has the chance to go in and play music in Launceston, which is her major relaxation for the week. But it does leave us stranded here, what with her taking the operational vehicle.

And tomorrow? Tomorrow I will arise quite early. I will load Natalie and the boys and the Mau-Mau into the Mighty Earth King, along with the pump. I will drop Natalie at her work. I will drop the boys at school. And then I will do the rounds of hardware places, farming co-op stores and small-motor driven device stores until I can lay hands on an appropriate replacement pump. This one is seven or eight years old, and it's done solid work. It's going to be expensive, but the best strategy is to replace the goddam thing, and have the old one repaired to act as a backup.

And of course, that means that most of tomorrow will be spent connecting the new pump, and running a load of water up to the tank, and collecting kids and wives after they've done their daily stuff, and all this with the Mau-Mau underfoot...

... I really hate this time of year.


  1. I understand your pain vis a vis the pump.

    Mainly because it's an item type that usually is kept on low stock levels, and whats the bet their last one has waltzed out the door not half an hour previously!

    Of course you will also have the joys of awaiting delivery which i've got no doubt is just as long as if you were living over here!

    Anyway here's hoping you luck out.

  2. Christmas time is one of times when medievalists actually start dialing back, as it gets too hot to run big fighting events, and we just putter around doing small projects. I wish I had some spare time to post down to you.

    I can empathise with two major pieces of machinery going boom. That ALWAYS sucks, whatever the time.

  3. Chaz: I am a Country Bloke. Me and mister telephone spent the morning chasing up pumps. Found one that might suit locally, but they didn't have the output curves to let me know whether it could handle the pressure. More phone calls. Trips up the hill. Down the hill. Aha. Turns out the pump on this new one is the same as the old pump, just with a different brand of motor -- also 6hp.

    More back-and-forth. I purchased a Stillson Wrench. Much connecting and disconnecting.

    There is now water going into the tank. And I still have a half-hour before I have to pick the boys up from school.

  4. Half an hour to spare? Leisure time? OMG the end of the world approaches!!!!

    Anyway glad you got it sorted

  5. Dam!, I take it, the pump ( impeller ) is a sealed unit?, might not be a bad idea...OH, scratch that, you bought a new one, so the old one is being refurbished then I take it as a spare.

    Check and see if it requires GREASE!, from mem, its a graphite base one we utilised in the quarries and believe me, they pump REALLY FKN DIRT SHIT!. the Lithium based greases are for high temp I think..also rattling the brain on that one too. Head pressures can be a bitch to cater for, especially on long runs up inclines. Glad to know you got it sorted.

    as an aside, netal impellers are not as wear resistant of the poly / neoprene type ones, I forget exactly the name of the rubber based units, but the wear properties are out of this world.

    As for cars..FK ME..I wont go there either. fkn things!, should never break down given what they cost!