Three years too late

12th July 2020 |

The only thing to mar that beautiful ride from Bavaria to Aspiran when I brought my BMW down to France in 2017 was an erratic but persistent fault in the fuel system. Every now and then the fuel stopped running, and I had to find a spot by the roadside to stop and fiddle. I quickly found out that if I wrenched the tube away from the tap and plugged it in again everything was OK for another fifty or sixty kilometres.

This annoyed me but not as much as it annoyed my travelling companion. She felt herself exposed on the roadside, and she formed the opinion that if I filled up at every available opportunity it would happen less.

I didn’t believe her theory but had no explanation myself. It was not suction from the tank. I rode with the gas cap open for a while but it still happened.

There was no blockage at the tap. When I took off the tube, the gas ran freely. The filter likewise showed no sign of being blocked.

My reluctance to keep stopping for a refill created bad feeling which eventually built up into a full-scale shitstorm, and became what I still think of as the worst thing that has happened to me in my life, although I have no scars to show for it.

Always remember to carry string (along with your umbrella, of course)

The other day, three years too late, a friend of mine called Simon de Burton came by, took one look, and said “Your filter is too close to the engine block. I bet it’s because the petrol is vapourising and causing an airlock.”

That sounds like the perfect and most promising explanation. I have yet to prove it. I shall do so in the coming days, but some of the joy of discovery has already dissipated. Another biking friend, Helmut Heusler, came to visit, and he has had decades of experience as a design engineer for the big German car makers.

He says, “Throw the filter away. It’s quite unnecessary.”

I’ll try to prove Simon’s theory before I do though.