Changing a Filter - African style

Wiith Ray Mackaway in Togo

It is amazing how the simplest job can become so difficult in Africa. At home, to change a fuel filter on a diesel vehicle may take 15-20 minutes. Not so in Africa!

The GRN vehicle had been playing up and our workers from Togo were not sure when the motor would stop. That could cause some very exciting moments in the traffic here! I thought that the problem may be the fuel filter. They had replaced the fuel pump and attached filter but when I looked at the filter it looked very battered indeed.

The 'mechanics' at the 'garage' descended on the vehicle. The fuel hoses were removed and the pump with the filter was removed. A new filter appeared and then the haggling began. Finally the cost was decided and they agreed to fit the new filter. It was most important that there was no air in the system after fitting the filter. This required the filter be filled with fuel before fitting it to the pump. I would have made sure that I had a can of diesel to fill the filter but no can of diesel was available. How were they going to fill the filter? One guy leant over the mudguard of the vehicle and proceeded to suck the diesel from the pipe that led back to the tank. Now you can only hold so much fluid in your mouth at one time so to fill the filter took lots of sucking, many mouthfuls of diesel and much spitting.

I stood there speechless. I could hardly believe my eyes. Eventually the filter was filled and an attempt was made to screw the filter onto the pump. It wouldn't fit. Wrong thread. So what to do next. With the filter now being carefully held upright full of diesel, new negotiations took place to see if the right filter was available. Eventually another filter arrived. An old dish was found so the content of the first filter was poured into it. The second filter was filled then screwed onto the pump. Sucess! It was then refitted to the vehicle. After a little encouragement the motor fired into life. Another round of haggling followed for the price for the work. Eventually all was settled and we took off in the vehicle. Next time you have some work done on your vehicle, remember you could be in Africa - it's far more interesting!

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