WHAT DOES THE DOCTOR THINK THIS MONTH?
Ian has the misfortune of filling his car with the wrong fuel...
WHO'S A SILLY BOY THEN?
PETROL - DIESEL: Last week, on my way home from Lakenheath Surgery, I stopped at The Central Garage in Feltwell to refuel my Espace. It was snowing and cold as I filled the tank. At the £40 mark, I suddenly thought "Oh dear, I seem to have been putting petrol into my diesel vehicle" or words to that effect! As a well educated mechanical man of the world, I knew exactly what to do. I made no attempt to start the vehicle, ran into the office and shouted for help. Mark came out immediately and drove me home, promising to sort matters out. An hour or so later, he returned my car, cleansed and purified and running like a dream. Such is the service which is so often provided by our local businesses and, for the second time in my career, I have reason to be extremely grateful to the Central Garage - Richard Pohl sorted out an identical problem for me many years ago when I did exactly the same thing on the way to a GP Cooperative shift at Downham Market.
As you can imagine, I felt extremely foolish and angry with myself on both occasions and several of my friends have been mightily amused by the episode. Obviously, it was my fault on each occasion and I must accept the responsibility. I started to wonder whether I was alone in my stupidity and what could be done to stop me making the same mistake again. As usual, the worldwide cobweb was a mine of information, helping me to discover that this is a common problem.
Apparently, the AA is called by members to about 50,000 such episodes each year. They have set up a "Fuel Assist" service which operates a fleet of vehicles capable of draining contaminated fuel at the roadside. In addition, fleet operators report over 100,000 such episodes every year, so if you add in all the unreported episodes such as mine, there could be as many as 1,000 episodes of misfuelling every day in the UK.
Essex police, who have had to pay out 200 times over the past five years to fix damage caused by fuel confusion, have fitted a number of devices to their diesel cars to stop drivers filling them with petrol. The force has installed a voice recording which tells drivers "This is a diesel vehicle" when the fuel cap is opened. Usually, when we are together, management performs this role for me; the problem arises when I am unsupervised!
The military colour code all diesel pumps and filler pipes yellow. Our problem is that the small petrol filler nozzle will fit in the larger diesel filler pipe on the car but the reverse does not happen as large diesel nozzles will not fit into petrol cars' smaller petrol filler pipes. It would be ideal if diesel nozzles and filler pipes could be oval and petrol ones round, for example, but this would require agreement among all parties.
So, what happens if you start the diesel engine with petrol in the tank? The high pressure diesel fuel pump relies on the diesel oil for lubrication and is rapidly destroyed by petrol. The petrol strips the lubrication from diesel engine components and many parts will need replacing. Expect a bill of over £3,000!
I am still working on ways to prevent a recurrence of this problem and any ideas would be welcome.
You will have been aware of the apparently unending rain which has been coming down for months. You will not be aware that the Lord appeared recently to a modern day Noah, a good ol' Norfolk boy, with instructions to build a new ark and was upset when the ark could not be completed promptly. Young Noah had to produce a report which went something like this: "First, I had to apply for a building permit and then I had to argue with the boat inspector about the need for a sprinkler system. My neighbours claimed that my ark was too tall and infringed local height bye-laws; we had to go to the local planning committee for a decision. The local council then demanded a lot of money to remove power cables, etc to clear the passage for the ark from my home to the sea. I told them that the sea would come to us but they would not listen. I was not allowed to cut down trees for the wood as it would endanger the greater spotted barn owl, even though the ark would save those owls. I was taken to court by the RSPCA for planning to confine wild animals against their will; they argued that it would be cruel and inhumane to confine animals in such a fashion. The Environment Agency insisted on carrying out an environmental impact study on your proposed flood and I am still arguing with the Human Rights Commission about how many minorities I am to hire for my crew. Immigration are checking the status of those who wish to work on the project and the trade unions will not let me employ my sons, saying that I must only employ union members with ark building experience. The Inland Revenue have seized all my assets to prevent me "leaving the country illegally with some endangered species".
It was all a great deal less complicated in the original Noah's time.
Ah well, Here's to 2009! Deannie and I hope you all remain happy and healthy and thrive against the odds!
Best wishes to you all
Ian G. Nisbet