Once upon a time in the deserts of California there lived a boy, named Ben, and his Land Rover, named Dora. They lived and played together all the time. Since Dora really doesn't like driving on pavement, Ben tries to take her off road as often as possible.
One such trip happened recently. Ben decided to go off roading with Dora and a bunch of other Land Rovers in Northern California. In the previous week Ben had been a good boy and checked all the oil levels, reinstalled the CB and done other random maintenance. They set out on Friday morning and all was going well. It was a warm, but not too warm, clear, sunny day and Ben had the stereo turned up.
Dora decided that since they were going to be driving in the snow, it would be a good idea to have an oiled frame. Not that the forest roads would have salt and other nasty corrosive substances on them, but you never can tell and it is better to have an oiled frame than not. Now, Dora had been trying to oil her frame previously by causing her rear differential oil seal (genuine leather) to leak. But that only converted the rear third of the underbody, and Ben noticed and fixed it. Then he did some mud bogging in some really salty mud. Now to give Ben some credit, he did wash off most of the mud from the frame and undercarriage, but Dora decided that an oiled frame was a good idea just in case Ben decided to take her near salt again. So she waited until Ben had gotten onto a desolate section of the I-5. Then, thinking to herself, that to oil the whole frame in one shot, the oil must come from somewhere up front. She identified the fuel pump oil seal as a good target. When she thought Ben wasn't looking, she broke the seal and let 3 to 4 quarts of oil out in 10 miles.
Ben had gotten suspicious and was watching the oil pressure gauge. He caught her in the act. He shut off the engine and coasted to a stop. And then used the last 3 hours of sunlight to fix the fuel pump (Dora was at least considerate enough to leave Ben enough time before sunset). And then they went on their merry way. Dora later blew the head gasket (in another attempt to leak oil) and Ben washed all of the oil off her frame in a stream crossing, but that's another story...
Seriously, I was driving along and I heard a Brrrap. So I immediately hit the clutch. The noise went away, so I turned off the engine and coasted to a stop. I crawled underneath and saw an oil puddle. I noticed oil on the front prop shaft and fuel pump underbody. Fuel pump?!? I asked myself. I futzed around and could find any problems. The oil was a bit low, so I added a quart. Then cautiously started the engine. No unusual sounds at any rpm. Oil pressure was ok, so I cautiously started going again. No unusual noises. So I drove to the next exit and got off. I had thought I had seen puffs of blue smoke thought the back window, but was mistake. The oil level was ok after a few miles. So I got back on the freeway and watched the oil pressure gauge like a hawk. After 10 or so miles of "Is the pressure gauge dropping? No. Maybe." It suddenly dropped. The engine was shut off before I had the time to hit the clutch. I managed to coast to the next exit.
After stopping I crawled under the Rover. Everything was coated in oil. And it all was coming from the fuel pump. Some guy came over and asked if I needed any help. Not really. He asked what the problem was. I told him. He said that he had a dolly and could tow me to the next town and how was a fixed for dollars? He really wanted to tow me to the next town and for me to pay him for that service. I didn't even know what was wrong yet, or whether it was fatal, so I told him to bugger off (actually I was a lot nicer than that). I pulled the fuel pump. As I was futzing with it I noticed oil coming out of the diaphragm chamber. That's odd, I thought. So after looking at the pictures in the Haynes manuel, and a quick prayer to the Goddess of Automotive repair, I set to take the fuel pump apart. I managed not to damage the diaphragm and removed the top part. Next came out the diaphragm and the shaft that attached it to the mechanical lever. On this shaft was a bit of oily rubber, that looked like a rough O ring. A look in the Haynes manual showed that there was more to the oil seal than came out. This was a newer fuel pump so the washer that holds in the oil seal is crimped on. A hammer an a nail set got everything out and sure enough my problems was that the oil seal had ripped into two pieces. So I looked in the spares box that I brought for the oil seal. No dice. But I did find the gasket for the fuel pump to engine interface.
All lost you think? Not so. I would let the lack of an oil seal stop me. So I rooted around my spares box for anything that would fit. I stopped when I spied the little rubber piece for the rear brake cylinder that seals to the walls of the chamber. This piece looks like this in cross section: \____/ So I cut off the shoulders to make it a round disk with my Swiss Army Knife. And cut an appropriate sized hole in the middle to seal against the diaphragm shaft. All went back together, including recrimping that washer in. I bolted the fuel pump on, reattached the fuel lines and reprimed the pump by sucking on fuel line. (I had to. And I paid for this sin by sucking some gas). I manually pumped the pump and saw fuel leaking out the pumps output line. Sigh. I retried a few times and then noticed that the fuel line was not going in straight. I had cross threaded the bugger. So out comes the fuel pump again. I try to reestablish the original threads, but have no luck. Then I put on my thinking cap for the second time that day. It's leaking because the pipe isn't seating firmly at the end of the output chamber. So I dug out a rubber grommet (a rubber donut with a circumferential groove) and cut it in half along the groove. This went in the chamber first, then the pipe. I cross threaded it it and installed the fuel pump. Sure enough it held the gas in. I finished the reassembly, started the Rover up and went on my merry way.
And the best part is that this "fix" has held up for the last 700 miles.
Benjamin Smith, Science Applications Int'l Corp., Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division, China Lake, 1972 Land Rover Series III 88
Reprinted from the Ottawa Valley Land Rovers newsletter, April 1995