My father, Theodore Hard, with one of his early model solar ovens.

My mother, Grace, with one of Dad's inventions.  This is a solar oven that he designed so that any local village tin smith could build it.  Fuel was scarce so this would come in handy in a remote village.

                MY MOM THE FUEL PUMP

By:  Dr. Rodney T. Hard 


Dad told me this story at his home in Pennsylvania during a family get together about a year before he died.  I laughed so hard I fell out of my chair.

As background to this story, you must know that my father was a very inventive and industrious man.  Living in post-war Korea, he had to learn to design things, jerry-rig things, and make do with whatever limited resources he could scrounge up.

The following story is of one of Dad's jerry-rigging incidents that happened in South Korea in the mid 1970s along the yet unfinished new super highway being built between Seoul in the north and Pusan in the south.  

Mom and Dad were traveling in their little 4-cylinder white Fiat when the car conked out and Dad had to pull off to the side of the road.  

He tried to start the car again but it would not start.  He checked the gas gauge, and it appeared that he had plenty of gas.  The battery was good because the starter did turn the engine over and the lights worked. 

He got out of the car and looked under the hood but all appeared to be in order.  Through the process of elimination, he finally figured out that the fuel pump wasn’t working so that the gasoline was not getting to the engine.  

They were far from any exit or service station, so Dad had to figure out how to fix it himself.

Dad disconnected the overflow tube (expansion tube) from its connection near the gas port and fed it through a hole up behind the back seat on the driver’s side.  The end of the tube barely protruded out at the corner.

Mom got into the back seat.  By sitting slouched down and twisting over to the left, she could put her face in the corner and blow into the tube.  This created enough pressure to push the gas to the engine and get the car to run.

They sputtered along with Dad driving and Mom blowing and blowing and blowing into the tube.  As they went up one especially steep hill, Mom was tiring and the car was jerkily speeding up and slowing down with stops and starts of the engine as a police car pulled alongside.  

The policeman in the passenger seat rolled down his window and asked my father if anything was wrong.  My father assured them that everything was fine.  The policemen looked warily at my mother crouched in the back seat but finally pulled forward and moved on.

When they made it to the top of the hill, Dad pulled over and stopped the car to give Mom a chance to recover and catch her breath.  

The same police car turned around and came back to check on them.  The police again asked Dad what the problem was and inquired as to why he stopped. 

My father smiled and told them everything was OK.  He just said, "There is no problem.  It is just that my fuel pump is tired and she needs to rest a bit."

Dr. Rodney T. Hard