This piece was recently broadcast on ABC Radio National’s Bush Telegraph program:
Being hopeless with machinery, and living a long way from town, I treat any mechanically-minded visitor as a precious opportunity. There’s always some collection of moving metal parts that’s refusing to function. This time it was my pump.
I’d excused it slowing down a bit, given that the old Ajax and its partner, the Lister diesel engine, were getting on.
For nearly 30 years they’ve squatted over by my dam, ready to be cranked into action at three monthly intervals, and pump steadily up to my cement tanks on the ridge — 200 feet of head. The faithful pair would work continuously for 24 hours without complaint.
The Lister had been overhauled once, and the Ajax had its leather seals replaced once — but not by me.