Apie van Deventer is small and wiry, and his prominent ears make it easy for people to believe we’re descended from apes. Apie is proud of his nickname because he’s a science teacher at the local high school and his favourite subject is the Theory of Evolution.
His other claim to fame is that he grew up on a farm near Baardskeerdersbos, which is a clump of trees on the other side of Hermanus.
We service his 2005 Peugeot 206 regularly, but we don’t see him very often because he doesn’t cover many kilometres a year. A few weeks ago, he turned up with a very worried look on his face. He’d been on a 1 000 km trip and his car started drinking oil and smoking in such quantities that he was convinced some rings had broken. I told him that rings usually break only during the installation process and asked him to leave the car with us.
Hennie performed a compression test and discovered that all the cylinders showed a very low compression reading. “It must be broken rings,” I joked before phoning Apie for permission to strip the engine.
The inside of the engine was totally “carboned” up. Most of the rings had seized in their grooves from the excessive carbon build-up and some were broken. Considering what I told Apie earlier that day, I wondered how I would explain the diagnosis. I described the problem and said it was most unusual, but asked which type of fuel he had been using. He sheepishly admitted that he had been adding engine oil to his petrol as if it was a two-stroke engine. Some website advised that two-stroke engines last longer than four-stoke engines because of the oil they add to the fuel. I found it difficult not to laugh, but managed to get permission for us to overhaul the engine.