MAKING AND FITTING NEW LEATHER PISTON WASHERS WHEN RESTORING VINTAGE CAR FOOT PUMPS
Old pumps can run out of puff and need a new internal leather washer! Some leather washers have just a retaining screw passing through the centre and some are much bigger and sit around a large brass piston end of about 3 inches diameter (e.g. as in the Kismet Master and Sequel). But the way of making them is much the same. What you have to find is some decent leather that is not too thick (or too thin) i.e. nice and manageable . Cut a disc that is approx. half an inch larger all round than the diameter of the pump barrel that it will be running in. Make a central hole – as neat a fit as possible – for the securing screw to pass through (or a large hole in the case of the Kismet Master, Sequel etc). Leave this new washer to soak in tepid water for a good hour , or even overnight. Now here is the real trick: put the wet washer onto the rod , or large piston and fix it in place with its screw or brass ring , Tighten down firmly. Around the washer place a jubilee clip (water hose clip) and tighten it until it is the same diameter as the pump barrel . What you have to do at this stage is to push the edges of the washer with a screw driver against the inner edge of the clip to get rid of the creases as much as you can. Leave the new washer in place to dry naturally – overnight if necessary, and when dry , pare away any excess bits of leather from around the rim of the clip. You will need a really sharp blade to do this, and try to keep the edge equal all the way round. Give the washer a good oiling after removing the clip , and insert the piston back into its barrel . Get straight into some serious pumping – and Bob should be your uncle. With the Kismet range – and others with a similar system – make sure to oil often through the hole in the side of the large barrel. Good Luck! This is the process I use in restoring all pumps with leather washers – obtained from Australian vintage pump restorer – Bill Axten
I SELL WASHER KITS IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN RESTORING YOUR OWN PUMP...I PROVIDE THEM FOR ANY PUMP. THEY ARE PRICED FROM £15-£50 DEPENDING ON THE NUMBER OF WASHERS REQUIRED AND COMPLEXITY OF THE PUMP. THE KITS COME WITH FULL INSTRUCTIONS.