Sunday, May 11, 2008

vice grips save the day

1 comment:

  1. in the middle of our afternoon game drive on the first day in murchison we stopped to check out an unfamiliar bird (red-necked falcon, new for us). as usual when stopping to look at stuff (except elephants) i turned off the car. after IDing the bird and getting a couple of good photos, i turned the key and was greeted by some crackling sounds and a plume of thick smoke from under the bonnet.

    well, this has happened before so i had some experience with the problem, but that is little comfort in the middle of african wild. anyway, the terminal gets loose and then arcs and melts the clamp and battery post. fortunately it was the negative post which means that if you hold the wire tightly against the post it won't arc, the car starts fine, and continues running after you let go of the wire (why?). so we were able to start the car and drive back to our camp.

    we had network (not everywhere in the park) so i phoned mechanic sam back in kampala. he said the car will run fine without the ground wire, but it will kill the alternator. we had plans to drive all day the next day and find some lions, and the prospect of a car with dead batteries and no alternator in the middle of lion country didn't sound too good. plus, we like turning the car off when we're stopped and it also didn't seem like a good idea to constantly send paige (i gallantly volunteered to stay in the car and turn the key) out with the lions to hold the lead against the battery post. so it needed a fix.

    vice grips to the rescue. luckily the bar that holds the battery in place was in a good position to clamp down the vice grips, too. they would have bounced off in a minute if there wasn't something holding them down. i wrapped a plastic bottle around them to keep them from shorting against the car body, but it also helped keep the pliers closed since i didn't have any tape (always have duct tape and vice grips handy. second thing northern MN kids learn after "the wood stove is hot").