I love to hear that there’s no charge. Yay! Something for free! But when “no charge” means your battery is dead, that’s not so good.
My little truck for hauling bark mulch and topsoil sat idle for a couple of weeks during our only hot weather of the summer so far. When I tried to move the truck the other day, I turned the key in the ignition and nothing happened.
As a child I got a shock when I reached into the wringer washer to lift out the clothes to put them through the rollers. It’s not good to be standing on a wet floor. Nothing life threatening. Just an ugly buzz through me.
As a teenager, too lazy to use the wooden spoon, I stirred the contents of an electric frying pan with a butter knife. In our old house the kitchen counters had metal moulding. Of course that’s what I touched to complete the circuit. Nothing life threatening. Just an ugly buzz through me.
As an adult I “helped” a friend who had a dead battery. I nosed my car up to the dead car. With my car running, I attached the jumper cables from my car’s battery to the dead car’s battery. Ta dah! Simple! And then things started to smoke and boil. I ripped the cables off and ran for cover.
With history like that, you can see why having a dead battery is more than a little disconcerting for me.
- Charge the battery?
Truck is parked too far from the house. Can’t plug the battery charger in. Connecting it to the battery would have taken major investigation and tutoring for me to accomplish.
No room for another vehicle to get close enough to mine. Besides, the friend is busy working and I don’t like to bother him on his time off.
3. Get help from a neighbour?
Yes. He scrapes and cleans the battery terminals. We try to start the truck. Dead.
He takes the battery out and tries his spare battery. Dead too.
A light comes on in my peabrain. I don’t have to drive the truck to the house to connect the battery to the charger. I can bring the battery to the house. Into the wheelbarrow it goes, and off to the house. The neighbour shows me how to connect the charger’s cable thingies to the battery. Just then I remember that once I had a dead battery in the hot summertime and the battery had no water. We check the water level. It’s out of sight. He says get distilled water and pour it to the top of the solid stuff you see when you look in the holes of the battery. I’m very grateful to the neighbour.
Okay. One day I’ll go to town and get distilled water. While I’m on the phone the next day, the working friend drops off a big jug of distilled water and sends me an email: “It’s by your battery.” What a sweetheart. I’m thrilled that I don’t have to make a major trip to town to buy a cup of water.
I pour water in the battery, attach the second cable the neighbour had set up for me, and plug in the charger. Then I stand well back while I wait for things to heat up and explode. Nothing happens. I take that to be a good thing. The battery charger is old and the indicator needle stopped working years ago, but I leave it on all day and all night and part of the next day just to be sure. Not that it makes me sure at all.
Now what? Unplugged, the battery sits there while I wonder what to do. I find busy work to do for three days. Then I remember that I watched the neighbour take the battery out. He unscrewed the bolts on the bar that held the battery in place, unhooked the cables and lifted the battery out. All I have to do is reverse that procedure. But which way does the battery go? Which cable connects to which terminal? What if it smokes and blows up? And can I even lift the battery up into the truck?
I wheelbarrow the battery to the truck, find some reserve strength to lift the thing. Feels like it’s made of lead. Probably is. And I plop it into place. I think. By some miracle, the cables only fit one way. The big clamp on the big post, the smaller clamp on the smaller post. I don’t have the fancy tools, but I have a crescent wrench to tighten the clamps. Then I fit the bar over the whole battery and bolt it to the truck frame.
The moment of truth. I get into the truck and turn the key. I keep the door open in case I see smoke and have to make a run for it. First click turns the engine over and my grin is huge. I sit there chuckling and tittering and clapping my hands together silently. I am SO proud of myself.
And the repair bill? No charge.