Saturday, February 12, 2011

Battery blues

We went over to the Bale House to switch out the batteries, which had failed.

This is a small solar power system, using six volt golf cart batteries only two years old or less. The batteries would last longer of they were treated well, but the previous occupants let the house freeze, and discharged them too deeply, too often and the batteries failed early. The new occupant has been having trouble with the solar power system ever since she moved in, despite me switching out almost every other component.

Aimee wanted to do some shopping in Bangor, and we needed to get the new batteries there, so we made a trip of it, and picked up the groceries and some sheep and chicken feed.

Our nicely liveried farm truck got a little attention parked outside the grocery store.

This second photo shows the vehicle we used for a farm truck before. This is an old 1975 VW "Campmobile" van I drove as my primary vehicle from around 1992 to 2003 or 2004.

The Campmobile was an American conversion of the stock German-built van, and was made for a few years in the mid-1970s.

I loved this vehicle. Except for a yet older VW I had once, this is the only vehicle that I've ever had that you can sleep in and carry 20 full sheets of 3/4 plywood flooring. And other than money for parts, I never paid a dime for it. It came to me free.

Back in the day, I used to get given a lot of free vehicles. I could repair them, and folks I knew would rather give them to me at the end of their life than to the junkyard, especially in the late 1980s and early 1990s when steel prices were low and so you had to pay a junkyard to take your scrap car.

This vehicle was not quite in such bad shape when it was given to me. It was perfectly drivable, but had a few tricks needed to keep it running. I fixed it up, and with "only" five or six top end rebuilds and one bottom end rebuild, once second-hand gearbox and any number of CV drives, got about 500,000 miles out of it, including four or five cross-continental trips.

There just never came a time when the cost of repair exceeded the value of the vehicle or the price of a replacement.

It ended it's days at the Bale House not because it couldn't have been repaired. It was still running when it was parked. But once the days of first two and then three-dollar gasoline came to stay, I couldn't afford to drive it. At its best, it would only get eighteen miles a gallon. And the lack of an effective heating system made it impossible to drive in Maine five or six months out of the year.

I keep saying I should fix it up again, but Aimee probably wouldn't allow it. Too much money, too battered a relic, not enough emotional bond for our Aimee.

Poor old bus.

And what a lot of snow. Pretty soon that bus will just become a snowdrift.

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