Life at the end of the road

April 25, 2011

The flat battery, exploding gun and minor fire :-(

Filed under: daily doings, Land Rover, life off grid, the disaster thread — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 5:20 am

Now you may not believe in astrology, homeopathy, biodynamics or any other kind of opathy or ology but  there are some things that just cannot be explained. There are also times when for no apparent reason everything goes t*ts up, bread will not rise and everything you touch turns to sh1t. This weekend has been such a time, probably the planets weren’t lined up up or I’d forgot to say ‘white rabbits’ at the beginning of the month or throw salt over my shoulder, whatever the reason things have not been going well of late 😦

It started last night as I drove home in the dark and the lights on the ‘Old girl’ failed, not an entirely unexpected phenomena as one of my very expensive batteries had died last week. Consequently I’d been isolating the twin batteries every time I stopped the Land Rover to stop the duff battery draining the good one.

I’ve tried all the fancy ‘split charge’ relay system on the Landy and don’t rate it, using a diode to prevent one battery going flat means that it never gets fully charged in the first place. My solution is to have a simple heavy duty isolator that keeps the ‘starter battery’ separate from the main battery. Normally the switch is ‘on’ so that equilibrium is maintained between the two, however if at a festival  or some event where long usage of the ‘Eberspacher’ or stereo is required I turn the switch off. This keeps the starter battery separate and fully charged for a quick getaway 🙂

Last night however whilst driving home at 22:00 the switch failed, the second battery did not charge and the lights went out 😦 No problem thinks I, I’ll park the ‘Old girl’ on a hill and put the battery on ‘boost’ for an hour before heading to work on Sunday and all will be peachy 🙂

Home at 22:30 after a long Saturday at work I headed straight for a bath and much needed bed , Sunday appeared shortly afterwards and I arose to a spell of coffee and computer before going out to feed. A flock of pigeons stealing bird food had me exiting the house with my ‘Hatsan Escort’ shotgun. The two rounds that I loosed off left the pigeons intact and my shotgun in bits 😦

240411 001

I kid you not, my new ‘semi auto’ was a pile of springs and bits in my hands 😦

240411 002

Only 44 rounds up the spout and this little Turkish number was in bits 😦

240411 003


240411 004 240411 005

Anyway, I’m not worried, all my internal organs are intact and the gun’s got a three year warranty 🙂

With this in mind I put my duff battery on charge and went to feed the pigs, the batteries on a Land Rover being under the passenger seat and it being raining I left the charger in the foot well and closed the door. Having no piglets around my feet made the task of feeding quick and easy, the herd all looking well after spell of decent weather and new growth.

Still bright and early and with time to kill I went to check the hydro turbine output which was again pretty poor on account of the lack of rain (I am not complaining). Walking around to the header tank I saw that there was in fact more water going through it than the 75watt it was producing would indicate. Diverting the water away from the tank to stop the turbine I went to have a look at the meter in the shed that monitors its output in Kwh. This had expired several weeks ago after an extended spell of rain that saw me producing some 800watts for a few days on end. It was obviously too much for it and it had burnt out.

Thinking that it may have been sapping some of the turbines output in its toasted state I disconnected it and bypassed it before re diverting the water into the tank and going to make breakfast. It would take a while to fill up the penstock pipe and by now it was 8:30 and creeping towards work time.

No sooner had I started warming the frying pan when the power went off in the house 😦 Rushing to the shed where all the batteries, inverter and electrical gubbins live I was greeted with the unmistakable expensive smell of burnt electrics and the red ‘overload’ light on the inverter. Re setting the inverter tripped it straight away until the breaker that feeds everything was opened. Well at least the £3000 Trace inverter wasn’t toast.

Next I went and switched off all the breakers in the sheds and house to try and isolate which circuit was causing the problem. This was of course after I’d spent far too long checking and re checking the wiring I’d just joined to by pass the hydro meter.

The feed to the chalet was good, the feed to my workshop was good, it seemed to be on the house circuit, the battery charger me thinks. Sure enough I go to the Land Rover which now has blacked out windows and open the door to discover a smouldering battery charger and be greeted by a black acrid cloud 😦 To be honest I was quite relieved, OK it will probably take months to get rid of the smell but at least the hydro turbine and inverter are fine.

So with all windows open and no breakfast inside me I shivered my way down ‘Calum’s road’ to work, arriving there on time though feeling sick from the acrid smell and lack of food. Work was pretty quiet apart from the ‘fire on deck’, ‘fire in engine room’ and ‘terrorist attack’, all drills of course 🙂

The day rapidly improved and after spending ages cleaning the inside of the ‘Old girl’ with Mr muscle and covering everything in air freshener I turned my attention to the flat battery. This had failed to charge up whilst the engine was running because the isolator switch had expired 😦

240411 006 (Small)

Drilling out the rivets and pulling it apart,

240411 007

I could find no obvious reason for its lack of ‘continuity’ between the terminals, however after cleaning and re assembling all worked well.

Anyway, it’s after 6:00am on Monday now so I’d better go



  1. Paul, I also don’t really believe in ley lines and all the rest, but I’ve got to agree with you this weekend was a nightmare … what was planned to be a happy weekend turned into a nightmare of NHS bureaucracy at a time when all sensible doctors and pharmacists were closed for the Bank Holiday … anyway I’m escaping London for a week in north Wales today so hopefully things will improve … enjoy the rest of your week

    Comment by carina — April 25, 2011 @ 7:05 am

    • Forecast is looking great Carina and I’ve a full schedule of jobs ahead of me, plus of course the Waverley on Friday 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 26, 2011 @ 5:10 am

  2. Ah, the happy smell of burnt electrics! Back to the 60s when my 1951 Beetle’s RUBBER lighting wiring began to melt somewhere between High Wycombe and Oxford on what passed for main roads then. The only option was to drive without lights flashing a torch out of the driver’s window. At least it wasn’t raining.

    Hope all your problems are now sorted, though the gun is a poor do.



    Comment by Sue — April 25, 2011 @ 8:10 am

    • Morning Sue, how long did the smell last 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 26, 2011 @ 5:13 am

      • I seem to remember driving with an open window for a few weeks, even when the wiring had been mended. Mind you, the driver’s window wouldn’t shut properly anyway without taking the inside door panel off and pushing it up.

        Happy Tuesday


        Comment by Sue — April 26, 2011 @ 7:57 am

      • Hi Sue,

        open windows, good weather and three air fresheners seem to have done the trick, thank God it didn’t happen in the winter 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 27, 2011 @ 9:53 pm

  3. Thought you were going to tell us that the old girl had gone up in smoke for a minute. You need some febreze for the smell.

    Comment by simon — April 25, 2011 @ 9:19 am

    • Morning Simon, off to Portree this afternoon for pig feed and Febreze 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 26, 2011 @ 5:14 am

  4. Poor sod. Obviously you weren’t wearing your “lucky heather” as well as not doing your salt shoulder chucking et al. :-/

    Comment by Lynda and Peter Bowyer — April 25, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

  5. My condolences Paul! A a marine electrician I have encountered similar situations many times. This helps explain my lack of hair.

    Comment by Arild Jensen — April 25, 2011 @ 5:10 pm

    • Morning Arild, how long does the smell last 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 26, 2011 @ 5:18 am

  6. Must be the 3 thing again !
    May be up there in 9 or 10 days time – theres a funeral first and I’m on ” Child Duty” Hope things improve for your family….

    Comment by sotw — April 25, 2011 @ 9:28 pm

    • Morning She, see you soon and hope the weather stays good for ya 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 26, 2011 @ 5:19 am

  7. Hi Paul,glad to hear you are still in one piece, looks like that could have been nasty with the gun.Cheers,Andy.

    Comment by Andy — April 25, 2011 @ 10:02 pm

    • Aye Andy, a more safety conscious citizen would have been traumatized by the incident and had some lawyer demanding damages for emotional scarring 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 26, 2011 @ 5:23 am

      • True, but how would you prove the birds shoved that big cork in the end of the barrel.Upgrade to the latest Blunderbuss they will have a job stopping that b****r up 🙂

        Comment by Andy — April 26, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

      • Blunderbuss on order Andy 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 27, 2011 @ 9:54 pm

  8. Hi Paul

    Having had various landys and these switched. The terminals can create a sort of clear ceramic lacquer with high current. As you stated nothing visible wrong but a clean cures.

    Comment by Lynn — May 3, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

    • Hi Lynn, yes that would explain it, it really had me baffled at the time.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 4, 2011 @ 5:08 am

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