After Mexico 8, 29th September 2004

When I left I took a photo of the lake. There's lots more lake around to the right but it was almost impossible to see being directly into the sun.

Then I took dozens of photos of the aspens and the mountains. Here's a few. Again, they look loads better in real life than they do on one of my photos. I loved the views of the snow capped mountains. They reminded me of my many (50 plus) hot air balloon flights over the Alps in Switzerland and Austria.

There were lots of very professional looking photographers around all equipped with tripods and lots of lenses. I've got a tripod but I don't think even if I had used it that it would have made my photos up to professional standard..........

I headed back towards the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, saw a camping sign down a road and followed it. It turned out to be a really rough unmade road, after 5 miles and no sign of a campsite I returned to the main road and then just pulled off on a side track to stop for the night. If I had continued on to Cimarron there is an official site, for only $2.50 a night, which would have been fine for little cat to have his evening run around.

At Cimarron I looked at the river and some rolling stock from the rail line that used to run up the canyon, then I looked at viewpoints of the Black Canyon.

South of Montrose I notice a sign to a state wildlife refuge. Now in America "Wildlife Refuge" is another way of saying "Hunters Paradise" and I know that hunters always camp so I followed the sign and sure enough after a couple of miles there was a sign "camping area". Just right for small cat, from my point of view, no dense scrub to get lost in, just hummocks of grass with the odd tiny bush.

During the evening the battery was getting low so I reached over and started the engine to let it run for a few minutes to boost the battery. After about 5 seconds the engine stopped and everything connected with the motor side of the electrics cut out. I noticed a burning smell under the dashboard.

The situation was still the same in the morning , (apart from the burning smell!) so I started fiddling around. I moved the connections to the cutout we had found before, the ignition lights came on, and I was able to start the engine. I presumed the cutout had reset. There was no charge showing on the ammeter so I gingerly drove back to Montrose where I was recommended to Western Alternator. Pat had a look around the motor, ran some tests, said the alternator was charging the battery no problem, it seemed just the ammeter was not working. He could not fit me in to check further, his time was booked, for the next couple of days, so I decided to continue on without the ammeter and get that fixed later.

I drove around the corner, checked emails, drove about 10 yards, then again all the electrics cut out. I walked back to Western Alternator and Pat towed me in. Late afternoon he had some time so he started digging around, disconnecting circuit after circuit to check if there was a spark against the cut-out terminal. Eventually he had disconnected everything and there was still a spark against the cut out terminal. That's just not possible!

He took the cut-out apart and found it had cut out so violently it had welded itself against the opposite side of the casing, and was shorting out. It was now getting towards late evening so we decided that with this successful discovery it was a good time to call it quits for the day. Pat gave me an extension lead to run my van electrics and I spent another night parked outside a garage, broken down.

In the morning Pat continued deep digging. He drew up a circuit diagram and conferred with his Dad, the other half of Western Alternator. (Well that's not counting his Mum, in the office. A true family business.) The conclusion was that the cut-out was in the wrong place. Now Ron, earlier, had picked this up, but had not realised it would cause such a problem. Pat and his Dad said the cut-out was in line with both batteries and would operate if there was over 50 amps total charge. This could easily happen if both batteries were low, resulting in repeated operation of the cutout and overheating.

Pat redesigned the circuit, putting the cutout in line with the second battery only, and fixed a couple of other bad connections. Everything checked out, except the charge meter, resting stubbornly at zero. We took out the instrument cluster and there was a very obvious melting of the printed circuit. We bypassed this, now everything checked out fine, Pat was happy he had found everything. It seemed so to me too, it had become very obvious that Pat knew his stuff.

I departed and called in for a 10 minute oil change. I took the full service check which involves a lighting check. They told me I had no hazard lights at the rear. Fearing the worst I headed back to Western Alternator. Pat was concerned also, and set out with a full line check. He found nothing wrong, and checked a bulb. It was blown! So was the other!

So I said to his Dad, I had brought my van to a brilliant electronics guy, just to get a bulb changed. And Pat said, this same top electronics guy checked out the whole circuit before he thought to check out the obvious, the bulbs!

I am very impressed with the work that Pat did. I admire someone who knows his subject as well as he does.

I headed south again, and spent the night in the same Wild life Refuge (aka hunters) camp site of a couple of days ago.

Best regards

David Barker

Continue to After Mex 9


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