Sunday, January 12, 2014

Go Jump Yourself

I did a better job of buying groceries and this boondock session lasted the full 14 days I paid the BLM $40 for.  After a couple of days being out on Coyote Ridge I checked to see if the problematic truck battery would crank the engine.....no.  So I was out in the desert with a dead battery slowly running out of supplies.  As there are tons of neighbors out here it's a little more dire sounding than reality but still presented a hassle.  I could have asked a neighbor for a jump tomorrow when I head back to Yuma but I reasoned that the Tank has a 210 amp hour 12 volt battery powered by it's two solar panels so why not see if all that 12 volt power could be harnessed?  I always carry a set of heavy duty jumpers so the question was if the jumpers would reach from the solar battery to the truck battery.

Connect to the solar battery then out the cab window.....
I learn things about the Tank almost every day.  Today I learned that the screen in the pass through window slides open (I guess to allow passing things to the truck cab) so I passed the jumpers through the open window.

...along the truck side draping over the mirror...
GM puts the truck battery in the passenger side of the engine enclosure, as close to the windshield as they can get it.  While it makes switching out a battery tough it sure helped in this instance by reducing the length the jumpers had  to stretch.....they just made it!

...stretching all the way to the battery....yes!
Prior to hooking the jumpers up I added deionized water to the battery.  It took an additional 8 ounces so I'm hopeful that was the reason the battery wasn't holding a charge.  We'll see, just to check that I'd be able to start with this setup, whether or not the solar power would actually charge the truck battery, I turned the ignition key...

RPM's, Baby!
The truck started immediately!  So I'll always be able to jump start the Tank without anyone else being around which is a good capability to have since not all boondock locations will be as heavily populated as the BLM land around the Imperial Dam in January!

So the plan is to let the solar system charge the truck battery for the rest of today disconnecting as the sun goes down.  Then see if the truck will start itself tomorrow (fingers crossed) which would demonstrate that the truck battery retains a charge.  If not just give it a "solar jump" tomorrow, dump tanks and trash at the BLM office, then go to the Yuma Walmart and have them install a new battery.  While it's great to be have the solar jump option, infinitely better is having a reliable battery (think driving rainstorms).  I'll let you know how things work out.

Thanks for reading!