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Dodging the Dust Devils and other Near Wrecks

Normally dust devils are mere curiosities.  On this warm spring day east of Reno NV,  I can see four dust devils at the same time.  The largest one is 50 feet in diameter.  One blew past my trailer a few minutes ago.  It was actually a little scary.

Recently I have come close to getting smacked in more ways than one.  Have you ever thought about what would happen to you and other people if you were driving at high speeds in multi-lane traffic in some gawd-awful city, and your engine suddenly died electrically?

I was in a safe place recently, when my van suddenly went electrically dead, but a few minutes earlier I had been on multi-lane Interstate 80 on the east side of Reno.  With no electricity in the van, I would have started slowing down in a middle lane, with just enough strength to steer.  But where would I have steered to?!  After all, without electrical power you cannot run the brake lights, emergency hazard lights, or blinkers.  And I was pulling a trailer!  A bad accident would have resulted.

Of course I suspected a loose nut/bolt that clamps at the battery post.  But I didn't realize that it could happen so suddenly, without warning, and how dangerous it could have been!  (I have seen loose battery post clamps make it impossible to start an engine, but I never thought of losing an electrical connection when driving on the road.)

And indeed the bolt/nut clamping the cable from the engine to the battery post was loose: an easy fix that doesn't cost a cent.

The photo below shows how the engine cable should be tightened to the positive battery post.

The red wire in the upper right of the photo goes to my tire inflator.  The brass thing is called a battery post extender.

But I didn't have it the correct way.  I had the grey ring terminal (going to the engine) on the outside, next to the red wire (to the inflator.)  Therefore the grey ring terminal and its little bumps were not in direct contact with the soft metal of the (side) battery post.  That resulted in good electrical contact being fickle because of the hardness of the brass? 

I won't make that mistake again. And tightening the battery post nuts or bolts is something that should be done on a regular basis, especially after going down washboard dirt/gravel roads.