Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Ultimate DUH ...

His note says it all ...
Have you ever had one of those "DUH ..." moments, when you find out something that should have been obvious, but it escaped you at the time?

You know what I mean.  The "Oh MAN!" kind of "DUH ..." where you smack yourself on the forehead for not seeing it in the first place?

Robert and I (sort of) agreed we wouldn't tell anyone about our latest "DUH ...", but I've had a change of heart.  I can't stop kicking myself and I thought, maybe writing about it will be cathartic. Then again, maybe not ...

As most of you already know, we made a major move nearly a year ago now.  We left the cold and snowy winters of Pennsylvania and relocated to sunny Florida, where every day is a barefoot day and arthritis pain is only a distant memory.

That being said, the house we bought came with everything in it -- I mean everything -- even our beloved electric golf cart.  The previous owner moved into a nursing home and, from what we could tell, the only things he took with him were his clothes, personal papers and toiletries.

The first week was a whirlwind of decisions: what to keep, what to donate, what to throw away, then the water, electric, and pest control services, where did we want the cable and computer connections installed -- I remember thinking, the moving van arrives at the end of the week.  How are we going to get all of it done?

We also squeezed in our new Florida driver licenses, and registered and insured our car and golf cart.  Like I said, for us, it was one crazy whirlwind week ...

Adventure Machine
In the midst of all of the confusion surrounding the move, the only thing we were ever told about our battery-operated electric golf cart is that we should make sure the batteries -- all six of them -- always had sufficient distilled water, so we wouldn't burn up the batteries.

We were told to open the caps on the batteries about once a month, look down inside with a flashlight, and always make sure the water level is just above the metal plates you can see down there.

Okay, no problem.  Pfft, we can do that ...

Still talking about the golf cart, which is one of the things we love best about living here, we did everything we were supposed to do.  Like clockwork, we checked the batteries regularly and always topped off when the water level got low.  We used a turkey baster.  It seemed to work best to get the water into the tiny holes.

Now, fast-forward to last Tuesday.  Robert and I had several errands to do and they were in other parts of town -- three different parts of town, which is a lot of driving.  No problem.  Our little golf cart was a powerhouse!  We love nothing better than taking off for a couple of hours in our golf cart -- we love the adventures we find along the way.

We had done two of the errands and were on our way to the third, when Robert suddenly noticed that the battery gauge had plunged into the red zone -- the "you don't have any juice" area.  We had just gone through a tunnel under a major roadway and could hardly get up the incline to the other side!  We had gone this far before, with no trouble at all -- something was wrong.

We pulled off the path and parked on the grass.  Immediately, the battery gauge went right back into the high-end of the green area, which meant we had plenty of juice left in the batteries.  Very strange.

Robert decided we should call Mike at the service garage.  Mike told us it sounded like the batteries were going bad.  He asked how new they were.  We told him they were new a year ago, just before we bought the house, and he said that was good, because they were still under warranty.

Then as an afterthought, he asked whether we had kept the water level up above the metal plates in the battery cells.  Robert told him we topped them off regularly and, since it was summer, we checked them every two weeks, instead of once a month.   Mike asked him to check that for him, while they were on the phone.

We lifted the seat, which is where the batteries are, and Robert took off a cap and peeked inside. "It's full, Mike."

While he did that, I took a cap off one of the batteries on my side of the cart and looked inside.  It was totally empty!  I took off the cap beside it, and that one was full.  Then I removed one more.  That one was empty, too.

"Oh crap, Robert!  These cells are all independent of each other!"

He gave me a wide-eyed stare.  Then Robert told Mike to hang on a second.  We scrambled, taking one cap off after another and peeking inside.

For an entire year, we had only filled one cell on each battery, thinking that if you filled one hole, the whole battery was full of water.  There are four white caps on each of the six batteries!  That meant we have been driving with only six cells powering our golf cart, instead of twenty-four!

What was really strange is that we had filled the same six cells each time -- what are the odds of that, I wonder?

When we thought about it, it was totally obvious to us both.  Why would there be four white caps on each battery, if you were only supposed to fill one of them?

Mike told us we had a fifty-fifty chance that the batteries were fried, but we also had a fifty-fifty chance they would last another six months to a year.

We got our baby towed home, filled all of the cells, plugged it in, and asked the universe for a miracle.

I'm happy to report, we got our miracle.  But this was one adventure we could have happily done without ...

DUH ..

How to Make a Memory
Teaching Old Dogs: The First "DUH"

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

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