Last Sunday I took a cab home from the airport because my truck had lost electrical as I neared the parking lot, and I found late in the day that it was unfixable on site. Truck’s owner returned the vehicle to me Friday, said he maintenance fellow said there was nothing wrong with it, but he had charged the battery, and it was good to go. Not so. It was fine getting me out to catch up at the Museum Friday afternoon, fine getting me to work Saturday and fine getting me to the Museum early that afternoon, but not so fine coming home at 8:30.
It seemed fine at first. Started right away, but as I passed the first stoplight on a green maybe half mile from the airport entrance I sensed an almost imperceptible “something” (no bang, no buzz, no thump), glanced at the speedometer and found it back to where I had discovered in last Sunday pulling into the airport: I was traveling at no miles per hour, there was no fuel in the tank and all the other instruments were pegged to the left. In the night, I noticed what I didn’t see Sunday in bright daylight. The red “E3″ light was blazing away in the low right of the panel. Another warning light (I believe it was the NO HEADLIGHTS red warning) was also very visible. Based on what I had learned from a friend over the long week with no wheels, I did something that, I am sure, allowed me to get home without parking after coasting into some dark side street and walking the rest of the way.
I turned off the radio. At 8:35 it was quiet on J. David Jones Parkway going south toward the city, so I was not concerned with other traffic. The entire straight stretch on J. David, which becomes Walnut, was well illuminated by street lights. I arrived at the bottom of the hill just in time to stop less than a second before the light turned green. I was pumping the accelerator mildly in neutral gear, keeping the revs up, thinking it would keep the battery up, and the transition to first gear on green was easy. The radio light on the dash is also time clock light when I’m not tuning a station, and as I continued toward North Grand, that light began flashing. By the time I had breezed through the green at that intersection, the light had died totally. Black. It was hard to judge speed, but I had no other traffic, and as long as the engine was running smooth, I didn’t worry about stalling. From North Grand to Jefferson, including the light at Mason was easy but lonely. I knew the system was losing charge. The odometer was beginning to dim.
Soon after Jefferson, the odometer light was dead and by the time I passed Monroe, timing my approach perfectly to avoid stopping, and able to continue through on greens, the entire dashboard was dark.
By now, my concern was not with the truck but with the Springfield Police Department. I saw maybe five cars from Jefferson to Vine Street where I turned left, less than two blocks from home. Any of the drivers could have called the police reporting a black Chevy S10 with no lights on heading south on Walnut. Moderating my speed was necessary not only to time the stop lights right, but to avoid attracting attention from a police officer with a radar gun. It was a silly concern. I could be doing 20 mph, but with no lights, no officer was going to let me by without pulling me over to say “howdy, sir.” I even stopped at the four-way stop sign at Vine at Henrietta. The idea of being pulled over with my house in sight . . . just didn’t sit well with me. I’m sure the insurance papers are somewhere in the glove box, and I have a valid drivers license, but explaining what I was doing in a truck I didn’t own . . . UGH!
I pulled into the driveway and almost exploded out the opened door and into the house where there are no batteries, no speedometers (and no working furnace, but that’s another story) and dinner! A can of chili and iced tea never tasted so good.
Waiting in the mail was consolation: a $100 check for AeroKnow from Warren Stiska and a paycheck from Illinois Times. The check will allow me to purchase about a fourth of the remaining shelving needed for AeroKnow Museum, and the paycheck from IT may keep my lights on in November. They could not have come at a better time.
As for the truck, a local friend knows of the trouble, and I hope he can do something restorative with the machine. If not, I guess I’ll have to drag my part-time employer back into the business of getting it fixed. UGH. His repair guy didn’t fix it the first time.
I’ll keep you posted.
Live long . . . . . and proper.