It was a dark and stormy night and the rough water splashed upon the rocks. No it wasn’t it was calm and warm evening, it would get cold quick as many evenings in the Australian outback did but at that time while the sun was disappearing over the western horizon there was still some warmth in the air. We had Gary and Jarrod’s Pajero up on dry land and off the back of the Beast after it’s rescue from the Ponton River. We’d checked out the undercarriage and running gear with the Beast was giving it a piggy back and all seemed ok and we had checked the engine and whatever electrical components we could in preparation for trying to start the engine.
Our problem was that even in the outback we aren’t immune from that bastard Murphy paying us a visit with his stupid law that says what can go wrong will go wrong. Someone really ought to capture that Murphy bloke and rip his bloody arms off! So Murphy told the engine not to start the first three times which sent us back under the bonnet checking everything we’d already checked once before, finding nothing we were ready to give it another go.
With Gary in the driver’s seat and Jarrod and I clear of the bonnet I poked my head out far enough for Garry to see me and called. “Kick her in the guts Gary!”
The engine whirred and the starter motor tried to turn the big engine over, but nothing happened.
“Shit!” I heard Jarrod say beside me.
I knew we were only going to get a few chances to crank the engine before we started to drain the battery and while they had a dual battery system and I had back up batteries draining the main battery of the Pajero was not something we wanted to do.
“Kick her again!” I said.
Gary turned the engine over and almost immediately it fired into life with a loud roar, he obviously had his foot on the accelerator. Gary lifted his foot almost immediately and slowed the engine down, he knew enough to keep the revs up slightly above idle while the engine warmed and put some charge back into the batteries but I was happy to see he wasn’t one of those who believed the only way to warm an engine was to red line the thing.
Jarrod and I looked under the bonnet, without getting our hands in the way of anything that could bite, none of the belts were slipping and engine sounded like it was suppose to. There was still a little bit of water being blown around by the fan but that was to be expected given how recently it had been pulled out of the drink. We let the engine warm up to operating temperature, at the same time Jarrod used a multimeter he’d retrieved from their camping gear to check that the alternator was putting charge back into the battery, going by the numbers we saw it was. The battery was relatively new and it hadn’t had any drain on it for nearly a full day so I was confident that if the alternator was working correctly and charging the battery it wouldn’t take long to put in what we took out cranking the engine over a few times.
The second battery on the other hand did have drain on it it had been running the fridge for the whole time. Newer fridges are pretty good with their power consumption these days but even today’s compressors still take a good smack out of a battery, the saving grace is of course that they are not draining constantly. While the solar panels on the roof would have charged the second battery during the day because of the heat the compressor would have been working fairly hard and the second battery did not appear fully charged. I’d found the only down fall these boys had with their vehicle, they didn’t put a large enough panel on it to keep the big second battery charged, but the fact that they had one at all outweighed that little issue.
Looking at the dual battery system I could tell by the model that it was the sort that would only charge the second battery once the main battery was reading charged and while the first battery appeared in good shape it wasn’t enough for the isolator to switched over. I asked Gary how much diesel they had, when he confirmed that had more than enough to get them back to Halls I suggested they leave the Pajero running for a while, he agreed.
By the time I had the tray of the Beast flat, the winch wound up and all my tools and things put away where they belonged we could see that battery isolator of the Pajero had switched over and was putting charge back into the second battery. Because it’s neigh on impossible to tell how good a battery is whilst it’s being charged I suggested to the boys that they leave the engine running for a little bit longer while we got a camp fire running, then we’d turn it off, let it rest for ten minutes and check the voltage. If we really needed to keep charging after that we’d use the Beast.
It never ceases to amaze me just how people react when a woman turns up to rescue them. As I’ve told you the majority are great and some are first class douche bags who don’t think a woman can save them. Fitting into both those categories there are those types who who just don’t expect me to be as self sufficient as I am. Gary and Jarrod definitely fitted into the nice category but they also fitting into the category that didn’t expect me to be self sufficient.
I’m not sure if some of those people compare me to those arsehole city towies who make a name for themselves by towing cars from where they aren’t suppose too, then hold the cars for ransom until an exorbitant fee is paid and therefore think I’ll eat all their food and drink all their drinks, or if it just doesn’t cross their mind that I do this for a living and therefore am always prepared to keep myself alive. Either way I didn’t take offence at Gary and Jarrod thinking it because they were reasonable blokes and I think just surprised them by only sharing their cold beers with them
A few beers, a few snags, some eggs and some bacon, not the healthiest meal but a bloody good meal nonetheless and it was an easy meal to cook over a camp fire. It was a reasonable and quiet night under the stars beside the Ponton River but it wasn’t a late one and by the time I retired to the cabin of the Beast it was 10pm and I was knackered. I’m not sure how much longer Gary and Jarrod stayed up but I didn’t hear them again until the following morning.
It was 5:30am when I woke up the following morning, Gary and Jarrod weren’t awake and I didn’t plan to wake them. My plan was to cook myself some breakfast, eggs and bacon again, check the Pajero over again to make sure things were ok then head off before 8am. If the boys wanted to go their own way I was confident their rig would take them that way and if they wanted to follow me I was also fine with that. But if they were following me they’d have to wake themselves and get themselves ready before I was ready to leave.
Previous Desert Rescue story here.