The first time I turned the key of Lars and Coby’s Patrol the engine staggered, farted and refused to start. That’s not uncommon and I wasn’t initially concerned because the Patrol has a big diesel engine and even after only five or so years the battery could be giving up the ghost, or at least not as good as it was when the four wheel drive rolled off the production line. Batteries going flat out in the middle of the outback is not an ideal thing, and I don’t carry a spare for every occasion, but it’s easily remedied with jumper leads and hopefully common sense that sees the flat battery replaced as soon as possible.
I turned the key a second time and as the starter motor kicked into gear the engine turned over. After several turns of the crankshaft it was clear to me that the engine wasn’t going to fire and continuing was just going to drain the battery unnecessarily.
Hearing the engine turn over but not start Matthew had his head under the bonnet, (I hope the American’s remember that what they call the hood because I’m not reminding them again), before I even got out of the driver’s seat.
“What are you thinking?” I asked Matthew as I stepped up behind him.
From the other side of the Patrol I heard the words. “I’m thinking that we are glad you two are here because the two of us wouldn’t know what we are looking for.” The voice belonged to Lars.
“He’s probably right,” Coby confirmed. “I know the basics and understand how both diesel and petrol engines differ, but unless it’s something like topping up the water or maybe even changing a few spark plugs I’m swimming in water too deep to be wading in.”
“You proved that by parking this thing in the drink like you did!” I said with a laugh.
The joke was received quite well but I still didn’t see the need to make a point to Coby that he wouldn’t be changing any spark plugs on a diesel engine. I’m sure he knew that a diesel engine didn’t have spark plugs and pointing it out to him would have been as petty as reminding him that he lied to me on the phone because he thought I was a secretary.
“I thought it could do with a wash!” Coby replied with a smile and an obvious come back.
“Maybe next time you should just wash the outside and not the engine.” Matthew said, his head still under the bonnet and his hands fiddling with different things.
Again Matthew was pulling his weight without me asking him to do it, and I was thankful for it.
“Is there something obvious we missed?” I asked Matthew.
As I might have told you I’m not a mechanic, of course I can service the Beast and fix most things myself but anything past basic mechanics is not a part of my job description. The same goes for Matthew, he might know his way around an engine better than me but it’s not his job to strip down an engine and spend his day fault finding. Of course we would help where we could and not leave someone stranded, but the truth of the matter was if things became too difficult, or the fault was too hard to find, which is sometimes the case with newer vehicles, I’d always choose piggy backing the sick vehicle home before pulling pieces off the thing.
“It’s not obvious.” Matthew said and I could see he was still doing a mental check list of possible problems. “I’ve checked everything obvious, some of them I’ve checked twice just to make sure but I’m still not seeing anything. Give it another go.”
“Want to jump her?” I asked figuring that any starting, or trying to start was better done from a heavy duty battery that wasn’t going to be needed to get us back home.
“Yeah sounds like a reasonable idea,” Matthew said as he came out from under the bonnet, “Leads still in the same spot?”
“I’ll get them.” I said and made my way towards the Beast.
A few minutes later the Beast was humming away in neutral with the hand throttle keeping the revs about a hundred RPM faster than idle speed. Because of the way the second and third batteries in the Beast were wired I needed to keep the revs a bit higher to make sure the main battery voltage was high enough to allow the auxiliary circuits to charge, hence the hand throttle.
I connected the red and the black clips of the jumper leads to the Beast while Matthew held the other ends of the cable, apart from each other of course, and went to the Patrol. By the time Matthew was ready with his ends of the leads at the battery of the Patrol I was climbing into the drivers seat.
“Kick her in the guts Fred!” Matthew called out from behind the bonnet.
Ignoring the personal attack I did as Matthew requested and tried to start the Patrol. As with last time the starter motor immediately spun up as soon as it got the signal from the ignition to do so. There was a whirring noise but not vroom.
“Give it another go!” Matthew called out.
There was plenty in the batteries of the Beast, especially while the engine was running, so I wasn’t concerned with a second go.
Whatever Matthew may or may not have done under the bonnet while he couldn’t find anything obvious worked because on the second time cranking the engine over the Patrol engine started running.
Twenty minutes after we got the Patrol running Matthew and I were back on the road and headed home. Not only were Coby and Lars following us in their Patrol but they had also promised us dinner in town if we took them back. Now I’m not one to be bribed easily and they had already given me a decent payment for the rescue but I’m also not one to knock back a free meal.
As we headed into the setting sun Matthew sat beside me in the Beast and without making it seem like he was making a scene he said. “So how about that rescue. Takes a certain type of rescuer to get in that water and do what I did today!”
Previous Outback story here.