Sunday, August 8, 2010

Utility cycling

The CR1Pro was my utility vehicle today.

In the bleak, darkness of last night my alternator gave its last gasp and rolled over and died leaving me stranded in the wilds of West Cobb. Luckily for me I was able to limp my Ford Ranger to the Racetrac where I was to leave it for the night. From the Racetrac, it was 4.18 miles to my house to complete my journey; I elected to go by foot rather than making as late night call for a ride and after an hour of running and walking I was safe at home.
Since my plan this morning was bicycle to my Ranger, then Walmart for a battery, then back to my Ranger and attempt a resurection, I aired up the CR1Pro to 110 psi, not my regular 120 psi. Although my Mavic Ksyrium Elites are pretty much bullit proof, with the additional battery weight of about thirty pounds in my backpack, I didn't want to overburden my wheels and tires with high air pressure.

The ride to the Racetrac was very enjoyable, it would have been a great day to just continue and ride. The sun was peeking up over the eastern horizon and the road was moving at a very good pace under my tires. Fueled with caffeine, anxiety and maybe a little adrenaline, I completed the ride to the Ranger at a brisk 19 mph.
Before I left the house, I packed a few survival items to help repair and diagnose my ailing Ranger.
During the ride to the Ranger, my mind was churning away, putting together a strategy and an action plan to affect a repair. First order of business was to search the Ranger for a receipt for the battery purchase - none was found. Second item was to attempt a starting to see if the truck had magically repaired itself overnight - no overnight magic, it growned maybe two turns of the crank, but that was it. Third item was to connect the volt meter to the battery to check the voltage and the meter read an even 12 volts, exactly what a properly working battery would say. Even though this read "normal", my guess was that somehow the battery had lost the Cold Cranking Amps needed to turn the starter.
At this point, it was time to throw the leg over the Cr1pro again and chase down a new battery. With a new battery, I could at least limp the truck home or to a garage. The bike ride to the Walmart was only a few miles; when I arrived, I steered the CR1Pro toward the big glass doors of the garden center which opened automatically making me feel very welcomed. Down an aisle, then into the main part of the store, from there I scooted to the battery department where I dismounted. Their battery look-up guide was not clear and pointed me to a battery that did not match the current battery in my Ranger. I looked through the guide several more times, scratched my head, then decided to go elsewhere.

On my way to the Walmart, I rode by an Advance Auto Parts store, so I went back there and told my story to Charles who called Robert up to the counter to listen to my predicament. Robert said my problem was probably a bad alternator or wiring harness and recommended testing both battery and alternator. Robert let me use a loaner battery to retrieve my Ranger for the testing. We packed the 30 lb. battery into my backpack and I gingerly rode the short distance to the truck and switched the batteries. In no time, I was driving my Ranger back to Advance with the CR1Pro resting comfortably in the Ranger PU bed.
The parking lot test confirmed the battery was deleted of Cold Cranking Amps even though it showed 12 volts on my meter. The next step was to charge the battery and while it was charging, the alternator needed to be removed for a full bench test. Robert provided the tools for me to loosen the serpentine belt and remove the alternator, he also helped out with one of three connectors that didn't want to come loose. Not wanting to damage the connector and make more trouble for myself, I let Robert provide the expertise. With the parking lot removal of the alternator complete, I brought it inside for the testing.
With the skill and ease of the pro that he is, Robert attached the alternator to the tester and started pulling levers and pushing buttons. I stepped back a few paces and quietly looked on as the testing machine roared to life. The meter gauge tried but failed to make it up to the green, "good alternator" range; a new alternator would be needed. I think Robert said the "stators" inside the alternator were deficient.
With a new alternator in hand, it was back to the now hot, sunny, parking lot for the installation. The installation would be a simple reversal of the removal. The repair was all very easy, I purposely bought my Ford Ranger because of its old school, simplicity and ease when a repair was required. With a shiny new alternator installed, I reattached the breather hose and I was good to go except for the battery.
The battery was being charged while all the alternator work: removal, testing and installation was taking place. The hope was that the Cold Cranking Amps number would come back up but it only increased from 197 to 243 while the battery was rated at 640 CCA. A new battery would be needed. Robert directed me to take my old battery back to Brand "Z" auto parts store where Robert said, they would probably do their own test and provide a pro-rated warranty reimbursement where I could go ahead and buy a new battery at a steep discount. Robert let me use his loaner battery to get my new replacement from his competitor...what a guy! Brand "Z" was very amenable and everything transpired just as Robert had said. I was out the door with a new battery in no time and did the replacement in their parking lot.
Many, many thanks to the gang at Advance Auto Parts, especially Charles and Robert pictured here. These professionals were so very helpful in getting me back on the road. At Advance I received the tools, advice, direction and courteous professionalism to successfully repair my Ranger. My odyssey began this morning at 8 am with the spirited but anxiety filled bicycle ride to the Racetrac and ended at 12:15 this afternoon with a comfortable, air conditioned drive back home in my repaired Ranger.

If you need auto parts, go to Advance!!!!

Many, many thanks, God Bless and Cheers!

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