Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Spring! And Yet Another Chore

Yep, it's spring. The planet has been Equinoxed.

And with that, given our very wet winter, we have an abundance of wildflowers.

But, as with every equinox or solstice, around here that also means the ritual watering of the batteries.

Because I have given up on expensive AGM's in favor of the old fashioned, but more cost effective wet-cells, even when factoring in their (supposedly)  more frequent replacement cycle, both of which live there under the gaucho, every quarter I top up the water in them, and for an earth-centric person like myself, what better markers to use as reminders than the stages of the sun?

Though it, the watering, is not a painless process, which makes skipping it tempting, but the motivation of extending battery life, therefore reducing replacement costs, usually wins out over my head-in-the-sand tendencies.

The first step is to prop the gaucho open,

because that's the only way to reach these two screws holding the tops of the battery boxes down.

The snap-off lids of those plastic battery boxes would certainly be simpler to mess with than these screws, but then the batteries wouldn't fit under the gaucho.

Life is one long series of compromises and sometimes it sucks!

Next I have to lower the gaucho seat back down then pull it out into the extended position intended for turning the gaucho into a "double" bed. This is pretty much the only time I ever extend the cushion like this. ( I highly endorse the side-gaucho layout for a single van-dweller as being incredibly handy and space-efficient, but for a pair of dwellers the narrow bed, all of about 43 inches wide, that results from this layout must be a misery.)

Pulling the cushion out like this, and rucking the rolled-up bedding out of the way without disturbing it so much I have to remake the bed from scratch, is how I gain access to the rest of the battery-box lid-screws.

But first I have to shove the cushion back in again to gain access to the cupboard where my distilled water is stashed because - well - as usual, I forgot. . .

Finally I can lay belly-down across the extended gaucho cushion (Though with my belly going proudly out in front as it does it's not really "lay" across the cushion so much as it is teeter-totter on my built in fulcrum.) and remove the rest of the screws.

The lids are not drilled symmetrically so only go on one way, and then only if it's the right box, (I guess you don't have to ask how I know this. . .) so I take care to lay out the box-lids in the same orientation they are in when mounted. (I'm not going to tell you how many times it took me to figure this out!)

 Finally I can get to the batteries and remove the caps (I find grabbing the caps from above with appropriately opened slip-joint pliers and rocking them as I pull upwards works a whole lot better than trying to pry the caps up with a screwdriver that doesn't fit into the limited space very well.)  so I can see just how much water has disappeared from under there since last time. (Over the course of a year I seem to go through  about a gallon of distilled water between the two batteries.)

I suppose I could make topping up the water a bit simpler with a proper battery-waterer.

Back before The Van I used 6V golf-cart batteries for my storage needs on a couple of rigs and owned one of these magical watering contraptions that you just press blindly over each cell until it stops gurgling. But it went with one of those earlier rigs when I sold it on to the next travelers and the only time I seem to remember I need to replace it is when I'm teetering there on my belly, who's excessive mass has compressed my lungs into something about the size of a small sandwich-bag, while trying to manage a funnel with one hand and the water-container with the other, at the same time struggling to see into the cell so I don't overfill it. But it seems that as soon as I finish the chore for the quarter I forget all about my desire for this handy appliance, which makes me wonder if maybe I am blessed with the attention span of a gerbil.

But eventually, in my crude way, I get the cells topped up to right at the lower edge of the skirt around each opening and they're good to go for another quarter.

Then I can close everything back up, get the blood that has been forced by excess body-mass contorted into unnatural positions drained out of my head where it has been threatening to blow a gasket, and walk away supremely satisfied with having piously attended to my duties yet one more time.

Except that I'm not quite done yet. . .

Somewhere along the way, in the middle of those contortions, I've managed to hook my boot onto the decorative trim on one of the adjacent cabinet doors and popped the damn thing right off.

Though I have to admit that this is not a singular event.

In fact it's so not singular that I carry the necessary stuff to effect repairs with me in The Van at all times.

OK, now the chore is finished and I can finally go lay out in a field of wildflowers getting stung by ground-bees and chewed on by fire-ants.


  1. Reading through that I hated to think where I would be and all the extra work I would create for myself with such a simple task. Pretty impressive, laying down with a lot of water held over a battery, filling it with just the right amount without overflowing into your battery box. Another good job documented for the future when you can't remember the process. LOL

    1. Watering the batteries was a snap compared to what I did to my camera today! But the story of that will have to wait while I regain my strength.