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January 2011 Randy's Electrical Corner

Posted in How To: Electrical on January 1, 2011
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There is nothing worse than needing a jump or trying to give someone a jump on a cold, windy, snowy night. I know. My first car wasn't too reliable, and neither were the cars that my friends owned. We had those wonderful early '80s cars with the electronic-controlled carburetors, smog spaghetti, lots of miles, and many problems. Heck, a lot of what I learned about car electronics was from just keeping that first one driving.

The three of us friends became our own little AAA club, since we couldn't afford the real deal. Tow straps, jumper cables, and a knowledge of where the other guy kept the gas can was mandatory. If that wasn't enough, our recovery gear also extended to locking pliers, duct tape, bailing wire, and a couple of screwdrivers.

But back to the jumping. I can remember many shocks I got from standing in a puddle, with rain or snow just pouring down, and hooking up a jumper cable. I knew I was going to get shocked, but I kept doing it anyway, 'cause I knew they'd do it for me. Now mama always told me that this explained some things about me, but I don't really know what she was talking about. I'd just suffer through the shocks and hope whichever car would start next time.

I was happy to see how complete the kit was. It even included side-mount terminals for Earl's El Camino, along with new bolts for regular batteries, two-gauge cable, caps for both plugs, and plenty of wire to jump just about anything. It even had the bolts needed to attach the Jeep-side connector to whatever it was getting attached to. Oh, and there were instructions, too. I have no idea if the instructions were good or not, since I didn't use them. Sorry 'bout that. The pictures were pretty, though.

After a year or two of this, I ran across a high-amperage connector. Keep in mind that this was 15 to 20 years ago. Nowadays, everyone knows them as a disconnect for winch cables. Back then, they were mostly used to put batteries in forklifts. After I saw them, I got a brainstorm. What if I ran a dedicated "plug" somewhere on the vehicle so that I didn't have to open the hood in bad weather, didn't have to get all greasy, and didn't have to run the shock risk?

So, I mounted one of the disconnects on my bumper, ran some four-gauge wire directly to the battery, and chopped the end off my jumper cables to attach another quick disconnect. No more shocks. I was so happy about the shock thing that I didn't realize I'd just become Jumping Randy. Anytime anyone needed a jump, they sent for me. On the bright side, I got out of towing duties.

So not too long ago, I was on the intraweb on Wrangler NW's site. What I found amazed me. This company is making pre-made jumper cables like I have all of these years. They even made some neat upgrades to my original design. I decided to get a set and install them so that I could see how it went, and I could show you this neat idea. Beware, though: Don't go telling everyone you did it afterwards or you might become a Jumping Randy, too.

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