Phar Warner (pharwarner) wrote,
Phar Warner

Resistance is Useful

My 1986 Nissan 720 pickup did something spectacular a couple of weeks back. I was driving to work and all of a sudden, bang. Huge cloud of black smoke, a loss of acceleration and a slow rolling stop. The engine didn't cut out but I knew it wouldn't start again after I shut it off. Came to rest in the grass in the middle of a dual carriage way. 50 yards short of a service station I realised after I came to final halt. A bit silly that, I probably could have made it.

After calling someone at work to come and get me and getting a tow home in the evening, I noticed a mobile mechanic in the next door neighbour's yard. I arranged for him to come back the next day and get the thing going again. When I got back home the message he left was something like this: "Replaced condenser and points. Generator warning light on. Does it normally do this?". Yes, I always drive my cars with a blazing red warning light burning. Ok... Consult manual. As I suspected, alternator problem, see service technician at earliest convenience. I book the vehicle in for to be looked at. I have to drive it to work the next day, so I decide to see how it goes....

Eyes on volt meter. Looks OK. But pretty soon it's at 15 volts... 16... 18... 20.... Off the dial... Right.... Looks like the problem is the voltage regulator in the alternator. Why would the mechanic have left it like that? Ok... How do we get the voltage down? Resistance... Turn on the lights! Now we're down to 18 volts and holding... What next? Of course,  THE DEMISTER! 14 volts and steady! It's just like Apollo 13, except BACKWARDS! That gets me through the next two days.

Now at the mechanics, the issue of the non-existent 1986 model year for the Nissan 720 raises its head yet again. The alternator ordered is the wrong one. After consulting a visual recognition book for alternators it turns out that Nissan had decided to put an alternator from a Datsun 180B in last 720s that they made. This pickup is truly made from the sweepings of the Nissan factory floor and any parts that they wanted to get rid of before they started production of the Navara.

But it still goes. I thought that was going to be it. But as Les the mechanic said to me with a grin "Oh, it's not dead yet!".

That's his revenge on me...
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