The weather has finally been decent around here the last week, so I’ve been enjoying my time outside and just unwinding a bit after finishing my latest book project. I haven’t heard anything from the publisher yet about a serious timetable for release, but I’m hoping late June/early July.
My wife returns to work later this week and I’ve been working with her to get her list of housing improvements and projects done. She probably hit at least half her list, both inside and out. I’m glad one of us makes living in a nice looking house a priority. I really appreciate it, but when it comes to doing the hard work, or even knowing what looks nice, I fall way short.
I’ve only got about a half-acre, but was able to buy a new riding lawn tractor a few years back for $500, so I took it. It probably cuts 70% down on the time to mow the lawn vs. the push-mower, so it was well-worth the investment. Of course, cutting it was also about a week overdue as the wildflowers were starting to grow and the grass was looking like it was 8 or 9 inches long.
I tried to get the thing started last week, but like the pool pump, snow blower or just about anything electrical or mechanical that I use seasonally, it of course, wouldn’t start. I checked the gas and oil, but knew that wasn’t it since it would even begin to turn-over. So, I backed into my driveway, grabbed my jumper cables and hooked up the lawn tractor battery to my Jeep’s battery in hopes of jumpstarting it.
For those unfamiliar with riding lawn tractors, mine has its battery under the seat. The small leather chair rests on a couple of coiled springs that act as shocks to allow for a less bumpy ride. If you flip the seat forward, between those springs, recessed into a hole, is the battery. It’s like a mini-car battery, about two-thirds the size.
I was able to get the lawn tractor going with the jump start, but whenever I took my foot off the throttle, it would die. I tried jumping a few times and noticed that there was a little bit more life in the lawn tractor each time, but it still wouldn’t turn over. I thought it was just a matter of holding my foot on the throttle for several minutes to really get the charge, but it’s hard to keep it down in a standing position. So, I put the seat back in place, making sure it didn’t touch the jumper cables or battery, then sat on the lawn tractor and started her up.
It was much simpler keeping my foot on the throttle in this position and I figured I’d give the whole thing three or four minutes and if it didn’t keep a charge at that point, I’d buy a new battery. I was listening to my Spotify playlist for about 30 seconds when I started to smell something funky. After a couple more seconds it smelled like burning, but not traditional burning. I looked down and to my left and saw a flame coming out just a few inches below my ass. That was my cue to get off the seat.
I jumped off and flinged the seat forward. Apparently, when I sat down one of the jumper cable claws, or whatever you call them, pivoted enough so that along with touching the battery pole, it was also touching the spring. The spring was coated in something black and that something was flammable. So was the plastic cap that covered the battery’s pole.
I was able to blow both the small flames out with two gusts of mouth wind.
The next day, I bought a new battery at Home Depot.