Blog Entry #2 May 25, 2017: Blacksburg, WV to Huntington, WV

When last we talked, Jean and I were in Blacksburg, WV for our overnight stop on our way to Huntington, WV for the AACA Spring National antique car meet. When we left Blacksburg the morning of May 25, 2017, we encountered a couple of challenges.

The first challenge may seem a little trite – purchasing a map of West Virginia. Perhaps due to the ubiquitousness(like that word?) of GPS travel aids, no map of West Virginia could be found at the Virginia Tech Bookstore, the local supermarket, the gas station, or at the stop-and-go that we visited.

Fortunately, we had run into a West Virginianativein Blacksburg the evening before. He waskind enough to layout anoff-highway route from Blacksburg to Huntington that was challenging and interesting, but not tedious or particularly hazardous. It did take us through the city of Beckley, WV which brought back memories rafting trips we had taken down the New and Gauley Rivers some years earlier. Reminiscing helped get us through the traffic back-ups on the local streets.

Tech Stuff

The second challenge was as good deal more disconcerting. The week before starting this trek I had noticed some erratic behavior in the Jeep’s charging performance. Occasionally, the ammeter on the instrument panel would indicate a substantially high charging rate under situations that where the charging rate would normally have been expected to be quite low (e.g.: after continuous driving with the headlights turned off). Since the generator had recently been rebuilt, and the charging circuit components were in good condition, I attributed the charging irregularity to a failing battery. The battery was running on to its 30th month and most currently available 6 volt batteries have a reputation of failure at or about 36 months. Installed a new battery and the charging issue “appeared” to have been alleviated.

Unfortunately, the overcharging issue once more reared its ugly head on the morning of May 25th as we made our way north from Blacksburg, VA to Huntington, WV on secondary roads in persistent rain. A roadside inspection early in the day revealed no unusual overheating of the generator or battery, so we continued on in the rain to Huntington hoping that we would not encounter a total failure of the charging system. Due to the inclement weather and our concern that the charging problem might worsen, we elected to make the last leg of the journey, a 60 mile run from Charleston, WV to Huntington, WV on Interstate 64; breaking out general practice of only taking secondary roads. We made it to the antique car meet’s host hotel incident free. However, because the ammeter indicated a heavy level of circuit discharge on two occasions when we turned off the engine, we elected to disconnect the ground cable from the negative battery post upon arriving in Huntington as a precautionary measure.

Needless to say, with over 1,000 additional miles of planned trekking still ahead of us, I was quite concerned.

I spent that evening listing the possible causes of our charging issue and collecting the names of local resources for assistance if needed. My attention was primarily focused on the voltage regulator as a possible cause of the problem.

A note to the Ladies:

Jean has accompanied me through several unplanned “challenges” over the years of travel in the Jeep. Rather than add to the tension by asking me questions like “what should we do?”,Jean quietly assesses the overall situation, concentrating on the logistics rather than the technical details. She considers things like, are we generally safe, what’s the worst that can happen, do we need to find immediate assistance, lodging, or a rental car? She generally keeps these thoughts to herself as I rely on her as a sounding board for my review the possible causes of and remedies for the problem.

Blog Entry #1 May 24, 2017: Cary, NC to Blacksburg, VA
Blog Entry #3 May 26, 2017: Huntington, WV – Blenko Glass, Rose Garden