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The Plug Broke Right Off

January 18, 2013

We were in the midst of a long cold spell, so cold that the snow squeaked when you walked on it.  My car seemed to run stiffer every day.  It was enveloped in exhaust fog on cold still mornings as I drove to work.  I parked the car in my driveway, plugging it into the side of the house with a short extension cord.  I had a timer inside so that I could plug in the car as soon as I got home.  It was cold.

This day, I arrived home after dark.  When I went to connect the car plug into the extension cord, the car plug snapped right off in my gloved hands.  I never pull on the cord to disconnect a plug.  It must have been the cold that made the rubber break like that.  I felt a sudden panic.  What do I do now?  The car might not start next morning.  I could install a new plug.  I had one, but I didn’t want to do that outside in the cold.  I went in the house to decide what to do next.

As I warmed up, I was suddenly inspired.  The car cord ran through a plastic conduit.  It plugged into the block heater at the other end.  All I had to do was to unplug it and pull it out of the conduit.  Then, I could bring it inside to attach a new plug in comfort.  I could use all of my tools, and work under proper lighting.  I’d have to take it back outside to reinstall it, of course, but I could easily run the cord outside of the conduit.  That would do until I could take the car to the dealer to have it replaced properly.  I’d just have to make sure it was kept away from the fan.

I got dressed up again and brought my trouble light outside.  I opened the hood.  I found where the conduit ran up to the front grille, but from there it disappeared underneath the engine.  I couldn’t even see the block heater.  So much for that idea.  I went back inside to think about another plan.

I needed a light and more tools.  If I got too cold, I could always go back inside to warm up again.  I could still do it the way I liked.  I split the car cord and stripped the wires.  I even tinned the ends with my soldering iron so that all the strands would stay together.  I had to remove my gloves for some of that.  Now I’m feeling the cold.  Time to go in for a while.  My second time, I fed the cord into the new plug, formed the three wires to fit under the screws, and tightened them down.  That only left the insulating disk on one end of the plug and the clamp on the other end.  Once those were done, I plugged it into the extension cord and went back inside.  I didn’t have any way to test it, but it looked good.

Sure enough, my car started nicely next morning.  It was a success, so much so that I kept using it for several more years, until I traded the car on a new one.

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