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Jump start a vehicle without cables

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Stranded in a vehicle with a flat battery?

With a second vehicle as a help and with a set of touch cables handy it is no problem - but what do you do if no cables are available?

Well, the principle is indeed that electricity can, with two conductors, be carried from the battery from the one vehicle to the other. Anything that can carry enough electricity can then be used instead of cables. The possibilities are infinite – wire, steel "droppers" (fence poles), pickaxe, piece of metal pipe even corrugated iron or pieces of a motor wreck. The requirement is only that electricity must be conductible, must be thick enough to handle the current without overheating and that there must be enough hands otherwise another plan must be made to bring all the pieces together without causing a short circuit..

To keep the two power transmission lines in place with all kinds of tricks is of very little value and it may be easier to get direct contact first for the negative or earth wire.

  • Fist make sure that both vehicles are negatively wired. In other words, that in both the negative terminals of the battery is earthed on the engine or chassis.

  • Get the other vehicle as close as possible to the vehicle with the flat battery so that a metal part from each good electrical contact is made with the other. Metal bumpers, bull bars, draw bars or other parts with no cosmetic value, is suitable.

  • Start the help vehicle and let it idle, about 1500pm. Now you can complete the positive conductor by making a bridge with a metal item between the positive terminal of the batteries.

  • Make a Plan
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    Let the flat battery be charged for a couple of minutes before trying to restart

    If you are using wire as conductor, it is advisable to twist together three or four wires to carry the strong current without them overheating.

    Dr Wallace Vosloo is an Engineer and Scientist by profession. His family has lived in Africa since 1696 and he has a deep love for the continent. He is a practical outdoorsman and loves traditional hunting, axe and knife throwing, longbow shooting, black powder rifle- and cannon shooting, salt and fresh water fly fishing and tracking. The art of survival is Wallace’s main field of interest and his passion is to transfer these old forgotten skills to young hunters.

    Always be very careful that sparks between weak contact points do not cause a fire or that anybody gets hurt. Be careful that the conductor does not short circuit or touch the finishing of the vehicle


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