Old tech meets the digital age
It is truly amazing what you can find on the intertubes. My big thing is joining forums. They’ve got forums on everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an online forum for belly button lint collectors. I like to read forums about how people have performed their own upgrades to the vehicles they own. They’ve got forums for every make and model out there, and some forums are helpful while others are a waste of your time. Cars and trucks with a lot of electronic controls have forums that are sometimes so technical my eyes glaze over and I find myself nodding off after just a couple of pages. I recently suffered an alternator failure on my old Land Rover Series III, which sent me to the forums. The more I read about the vehicles electrical system, the more anxious I got. My vehicle’s alternator only cranks out 35 amps. Here I was, getting ready to install all sorts of power using electronics and auxiliary lighting, and I’m finding out that replacing my dead alternator with another stock unit is still going to leave me woefully underpowered.
This time the Land Rover forums came through with several excellent suggestions for alternatives that crank out way more than 35 amps. After some searches and some cross referencing, I found just the alternator I wanted, yet it was in England. After several tries I finally came across a parts company in the Midlands that was willing to ship to the United States. Bowers Electrical Supply in Stoke-on-Trent had just the unit I needed. Before placing an order I sent an inquiry, and much to my surprise the response was almost immediate. A fellow named Chris asked for more information on my current (no pun intended) alternator. So instead of sending a part number, I photographed the alternator that I had just the night before removed from my Land Rover. I sent three photographs to Chris at Bowers. Again, a fast response and confirmation that I had chosen the correct unit for the job. Several emails later my alternator was on its way from the U.K.
DHL got the nod to be the overseas carrier, and it was one missed opportunity after another with them. My new friend Chris was unflappable throughout the week long series of delivery disappointments and kept after them until I finally got my alternator. Then he followed up with several emails, making the experience with Bowers a pleasant one. I had scheduled some time off to do a number of chores around the farm, and installing the alternator was one of them. Now that I had reliable power in adequate amounts, the modifications began. The important thing to keep in mind is that a 35-year-old Land Rover Series III was like a 1940s era vehicle when it was new. That’s part of the charm. It is loud. It is so loud that you cannot even hear your inner voice exclaiming just how loud this thing is. Part of the reason for upgrading the alternator was the notion that I could somehow make this seemingly uncivilized environment less hostile and more user friendly.
By perusing the forums and sites like ebay I was able to come up with the simple creature comforts that would transform this crudite into a creampuff. One element is communications. Soon you will not be legally allowed to use your handheld cellphone in your car in Vermont without a Bluetooth device, so a radio with Bluetooth capability was number one on the list. However, you have to be able to be heard above the din to use it effectively. I found a sound proofing product called Rattletrap, a thicker, lower cost alternative to industry standard Dynamat. $200 and a few hours of labor and the beast is now quiet enough to accommodate a conversation between two humans. A Land Rover purist may assume that I have ruined my Series III with sound proofing. Back to the forums. Super sticky metallicized faced butyl vinyl sound proofing sheets are easily removed with a pair of waterproof winter gloves and dry ice. May I never feel the need to perform that procedure. So far the old tech Land Rover is coexisting with its digital age modifications quite nicely.
Arlo Mudgett’s Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for nearly 30 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT FM Monday through Saturday mornings at 8:35 a.m.
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