I realized when I first started putting this post together that a fair amount of this is going to sound a bit like "Ruth got out of the hospital." The problem is, you don't necessarily know who Ruth is, and you certainly don't know what landed her in the hospital.
So I need to back up a bit.
Several decades ago, my father-in-law, then a missionary in Quito, Ecuador, started putting together a bike trailer to haul his kids around in. As the kids got larger, and the hillside that he lived on didn't get any less steep, he decided to electrify it, and, through a near-constant evolutionary process (or intelligent design with a lot of revisions, if you'd rather) he came up with a small, battery-powered vehicle, known to the family as The Cart.
This didn't go unnoticed, either; it was a bit of a trademark, actually, as, to my knowledge, they never owned a gasoline-powered car while they were there. This was daily transport, and unusual enough to get him on Ecuadorian TV at one point.
Once Deborah's parents retired, though, the cart came back with them, and sat; the 12-15 mile range wasn't practical in rural New Hampshire. So, when they came to visit, they brought it with them.
It took a little work to get it going again — a few new bulbs and $180 worth of deep-cycle marine batteries — but within a few hours, it was ready to take for spins around the block, and to show off a bit for our neighbors...
This was an extremely welcome addition to the stable, too, because Deborah needed to take our one working car in order to get to work and class, and I was effectively stuck at home. The cart opened up all sorts of around-town possibilities.
But, sadly, the fun was short-lived: I knew I had to keep the batteries from shifting around, but it never occurred to me to prevent them from bouncing up. I was tooling around Winona Lake with the kids one afternoon, and we hit a rough patch of pavement. The batteries bounced. They made contact with the aluminum frame. 36 volts and a great number of amps sparked, the cart lurched, and then everything was still.
Providentially, we broke down right in front of some folks we knew, and they opened their garage and provided toys for the kids to play with while I checked out the damage.
Once it was obvious that we weren't going anywhere in the cart, our friends took us home, and I came back a few hours later with a borrowed pickup to get the cart.
So it's all very sad. I'm trying to diagnose the poor beast, but electical circuits aren't my specialty. Deborah and I were talking about saving up some money to get her father to come down and take a look at it. He says he's sure he could get it running again pretty quickly.
I miss it already. And I didn't even grow up with it!