My son and I own a small flooring store, part of a bigger franchising network. He runs the store and I get to do all the jobs that are not selling flooring. There appear to be a lot of these jobs. Including removing the waste, disposing of equipment and fixing broken things, this tale is about fixing broken things.
We had an old walkie carpet stacker, which I was about to sell for scrap. This machine has been in the business since we took over and generations before. A walkie carpet stacker is a device with a long steel pole fitted where the tines should be for lifting pallets. The walkie stacker looks like a thin Darlek with a long probe. I imagine layers charging around the warehouse having probe fights. The principle is you aim the pole through the four meter carpet cardboard carpet core. This allows you to pick up a carpet roll weighing up to 300 kg. It’s like a giant carpet sabre, or I think that’s how it’s sometimes treated by our carpet layers.
Our old carpet stacker, now retired, stood parked in a sad corner getting in the way. The plan was for me to find a dealer and see if we could flog it for a bit of cash. A bit like sending a faithful horse into the knacker’s yard. At the last minute, my son suddenly found a use for it. It was to become our savour from aggressive pissed off carpet layers.
We had purchased “a you beaut” walkie stacker that had an easily fitted carpet pole sleeve to move the carpet around. This device could move pallets and carpets. It did take a little bit more effort to use and required a more delicate touch than the old carpet pole only device. Oh, and it was a tiny bit larger.
The layers didn’t like our new arrangement, with a new forklift and sleeve. They insist on bashing up the store with rolls of carpets because they can’t get the hang of our flash new machine. Walls were crumbling and holes appearing everywhere. These bloody cowboys nearly destroyed the kitchen. I know what are we doing with a forklift full of carpet in the kitchen. I know, I know, but there it is.
Our old forklift had flat buggered batteries, the internal charger didn’t work, and it could no longer run any faster than dead slow if it had good batteries. Our forklift repair man breaks down in tears when we ring. We have cost him more money than he has made from us, and he flatly refuses to fix this piece of fine engineering. The manufactures, falls over laughing when we inform him what we have, and now we can’t get a new internal charger. Another company faced with fixing it said it broke all the rules we needed to replace it. So recommissioning it looks impossible, just the sort of job I like. This thing has four six volt batteries. Now we need some mathematics here. If I multiply six by four, I get twenty-four Volt right. Yep, great. What I need to do is simply charge these batteries externally, and stuff the internal charger, right? Of course I am right.
So, Craig and I go about buying four new six volt batteries. Not cheap, but we have a commercial battery shop three doors up. Craig can get them trade price and I can put the new ones in. I task Craig with negotiating the price and acquiring the new batteries. I puddle into the shop on a Saturday afternoon with the express purpose of installing the new batteries and confirming the machine will now run. There is some doubt, as the last serviceman departed our premises in tears. I installed the new batteries in their little shelves and put my multi meter across the terminals. Instead of the expected twenty-four volt, I read twelve volts. Come on, that’s wrong. I test each battery; they are all over six volts. Right, connect it back over the entire bank of batteries again. Must have been a bad connection. No, it’s bloody twelve volts, fucking useless multi-meter. I measure every way I can. I can’t get twenty-four volt anywhere. I get nought, six and twelve, never twenty-four. Deeply disappointed, I have decided I must replace the meter. It clearly doesn’t work with over twelve volts. Reasonable assumption you would say, well I would say. We are going to need a twenty-four volt charger to charge anyway these batteries anyway because as I said early the internal charger is broken. We confirm the machine works with the new batteries. We now need to charge them. To do that, we need to understand where the bank of batteries starts and ends to give us the correct voltage. I have traced this by following the wiring, but there is a bunch behind the myriad of relays that I can’t follow without destroying the machine.
I am afraid this will have to be next Saturday, as it is too later this time. The poor warehouse is left in the hands of angry carpet layers for another week. Will it survive? I am not sure, but we will be ready next Saturday. Off I go to replace my multi-meter, and buy the new twenty-four volt charger. Right, I’ll sort this bastard by throwing money at it. I go to a store called Jarcar, they sell all things electrical like the old Dick Smith stores. I find a twenty-four volt charger, no problem, and grab that. I can’t find the meters and have to ask the staff for help. There is a huge wall of them. I don’t know what to buy and explain my requirement to measure twenty-four volts. He points me at a suitably expensive meter, explaining that it’s automatic and can measure up to 200 volts. Right, that will work.
Purchase made I return to the store the next Saturday, eagerly open up the folk lift and measure the voltage. Bugger it reads twelve volts, again I try and trace the wires and test again and again. Always twelve volts. I am ripping out my hair, and finally, I am staring blankly at the machine with its guts open and decided to read the plaque on the internal charger. There, in grey and greasy writing, it says, this is a 12 Volt Charger.
Fuck, it dawns on me this machine works with two banks of twelve volts, one for lifting and one for driving. I quietly affixed the charge to the bank of batteries and turn it on. Sure enough, up it comes, charging the entire bank at twelve volts. Two weeks later, the machine is working fine. The walls are recovering quietly, although the kitchen will never be the same.