The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Frozen golf cart pedal

Wrecked berriesMark is the type of considerate husband who doesn't post details on the internet when his wife wrecks the golf cart.  So I have to tell you myself.

Remember how icicles were forming on the underside of the golf cart as we hauled in supplies Sunday?  They also started affecting the "gas" pedal.  I didn't realize that was the case until I went to turn the golf cart around and reversed right through my berry patch, shrieking in terror the whole way. 

It turns out that when the "gas" pedal sticks in the on position, slamming your foot on the brakes does absolutely nothing.  Yes, I did manage to halfway tear down one of our Pedal mechanismchicken pasture gates at the same time.  Mark considers it an unusual day when I don't break something and ask him to fix it --- this wasn't an unusual day.

For future reference, if you drive your golf cart through a creek repeatedly when the temperature is in the teens, a big lump of ice will form around the "gas" pedal mechanism.  This makes the pedal stick in the on position, but you can work around it by getting in the habit of pushing the pedal, then slipping your foot underneath and pulling the pedal back to "off."  If you get really good, you can also push the "gas" pedal very lightly and have it freeze halfway down, setting the golf cart on cruise control at a moderate pace.

Farm use golf cartI drove like that for three trips on Sunday and one on Monday, but then my fun came to an abrupt end.  After unloading the golf cart, I headed inside to get a drink of water, and when I came back out, pressing the "gas" pedal did nothing.  I thought I'd really broken the golf cart that time, and I could see Mark's dreams of an ATV coming to fruition.  Luckily, when the afternoon sun melted the lump of ice around the pedal mechanism, the golf cart sprang back to life and she was able to haul one more load of straw Tuesday morning before the floodplain thawed so much as to become impassable.  I love our alternative farm truck!

(As a final note, will someone please tell me what the "gas" pedal is called in an electric vehicle?")

Our chicken waterer is the solution to filthy water and damp chicken coops.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I used to drive an electric car and we called it the GO pedal.

I got a good laugh out of your story... I'm pretty sure my husband thinks the same way, I'm always messing something up that he has to fix up later! I consider myself the Project Starter :-)

Comment by De Wed Feb 15 09:21:43 2012
I have to chuckle at this, despite knowing the sheer terror that had to have been going through your mind at the moment. For some reason ,it just reminded me of a point in time where my poor Mom was teaching me to drive in my Dad's little convertable. I inadvertantly hit the gas instead of the brake and nearly crashed it into the corner of the garage.......:P
Comment by MamaHomesteader Wed Feb 15 09:48:04 2012

The "go" pedal?

More seriously, I'd guesss it's call the accelorator pedal.

Sounds like you have even more fun with your golf cart than I do with my lawn mower!

Comment by Bethany James Wed Feb 15 09:52:14 2012

De --- The Go Pedal it is! (And I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who manages to break everything....)

MamaHomesteader --- I did something like that when learning to drive too. We were pulling up to the edge of a parking lot that ended in a four foot drop and I hit the gas instead of the brakes. (No, I didn't go over. Good thing for curbs...)

Comment by anna Wed Feb 15 09:56:56 2012

Bethany --- "Accelerator" --- I'll bet that's the real word! :-)

I do get quite a kick out of the golf cart....

Comment by anna Wed Feb 15 10:33:40 2012
Since you mentioned it, I'm just curious what made you choose the golf cart over an ATV. Is it just the convenience of plugging it in to recharge instead of using gasoline? Or maybe initial cost? Hauling capacity?
Comment by mountainstead [] Wed Feb 15 11:36:00 2012
The accelerator pedal is what you stomp on to alter the throttle of an engine.
Comment by Anonymous Wed Feb 15 12:13:11 2012

Your usage is probably way outside the design parameters of this golf kart. Especially driving it through the creek. You're probably submerging the transmission and maybe even the engine. Of course this should be able to resist rain, water spray and such, but not immersion.

The same goes for the brakes; drum brakes are generally water resistant but not waterproof. If you drive them though water the brakes will get wet inside and could foul up. And they generally retain a little water which acts as a lubricant and reduces the efficiency of the brakes (until the brakes become hot enough to vaporize the water, wich probably won't happen on a golf kart).

Since braking was not effective with the engine running, are the brakes well adjusted and are the brake shoes not worn too much? Brake shoes usually have some kind of wear indicator.

As far as I know, even dunking a battery in water will not make it short-circuit violently (as opposed to e.g. touching both leads with a spanner; don't do that :-) ). But nevertheless I think that getting the battery pack or electronics wet is probably not advisable.

Doesn't this thing have a big red dead-mans-switch to kill the power?

If you are ever going to contemplate getting another golf kart, look for one that is suitable for off-road use. (higher ground clearance, 4WD, waterproof drive components and battery pack, disk brakes etc.)

Comment by Roland_Smith Wed Feb 15 14:04:45 2012

Mitsy --- Mark had so much to say in answer to your question that I think he's going to post about it in a day or two. Stay tuned!

Anonymous --- thanks! Always good to have the right words.

Roland --- We push the golf cart far harder than it's meant to go, but I'm surprised by how well it handles the abuse. We do submerge the batteries from time to time when we misjudge water levels going through the ford --- it just stops for a minute, then starts again once it rolls out of the water.

We actually had the brake pads replaced just a couple of months ago, and when we brought the golf cart to the shop, that mechanic adjusted them a bit more. It must just be the water....

The only kill switch is turning the key in the ignition. I was too surprised to think of that, and, in retrospect, it's much more fiddly to turn a key than to jerk the pedal back into place, so it probably wouldn't have helped anyway.

Comment by anna Wed Feb 15 16:04:35 2012
You might have ended up in a tree like this guy:
Comment by blackburnmanor Wed Feb 15 16:08:29 2012

juice pedal. To give 'er more juice just press down.

"juice 'er a bit to get out of the rut"


Comment by c. Wed Feb 15 16:11:01 2012
We came close a couple of times when we first started learning how the golf cart gets through the creek, but never quite submerged the batteries. The gas pedal/switch does sometimes get submerged and that's what I think Anna was talking about. The whole golf cart pauses for about a second or two as I'm guessing the water drains out of the switch housing? Not sure if that's what causes the pause, but we now have a policy of not trying to cross the creek with the golf cart when it is too high.
Comment by mark Wed Feb 15 16:32:38 2012
c. --- Good example sentence. :-)
Comment by anna Wed Feb 15 17:33:25 2012

From the schematics I've seen, the electronics on a golf kart are relatively low-tech, especially old models from before the time of power electronics. But it would still be better to keep them dry, unless they're cast in epoxy or something like that. Things like relais and solenoids (which are electromechanical devices with moving parts) probably won't appreciate a dunking.

Water could also lead to corrosion on contacts, both in aforementioned relais, but also in the wiring. That is not in itself a serious problem but it could prevent the kart from working and then you'd have an electric bug-hunt on your hands. Disassembling all cables and cleaning all contacts would be a good way to get to know the insides of your golf kart, though. If you were so inclined. :-)

If you have a schematic and disconnect the batteries first it's not dangerous. (with the possible exception of modern power electronics if they contain capacitators. You might have to ground those first to drain them.)

Comment by Roland_Smith Wed Feb 15 17:51:43 2012
blackburnmanor --- I don't think the golf cart is powerful enough to end up like that (I hope!) But I was very happy to only run over brambles rather than some of my young fruit trees nearby.
Comment by anna Wed Feb 15 17:52:38 2012
Is it a 2 stroke or an all electric ride?
Comment by Heath Wed Feb 15 18:43:09 2012

Roland --- Excellent point about corrosion in the parts. Of course, given our damp climate, that might happen anyway....

Heath --- It's all electric.

Comment by anna Thu Feb 16 12:55:14 2012

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