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AA Patrolman Fixes Land Rover with a potato!

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Have a read here: http://www.theaa.com/breakdown-cover/news/aa-patrol-repairs-car-with-potato.html?AffinityID=MAFFILIATEWINDOW&ito=34934&awc=3938_1424273856_350bdcd63da8684709ec0a36677d87c8

The humble root vegetable came to the rescue when an old 1960s-vintage Land Rover on a farm in Hertfordshire failed to start due to a broken condenser, which is part of the ignition system on older vehicles.

With no replacement part available, North-east London AA patrol Mario Papademetriou, 59, decided to fabricate one. Unfortunately, his first attempt using tin foil and silicone repair tape didn’t work so he was faced with a non-starting Land Rover and 12 miles to the nearest garage.

Mario Papademetriou: “As the vehicle was on a farm, there were a lot of vegetables around, so I thought I’d try wiring up a potato with a couple of screws to act as a condenser.

“Amazingly, it started instantly, so I followed the member to the garage and he said the vehicle had never driven so well!”


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Top man, I understand the principal but would never have considered it.

Given his name I wonder what his background experience was or maybe he is just a sientificly mined person?

It does give us hope in these computer lead times though that this kind of thonking still exists.


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Deadly ingenuity! Not convinced you'd get that from a younger generation, or the will to hang around trying to make a solution. What on a farm is conductive and has enough mass to draw current away from a set of points? I heard they were going organic condensers on the Series originally but in the end it was deemed too difficult to secure a spud to a dizzy long term.

You hook Pontiacs up to other cars to help them die I think Iain

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Nice story but i think its a coincidence that it started with the potato in place. The capacitance of 2 screws separated with a large (for a capacitor) gap would be near zero.

Oh i can't 'resist' it either - Did he get the 'sack' for stealing a potato?

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I'm not entirely convinced, but Its not just a parallel plate capacitor, the dielectric constant for potato is quite high but more importantly dielectric loss is very high, in a quenching application this is more important.

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I'm not convinced that removing the condenser completely wouldn't also have got him home. The main function is in suppressing points erosion - the coil is inductive, so breaking the current without a condenser would lead to arcing, loss of spark energy and eventual points failure. The secondary function is to provide a ringing circuit which provides a controlled rise time and consequently more effective ignition.

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