Still In Sibiu, RO
Monday morning, we had our coffee and now we are waiting for the stores to open up at 9 AM to buy a battery. Simone Hartman, the Hotel owner, is nice enough to drive me to her mechanic and to help with translations. We take the old battery with us and when we are at the repair shop, they confirm that the old battery is totally dead. So, we ‘order’ a new battery. No, the shop does not have batteries like ours. In fact they call around and nobody has that kind of motorcycle battery. It must be ordered. The new battery comes from Cluj Napoca. (Cluj is about 2 ½ hours by car from Sibiu) There is no battery like ours in all of Sibiu. I have no choice, this is Romania, and they have their own time tables, their own way of doing things. (Remember, some still use horse drawn transportation). I leave the old battery at the shop and we have no choice but to wait until a new battery arrives later on this afternoon. Estimated time of arrival for the new battery is about 16.30 hours; late in the afternoon! We will just have to wait.
Again, we ask the nice Hotel owners, Ramon and Simone Hartman, if we could stay another night. Who wants to leave in the very late afternoon? Especially when you have to ride the Transfagarasan! We are in luck, they have a room but, it’s yet another room, we have to move our stuff again. This new room has no windows; the bed is exactly as large as the alcove in which it sits. There is no room, not an inch, at the side of the bed. To get into bed you have to crawl from the foot end to your pillow. No A/C, just a fan way up at the high ceiling. The room is in the attic. But hey, who is complaining, we are glad to have shelter. So we are waiting for the afternoon. We eat an apple for lunch.
Afternoon arrives and at about 4.30 PM I call and yes, the battery is in, but it needs to be charged. It is right now sitting on a table at the shop’s office to await the right voltage; they will bring it over as soon as they have the right voltage. Phew!
At about 6.00 PM they bring the new battery and the old one, too. Looking at both batteries they look exactly the same, but it’s a different brand and the terminals have different screws, but that is about it.
So, I insert the battery and connect the negative side, and noticed the new screws that hold the cabling are a bit awkward to connect, but I line up everything on the battery terminal and then quickly and deftly press against the hidden screw and just turn and the negative side connected. Good, next!
Now the positive side, are you ready? I line up the holding screw in its cradle and then, quickly I press and at the same time push the screw through the hole on the terminal and give it a twist. Great, it worked fine but……sparks! Oh no! I try to unscrew the connection but by the time I get the screwdriver behind the nut and the screw loose the threads have ‘fused’ or ‘melted’ together. I use force and break the connection. Carol is yelling, "Get it off, get it off", but it is easier said than done. Meanwhile the sparking is going on. I can smell smoke from the cables and just poke and rip the positive connection away from the battery. The stink is of burned wires, the smoke dissipates but by the time I finally disconnected the wiring it was too late. The new battery has reversed polarity. Where we normally had positive the new battery had negative. Sure, I should have seen it, sure heard of it happening to others, but I was so glad to have a replacement battery that looked exactly like the old battery that I did not ‘think’. I assumed and that was my mistake. Nobody checked or compared the old and the new. The shop missed it, I missed it. Now what do we do? I call myself all kinds of names, but really……what do we do now?
I look at Carol’s bike, a 2002 bike and so 13 years old. I just burned the wires throughout the bike. A surge ran through the bike and damaged the whole bike. Not only did it melt the cables on the bike but most likely the alternator and the regulator, too. Or did it not do that? Who knows?
Who can repair this bike now, who can fix it? Who can assess what damage there is to the bike? The shock to my ego was great. But calling yourself names does not get anything accomplished.
Carol and I conferred and we called ADAC, a Road Service we always pay for when in Europe but had not called sooner because even ADAC would not have done much more than put in a new battery. We ( I ) did not want to ‘bother’ ADAC with something as small as putting in a new battery. My mistake! Now we need their help. (ADAC is similar to AAA or CAA).
So we called ADAC and within 45 Minutes a man showed up to try to help us. By now it is dark outside, he had to use a flashlight to look over the bike and as suspected, he could not do much. Through Simone Hartman, acting as our translator, he said he would come back in the morning at first light and see if he could find a local guy that could help us fix Carol’s bike. There was nothing to do but to admit that I goofed up and that we are still stranded in Sibiu.
Might as well admit defeat! Simone and Ramon Hartman were very nice to us, they made us a Pizza and gave us beer and after having filled ourselves we crawled (literally) into bed and waited for morning.