AA Patrolman Mario Papademetriou, recently demonstrated his ‘can-do’ attitude by using a potato to coax a non-starting Series I Land Rover back to life. ‘I knew you could make potato batteries and I thought since it’s got electrical characteristics, it might work as a condenser,’ explains 59-year-old Mario. He’d already tried to improvise with a piece of tin foil and some silicon sealer.
The owner at first thought it was prank, but when the Land Rover ‘ran better than it had for years’, he soon realised that he was benefitting from Mario’s three decades as a patrolman. ‘I was just determined to get the Land Rover started.’
Mario is used to improvising when things go wrong. ‘I fly little Cessna aircraft and if an elevator or aileron cable snaps you can simply open a door in the fuselage and use it as an airbrake to help control the plane.’
If you find Mario’s spud story a little hard to swallow, you’re not alone. The AA’s technical boffins struggled too, which is why they recreated Mario’s ingenious solution (see photo). Of course, it worked perfectly.
So now you know what to carry in your petrol-engined Land Rover’s tool kit – a fresh King Edward.
AA Technical explanation
The photo shows a potato fitted to the AA’s Series I Land Rover when the AA’s Technical department replicated the temporary repair that Mario did. They said:
A condenser has two functions:
1. The condenser absorbs the voltage spike as the points open/close.
2. The condenser then releases this energy back into the ignition coil amplifying the ignition spark.
The potato, once connected to the switching side of the coil and then to earth, serves half of the function of the condenser in that it absorbs some of this energy/voltage at the coil reducing the arcing at the points allowing the coil to produce a reasonable spark.