May 05, 2003
RAY: As promised, this week's puzzler is automotive in nature, although you don't need elaborate automotive knowledge to figure it out.
TOM: Will there be declarification? Obfuscation? Will inky shadows be mentioned?
RAY: You never know! This was sent in by David Lane. He writes,
"One day, I drove my very reliable 1993 Toyota Corolla to the store. When I came out, it wouldn't start. The starter motor was silent. I turned the key, and there was no sound whatsoever. Repeatedly turning the key sometimes produced some clicking sounds under the dash but most of the time it produced nothing.
"I kept trying and, finally, after many tries, the starter motor kicked in and the car started right up. I considered myself pretty lucky.
"On the way home, I glanced at the dashboard. All the gauges read normal, and there were no warning lights on. But I noticed something, and immediately knew what the problem was.
"When I got home, I fixed it in just a few minutes."
So, what was wrong with David's car?
RAY: What was wrong? What he noticed was the clock was flashing.
The clock was flashing because the flow of current from the battery to everything in the car had been interrupted by a loose and corroded connection.
By repeatedly trying to start the car, he eventually got lucky and enough current managed to jump through the corrosion to start it. Even though the car started, the clock didn't reset. So, he saw the flashing clock and he got home.
He took out his little wrench, removed the battery cable, cleaned it up a little bit, put it back on and everything was fine. Pretty nifty, huh?
TOM: Wow, that's quite good.
RAY: That's why I used it. You don't think I steal lousy puzzlers on purpose do you? Who's our winner?
TOM: This week it's Brian Zapf. Zapf, I love it. It's so complicated. Brian is from Ovid, New York.