Of Fuses and Camping

Jun 07, 1997

RAY: Alright. Here's the puzzler.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: A customer came in a few months ago. Another one.

TOM: Oh.

RAY: Actually we were contacted recently by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms department. They wanted us to release a hostage. But a customer came in and she was complaining that she had a short circuit. That a fuse was blowing repeatedly. It was the fuse that ran like the tail lights, the dash lights, the courtesy lights and she put a new fuse in, and sometimes five minutes later it would blow, or an hour later or whatever. So I assigned this task to Manny. Young guy, he's got a little experience in electrical work and I tell him to hook up the short tester. And basically the short tester is a device which is nothing more than a circuit breaker that resets that you put in place of the fuse, and then the other piece of it is an ammeter that you go around and you try to find the...

TOM: I always thought a short tester was a tape measure. You measure it -- Yep. You're short. Four feet eleven huh?

RAY: So I go over after a few minutes. I've given him a chance to hook the thing up and I ask him how he's doing and he says, "Well, I know where the short is," he said, "But I didn't have to use this meter thingy." I said "oh?"

TOM: Oh!

RAY: "You smelled smoke?" And he says "No, there's something on her dashboard that tells me that the short is nearby."

TOM: Sure.

RAY: Something sitting on her dashboard. And I said "really?" And the hint is...

TOM: I got it. Too simple.

RAY: Alright. That's the hint.

TOM: The hint? You can't give a hint. Alright. I'll tell you what the hint is. This was a sport utility off-road vehicle.

RAY: No.

TOM: No? Four wheel drive.

RAY: The hint is, she was going on a camping trip.

TOM: Well that's -- same thing.

RAY: The van is filled with tents and sleeping bags and...

TOM: Sure.

RAY: Coolers full of beer.

TOM: Good.


RAY: And the hint that I gave is that she's going on a camping trip.

TOM: Yeah. She's got one of them there compasses sitting on her...

RAY: She's got a compass. Because what's happening in the vicinity of the short - you are creating an electro-magnetic field -- you're creating magnetism -- and that magnetism would affect the sensitive little ammeter which is nothing more than a little...

TOM: Compass.

RAY: Compass. And it's, instead of affecting her compass -- and her compass was just spinning wildly every time the circuit breaker blew. So he air chiseled the dashboard open and he found the shorted wire. Pretty good, huh?

TOM: That is pretty good.

RAY: Well it wasn't that good. You got it.

TOM: I got it.

RAY: Who’s our winner?

TOM: The winner here -- just a minute -- is Jennifer Partin from Tucson, Arizona.

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