Monday, 14 February 2011

F355: Optimate mated!

2cm from an expensive mistake!
The F355 didn't get a lot of use over the snow-fest we had during December and January and as a result I had to jump start the Ferrari off my new Fiat Panda. The tiny car's equally tiny battery fired the V8 up no problem but wasn't something I'd want to do on a regular basis. Also, when jumping a F355 you have to make sure the other car is not running as the voltage spikes from the other car can cause the Airbag ECU to fry! (Apparently!) Not a risk I was going to take anyway. Just for fun (or perhaps sublime weight ballasting) the F355's battery is positioned in probably the most awkward place of any car; foward of the right hand side wheelarch! Because of this there is a jump start point in the engine bay, you need to take off the right hand side cover to access it though but you'll see a little black box with a big red plus sign on it. The negative terminal can be connected anywhere on the earthed bodywork but there is is a dedicated post nearby.

So, I purchased an OptiMate 4 Battery charger and conditionerto prevent the battery from draining when the car wasn't seeing much use and uses less than £1 worth of electricty a year according to the manual! The Optimate comes with a permanent plug that you attach to your battery terminals so you simply park up and plug it in or a set of crocodile clips as a less permanent solution. As the battery isn't easily accessible and I already had the cover off the jump points I decided to use the croc clips on the terminals in the engine bay. I reversed the car in as the Optimate wouldn't reach round to the back of the car going in forwards. Once I "jumped" out of the car (by climbing over the centre console and out of the passenger door with the window open) I realised just how close to the wall I had gotten! I must have been about 2cm away from distaster!

Optimate plug in optimal position!
That was a close enough call for me to install the permanent Optiamte plug properly. Although, changing the battery would probably require the wheel to be removed I managed to access the terminals by turning the wheel to full lock. This gave me enough access to remove the 5 screws holding on the panel. Oddly the battery terminals were held on with one 10mm bolt on the negative terminal and one 11mm bolt on the positive terminal. Once I'd sussed this wierdness I fed the cable down behind the pop-up headlamp and attached them to the clamps. I'll velcro the top of the cable to the top of the body section soon so it doesn't get lost down behind the headlamp bay. Anyway, now there's no need for any terrifying reversing into the garage and driving it in forwards now seems like a walk in the park!

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