When we left Lome we noticed the second battery was not charging correctly. It was only when we arrived in Grand Popo beach in Benin after a couple of hours driving that it seemed to be charging, but the power quickly dropped. We had to run the vehicle a bit over the two days we were camped there to keep the power level up. To make things more interesting, when I was doing the routine vehicle levels check (oil, water, etc) the morning we left Grand Popo I noticed the cooling hose was sitting against the AC pulley. I pulled it away and was horrified to see the pulley had carved a deep groove into the hose, not enough to open it, but a deep groove nonetheless. Pretty poor workmanship to have left it like that and one would not have seen it without looking closely. I had the cooling system flushed and a gasket replaced just before we left Accra and it was that high hose they used to bleed the air out of the cooling system . I was able to pull it away from the pulley by a millimetre or so bit using a rubber-coated wire I had in my odds and ends can but it was very tenuous. With the damage already done to the hose it was clearly going to have to be replaced while we were within reach of services to avoid losing our cooling system in some remote location. Our next planned stop was the city of Cotonou anyway, we would simply add a visit to a mechanic to our itinerary.
It turned out to be quite easy. Inquiries about garages at the Chez Clarisse Guest House where we stayed led to their driver getting a mechanic to come in. He took the hose to size a replacement and took the auxiliary battery to put on charge. It was all done by the end of the day. The battery will need to be monitored and if it does not hold the charge it will have to be replaced, but the mechanic here said we could get a deep cell battery anywhere in the country.
While one is never happy to have problems the experience also demonstrates a couple of positive features of our systems. One is the dual battery monitor that we bought from BushPower in South Africa in March (see separate post A Shopping Spree like no Other) and had mounted on the dash when the dual battery system went in. The meter enabled us to see right away that there was a problem with the second battery, before it was run down. There is also a battery meter built into the National Luna fridge, but it only reads the auxiliary battery and metering both batteries helped to isolate the problem. The other positive feature this experience highlights is the value of checking the vehicle closely. It was not by chance I saw the hose problem, and will be sure to continue to watch for things like that.