Extreme measures

Drastic times call for drastic actions

Roads Report Article July 05, 2018
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David Matthews

Rat race

If you ever see Janice Perzigian’s evening routine with her 2017 Ford Mustang, you might wonder what kind of smells she’s trying to cover up.

 

The Royal Oak, Mich., resident sprays essential oils on the car’s tires and side and back panels, and places scented fabric softener sheets in the trunk and under the front seats. She pours Pine-Sol on the ground all around the vehicle, and then for a final touch, she gives the engine a weekly spray of peppermint oil.

 

However, this routine has nothing to do with aroma and everything to do with rats.

 

Perzigian’s car was the unfortunate victim of a $600 repair bill after rats chewed through its wiring earlier this spring. When the car wouldn’t start properly, Perzigian discovered bread crumbs along with rat urine and feces all over the engine. She had the engine steam cleaned and is now determined to outwit the rodents that find her car’s wiring so appetizing.

 

It turns out that Perzigian isn’t alone. Drivers across the country have been discovering chewed wiring throughout their vehicles.

 

Rodents have always liked to hide out under car hoods in cold weather, and they have always liked to chew wiring to sharpen their teeth and gather nesting materials. But there is speculation that the uptick in rat damage can be traced back to recent changes in the coating on the wiring.

 

In an effort to be more environmentally conscious, many manufacturers have switched from petroleum-based to soy-based coatings. It seems that rodents find the soy products to be particularly tasty.

 

Repair costs can run from minor to major, depending on the location of the damage and the appetite of the rat, and are typically not covered by warranties. Any make or model of vehicle seems to be susceptible.

 

Aside from Perzigian’s efforts with cleaners and essential oils, experts recommend moth balls, pepper spray or non-toxic repellent products to keep rats away.

 

And before you get any bright ideas, keep in mind that it is illegal to buy a bird of prey unless you also own a falconry center.

 

Slow the cluck down

Why did the chicken cross the road? To make you slow down.

 

Logan Cambron, a 25-year resident of Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, was sick of drivers speeding through his neighborhood, but after his pet chicken was hit by a truck, he decided to take action.

 

Cambron now spends time each day patrolling local traffic with a radar gun while wearing a chicken suit. He says the feathers, rubber feet and disturbingly realistic chicken head often get a laugh from drivers, but Cambron takes his job seriously.

 

“I’ll stand out here with the radar gun,” Cambron told local WSAV news, “and if somebody’s doing more than 3-4 miles an hour over the speed limit, I walk out in the road and make them slow down.”

 

Cambron’s ultimate goal is to get the neighborhood speed limit reduced from 30 mph to 20 mph, but so far he’s only getting the runaround.

 

“The town told us to talk to the state, the state told us to talk to the town,” Cambron said.

 

Cambron doesn’t want to see a child suffer the same fate as his chicken.

 

“I’m gonna make them slow down,” he said, “I’m not gonna let a kid get hurt under my watch here.”

 

The end is nigh

What do you get when you combine an old farming truck, a flatbed camper and a race engine?

 

Apocalypse insurance.

 

Randy Thibeault believes his “Tankentruck” could survive any type of doomsday scenario: societal collapse, zombie uprising, even an alien invasion.

 

The black, purple and neon truck is wired with more than 60 electrical outlets for charging power tools, and decorated with skulls and other macabre knick-knacks.

 

Thibeault, 56, has invested several years and thousands of dollars into the Tankentruck, which is currently parked near his home in Edmonton, Canada.

 

But before he can mow down zombies or battle post-apocolyptic desert pirates, Thibeault needs to finish making the Tankentruck road-ready. It currently sputters out after 2 miles, but Thibeault believes that a few thousand dollars worth of improvements will have the Tankentruck ready for its first cross-country trip.

 

So if you see the Tankentruck barreling down the Trans-Canada highway this summer, don’t worry, the world isn’t ending. Yet.

 

About the author: 
Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news since 2000. The stories are all true.
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