Down Time

My last adventure was the high water mark of my metal detecting career; a 1786 Carlos III reale. That was on Monday, Labor Day, 2016.

It was followed by a crashing, fiery low point two days later.

OK, maybe ‘fiery’ was a bit much, a little over-the-top, but you get the idea.

If you’ll recall a while back, I was having issues with my Garrett AT Pro; VDI numbers up and down the spectrum, changing at a rapid pace even as I pointed it skyward. Checking my records, I was disheartened to discover that the two-year warranty on my machine had expired twenty-four days prior to this event. An impassioned plea via email to Garrett Electronics’ Customer Care department was made…and they responded less than 24 hours later, informing me they’d cover the repair under the expired warranty as long as I got the control module and my coil to their facility by August 1st. FedEx Ground made it with a couple days to spare and Garrett sent me a brand-spankin’ new control module ( I had to get the FedEx plug in there; I used to drive tractor/double trailer for them from Columbus to Rialto, California then to Portland, Oregon and back to Columbus for a period when I was out of law enforcement due to a spinal injury ).

Excellent! After receiving the return package I reassembled my machine and went right back to work with it, making some pretty outstanding ( for me ) recoveries, including the reale, over the next five or so weeks.

Then came September 7th, 2016, and Nickel Plate Beach in Huron, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie. I’d driven the 60 or so miles that sunny Wednesday morning filled with anticipation; after all, it was a scant two days after Labor Day, the holiday that tells most of America that summer is over, and I was sure the beach had been packed over the weekend. I arrived at 0930, pleased to see there were only a couple of cars in the parking area but rather displeased to see another detectorist already at work, headed east along the sandy shoreline, coil swinging side-to-side but not stopping very often to investigate promising tones. It would be the last I would see of him.

I geared up for my beach/water hunt and went to work, finding a clad quarter within the first minute. Awesome!, I thought, this ought to be a great session! I’d planned on spending five or 6 hours at this place, hoping to find gold and/or silver jewelry along with the always-present beach cash.

I started working the area where two volleyball nets were set up, happy to see evidence of heavy activity. With all the jumping, diving and twisting that happens during beach volleyball games, there was sure to be treasure awaiting recovery.

That’s when I noticed something wasn’t quite right with the AT Pro.

I passed over a target right-to-left, iron to be sure, but when I swung the coil in the opposite direction…nothing. Back to the left and there it was, a couple of inches into the sand, a deep grunt sounding in my headphones; back to the right and the ‘phones were silent. It ended up being a bent nail, but now I was concerned about my machine.

Over the next hour I recovered some clad coins, the usual trash and a silver-plated child’s ring but the VDI started going crazy again, so much so that I trudged out of the knee-deep water I’d been working and shut the machine completely off. Performing a factory reset, the wild fluctuations continued in the same manner.

I walked dejectedly back to my truck, dropped the tail gate and geared down, trying to control my frustration. This was an AT Pro, waterproof, the ‘AT’ standing for ‘All Terrain’ and useable in a water environment…submersible. I’d used it in just that manner countless times over the two+ years I’d owned it and never, ever had a problem. Garrett had been quick to cover the initial issue when it first reared its ugly head at the end of July and now, a week into September with the brand-new control unit, here it was again.

I’d parked next to a concrete walkway that led to the rest rooms at the beach, the sidewalk lined with four-and-a-half foot tall wooden posts, I suppose to give it that nautical feel. I walked over, checked the nearest post with my pin pointer to make sure it wasn’t full of nails or staples, and sat my AT P on the top, the coil extended horizontally. The VDI was still demon-possessed. I shot some video on my iCam of the display’s activity for documentation purposes, finished packing up my gear and pointed my GMC homeward, first stopping at a Dairy Queen for a peanut butter shake ( which always improves a bad mood ).

Once back at Ram Field Ranch, I opened my laptop and formulated another email to Hilda at Garrett’s Repair Department office; she’d helped me immeasurable during the first incident in July, and told her of the new trouble. I attached the video I’d shot to the email and sent it off, receiving a reply within twenty-four hours. Again I was asked to send them the control module and coil; the repair would be covered this time under the ninety-day ‘repair’ warranty, costing me only for shipping to get it there. I sent it out Friday.

So now, here I sit, watching YouTube exploits of guys like Shannon at Palmetto Digger, Hiluxyota, MentalMetal, Tony Eisenhower, Gravedigger Max, Dave at AmericanCoinHunting, Jimmy Maya and NuggetNoggin, guys that I enjoy watching and learning from, waiting patiently for that FedEx truck to arrive later in the week with my repaired gear. In the mean time, I’ll also be tapping away on my laptop, creating more entries for this blog and my cop-related one at

…and doing some yard work, wishing all the while I was out swinging a coil somewhere.





Author: timteamohio

Retired cop embarking on new adventures, seeking to recover the history beneath us.

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