The Gate Saga and Sold-Out Mole Traps

As has been my custom on and off over the last few weeks or so I was on the ‘phone to South Africa this morning. The company which makes the motor and control circuitry for our gate is based there. Each call gets a little longer because I have to explain everything to them each time, they add another diagnostic, so the number of tests increases as does the length of the call. Today I was on the ‘phone for 26 minutes. It looks like the internal gears in the motor are not functioning correctly.

The nice gentlemen suggested that I drop the motor in for them to have a look at. He asked me where I am based. I said it would be difficult for me to drop the motor in to Johannesburg because I am in France. We both had a nice chuckle. It looks like the 15-year-old motor has given up the ghost. I could strip it down and see if I can repair it or we could invest in a “Made in France” motor upon which there are no import tariffs. Anyway, I am reasonably satisfied that we have gotten to the bottom of the problem. A new gate motor will be between 500 and 1000 euros. Ouch!

The pesky moles have continued to take the piss overnight. So, we went in search of more traps. You can buy explosives, like a firecracker or the manual ones. The explosive one sounds fun, but it is expensive. Where the traps can normally be found in the store was an empty shelf. They had sold out of traps because of the mole diaspora. We had to change shops and got half a dozen more. There are now two dozen traps in three different locations.

If the little blighters continue to take the piss, it might be chemistry time. I have a litre of concentrated ammonium hydroxide; one can buy bleach; we could “chlorinate” them…in their tunnels.

“Bleach decomposes to form hydrochloric acid, which reacts with ammonia to form toxic chloramine fumes.

First, hydrochloric acid forms.

NaOCl → NaOH + HOCl

HOCl → HCl + O

Next, the ammonia and chlorine gas react to form chloramine, which is released as a vapor.

NaOCl + 2HCl → Cl2 + NaCl + H2O

2NH3 + Cl2 → 2NH2Cl

If ammonia is present in excess (which it may or may not be, depending on your mixture), toxic and potentially explosive liquid hydrazine may form. While impure hydrazine tends not to explode, it does have the potential to boil and spray hot, chemically toxic liquid.

2NH3 + NaOCl → N2H4 + NaCl + H2O”

I have also a litre of acetone and might be able to source some chloroform…

I am due to check the traps next weekend…

We shall see if there is any new mole-sign overnight.