I've been lazy long enough. Today is Silent E's birthday; time to replace that wire and get her back on the road!
This is a very simple operation. Remove the old wire, cut a new wire to length, attach new terminal clamps, and put on the finished wire. Why have I been putting it off so long?
The wire in question was getting so hot it melted its plastic terminal covers. Rather than fixing the problem, I removed the terminal covers. Eventually it got so hot it literally melted the terminal clamps. That's right. Drops of solidified lead on my battery tops. Yikes. They must have made a conduction path somewhere, because the terminals started sparking under load. That's when I stopped driving.
The operation went pretty smoothly, except for one disturbing problem: There's a ground somewhere. Even with the main power switch off, putting the wire back on caused sparks. I washed the tops of the batteries with a baking soda solution, as best as I could. (One of my regulators got wet; I hope I didn't break it.)
Including a dead-end wire that was too short, forgetting to turn off the main power switch, and spraying the nearby wasps (not in my car, thank RNG), the whole thing took me an hour. I used only the tools in my emergency kit, just to be sure I could replace a wire in an emergency.
Happy Birthday, Silent E! Tuesday, it's back to work!