Monday, December 26, 2011


Lots of farm batteries only get used a few times a year. Here is a really good thread on batteries I want to save so I am posting it here.

Hagen Brothers farms,Goodrich ND "Does it use a conventional lead acid battery ? If so, a float charger / maintainer will do the job.

I use a pair of charger / maintainer / desulphators to maintain the batteries on all my seasonal use equipment. The desulphator function will remove sulphation formed when a battery sets a long time and is partially discharged.

Here is the link to Northern Tools .

"I"m getting better battery life with the minders. Wallyworld charges $20 for one that seems to do me just fine. Probably could be rotated amongst a collection of batteries, a few days each battery, as long as a week out of each month.

Batteries are made differently than they used to be long ago. But then poor voltage regulators tended to abuse them. 30 40 or more years ago the lead was alloyed with antimony for mechanical strength, unfortunately the antimony was discovered (first in a telephone office with a building full of batteries by stibene gas in the air) to producing local action and speeding up self discharge. Then the battery world went to calcium (its a metal in its pure form with the carbonate of limestone removed, highly reactive to water and air) which cured the local action problem but the resulting plates are weaker. And makers have refined the manufacturing process to reduce the materials in the battery. With the weaker grids, deep discharge cycles are close to fatal if done once, almost sure fatal by the 5th time. Since the active materials swell on discharge they either get dislodged from the grids or warp the grids. And that warping flexes the grids where they are grouped in a lead block and they snap off.

Then batteries are made without filling holes which can keep electrolyte in if not overcharged, but prevents adding distilled water when needed. Or knowing added water is needed.

Used to a battery store, like Sears, would keep all the batteries in the battery room with trickle chargers on them so they were fresh when sold. Now everybody lets them set on the shelf for 6 months or a year, being careful to keep the old stock out front. If you can get to the back of the battery rack and learn the maker's date coding (which is often very clear) or buy the day the rack is filled up after your particular battery has been restocked, you probably can get a battery made in the past 3 or 4 weeks and it will give you much better service. One local farm store has a sign on the rack now to take the battery to the automotive repair desk where they will do a load check and then engrave the sold date. I saw some 6 month old batteries on that rack, but I was able to pick one from the back with Jun 2011 data of manufacture. It also tested good, but I put a charger on it before starting the tractor with it.

Then there are stamped brass battery post connectors that eventually corrode and crack. Cost me a battery in my pickup last month. And it was a special from Ford with two grounded wires wandering off. I changed things around a lot with a lead battery post to side terminal adapter and with the remains of the brass clip converted to a simple lug. Long ago, battery posts were cast in place and thoroughly plugged their hole in the top of the battery. So fumes didn't leak out there, Today the plastic and the posts are molded separately and much of the battery venting is right against the connector, so the little felt washers are a benefit. It would be more benefit to use hot glue or epoxy to seal the posts to the battery case top. Then posts have always needed cleaning annually for 12 volt and every three months for 6 volt systems. The battery cleaning brushes are marginal, I learned from my dad long ago that using a sturdy knife and scraping until shiny soft lead was exposed made for better connection longevity, then covered with grease or battery post paint made the connections last better."

Gerald Iowa.


1 comment:

  1. ED:

    I read your blog for today about batteries. The information from Gerald J. is very good. The RR uses tons of batteries. I mean tons. Each crossing location uses at least close to 700lbs of special batteries. These are 2.67v and either 180A/hr up to 285A/hr now. Then are connected together to get 12v or 24 v depending on type of equipment in it. Most of these are good enough to run a crossing with AC power off for a day or more. Some of the locations that control the signals for trains may have more than a ton of batteries in them. These batteries generally last decades. It is part of our monthly job to inspect and care for them. We do use chargers but that are variable meaning they sense what the batteries need to recharge and adjust accordingly. Say a train goes through, it might turn on 2 Amps to recharge but if power has been off it will jump to 20 Amps. There is a huge difference in old VS new batteries. We removed some that were put in during the early 70’s and it was all I could do to pick one up. A new one I carry one handed… They have went through going from batteries that we added water to then changed to sealed then they tried nickel cadium and now are back to lead acid with the ability to add water. They last longer. A few tricks we have done to make them last longer is to keep the battery post and connectors coated in a special anti-corrosion grease. If you want some I can send it to you. Second is even if they are sealed we pop off the tops so we can add water. You can get another 3 to 5 years out of them if you do this. Just thought I would share a little battery trivia with you.

    Rob Morris

    Wabash Hills Farm

    19422 E. 1050th Rd.

    Marshall, IL 62441