We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Friday, July 26. 2013
Help needed regarding power machine batteries
I am having battery problems. I do not understand batteries. I think the main purpose of these batteries is ignition. Or are they for generating sparks too? I am ignorant.
Anyway, I have beeb experiencing a rash of dead batteries.
This excellent, heavy-duty baby takes a gel 6 V. battery. It died over the winter. I tried to recharge it but that didn't work. The guy said not to leave its batteries out in the winter.
A also have one of these cool trimmer-mowers which are fine and easier to use for weeds and tall grass in tight or steeply-sloped areas. It's like a gas-powered scythe. Luckily or not, it's a pull-start so no battery issue there.
Our Farmall tractor takes a regular 12 V car battery, so that's simple. Naturally, the battery dies over the winter from disuse, but is sometimes rechargeable by jumping it. However, our old Ford tractor takes a 6 V which will not hold a charge after jumping it and running it for hours.
I don't like that because I sometimes stall out on hills, and don't want to leave the tractor stuck outdoors. Do I need to buy a new 6 V tractor battery every Spring?
Battery advice please, dear readers.
Trackback specific URI for this entry
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
Batteries don't seem to last as long as they once did.
However, trying using a charger set on trickle/2 amps in between use, make sure the cells have water and in winter, bring it inside and keep it on a trickle charge.
Another thing to check are shorts/worn spots on the wiring.
--if you have an alternator, get a Black & Decker Electromat 400 at yer local Home Depot. A hunnerd bucks a couple years ago --you charge it anytime off your 110V, then it's portable and ready to go, mine holds a charge forever it seems.
You can jump or trickle charge with it, it's basically a 12V battery with an AC converter inside the shell. Also has an air pump with gauge, work light, alternator check circuit, a partridge, and a pear tree.
Replaces a trickle charger, which has ruined many a battery of mine via overcharge when forget to turn off four or six or 24 hours later.
Recharge the 400 via 110V --and won't overcharge, leave it on as long as you want.
If your vehicle has a generator instead of an alternator, you will need to manually recharge rather than simple start engine and let the alternator do the recharge. The 400 will do this too, but needs to be plugged into 110V --same as the trickle charger.
The 400 is very light, only 5 or 7 lbs (estimate), and is small, a shoebox size and shape --easy to carry even bungee'd onto the Farmall somewhere.
It can recharge itself from 12V via cigaret lighter socket. You can jump a 6V vehicle battery from a 12V battery --but mind your p's and q's on the polarity lights and start switches. And don't use the 12V trickle charger on the 6V batt unless there is a toggle switch labeled 6 and 12 (the 400 alas don't gots).
The 400 is only one of many --i just happen to have one is all --and i love it, tho i would never marry it, that would be revolting, and i could be charged with battery.
PDF for the 400 Plus --which is the 400 with a weather and emergency radio receiver built-in.
Someone has probably mentioned this, but maintaining a battery in a discharged state shortens the battery life. Try to recharge a few times over the off season.
25 pounds actually. Just used mine to blow up an exercise ball. Took 30 minutes but it worked.
I was going to mention the trickle charger as well, they are much cheaper than a new battery. as moffett said, keep the water in them and you're good to go. Here's a link to a T.C. for $12.95.
Buy one or more Battery Tenders. They cost a bit more than a trickle charger, but they have a smart chip and won't overcharge your battery. I use them on my boat, convertible and ride mower batteries, and all three start up no problem in the spring.
I am thrilled at the opportunity to reciprocate the wisdom and knowledge you have shared these past years. Batteries are simply a way to store electric potential via a chemical reaction. Once any component of this system becomes depleted, the battery is beyond salvaging. The various ingredients can become altered due to heat, cold, over-charge, discharge, vibration, etc. If you have a battery with low voltage, connect a proper battery charger. Don't waste your time or money on trickle-chargers, solar-chargers or any other fairy-dust type nonsense. After a good hour of charging, try to start your machine. A viable battery will continue to provide starting power for at least one week after charging in the absence of sustained electrical demand due to equipment malfunction. Any other behavior is grounds for replacement. Where batteries are concerned, more is more. There is a lot of sub par junk sold out there. You will not find better than the original equipment battery; there are also a very few aftermarket brands that are comparable. For winter storage, just disconnect the negative (-) terminal from the battery, and be prepared to give it an hour of charge before you bring it out of hibernation in the spring. If winter temps are likely to drop below 0, you should remove the batteries from the equipment and store them on the ground in an outbuilding or basement to prevent damage due to freezing. This is proper battery maintenance. Follow these guidelines, and you should get at least five years usage from your batteries. Kind regards, Matt
I still vouch for my Battery Tenders - no need to charge anything in the spring. One word of caution about storing batteries in the basement (as I do), is to not keep them on a concrete floor. I've read that concrete kills batteries, so I keep mine on a wooden shelf, happily charged through the winter.
I have yet to try one but know several people using something called a battery maintainer, I suspect it is the same as a battery tender. They use them on motorcycles, boats, things that sit unstarted all winter and swear by them. Your Ford tractor sounds like it has a dead alternator. If the battery is good enough to take a charge and start the tractor it is probably good. We converted our last 6 volt to 12 a few years ago, I know those 6 volts are more expensive but if it is running down while you are running the tractor the alternator is not keeping it charged. If you can start everything once a month and let it run for 15 minutes it should keep things charged also. If it is just going to sit at least disconnect the battery in case you have something in the system draining it as it sits idle.
My guess is that the 6v battery is a gel type. Leaving it out to freeze in the winter could well ruin it.
The 12v car-type lead-acid battery is filled with concentrated sulfuric acid that doesn't freeze. Output in amps ("cranking power") will drop with temperature as the chemical reactions slow.
One doesn't add water to gel cells...
Hope that helps.
...also, a normal battery should never be stored sitting on a concrete floor. Put it on a piece of wood.
Assuming it's a lead acid, with caps... be sure there is distilled water in the battery, then, if you have another battery with higher voltage, SHOCK it, pos to pos, neg to neg. Wear eye protection, just in case, do it a few times, 20-30 seconds a shot, then put it on a charger. If there's anything left, this will work. Otherwise, toast. Newer batteries aren't like the old days. They'll work great until the day they die... then ... they're dead.
Another thing to consider is if the battery is sulfated. A lot of the new battery chargers / tenders have a desulfation mode.
A battery that appears to be dead can be brought back to good.
People, please stop spreading urban legend. A battery case is made of non-conductive plastic. A concrete floor can't influence the internal properties of a battery any more than unicorn kisses. Lead-acid batteries can freeze in cold weather. The electrolyte is an acid. Over time acid gives up oxygen electrons and becomes...water. Never use a 12V battery or charger to charge a 6V battery unless you want to ruin the battery with a slight chance for acidic explosive expansion.
Unless your DR mower and trimmer are different from mine, they BOTH take 12V batteries. Finding a battery exactly the same size is difficult unless you get them from DR. Even Sears doesn't carry all the battery types it used to. As long as the battery fits on the tray, and you can clamp it down, whether with the original clamps or something you made, and it is 12V with terminals you can connect the battery cables to, you're good to go.
DR makes outstanding equipment.
Because no one's come right out and said this:
1) Every fall (or when you plan on storing the device for a long period of time) unhook and remove the battery, and put it in a cool, but not cold, dry place preferably off the concrete. This isn't because concrete will leach the electricity somehow, but that most of the time the concrete is colder than the room which causes condensation occasionally. It might not help much, but it certainly doesn't hurt.
I did this was a Subaru right before leaving the country for 2 years--with a practically new battery--the car was out in an unheated garage for the whole time, but the battery was in the basement. I don't think my relatives (who hooked the battery back up and took it to the dealer for a major service) had to jump the car to get it started.
Where are these "cool dry" places I always here about?
All the "cool" places around here here are quite damp. 8^)
Glen Reynolds recommended these NOCO Genius chargers. I picked one up and it worked great all winter on my Miata. Much better than the charger I had before that I had to charge up then take off.
spam alert when I linked to the NOCO site so google it.
This thread is one of many reasons that makes this one of the best websites.
Funny comments - lots of mythology about batteries.
Lead acid batteries can freeze, but they won't freeze fully charged. Generally they will freeze 40% capacity or below. Your car battery is a good example of this.
Batteries can discharge through warming/cooling cycles unless kept excited by use of a trickle charger or maintainer.
Sulfur can build up on batteries that are stored. Use a good trickle charger with a auto desulfur mode - there are six volt and twelve volt trickle chargers that will keep your batteries in tip top shape.
Killing a battery in a year, even a smaller battery, is a little extreme. Your battery is there to start the engine on that beastie - it has on other purpose. Which is why I suspect that you may have a charging problem - pretty easy to chase out with a circuit tester - $5 at any place that sells batteries.
BD, check out these two sites:
I haven't gone wrong with a setup using this equipment. I use the smaller 12V Odyssey battery that I bought at a local "Batteries Plus" store installed on both my 7200w generator and my JD425 tractor. I have 2 separate Granite Digital units always hooked up to both pieces of equipment. The Granite Digital site also sells quick-release user-friendly disconnects that are "smart cables" which give a visual (LED) indication of charge state. http://www.saveabattery.com/SMART.html
The Granite Digital units generally keep about 13.9-14V of charge. Supposedly they are "smart" units that keep the battery in good shape.
Here in SD I leave my snow blade on my tractor between Nov-Apr and it might sit for weeks at at a time before I need to move snow (unlike in summer when I am mowing about once a week), but all I have to do is disconnect the smart cables and she starts right up, every time. My garage doesn't generally get below about 32-34°F though.
Same luck with my generator. It has a pull start, but I wanted a battery/key ignition for my wife in case I am not around in event of a power failure. Of course, one could always just jump from a car battery.
I have no stock in either company. The dry cell Odyssey doesn't corrode either. In VA I must have replaced my Deere battery about once every 2 years, with attendant corrosion problems. But it's nice and dry out here.
1. Keep them clean.
2. Keep them filled to the proper mark.
3. Keep them charged.
If they will be subject to low temperatures,
1. Keep them clean.
2. Keep them filled to the proper mark.
3. Keep them charged.
I've noticed no one has addressed your ignition question. Most recent small engines today do not use the battery at all for ignition. MOST! Your tractor probably does. If it has a coil like an old chevy, it needs power to the coil to generate a spark. Some modern engine to have to have power to the carb! If there is a wire going to the carb, you have an afterfire solenoid used to cut off gas when ignition is stopped.
I used to own a small engine shop and always told my customers to run ALL their equipment at least once a month for 15-20 minutes. Generators in the summer, weedeaters in the winter. Have always done that with my stuff and I think it helps.
"Deep cycle" batteries are designed to withstand being discharged and recharged. Non-DC batteries don't handle that as well. If any of your batteries discharged, they lost some of their oomph, a highly technical term that I don't have time to explain just now.
Your mileage may vary.
If you like the tractor and want to keep it, convert to 12V with alternator. We converted a 1955 Farmall Cub, and it works MUCH better. Starting is almost instantaneous. The only real mechanical change required was a fabricated mount for the alternator.
Almost everyone that I know or have ever heard about that puts a motorcycle, tractor or other equipment away for the winter hooks one of these up to it.
Second on the name brand Battery Tender. Motorcycle battery on 5 years and lawnmower needs periodic filling and contact cleaning but the charge is always good.