"So he had these stored in his basement " When wet lead batteries are stored without being on a trickle charger, they self-discharge and form insoluble sulphate compounds. After 30 days of this, there is some permanent capacity loss which gets worse the longer they are stored.
So depending on how long they were stored--they may be badly crippled in as little as six months.
If you serach on doing an "equalization charge" or equalization cycle, that's about all you can do to try bringing back whatever capacity they have. Wet cells need this type of "over"charge routinely to keep them at their best, so if it means buying a new charger to do it--you'll use that regardless of whether you keep the batteries.
A good hydrometer (foot long kind, not the six inch pocket job) and a $25 digital multimeter will also be invaluable in assessing their condition--either before or after you equalize them.