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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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Old 03-14-2010
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Reconditioned Batteries

I searched the forum and only found 1 thread on this over 5 years ago


Below describes what to do to recondition batteries has anyone every tried it
The powder he refers to I think is Epson salts
Just wondering if it is worth it. I'm just a weekend sailor Great Lakes


The first thing that you must realize is that all batteries cannot be rebuilt. They must undergo a few simple tests to determine their present condition.

You will need some simple equipment and supplies in order to perform the required tests and to recondition the batteries:

1. A DC voltmeter.
2. An automotive battery load tester. It comes with full instructions from the manufacturer.
3. A battery Hydrometer.
4. A small electric drill.
5. A good quality battery charger.
6. A pair of homemade wire probes to clip to the test leads on your voltmeter. These are used to test each cell in the battery. They should be about eight inches long and can be made from brass brazing rod. This retards corrosion of the probes.
7. A plastic funnel to add the chemicals into each cell.
8. A supply of additive to dissolve the buildup of sulfates in the bottom of the battery.
9. A stop drill bit to drill holes in the top of sealed batteries.
10. A supply of plastic plugs to seal the holes in the top of the batteries after repairs are completed. A good quality face shield to protect you eyes and face. NEVER WORK ON BATTERIES NEAR AN OPEN FLAME OR WHILE SMOKING. THE GAS FROM THE BATTERY CAN EXPLODE! ALSO, THE BATTERY ACID CAN BURN YOUR SKIN AND CLOTHING. Connecting cables to charge more than one battery at a time in parallel or in series if you have a series charger. Do not overload your charger.
This should cover your equipment and supply needs.
Now we will explain how to evaluate the battery for rebuilding or for scrap.
1. Place the battery on your test bench. Connect your load tester to the positive and negative terminals. The positive terminal is always the larger terminal and should have a + sign on it or next to it. DO NOT HOOK UP BACKWARDS AS YOU COULD DAMAGE THE LOAD TESTER. ALWAYS PUT THE POSITIVE LEAD ON FIRST AND REMOVE IT LAST TO AVOID DANGEROUS SPARKS.

2. Read the voltage shown on the load test meter. If the voltage is less than 12 volts chances are that the battery cannot be rebuilt. In the case of a six-volt battery it should read six volts. A battery that reads a volt less might bear further investigating. While the load tester is still hooked up you should perform a load test. Pressing the button on the tester and watching the needle does the test. Hold the button down for ten or fifteen seconds. If the needle drops like a rock and stays on zero the battery is probably junk. If the needle gradually climbs up to the yellow or green on the load test dial there is a good chance the battery can be rebuilt. Remember that each cell if it is working should read two volts. If the meter only reads ten volts total then you must have a dead cell. We donít fix dead cells because we donít take batteries apart.

3. One more set of tests that you can perform just to be sure is the cell test. We do two of them. One with a voltmeter and one with the battery hydrometer. If the battery has caps, pry them off. If it is sealed, drill the holes in the top of each cell with a stop drill so you won't hit the plates and damage them. Make sure all the cells have water covering the top of the plates. This could be the problem to start with.

4. Take the hydrometer and draw up the acid from the first cell. The scale that is marked on the hydrometer will tell you the condition of that cell. Make a note of the reading of that cell. Green is good, White is questionable and red is dead and probably will not come back with the treatment. Notice the color of the electrolyte while you are drawing the electrolyte from the cell. Draw it in and out several times so that you will disturb it and mix it up. This will give you a more accurate reading and also if the color is cloudy brown or black it means that the cell is in bad shape.

5. The voltmeter test is another very reliable test. Take the voltmeter and set in on the range that best reads out for twelve volts or six volts as the case may be. Clip the test leads onto each of the homemade brass probes.

a. Place the positive test lead on the positive terminal of the battery.
b. Stick the negative probe into the first cell next to the positive terminal. It should read approximately two volts. If it does not, record the voltage. Lower than two volts indicates a weak or bad cell.

c. Stick the negative probe into the second cell and stick the positive probe into the first cell that you just tested. Again, it should read approximately two volts. Record the voltage.

d. Follow this procedure right down the line to the last cell. REMEMBER THAT THERE IS ONLY A ZERO READING FROM THE LAST CELL TO THE NEGATIVE POST. Otherwise the total would be fourteen volts and not twelve. You have now pinpointed the low or dead cells in the battery.

e. If you consider the tests to indicate a marginal battery that might come back even though the test indicate it is junk you can perform the following procedure. Make sure all of the cells have water above the plates by at least one quarter of an inch. Add one tablespoon of the chemical reviver to each cell. Place the battery on the charger for one hour at a high rate of charge. Do not boil out the cells. After an hour you can then retest the low cells that you recorded. If they are reading two volts each you may then charge the battery at a low rate for at least twenty-four hours. It is more efficient to charge several batteries at one time on a low charge-using hook up cables. These may be obtained at an automotive supply store.

f. If the battery you are testing passes all of the tests you may then place it on the charger for a long slow charge. It is important to note that most of the batteries on the market today have lead calcium plates in them and when they get discharged down to a very low voltage they require a long slow recharge. YOU MUST ADD ONE TEASPOON OF OUR CHEMICAL PURIFIER INTO EACH CELL TO DISSOLVE THE SULFATES THAT ARE BUILT UP ON THE PLATES.

g. After the battery has been on the low charger for twenty- four hours you should load test it and check the specific gravity of each cell with the hydrometer. All of the cells have to be in the green scale and the battery should load test no lower than the yellow scale on the load tester for a period of ten seconds. Follow the instructions furnished with your particular load tester.

h. The above procedures may seem complicated but they are not. You will learn them very quickly by experience. Do not be afraid to experiment with marginal batteries. Remember that you can load test them to be sure they are reliable and also, that you are giving your customer a twelve-month prorated warrantee on the unit. NEVER ARGUE WITH A CUSTOMER. GIVE HIM ANOTHER BATTERY OR GIVE HIM HIS MONEY BACK. Good customer service is the ONLY way to succeed in the long run; word gets around fast.

i. It is a good idea to save the electrolyte from the batteries that you junk. You may want to add some from time to time. This would be used in the case where you have a perfectly good battery but through someone's carelessness they wore a hole in it and you want to repair the hole and refill that cell. NEVER ADD ACID TO A BATTERY JUST TO SERVICE IT. YOU MIGHT BLOW IT UP! The best way to repair a hole in a battery is to use some fiberglass cloth and a two part epoxy resin repair kit. Just mix up the resin as per instructions and use it to glue several layers of the patch cloth over the hole. It is very important that you clean off the area around the hole with solvent that won't leave a residue (Denatured alcohol) and scratch up the case so the epoxy will stick better. Many a good battery has been saved with this procedure. Most of this is just common sense and always clean the rebuilt batteries with a mild solution of baking soda and water to neutralize the acid, and also clean up the terminals so that every battery looks as good as new.
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The expected lifetime of a "rebuilt" battery if there is such a thing as typical?

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Yes these things can work though you do not need to buy anything, well maybe new electrolyte.

Even batteries with less than 12volts can be recovered. I haven't seen any do as well as new ones on a load test but if one does not mind having marginal batteries then these methods are fine. Maybe carry a spare battery or two as they can be had very cheap.

I would, I have, just drained the old acid. Don't keep. New acid is cheap (was cheap) and clean and the best way to go.

Fill battery half way with distilled water, seal, and shake. Empty dirty water, repeat until water comes out clean. I'm sure salts or something would help but all the batteries I did this with had so much crap in them that shaking them would clean the plates well enough.

Then add acid, fully recharge, check voltage, load ect. If it didn't work, keep acid for next attempt. Rinse battery out well, break apart, melt out the lead. Makes for great kellets or weights.

In one case a H-D (of course) had a dead battery, and of course no money (none of us did in those days) and we were about 1/2 hour from nearest town (folks didn't like us sleeping in town, go figure). He had been having problems with the battery for a long time but this time a boost wasn't enough. I took the battery, poured the acid, more like water, out, filled with 7-UP (wasn't going to waste beer) shake, rinse, shake rinse. Filled up with acid from a car battery, gave bike a boost and it was on its way. A year later I see the same guy. He was real happy as he still had the same battery, so was I as I wasn't living in campsites anymore.


Of course there is so much that can go wrong, batteries can explode, particularly old batteries with problems, you can spill acid and not know it until things start to burn, you can splash acid and lose your eyesight, a stupid kid from next door can find the acid and think hey must be vodka lets drink it, lead is toxic and so on.
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I guess the bottom line is
Just go out and buy new batteries
I was just wondering

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Quote:
Originally Posted by dryclean View Post
Just go out and buy new batteries..
Yep, thats what I do but then I can afford new batteries now and then. If I couldn't I would collect up a bunch of old ones and get to work.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dryclean View Post
I guess the bottom line is
Just go out and buy new batteries
I was just wondering

Thanks
I'm left wondering what you get out of trying this - a battery of questionable dependability or something better? Presuming the battery is bad enough such that simply equalizing it or putting it on a pulse width charger will not bring it back, would you depend on it as a start/emergency battery when you are depending on it to stay off the rocks?
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Sure you would, just as you would any battery with similar specs/capacity. Even new batteries fail. That'd be a tough lesson if you really depended on one to keep you off the rocks (you likely don't as most boats have multiple banks).
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What is this chemical purifier that is mentioned in the "dryclean" instructions? What site is that article from? Is it a brand name product? Do the sulfates go into solution to be then drained out and / or rinsed out? Do you just add the purifier, it dissolves the sulfates and you leave it in the battery? This article seems to come from a company trying to coach a business that wants to recondition batteries. Am I missing something here?
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Old 03-18-2010
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Epsom salts
just do a search for recondition batteries and you'll get all kinds of articles
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Old 03-18-2010
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Two brand new group 27 batteries at Costco are $142.78, and they are excellent.
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