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Author Topic: Reconditioning lead acid batteries  (Read 2427 times)
Stuart_M
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« on: December 23, 2019, 04:46:45 PM »

Not strictly a renewable energy question but I know there are some good battery experts on here who might be able to help.

The battery on my tractor is playing up in the cold weather and no longer has the power to turn the tractor over. Before I weigh it in and replace it is it worth trying to refurb it?

The battery in question is a standard 12V 663HD, when I put it on my CTEC charger the program runs through and I get a green light but on the tractor the starter motor makes a couple of half hearted attempts to turn but nothing more.
Tractor doesn't get used very often and the battery lives in the house or the back seat of my truck when not in use. One of the reasons for this is I know there is a drain somewhere on the tractor and the battery has ended up completely dead in the past which is bad for it's health.

I don't mind investing in kit to get me a new skill and given the amount of time I seem to spend charging up batteries for the fencing units or machinery a reasonably priced battery tester would seem like a good idea if anyone has any recommendations?
I should probably also mention that I have desire to come out the end of the process in one piece so will need to upgrade my PPE before going near the battery acid!

Stuart
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TT
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« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2019, 06:28:41 PM »

What about putting the charger on a mechanical timer to give it 30 minutes or whatever every day/ 2 days etc to compensate for the parasitic load.
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TT
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« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2019, 06:40:15 PM »

What about just an old fashioned transformer based charger opposed to the electronic type.-again on the mechanical timer to save the battery cooking.

No affiliation with mechanical timers 😂
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Stuart_M
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« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2019, 06:48:16 PM »

At some point I'll get the barn wired up so I can leave the battery on a float charger but for now its too far away from the mains to make that work.
I'd considered a solar panel + charger to keep it topped up but not got round to it yet and I think the current battery is sulking because of it.
Fixing the tractor up bit would help solve the problem too of course!
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bautsche
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« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2019, 06:53:53 PM »

From the state you are describing the battery to be in, I personally think your battery has had it. I've never been able to get one back from that sort of state.

Note that "battery restoration" as you can find it on the internet simply cannot work. The reason for that is that the your lead electrodes end up deteriorating, they become like Swiss cheese so to speak as the metal is corroded away, no amount of pouring more acid in is going to help you there.

However, if you think your batter might be good enough if it were just plugged into a charger and had a float charge applied, I would recommend the Mascot charger. They are not the cheapest thing on the planet, but they do treat your battery with respect: They only charge it as required and they do a live reset if your battery voltage changes, e.g. in a fixed generator installation they notice that the battery has just been discharged due to a generator start and then re-start the charging programme, but at the right point.
E.g here: https://cpc.farnell.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Search?catalogId=15002&langId=69&storeId=10180&categoryId=700000010656&mf=101257&pf=110189925
(Not suggesting that's the only place or the cheapest place either).

I'm currently doing the same with my tractor actually. I park it and put it on the charger. It's a temporary solution in my case as I need to fit a battery isolator switch. But it sounds like in your case, your battery is too far gone for the isolator switch solution.

HTH
Eric
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oliver90owner
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« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2019, 07:10:34 PM »

Before even considering if the battery is dead, what about the starter motor?  What about leads connections on the machine?  Is it a pre-engaged starter or bendix type?  Each can have different problems.

It is likely the battery, but donít just assume that is the fault - is all I am saying.  Iíve seen too many assumptions made and unnecessary parts bought/fitted, only to find the problem is elsewhere.
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Iain
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« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2019, 07:39:35 PM »

Hi
You can normally test if it is the battery.
Just put jump leads on to the tractor with the battery in place to another battery from anther running vehicle . If the tractor turns over a lot quicker it is probably the battery. If it is still slow it could be the wiring or the starter.

Iain
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Stuart_M
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« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2019, 07:47:25 PM »

I had a nasty feeling that it may be past recovering. I've got a spare one charge now so will double them up to see how I get on. If she starts then I'll get a new one and make sure I don't let it run to low in future. That's reminded me I need to fit an isolator switch to my little tractor to protect the battery one that too.
In theory the CTEK chargers can be left connected but I'll have a look at the Mascot ones.  

I did have a look at the starter motor and it looks like a bit of a clean up wouldn't hurt it. It started up fine last time I used it but that was about 6 weeks ago and something could have happened to it since then. Considering its 40 years old and lives outside it normally starts very nicely so it was a bit of a surprise when it wouldn't start it at the weekend.
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Stuart_M
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« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2019, 06:05:16 PM »

To give this one a bit of closure the spare battery did the trick so I've accepted my fate and ordered a new battery as there doesn't seem to be a good way of recovering the old one.
Old one will now be demoted to electric fence duty and I'm somewhat relieved that it wasn't the starter motor.
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Philip R
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« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2019, 09:15:44 PM »

On youtube,there is a vid of a local gent in deepest Pakistan, stripping down old car batteries and rebuilding them.
The health and safety is a bit scarce and the environmental protection went away too.
Philip R.
Ps glad is was a knackerred battery, easy to sort. Better than a starter motor or alternator, or even a dynamo.
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chasfromnorfolk
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« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2019, 09:43:38 AM »

At the risk of introducing a less-than-cheerfull note on this otherwise cheery day, I had this experience: my s/h little Kubota arrived with a new but suspiciously small battery. It reliably failed after a couple of starts but always revived under charge, so I eventually had the alternator rewound or revived or summat, thinking it was a charge issue. No change. So, I bought the biggest battery that would fit the tray and now it gives more starts between charges.
Thereís something wrong, but 20 years down the line, itís not so inconvenient. I just charge for an hour or so (or jump as per Iain) to get back into business. Mind you, I donít stop it during use.

Christmas Greetings from Norfolk, Chas.
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paul149
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« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2019, 10:54:28 AM »

Just read through this thread and when I first read the OP comment of "battery completely dead" and "drain on tractor" my thoughts were, 1. New battery required, even though Ctek charger states battery is good, but how good? And 2, I would go down the route ( when new battery is fitted) of installing a battery isolator switch on tractor to stop the parasitic drain.
Paul m.
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Nickel2
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« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2019, 11:05:47 AM »

For the purpose of the exercise, remember to keep the top of the battery clean and dry at all times!

I helped decommission a generator a while back, and after disconnecting one leg of the battery the lead was eased to one side of the terminal and left on the top of the casing. Part of the procedure includes checking for any DC voltages present that may come from external sources after disconnecting the battery. The boss stopped the job because he could see 12VDC on the supply. I had a poke round, lifted the disconnected lead from the battery top cover, and the 12VDC disappeared.
Top of battery damp from charging vapour excursion over the years; leakage would have flattened the battery had it not been on float.
I learned a bit there. Smiley
« Last Edit: December 27, 2019, 11:07:37 AM by Nickel2 » Logged

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Stuart_M
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« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2019, 06:03:58 PM »

battery is good, but how good?
Paul's post goes back to one of my original questions, what is the best way to test if car type battery is still fit for purpose? At the moment I'm assuming the green light on the charger means it's up to voltage but I don't have a way to test it under load.
I see CPC do testers but at about £200 a go that puts them a bit out of budget.

I'll be ordering up a few of the isolator switches for the little tractors that live inside but the battery on this one will end up being removed for storage inside. It's a pain but I don't use the tractor very often and its less hassle swapping it on and off than it is finding something has happened to it when I go to use it.

Knowing that people like pics, this is my much loved MF 590 the cause of this thread.


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TT
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« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2019, 06:34:30 PM »

Get a car head lamp, (a known wattage so you can calculate current draw) and run it off the battery for a few hours and note the voltage before and after.
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