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  #16 (permalink)  
Old 05-09-2011, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by poncho62
"I work part time driving for our local NAPA store....We have a skid of old batteries which are traded in for new ones.....I was in the shop one day and there was an old guy there sorting through the old batteries with a volt meter....I asked him what he was doing....He said he is getting old batteries that still had a bit of life in them and rejuvenating them to use in his windmill/alternator project.....He was building a wind turbine. I asked how he was doing this. He said that he dumps the old acid out of them and replaces it with a mixture of water and Epsom salts......He brings the water almost to a boil and adds Epsom salts and dissolves it. He then puts this into the battery and puts it on a slow charge for a day or so. Finding this kind of hard to believe and having about 5 mostly dead small garden tractor batteries, I thought, what the heck, give her a go.......I have done these batteries about a month and a half now and they are all starting my tractors, where before they would not crank the tractor after a day or so.........
BTW...I did use tap water, from my reverse osmosis filter from my well.....I figured bringing it to a boil pretty much distills it anyways.....and I am adding a crap load of salt, so why bother with distilled

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What's going on is that the battery sloughs off some of the plate material. While this weakens the plates both structurally and electrically, the stuff that comes off and settles to the bottom usually shorts out some plates first and the charge density of the battery goes down to where it may hold 12 volts but has no amperage capacity so it won't run a starter motor but may still light a small bulb. So what he's hunting for with the volt meter is a battery that has functioning though weak cells. A battery with less voltage shows failed cells which might be salvageable but probably aren't as this is as likely to be failed internal bus connections or completely shorted cells.

If you drain the acid and wash the battery out the sludge can be cleared restoring some functionality to all the cells. The thing will operate pretty much normally for a while longer. But using and recharging is a random materials deposition process, eventually it ends up with projections that short out plates or holes in the plates which diminish the charge generating and holding surface.

As to whether boiling water and Epsom salts has any effect compared to a clean water bath, I doubt the extra rocket science has that much an effect.


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Old 05-09-2011, 08:01 PM
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Old 05-10-2011, 11:01 PM
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Yeh, but won't the salts corode the plates (lead) ? especially after seasonal change ? We've done alot of that kind of thing. Dump out, make sure there's no sulfate. Rinse with good ole Coke. But we always put new acid. Back then we bought it at NAPA and it wasn't expensive. Works for 3-4 years. Couldn't make a living at it... no where to put the acid.
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Old 05-11-2011, 07:24 AM
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what percentage of water / acid makes up for a starter electrolite? I have a expensive BIG battery from my Cat Backhoe that is giving me a hard time, it barely cranks the engine when cold, I want to give this trick a try, what can I loose? I will have to buy a new $300 battery soon anyway.

I have a galon of 99.9% pure sulfuric acid, this will make a very good electrolite, but I don't have a hydrometer, so a water/acid percentage mix formula will be appreciated.
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Old 05-11-2011, 02:55 PM
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99.9% sulfuric is unstable and very hard if not impossible to even produce. About the best you can do is maybe 98%. The acid is diluted to no more than 35% (~ 5 mol/L) for use in a wet cell car battery- but I'd strongly recommend you be very careful dealing w/concentrated H2SO4! You are much better off buying battery acid to begin with, than diluting concentrated acid. If you insist on doing it this way, remember to add the acid to the water, NOT vice versa!!! Eye, face and body protection is a MUST. The fumes are corrosive to tissue- including your eyes and lungs.

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Old 05-12-2011, 05:49 PM
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My buddy was telling me today about the battery in his Toyota, 8 years old. It would start, it wouldn't start, seems to have a mind of it's own. He finally had it towed to a garage, the owner is a friend, he tested the safety switch, the battery, the starter, then it started doing the same thing, start, no start. He then tapped the side of the battery, it would start. The plates were doing what he called an intermittent charge, they had some kind of build up on the plates, you slap the side of the battery, it would work. Let it set for a bit, it might, it might not start. A new battery fixed the problem. Timhale describes a place we used to buy used batteries from to the T, the guy was doing this to clean the plates. Interesting stuff.
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Old 05-12-2011, 06:52 PM
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Old 05-16-2011, 01:14 AM
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Originally posted by cobalt327
.....Only problem is, once the mower is running I can't get off it unless I want to tote the jumper battery over to it, or I hot wire it- thanks to the safety switches that shut it off if there's no weight on the seat.
Mine has a clothespeg holding that switch on permanently... problem solved!
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