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David Sheriff
Board Administrator
Username: David

Post Number: 162
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Monday, April 04, 2005 - 12:25 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Poor connections at the ship's batteries are a major reason boats fail to start even though the batteries may be in reasonable shape. I intend to pull the related posts scattered about the site into this thread. Here are a few immediate priorities:

1) Keep the connections physically tight. This requires hex nuts, washers and a wrench. Wing nuts carry the implied message that finger-tight is fine, which is untrue.

Be very careful with the wrench. Bridging battery terminals with a wrench will explosively vaporize part of the lead terminal or worse. I put heavy shrink tubing on my battery wrenches to eliminate the possibility of casually shorting out the battery.

2) Clean the terminals and the lugs before assembly. Don't coat them with anything. Place the largest lugs (the ones that carry the most current) directly against the lead battery post. The smaller lugs for bilge pumps and such can follow. Then use a stainless washer and hex nut.

Note that the stainless parts should only provide the force to hold the connection together. Stainless is a poor conductor of electricity. Don't get a stainless washer between the battery terminal and a current-carrying lug.

3) Acid may escape the battery vents. It can also migrate up the battery posts through the lead. Most often this seems to happen on the positive post. My current thinking is that coating the battery posts with anything such as vaseline just makes a mess. I dust the bottom of the battery box with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to deal with acid overflow. You can use felt washers at the base of the battery terminals to neutralize acid there. Make your own saturated with bicarbonate or buy the pretty little red and green ones. Wipe down the top of the battery with a cloth wetted with a bicarbonate and water solution. Keep the bicarbonate OUT OF THE BATTERY CELLS. With the cell caps in place, batteries can be rinsed off and neutralized safely. Just be careful when adding water that you do not flush bicarbonate into the cells.

4) If corrosion becomes evident at the battery connections, take things apart and clean them up.

Cleanliness may not be everything, but it's next to it.

to be continued.

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