Battery Day, and time to clean the cables.

I have wondered for years what’s going on with Landlady’s batteries – and it’s been two completely different sets of batteries.

Topped off her electrolyte today, only a few days late. I need to bring a brush and wash the tops because they’re really getting grody, and then I need to disconnect and clean all the cable connections … again.

Seems like I go through this every year. Mostly but not entirely the positives, of course. I’m going to see if a wire brush will help me clean the battery sides of the connections because they’re a pain to get really clean with sandpaper. And this time I have a new nostrum to try, which I bought since last time and which has worked pretty well on mine. Though petroleum jelly always worked on mine and doesn’t do a thing on Landlady’s…

I’ve tried other corrosion preventive goo on Landlady’s cables in the past and it does nothing but make a mess, so I’m not touchingly optimistic about this stuff. But at least it hasn’t failed before, so I’ll give it a try.

But boy, I hate scraping at those connections with sandpaper. Maybe I should try a chemical approach to that as well? I notice the same company offers hope in a can

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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11 Responses to Battery Day, and time to clean the cables.

  1. Periodically I get nostalgic about our years of living in the forest, wishing that we hadn’t needed to move back to town, and then you post something that reminds me of all the things that I don’t miss about off-grid forest living. Thanks!

  2. Joel says:

    😀 Happy to help.

  3. Judy says:

    Has anyone given you a reason for the batteries at Landlady’s doing what they do? Is it the way the system is wired? The various components incompatibility/not balanced with each other?

  4. Cederq says:

    Batteries have to be ventilated, but wondering if the batteries are being too ventilated? You spoke of the tops being “Grody” It seems outside dust and particulates are landing on the batteries and/or inside dust and dander and animal fur. An enclosed and filtered ventilation system might be in order. Humidity needs to be considered, but living in a desert it may seem irreverent. The dry air is sucking out the water from the cells, hits the dry air and then condensates on the top of the batteries which attracts more dust and a round robin ensues. It also leads to the corrosion problem you are seeing, think of a car/truck battery under the hood and all the heat and dust swirling under it… The picture doesn’t seem to show if the batteries are outside in a shed or inside the living areas (Which I hope not) Judy’s suggestions above are good ones and should be looked into as well as checking all the components involved to make sure they are within specs and are balanced and compatible with each other. Batteries with good maintenance should last years and years. I have dual batteries in my gas truck and the last set lasted 11 years before I changed them out in May because they were 11 years old and living in South Dakota winters. Goes to show proper maintenance and ample reserves will get ya. I hope this helps Joel and I haven’t forgot the charge controller for your tank system.

  5. Norman says:

    This may lead nowhere, but…I’m going to guess that the connecting infrastructure – cables, cable ends, attachment bolts, etc. – were all procured simultaneously and probably from one supplier.

    I remember the fiasco from 2007-2009 involving Chinese drywall; the chemical composition of drywall imported from China, instead of being simply gypsum and an inert binder, contained corrosive chemicals that not only outgassed excessively, it attacked, specifically, residential electrical system components. The only solution was a “full gut” renovation to remove every piece of such drywall from a structure, and more than a few houses wound up being demolished because the corrosion had also attacked the nails holding the structure together and/or the uninsured cost of a full gut reno was beyond the market value of the house. No one suspected a problem with Chinese drywall, which was sold by American companies, until there was a problem with Chinese drywall.

    That the Chinese perpetrated such a thing isn’t much of a surprise, but wholly American companies have committed errors, mostly accidental, but occasionally deliberate, as well; the number of weekly product recalls is testimony to that.

    From where, and whom, were the connecting infrastructure for Landlady’s batteries obtained and is there a sufficient pedigree to ensure complete exclusion of any fault there? (Which may mean nothing – I’m sure there was “good” paperwork on the Chinese drywall, too). Would it be a worthwile experiment to replace some and see what happens? I count approximately 2 dozen connecting cables; 25% is 6, and at worst, Landlady would have on hand 6 spare cables.

  6. Zelda says:

    Norman, because Joel scrounges stuff from everywhere your comment is really interesting and I hope he follows up on it. I’m a dump scrounger too and I don’t know where that Chinese drywall ended up – or whether it was disposed of as hazardous waste in a licensed facility, especially in low population areas.

    PS Joel of course you are wearing full PPE from head to feet while you are working around that many batteries and working alone. Of course. And you have a source of running water.

  7. Joel says:

    Of course, Zelda. Complete sealed moonsuit with internal air and a portable shower.

  8. Zelda says:

    Hah. Good. I am reassured Joel. I and your million other faithful, caring readers can go back to our daily work and look forward to your next post with one less worry. Carry on.

  9. terrapod says:

    Joel, puzzled about your reference to sandpaper, that should be a last resort and I would not use anything that has sand, emery paper would be better.

    Do you have one of those battery connector/terminal cleaner devices? If not I can send you a couple (one for you and one to leave in landlady’s battery shack). I have them scattered all over, garage, shop, basement, any place where there are car batteries. They are inexpensive and work nicely.

  10. Joel says:

    Terrapod, those only work on automotive battery connections. And yeah, I’m getting generic in my reference to sandpaper.

To the stake with the heretic!