REBUILDING THE BATTERY
How to Open a Battery
A battery is open when its plates have been drawn out of the hard rubber jars. All parts are then exposed, and accessible for inspection and repairs. In an assembled battery, the top of each cell is closed by a hard rubber cover. Leakproof joints are made between these covers and the rubber jars and the wooden case by means of sealing compound which is poured in place while in a molten condition, and joins the covers to the jars and which hardens as it cools. The joints between the covers and the posts which project through the covers are in many batteries made with sealing compound. The cells are then connected to each other by means of the cell connectors, also called "top-connectors," or simply "connectors." These connectors are joined to the lead posts, to which are connected the plate groups by fusing with a flame, and melting in additional lead to make a joint.
In opening a battery, we must first disconnect the cells from each other, and then open the joint made by the sealing compound between the covers and the jars and case. The plates may then be lifted out of the jars, and the battery is open. The steps necessary to open a battery follow, in the order in which they must be taken.
1. Clean the Battery. Set the battery on the tear down rack. See that the vent plugs are all tight in place. Then clean the outside of the battery. Remove the greater part of the dirt with a brush, old whisk-broom, or a putty knife. Then put the battery in the water, using a stiff bristled brush to remove whatever dirt was not removed in the first place. A four-inch paint brush is satisfactory for this work, and will last a year or more if taken care of. If water will not remove all the dirt, try a rag wet with gasoline.
2. Drilling Off the Connectors and Terminals. When you have cleaned the outside of the battery as thoroughly as possible, set the battery on the floor near your work bench. Make a sketch of the top of the battery, showing the exact arrangement of the terminals and connectors. This sketch should be made on the tag -which is tied to the battery. Tic this tag on the handle near the negative terminal of the battery or tack it to the ease. Then drill down over the Center of the posts. For this you will need a large brace with a heavy chuck, a drill the same size as the post (the part that goes down into the battery), a large screw driver, a center punch, and a hammer.
With the center punch, mark the exact centers of the tops of the posts and connectors. Then drill down about half way through the connectors and terminals until you cut through the part of the connector which is welded to the post. When you can see a seam between the post and connector you have drilled through the welded part. See Figs. 191 and 192.
Now pry off the connectors with the screw driver, as shown in Fig. 193. Lay a flat tool such as a chisel or file on the top edge of the ease to avoid damaging the ease when prying off the connectors.
If any connector is still tight, and you cannot pry it off with a reasonable effort, drill down a little deeper, and it -will come off easily, provided that the hole which you are drilling is exactly over the center of the post and as large as the post. There are five things to remember in drilling the connectors and posts:(a) Be sure that the hole is exactly over the center of the post.
(b) Do not drill too deep. Make each hole just deep enough so that the connector will come off easily. Fig. 192 shows a cross section of a post and connector drilled to the proper depth. Notice that you need not drill down the whole depth of the connector, because the bottom part is not burned to the post.
(c) Be sure that the drill makes the right sized hole to permit the connectors and terminals to be removed easily when drilled half way through. An electric drill will do the work much faster than a hand brace.
(d) Protect the edge of the battery box when you pry up the connectors with a screw driver.
(e) Remove your drill after the hole is well started and see whether the hole is in the center of the post. Should you find that it is off center, tilt the drill, and with the end of the drill pointing the center of the post as you drill, gradually straighten the drill. This will bring the hole over the center of the post.
Having removed the connectors, sweep all the lead drillings front the top of the battery into a box kept for lead drillings only. Fig. 194. When this box is full, melt the drillings and pour off in the burning lead mould.
Post Seal. If the post seal consists of a lead sealing nut, this may be removed now. With some types of batteries (Willard and U. S. L.), drilling the connectors also breaks the post seal. With other batteries, such as the Vesta, Westinghouse, Prest-0-Lite, Universal, it is more difficult to break the post seal. On these batteries, therefore, do not break this seal before drawing out the plates. You may find that it will not be necessary to separate the groups, and the post seal will not have to be broken at all, thereby saving yourself considerable time on the overhauling job.
Steam. This is the most popular, and undoubtedly the best means of heating the compound, and in the following instructions it will be assumed that steam has been used. The battery is either placed in a special box in which steam is sent, or else steam is sent directly into each cell through the vent tube. In the first method the compound is heated from the outside, and in the second it is heated from the inside of the cell.
3. Heating Up the Sealing Compound. Having disconnected the cells from each other by removing the cell connectors, the next step is to open the joint made by the sealing compound between the covers and jars. Fig. 195 shows the battery ready for this step. When cold, the compound is a tough substance that sticks to the cover and jar, and hence it must be heated until it is so soft that it is easily removed. There are several methods by means of which compound may be heated. These are as follows:
If the battery is placed in the steaming box, about ten minutes will be required for the steam to heat up the sealing compound. For batteries which use but very little compound, less time is required. if steam is sent directly into the cells through the vent tubes, five to seven minutes will generally be enough. The covers must be limp and the 1 compound must be soft before turning off the steam.
Hot Water. The electrolyte is poured out of the battery, which is then inverted in a vessel of hot water. This method is slower than the others, and is more expensive because it requires a larger volume of water to be heated.
Hot Putty Knife and Screwdriver. The compound may be dug out with a hot putty knife. This is a slow, unsatisfactory method in most instances, especially in those batteries which use a considerable amount of sealing compound. With some batteries using only a small quantity of compound, a heated putty knife may be run around the inside of the jar between the jar and the cover. This will break the joint between the cover and the jar, and allow the plates to be lifted out. The compound is then scraped from covers and inside of jars, heating the knife or screwdriver whenever it cools off.
Lead Burning Flame. Any soft lead burning flame may be used. Such a flame may be adjusted to any desired size. Where steam is available, a flame should, however, never be used. The temperature of the flame is very high, and the covers, jars, case, posts, and vent plugs may be burned and made worthless. Even for the expert repairman, a flame is not as satisfactory as steam.
The Gasoline Torch. This is the most unsatisfactory method, and should not be used if possible. The torch gives a hot, spreading flame and it is difficult to prevent the covers, jars, case, etc., from being burned. Do not use a gasoline torch if you can possibly avoid doing so. Alcohol torches are open to the same objections, and are not satisfactory, even in the hands of a highly skilled workman.
If a flame is used for heating the compound, be sure to blow out with a hand bellows or compressed air any gas that may have gathered above the plates, before you bring the flame near the battery.
Electric Heat. Special electric ovens for softening sealing compound are on the market. The heating element is brought close to the top of the battery. Where electric power is cheap, this method may be used. Otherwise it is rather expensive.
When the sealing compound has been softened, place the battery on the floor between your feet. Grasp the two posts of one cell with pliers, and pull straight up with an even, steady pull. If the battery has been steamed long enough, the plates will come up easily, carrying with them the cover (or covers, if the batter has upper and lower covers) to which the compound is sticking, as shown in Fig. 196. Do not remove the plates of the other cells until later.
Rest the plates on the top of the jar just long enough to allow most of the acid to drain from them, Fig. 197. If you have removed the post seal, or if the seal consists of compound (old Philadelphia batteries), pry off the covers now with a screw driver. Otherwise, leave the covers in place while cleaning off the compound.
While the plates are resting on the jars to drain, scrape the compound from the covers with a warm screw driver or putty knife, Fig. 198. Work quickly -while the compound is still hot and soft, and comes off easily. As the compound cools it hardens and sticks to the covers and is removed with difficulty. If the battery has sealing compound around the posts, this should also be removed thoroughly, both from the cover and from the post.
When you scrape the compound from the covers, do a good job. Do not scrape off most of it, and then leave pieces of it here and there. Remove every bit of compound, on the tops, edges, sides, and bottoms of the covers. If you need different sized putty knives or screw drivers to do this, use them. The time to remove all the compound is -while it is still hot, and not after it has become hard and cold. If the battery has single covers, the compound can be removed very quickly. If the battery is of the old double-cover type, the job will take more time, since all the compound should be scraped from both top and bottom covers, Fig. 199.
As soon as you have removed the compound from the covers of the first cell, serape away the compound which may be sticking to the top and inside walls of the jar, Fig. 200. Here again you must do a good job, and remove all of this compound. If you do not do it now, you will have to do it when you try to put the plates back into the jar later on, as compound sticking to the inside walls of the jar will make it difficult, and even impossible to lower the plates into the jar.
Now draw up the plates of the next cell. Rest the plates on the top of the jar just long enough to drain, and then lift off the covers, and remove all of the compound, from cover, posts, and jar, just as you did in the first cell. The third cell, (and the others, if there are more than three cells) are handled just as you did the first one.
Remember that you should lose no time after you have steamed the battery. Hot compound is soft. and does not stick to the covers, jars, and posts and may therefore be removed quickly and easily. Cold compound is hard, and sticks to the covers. Draw out the plates of only one cell at a time, and clean the compound from the cover, posts and jar of that one cell before you draw out the plates of the other cells. In this way, the compound on the covers of the other cells will remain hotter than if all the plates of the battery were drawn out of the jars before any of the compound was removed from the covers. You should have all the plates drawn out, and all the compound removed within five minutes after you draw up the plates,
Throw away the old compound. If is very likely acid-soaked and not fit for further use.
The battery is now open, and in a condition to be examined and judgment pronounced upon it. The question now arises, "What must be done with it!" In deciding upon this, be honest with your customer, put yourself in his place, and do just what you would like to have him do if he were the repairman and you the car owner. The best battery men occasionally make mistakes in their diagnosis of the battery's condition, and the repairs necessary. Experience is the best teacher in this respect, and you will in time learn to analyze the condition of a battery quickly.
Handle every cell of a battery that comes in for repairs in the same way, even though only one dead cell is found, and the others are apparently in good condition. Each cell must be overhauled, for all cells are of the same age, and the active materials are in about the same condition in all the cells, and one cell just happened to give out before the others. If you overhaul only the dead cell, the others cells are quite likely to give out soon after the battery is put into service again.
It is absolutely necessary for you to have a standard method in working on battery plates. You must divide your work into a number of definite steps, and always perform these steps, and in the same order each time. If you have a different method of procedure for every battery, you will never be successful. Without a definite, tangible method of procedure for your work you will be working in the dark, and groping around like a blind man, never becoming a battery expert, never knowing why you did a certain thing, never gaining confidence in yourself.
It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of having a standard method of procedure and to stick to that method. Careless, slip-shod methods will please your competitor and give him the business which belongs to you.
1. Examine plates to determine whether they can be used again Rules for determining when to discard or use old plates follow.
2. If all plates of both positive and negative groups are to be discarded, use new groups.
The question as to whether the old negatives should be used with new positives has caused considerable discussion. If the negatives are old and granulated, they should of course be discarded. Remember that the capacity of negatives decreases steadily after they are put into service, while the capacity of positives increases. Putting new positives against negatives which are rapidly losing capacity is not advisable. However, trouble often arises in a battery whose negatives still have considerable capacity, and such negatives may safely be used with new positives.
If you feel that a battery will not give at least six months' more service after rebuilding with the old negatives, put in all new plates, or sell the owner a new battery, allowing him some money on the old battery. But if you really believe that the negatives still have considerable capacity, put in new positives if required. If all new plates are used, proceed as directed in this chapter, beginning at page 348.
3. If you find that only some of the plates are to be discarded, or if you are not certain as to the condition of the plates, eliminate any short circuits which may exist, and give the battery a preliminary charge, as described later, before you do any work on the plates. Plates that are fully charged are in the best possible condition for handling, and you should make it an ironclad rule that if some of the plates can be used again always to charge a battery before you work on the plates, no matter what is to be done to them. If both positives and negatives are to be discarded, the preliminary charge should not, of course, be given, but if only the negatives, or the negatives and some or all of the positives are to be used again, give this preliminary charge. Very few batteries will come to your shop in a charged condition, and an exhausted battery is not in a good condition to be worked on. Charge the whole battery even though only one cell is in a very bad condition. This is a method that has been tried out thoroughly in practice, not in one or two cases, but in thousands. Batteries in all sorts of conditions have been rebuilt by this method, and have always given first class service, a service which was frequently as good, if not better than that given by new batteries.
Place an element on a block of wood as shown in Fig. 201. Carefully pry the plates apart so that you can look down between them and make a fair preliminary examination. Whenever possible, make your examination of the plates without separating the groups or removing the old separators. This should be done because:
(a) Very often the active material is bulged or swollen, and if you pull out the old separators and put in new ones before charging, the element spreads out so at the bottom that it cannot be put back into the jars without first pressing in a plate press. Pressing a complete element with the separators in place should never be done if it can possibly be avoided. If it is done the separators should be thrown. away after you have charged the battery, washed and pressed the negatives, and washed the positive.
(b) If you put in new separators before giving the battery the preliminary charge, the new separators may pick up any impurities which may be on the plates, and will probably be cracked by forcing them- between the bulged and sulphated plates. If, however, the old separators are covered with sulphate, it is best to throw them away and put in new separators before giving the battery its preliminary charge, because such separators will greatly hinder the flow of the charging current. In batteries using rubber sheets in addition to the wooden separators, remove all the wooden separators and leave the rubber sheets in place between the plates. Where only wooden separators are used in a battery, these may be thrown away and perforated rubber separators used for the preliminary charge. Rubber separators may be used again. See (a) above about precautions against pressing a complete element.
If you are not absolutely certain as to the condition of the plates, draw out a few separators. If separators stick to the plates, loosen them by inserting a putty knife blade between them and the plates. Removing a few separators will permit you to separate the groups before removing the rest of the separators. To separate the groups, grasp a post in each hand, as, in Fig. 202, and work them back and forth, being careful not to injure the posts, or break off any plates. With the groups separated, the remaining separators will either fall out or may be easily pushed out with a putty knife. Ordinarily, the groups may be separated in this way if the elements have thirteen plates or less.
The natural thing to do at this point is to decide what must be done to the plates, and we therefore give a number of rules to help you determine which are to be junked, and which are to be used again. Study these rules carefully, and have them fixed firmly in your mind so that you can tell instantly what must be done with the plates.
1. If one or more jars are cracked and leak, and positive plates have been ruined by freezing, as shown in Fig. 203, and if upon drawing out the separators, and separating the positive and negative groups the active material drops out of the grids, the only way to put the battery in a good condition is to put in 'new positives, and new jars and case if necessary.
Make a careful estimate of(a) Cost of new jars.
(b) Cost of new plates.
(c) Cost of new case if needed.
(d) Cost of labor required.
Try to have the owner present while you are opening his battery. If, however, he could not wait, and has left, call him up and tell him what the total cost will be, and if he has no objections, go ahead with the job. If he is not entirely satisfied with your price, try to get him to come to your shop. Show him the battery, explain its condition, tell him just what must be done with it, and explain how you made your estimate of the cost of the whole job. If you do this. there will never be any misunderstanding as to cost. Tell him the cost of a new battery, and let him decide if lie wants one. If the cost of repairing is almost as much as the price of a new battery. advise him to buy a new one, but allow him to make the decision himself. He will then have no cause for complaint.
Fig. 204 and 205, Show Diseased Negatives. The Large Ones Only Eight Months Old. Active Material, Granulated and Blistered.
2. If the battery is more than two years old, and the active material on the negative plates is granulated (grainy appearance), Figs. 204 and 205, and somewhat disintegrated; if the plates are weak and brittle around the edges, and several grids are cracked, Fig. 206, and the plates have lost a considerable amount of active material; and if the case has been rotted by the acid, the battery should be junked.
Call up the owner, and tell him he needs a new battery. If he does not seem pleased, ask him to come to your shop. Then show him his battery, and explain its condition. If you are courteous and patient, you will sell him a new battery. Otherwise he will never return.
3. If the positive plates are badly distorted from buckling, as in Figs. 207 and 208 discard them, for they will cut through new separators, if put into commission again, ill from two to six months.
4. A battery which has has been dry and badly sulphated at some past period of its life will have tile dry portion.", covered with a white sulphate, tile acid line being clearly distinguishable by this white color, as shown at A and B in Fig. 201. If the plates are otherwise ill good shape and you wish to use them, give them the "water cure" described on page 349.
5. Rotten and disintegrated positive plates, Figs. 209 and 210, must be replaced with new plates. The plates have fallen to pieces or break at the slightest pressure. Disintegrated plates are an indication of impurities or overcharging, providing the battery is not old enough to cause disintegration normally,--say about two years. The lead grid is converted into peroxide of lead and becomes soft. As a result, there is nothing to support the paste, and it falls out. Better put in new negatives also.
6. Batteries with high gravity or hot electrolyte have burned and carbonized separators, turning them black and rotting them, the negative paste becomes granulated and is kept in a soft condition, and gradually drops from the grids on account of the jolting of the car on the road. Fig. 211 shows such a battery.
7. Dry, hard, and white, long discharged, and badly sulphated plates, Figs. 201 and 209, are practically ruined, though if the trouble is not of long standing, the plates may be revived somewhat by a long charge at a very low rate, using distilled water in place of the electrolyte, and then discharging at a current equal to about one-eight to one-tenth of the ampere hour capacity of the battery at the discharge board. Charge and discharge a battery a number or times, and you may be able to put a little "pep" into it. In charging sulphated plates, use a low charging rate, and do not allow gassing before the end of the charge, or a temperature of the electrolyte above 110°F.
8. If a battery case is not held down firmly, or if the elements are loose in the jars, the plates will jump around when the car is in motion. This will break the sealing compound on top of the battery, and cause the battery to be a slopper. The active materials will be shaken out of the grids, as shown in Fig. 212, and the plates will wear through the separators. New plates are required.
9. If Battery Has Been Reversed. Often the plates of such 'a battery disintegrate and crumble under the slightest pressure. If the reversal is not too far advanced, the plates may be restored (See page 81), but otherwise they should be discarded. This condition is recognized by the original negatives being brown, and the original positives gray.
From. the foregoing explanations, you see that most of the trouble is with the positives:(a) Because the positive active material does not stick together well, but drops off, or sheds easily.
(b) Because the positives warp or buckle, this causing most of the battery troubles.
(c) Because the positive plate is weaker and is ruined by freezing.
1. If one or more plates are broken from the plate connecting straps, or the joint between any strap and the plate is poorly made. If plates are in good condition, reburn the plate lugs to the straps.
Fig. 212. Element from a "Slopper." Element was Loose in Jar. and Jolting of Car Caused Paste to Fall Out
2. Straight Rebuild. If the general condition of the battery is good, i.e., the plates straight or only slightly buckled. only a slight amount of shedding of active material, no white sulphate oil either plate, the grids not brittle. active material adhering to and firmly touching the grids. the positive active material of a dark chocolate brown color and fairly hard (as determined by scratching with blade of a pocket knife), tile negative active Material dark gray in color and not blistered or granulated, and tile plates not too thin, make a straight rebuild. To do this, charge the battery. remove any sediment from the bottom of the jar, wash and press the negatives, wash the positives, clean the parts, insert new separators, and reassemble as directed later. The only trouble may be cracked sealing compound, or a broken jar. Broken jars should, of course, be replaced.
3. "Badly bulged negative plates, Fig. 213, cause lack of capacity because the active material is loose, and does not make good contact with the grids. If the active material is not badly granulated (having a grainy appearance) the plates call be used again. Sulphated negatives have very hard active material, and will feel as bard as stone when scratched with a knife. Hard negatives from Which active material has been falling ill lumps Oil account of being overdischarged after having been in in undercharged condition may be nursed back to life, if too much of the active material has not been lost.
4. The formation of an excessive amount of sulphate may result in cracking the grids, and the active materials falls out in lumps. Such plates may be put in a serviceable condition by a long charge and several cycles of charge and discharge if there is not too much cracking or too much loss of active material.
5. Positives which are only slightly warped or buckled may be used again.
6. When the only trouble found is a slight amount of shedding. Positive active material must be of a dark chocolate brown color and fairly hard. Negatives must be a dark gray.
7. When the plates are in a good condition, but one or more separators have been worn or out through, or a jar is cracked.
If the battery is one which will not hold its charge, and plates seem to be in a good condition, the trouble is very likely caused by the separators approaching the breaking down point, and the repair job consists of putting in new separators or "reinsulating" the battery.
It is the safest plan to put in new separators whenever a battery is opened, and the groups separated. Separators are the weakest part of the battery, and it is absolutely essential that all their pores be fully opened so as to allow free passing of electrolyte through them. Some of the conditions requiring new separators are:
1. Whenever the pores are closed by any foreign matter whatsoever. Put in new separators whether you can figure out the cause of the trouble or not. The separator shown in Fig. 201 is sulphated clear through above the line B, and is worthless. The separator shown in Fig. 203 should not be used again.
Fig. 214. Separators Worn Thin and Cut Through on Edges by Buckled Plates. Holes Worn Trhough by Bulged Active Material, Center One Shows Cell Was Dry Two Thirds of the Way Down.
2. When the separators have been cut or "chiseled off" by the edge of a buckled plate, Fig. 214.
3. When a buckling plate or plate with bulged active material breaks through the separator, Fig. 214.
4. When a battery has been used while the level of the Fig. 214. Separators Worn Thin and Cut Through on Edges by Buckled Plates. Holes Worn Through by Bulged Active Material. Center One Shows Cell Was Dry Two Thirds of the Way Down electrolyte has been below the tops of the plates, or the battery has been used in a discharged condition, and lead sulphate has deposited on the separators, Fig. 201.
Find the Cause of Every Trouble
The foregoing rules must be studied carefully and be clearly tabulated in your mind to be able to tell what to put into commission again and what to discard as junk. It will take time to learn how to discriminate, but keep at it persistently and persevere, and as you pass judgment on this battery and that battery, ask yourself such questions as: What put this battery in this condition? Why are the negative plates granulated? Why are the positive plates buckled? What caused the positive plates to disintegrate? Why are the separators black? Why is the case rotten when less than a year old? Why did the sealing compound crack on top and cause the electrolyte to slop? Why did one of the terminal connectors get loose and make a slopper? Who is to blame for it, the car manufacturer, the manufacturer of the battery, or the owner of the car? Why did this battery have to be taken off the car, opened up and rebuilt at 5 months old, when the battery taken off a car just the day before had been on for 30 months and never had been charged off the car but once? There is a reason; find it. Locate the cause of the trouble if possible, remove the cause; your customer will appreciate it and tell his friends about it, and this will mean more business for you.
If you have decided that some or all of the plates may be used again, the next thing to do is to separate any plates that are touching, and put the battery on charge. It may be necessary to put in new separators in place of the defective ones. Examine the separators carefully. Whenever you find the pores of the separators stopped up from any cause whatsoever, put in new separators before charging.
1. Sometimes the negative plates are bulged or blistered badly and have worn clear through the separators, Fig. 214, and touch the positives. In cases of this kind, to save time and trouble, separate the groups, press the negatives lightly, as described later, assemble the element with new separators, and it is ready for charging.
2. There is another case where the groups must be separated and new separators inserted before they will take charge, and that is where the battery has suffered from lack of water and has sulphated clear through the separators, Fig. 201. The separators will be covered with white sulphate. Chemical action is very sluggish in such cases.
If you find. that the separator pores are still open, leave the separators in place and proceed to separate the plates that are touching. How? That depends on what insulating material you have available that is thin enough. If nothing else is available, take a piece of new dry separator about 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch square, or a piece of pasteboard the same size. Use a screw driver or putty knife to separate the plates far enough to insert the little piece of insulation as in Fig. 216. Free all the shorts in this way, unless you have some old rubber insulators. In this case, break off some narrow strips 3/4 inch wide or less, put two together and repeat the operation as above, using the rubber strips instead of the pieces of separator. Insert down 1/2 inch or so and bend over and break off. Occasionally the Lipper edges of the plates are shorted, in which case they must be treated the same way.
When you have in this way cleared all the "shorts" in the elements place the elements back in the jars in the same position as they were when you opened the battery, and add enough distilled water to the electrolyte to cover the plates to a depth of one-half inch.
If the negatives are badly sulphated (active material very hard), they will charge more quickly if all the old electrolyte is dumped out and the cells filled with distilled water before putting the battery on charge. This "water cure" is the best for sulphated negatives and will save many plates that could otherwise not be used again. Make it a rule to replace the old electrolyte with distilled water if negatives are sulphated.
Fig. 218. Tapping Connectors in Place. Preparatory to Charging After Battery Has Been Opened and Shorts Removed
The next operation is to put the battery on charge. Grasp each post in the jaws of a pair of gas pliers and work the pliers back and forth, Fig. 217, so as to remove the scale and allow the connecting straps to make good contact. Now take a knife and cut off the rough edges left in the connecting straps by the drill. Taper the edge, if necessary to go on post. Turn the connectors upside down and pound gently in position, Fig. 218, to make a good connection. Temporary charging connections may also be made by burning lead strips on the posts. This being properly done, the battery is ready for charging. Check up the connections to be sure they are correct.
Now put the battery on charge, and charge at a low rate. Do not allow the temperature of any cell to rise above 110°F. Continue the charge until the electrolyte clears up, and its specific gravity stops rising and the plates have a normal color' over their entire surface. Fully charged positive plates have a chocolate brown color, and fully charged negative plates have a dark gray color. By holding an electric light directly over a cell, and looking down, the color of both negatives and positives may be determined. Do not take the battery off charge until you have obtained these results, although it may be necessary to continue the charge for two, three, four, or five days. In this preliminary charge it is not necessary to bring the gravity up to 1.280, because the electrolyte is not to be used again, and the plates will become charged completely, regardless of what the gravity is. The essential thing is to charge until the electrolyte becomes perfectly clear, the gravity stops rising, and the plates have the right color. The Cadmium test may be used here to determine when the plates are charged. If the gravity rises above 1.280 during the preliminary charge, adjust it to 1.280 by drawing out some of the electrolyte and adding distilled water. The battery must stay on charge until you have the desired conditions. If one cell does not charge,--that is, if its specific gravity does not rise,--you have probably not freed all the shorts, and must take the element out of the jar again and carefully inspect it for more shorts.
Right here is where one of the most important questions may be asked about rebuilding batteries. Why must you free the shorts and put the battery on charge? Why not save time by putting in all new separators, sealing the battery, burning on the cell connectors, and then putting it on charge? If you have ever treated a battery in this way, what results did you get? Why did you have a badly unbalanced gravity of electrolyte? How could you know what specific gravity electrolyte to put in each cell? Perhaps one was charged, one only half charged, and the other dead. Suppose the dead cell had impurities in it. How could you get rid of them? Suppose the battery showed poor capacity on test, what would you do?
To continue the actual work on the battery. The battery being fully charged,--the electrolyte clear, the plates of normal color, the specific gravity no longer rising,--remove it from the charging bench and put it on the work bench. Draw each element and let drain as in Fig. 197.
Here again the labeled boxes described on page 183 come in handy. Separate one group, remove the separators, and put one group in each end of box to keep clean. Separate another group, And nest the plates, Fig. 219, the negative with the negative, and positive with positive. Separate the third element and put groups in the boxes. Pour the old electrolyte out of the jars, and wash out the jars as described on page 360. You now have the plates in the best possible shape for handling. 'Fake the boxes containing the plates to the sink. Have the plate press and the plate press boards ready for use.
If, for any reason, you are called away from your work at this point to be gone for five minutes, do not leave the fully charged negatives exposed to the air, as they will become very hot. Cover them with water. A one-gallon stone or earthenware jar will hold the negative plates of a 100 ampere hour battery if you nest two of the groups. You may also put negatives back in jars from which they were taken, and fill with water.
Now hold a negative group under the faucet, and let a strong stream of water run down over each plate so as to wash it thoroughly, and to remove any foreign matter from the plate surfaces. All negative groups must be handled in exactly the same way so as to get the same results in each case.
After you have washed the first group, place it on edge on a clean board with the post down and pointing away from you, and the bottom of the group toward you. Now insert plate press boards which are slightly larger than the plates, and of the exact thickness required to fill the spaces between plates, Fig. 113. For the standard 1/8 inch plates, a 5-16 inch board, or two 1/8 inch boards should be placed between plates.
The 1/8 inch boards are actually more than 1/8 inch thick, and will give the proper spacing. For thin plates, use 1/4 inch boards. Do not push the plate press boards more than 1/8 inch above the tops of the plates, and be sure that the boards cover the entire plates. Put a board on the outside of each end plate of the group. In this way insert the plate press boards in each of the three negative groups.
Then place each negative group on the lower jaw of the plate press with the post of each group pointing toward you. Three groups may be pressed at one time. Bring the top edges of the transite boards flush with the front edge of the lower jaw of the press, so that no pressure will be applied to the plate lugs. See Fig. 114. Pressure applied to the plate lugs will break them off.
Now screw down the upper jaw of the press as tightly as you can with the handwheel, so as to put as much pressure on the plates as possible. Leave the plates in the press for about five minutes. Then remove them from the press, take out the boards, and replace the plates in the battery jar from which they were removed, and cover with water. They may also be placed in a stone or earthernware jar and covered with water, especially if there is any work to be done on the jars or case of the battery. If the spongy lead of the negatives is firm, they may be reassembled in the battery as soon as they have been pressed. If, however, the spongy lead is soft and mushy, keep the negatives covered with water for 12 to 24 hours. This will make them hard and firm. Then remove them from the water and dry them in the air. In drying, the plates will become heated and will steam. As soon as you notice any steaming, dip the plates in water until they are cool. Then remove them from the water and continue the drying process. Each time the negatives begin to steam as they dry in the air, dip them in the water until they are cool.
When the negatives are dry, they are ready to be reassembled in the battery and prepared for service. Negatives treated in this way will give good service for a much longer time than they would if not treated in this way. The spongy lead has been made firm and elastic. If you have other negatives in your shop which are not in use, treat them in the same way and put them away for future use, to use as rental batteries. Always put them through the same process:
1. Charge them fully.
2. Press them in the plate press to force the spongy lead back into the grids.
3. Soak them in water, if the spongy lead is soft and mushy, for 12 to 24 hours, or even longer until the spongy lead is firm. Dry them in the air, dipping them in water whenever they begin to steam and become heated. This -will give you negatives that will give excellent service and have a long life. Many negatives treated in this way will be good for fifteen months to two years of additional service. The rental batteries should be assembled in the same way as those you are rebuilding for the owners.
The importance of pressing negatives cannot be exaggerated. Always press the negatives of the batteries which you rebuild. Do not do it to half, or three-fourths of the negatives, but to all of them. The work takes but a few minutes, and the time could not be put to better advantage. The spongy lead of the negatives swells and bulges out and makes very poor contact with the grids as a battery become,, discharged. This results in a loss of capacity, gradual sulphation of the loose active material, corrosion of the grids, failure of the gravity to rise high enough on charge, overheating of the battery on charge, gassing before the sulphate is reduced to active material with breaking off and roughening of the active material, and makes the battery lazy and sluggish in action. The spongy lead must make good contact with the grids if the battery is to have a long life and give good service.
No amount of charging will cure a negative with bulged, swollen active material. Once this material becomes bulged nothing but pressing will put it back where it belongs, and until it is pressed back into the grids the plates are in a poor condition for service. Even if the bulging is but very slight, the plates must be pressed.
If you intend to use some of the positives, they should now be washed. If you intend to use all new positives, throw away the old ones, of course. The positives should not be held under the faucet as the negatives were, because the stream of water will wash out much of the positive active material. Rinse the positives a number of times in a jar of clean water by moving them up and down in the water. This will remove impurities from the surfaces of the plates and wash off any foreign or loose materials. After rinsing each positive group, replace it in the box.
Never attempt to straighten badly buckled positives, as the bending cannot be done successfully, and the active material will not have good contact with the grids. Positives cannot be pressed as negatives can, because the positive active material lacks the elasticity and toughness of the negative spongy lead. Slightly buckled positives may sometimes be straightened by bending them lightly all around the edges with a pair of thin, wide nosed pliers. This should be (lone very carefully, however, and the straightening done. gradually. If the plates cannot be straightened in this way and the separators do not lie perfectly flat against them without pinching at the corners, the plates should be discarded, and new ones used in their place.
This is all the work to be done on the old plates, and those which are to be used again are ready to be reassembled in the battery. The process of treating the plates should be followed in every battery that you rebuild, and the same steps should always be taken, and in the same order. With one Standard method of rebuilding batteries you will do 'uniformly good work and satisfy all your customers. The essential thing for the success of your battery business is to learn the Standard method and use it. Do not rush a battery through your shop, and leave out some of the steps of the process, even though the owner may be in a hurry. If you have a good stock of rental batteries you can put one on his car and keep it there until you have done as good a job of rebuilding on his battery as you possibly can. Remember that the Standard method which has been described has not simply been figured out as being a good method. This method has been worked out in the actual rebuilding of thousands and thousands of batteries of all makes and in all conditions, and has produced batteries full of life and power, ready to give one to two years more of good, reliable service.
When you put new plates into a battery, or find some of the plates broken from the connecting strap, it will be necessary to burn the plates to the strap. Frequently you will find plates which are otherwise in a good condition broken from the connecting straps. This is most likely to happen when the plates have been cast on to the connecting strap instead of being burned on. These plates must be burned on.
New plates are frequently necessary. From pages 339 to 346 you see that new plates are required under the following conditions:
(a) Positives. Ruined by freezing; weak and brittle from age, large part of active material shed; badly buckled; rotten and disintegrated by impurities; reversed. Positives in a reasonably good mechanical condition can be restored to a good electrical condition by charging.
(b) Negatives. Active material granulated, bulged and disintegrated; charged while dry; positives disintegrated by impurities; ruined by overcharging; badly sulphated because allowed to stand idle, or used while discharged; much active material lost, and that which is left soft and mushy; negatives reversed by charging battery backwards.
When making plate renewals, never install plates of different design in the same group. Always use plates of the type intended for the battery. The battery should first be fully charged, as already explained. If all the plates in a group are to be discarded, clamp the post in a vise, being careful not to crack the hard rubber shell if one is on it, or to damage the threads on Posts such as the Exide or to draw up the vise so tightly as to crush the post. Then saw off all the old plates with a new coarse toothed hacksaw, a sharp key hole saw, or any good saw which has a wide set, close to the post. This separates the entire group of plates from the post in one short operation. This method is much better than the one of sawing the plates off below the connecting strap, and sawing or punching the old plate ends out of the strap. See page 217 for instructions for welding plates to the straps.
The work on the jars consists of removing any sediment which may have collected, washing out all dirt, and replacing leaky jars. The removal of sediment and washing should be done after the preliminary charge has been given and the old electrolyte poured out unless the preliminary charge was given with distilled water in the jars. The old electrolyte need not be poured down the sewer, but may be kept in stone or earthenware jars and used later in making electrical tests to locate leaky jars.
Remove all sealing compound from the jar by means of a hot putty knife, finishing by wiping with a gasoline soaked rag. Inspect each jar carefully under a strong light for cracks and leaks. If you know which jar is leaky by having filled each cell with water up to the correct level, when you made the first examination of the battery, and then having it allowed to stand over night to see if the electrolyte in any cell has dropped below the tops of the plates, no tests are necessary, but if you are in doubt as to which jar, if any, is leaky, you must make tests to determine which jar is leaky. If you know that there is no leaky jar, because of the bottom of the case not being acid eaten and rotted, it is, of course, not necessary to test the jars.
One test consists in filling the jar within about an inch of the top with old or weak electrolyte, partly immersing the jar in a tank which also contains electrolyte, and applying a voltage of 110 or 220 between the electrolyte in the jar and the electrolyte in the tank in which the jar is partly immersed. If current Vows, this indicates that the jar is leaky.
Fig. 220 shows the principle of the test. A suitable box, -an old battery case will do, - is lined with sheet lead, and the lead lining is connected to either side of the 110 or 220 volt line. The box is then partly filled with weak electrolyte. The jar to be tested is filled to within about one inch of the top with weak electrolyte. The jar is immersed to within about an inch of its top in the box. The top part of the jar must be perfectly dry when the test is made, or else the current will go through any electrolyte which may be wetting the walls of the jar. A lead strip or rod, which is connected to the other side of the 110 or 220 volt line, through a lamp as shown, is inserted in the jar. If there is, a leak in the jar, the lamp will burn, and the jar must be discarded. If the lamp does not light, the jar does not leak.
Instead of using a lead lined box, a stone or earthenware jar may be used. A sheet of lead should be placed in this jar, being bent into a circular shape to fit the inside of the jar, and connected to one side -of the line. The lead rod or sheet which is inserted in the jar may be mounted on a handle for convenience in making the test. The details of the testing outfit may, of course, be varied according to what material is available for use. The lamps should be suitably mounted on the wall above the tester.
This test may be made by using a voltmeter instead of lamps, as shown in Fig. 221. If a voltmeter is used, be especially careful to have the part projecting above the liquid perfectly dry. A leaky cell will be indicated by a reading on the meter equal to the line voltage.
A third method uses a Ford ignition coil, as shown in Fig. 222. A leak will be indicated by a spark, or by the vibrator making more noise than it ordinarily does. Instead of using the Ford coil, as shown in Fig. 222, the test may be made as shown in Fig. 223. Fill the jar to within an inch of the top with electrolyte and immerse one of the high tension wires in the electrolyte. Attach the other high tension wire to a wire brush, comb, or rod having a wooden handle and rub it over the outside of the jar. A leak is shown by a spark jumping to the jar.
The test may also be made without removing the jar. If the lead lined box be made two feet long, the entire battery may be set in the box so that the electrolyte in the box comes within an inch of the top of the battery case. Fill each jar with weak electrolyte and make the test as before. If this is done, however, remove the battery immediately after making the test and wipe the case dry with a cloth. To make the test in this way. the case must be considerably acid eaten in order to have a circuit through it to the jar.
The method of removing the jars from the case depends on the battery. In some batteries the jars are set in sealing compound. To remove a jar from such a battery, put the steam hose from your steamer outfit into the jar, cover up the top of the jar with rags, and steam the jar for about five minutes. Another way is to fill the jar with boiling hot water and let it stand for fully five minutes. Either of these methods will soften the sealing compound around the jar so that the jar may be pulled out. To remove the jar, grasp two sides of the jar with two pairs of long, flat nosed pliers and pull straight up with an even, steady pull. Have the new jar at hand and push it into the place of the old one as soon as the latter is removed. The new jar should first be steamed to soften it somewhat. Press down steadily on the new jar until its top is flush with the tops of the other jars.
Some batteries do not use sealing compound around the jars, but simply use thin wooden wedges to hold the jars in place, or have bolts running through opposite faces of the case by means of which the sides are pressed against the jars to hold them in place. The jars of such batteries may be removed without heating, by removing the wedges or loosening the bolts, as the case may be, and lifting out the jars with pliers, as before. New jars should be steamed for several minutes before being put in the case. When you put jars into such batteries, do not apply too much pressure to them, as they may be cracked by the pressure, or the jar may be squeezed out of shape, and the assembling process made difficult.
The case may be repaired with all the jars in place, or it may be necessary to remove the jars. If the case is to be junked and the jars used again, the case may simply be broken off, especially if there is much sealing compound around the jars.
If the case is rotten at top, patch it with good wood. If the top and bottom are so rotten that considerable time will be required to repair it, advise the owner to buy a new case. Sometimes the top of the case can be greatly improved by straightening the side edges with a small smoothing plane, and' sometimes a 1/2 inch strip or more fitted all along the edge is necessary for a good job. Handles that have been pulled, rotted, or corroded off make disagreeable repair jobs, but a satisfactory job can be done unless the end of the case has been pulled off' or rotted. Sometimes the handle will hold in place until the battery is worn out by old age if three or four extra holes are bored and countersunk in the handle where the wood is solid, and common wood screws, size 12, 1/2 or 5/8 inch long used to fasten the handle in place. Sometimes it will be necessary to put in one half of a new end, the handle being fastened to the new piece with brass bolts and nuts before it is put into place. Sometimes you can do a good job by using a plate of sheet iron 1-16 inch thick, and 4 inches wide, and as long as the end of the case is wide. Rivet the handle to this plate with stovepipe, or copper rivets, and then fasten the plate to the case with No. 12 wood screws, 1/2 inch long.
If the old case is good enough to use again, soak it for several hours in a solution of baking soda in water to neutralize any acid which may have been spilled on it, or which may be spilled on it later. After soaking the case, rinse it in water, and allow it to dry thoroughly. Then paint the case carefully with asphaltum paint.
Reassembling the Elements
Take a negative group and put it on edge on a board, with post away from you, and lower edge toward you. Mesh a positive in the negative group. The groups are now ready for the separators. Take six moist separators from your stock. Slip one into position from the bottom in the middle of the group, with the grooved side toward the positive plate, spreading the plates slightly if necessary. Take another separator, slip it into position on the opposite side of the positive against which your first separator was placed. In this way, put in the six separators, with the grooved side toward the positives, working outward in both directions from the center, Fig. 225. The grooves must, of course, extend from the top to the bottom of the plate. Now grasp the element in both hands, and set it right side up on the block, giving it a slight jar to bring the bottoms of the plates and separators on a level.
Now grasp the element in both hands, and set it right side up on the block, giving it a slight jar to bring the bottoms of the plates and separators on a level.
Next take a cover, and try it on the posts, Fig. 226. Pull the groups apart slightly, if necessary, before inserting any more separators, so that the cover fits exactly over the posts, Fig. 227. See that the separators extend the same distance beyond each side of the plates. You may take a stick, about 10 inches long, 1 1/2 inches wide, and 7/8 inch thick, and tap the separators gently to even them up. A small wood plane may be used to even up the side edges of wood separators. If you put in too many separators before trying on the cover, the plates may become so tight that you may not be able to shift them to make the cover fit the posts or you may not be able to shift the separators to their proper positions. It is therefore best to Put in only enough separators to hold the groups together and so they can be handled and yet remain in their proper position when set up on the block. Without separators, the posts will not remain in position.
With the element reassembled, and the remaining separators in their proper positions, see that all the plates are level on bottom, and no foreign matter sticking to them. Place the element in box shown in Fig. 219 to keep clean. Reassemble the other elements in exactly the same way, and put them in the box. The elements are now ready to be put in the jars.
Steam the jars in the steamer for about five minutes to soften them somewhat, so that there will be no danger of breaking a jar when you put in the elements.
With the case ready, look for the "+", "P" or "POS" mark on it. (Cases which are not marked in this way at the factory should be marked by the repairman before the battery is opened.) Place the case so that this mark is toward you. Grip an element near the bottom in order to prevent the plates from spreading, and put it in the jar nearest the mark, with the positive post toward you, next to the mark. Put an element in the next jar so that the negative post is toward you. Put an element in the third jar so that the positive post is toward you, and so on. The elements are correctly placed when each connecting strap connects a positive to a negative post. If the case has no mark on it, reassemble exactly according to the diagram you made on the tag before you opened the battery. Set the jars so that the posts are exactly in line so that the cell connectors will fit.
If an element fits loosely in the jar, it must be tightened. The best way to do this is to put one or more separators on one or both sides of the elements before putting it in the jar, Fig. 228. If you leave the elements loose in the jars, the jolting of the car will soon crack the sealing compound, and you will have a "slopper" on- your hands.
If element fits very tight, be sure that the corners of the plate straps have been rounded off and trimmed flush with outside negatives. Be sure also that there is no compound sticking to the inside of jars. Take care not to break the jar by forcing in a tight fitting element when the jar is cold and stiff.
With all the elements in place in the jars, one of two things may be. done. First, the jars may be filled with electrolyte and the covers then sealed on, or the covers may first be sealed on and the jars then filled with electrolyte. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. If the jars are first filled with electrolyte, acid may be splashed on the tipper parts of the jars and sealing made very difficult.
On the other hand, if the electrolyte is first poured in, the charged negatives will not become hot, and sealing compound which runs into the jar will be chilled as soon as it strikes the electrolyte and will float on top and do no harm. If the covers are sealed before any electrolyte is added, it will be easier to do a good sealing job, but the negatives will heat up. Furthermore, any sealing compound which runs into the jar will run down between the plates and reduce the plate area.
If care is taken to thoroughly dry the upper parts of the jars, add the electrolyte before sealing on the covers.
If you have followed the directions carefully, and have therefore freed all the shorts, have thoroughly charged the plates, have washed and pressed the negative groups, have washed the positives, have then added any new plates which were needed, and have put in new separators, use 1.400 specific gravity electrolyte. This is necessary because washing the plates removed some of the acid, and the new separators will absorb enough acid so that the specific gravity after charging will be about 1.280.
The final specific gravity must be between 1.280 and 1.300. In measuring the specific gravity the temperature must be about 70°F., or else corrections must be made. For every three degrees above 70°, add one point (.001) to the reading you obtain on the hydrometer. For every three degrees under 70°, subtract one point (.001) from the reading you obtain on the hydrometer. For instance, if you read a specific gravity of 1.275 and find that the temperature of the electrolyte is 82°F., add ((82-70)/3 = 4)
four points (1.275 + .004), which gives 1.279, which is what the specific gravity of the electrolyte would be if its temperature were lowered to 70°. The reason this is done is that when Ave speak of an electrolyte of a certain specific gravity, say 1.280, we mean that this is its specific gravity when its temperature is 70°F. We must therefore make the temperature correction if the temperature of the electrolyte is much higher or lower than 70°F.
This operation is a particular one, and must be done properly, or you will come to grief. Get the box containing the covers and connectors for the battery you are working on; take the covers, and clean them thoroughly. There are several ways to clean them. If you have gasoline at hand, dip a brush in it and scrub off the compound. The covers may also be cleaned off with boiling water, but even after you have used the hot water, it will be necessary to wipe off the covers with gasoline. Another way to soften any compound which may be sticking to them, is to put the covers in the Battery Steamer and steam them for about ten minutes. This will also heat 'the covers and make them limp so that they may be handled without breaking.
If the covers fit snugly all around the inside- of the jars so that there is no crack which will allow the compound to run down on the elements, all is well and good. If, however, there are cracks large enough to put a small, thin putty knife in, you must close them. If the cracks are due to the tops of the jars being bent out of shape, heat the tops with a soft flame until they are limp, (be careful riot to burn them). Now, with short, thin wedges of wood, (new dry separators generally answer the purpose), crowd down on the outside edges of the jar, until you have the upper edge of jars straight and even all around. If the jars are set in compound, take a hot screwdriver and remove the compound from between the jar. and case near the top. If the cracks between cover and jar still remain, calk them with asbestos packing, tow, or ordinary wrapping string. Do not use too much packing;--just enough to close the cracks is sufficient. When this is done, see that the top of the case is perfectly level, so that when the compound is poured in, it will settle level all around the upper edge of the case.
There are many grades of compounds (see page 149), and the kind to use must be determined by the type of battery to be sealed. There is no question but that a poor grade used as carefully as possible will soon crack and produce a slopper. A battery carelessly sealed with the best compound is no better.
The three imperative conditions for a permanent lasting job are:
1. Use the best quality of the proper kind of compound for sealing the battery on hand.
2. All surfaces that the compound comes in contact with must be free from acid and absolutely clean and dry.
3. The sealing must be done conscientiously and all details properly attended to step by step, and all work done in a workmanlike manner.
With respect to sealing, batteries may be divided into two general classes. First, the old type battery with a considerable amount of sealing compound. This type of battery generally has a lower and an upper cover, the vent tube being attached or removable, depending on the design. The compound is poured on top of the lower cover and around the vent tube, and the top covers are then put on. Most of the batteries of this type have a thin hard rubber sleeve shrunk on the post where the compound comes in contact with it; this hard rubber sleeve usually has several shallow grooves around it which increase its holding power. This is good construction, provided everything else is normal and the work properly done with a good stick-, compound. There are a few single cover batteries with connecting straps close to top of covers, and the compound is poured over the top of the straps. See Fig. 262.
The second general type consists of single one-piece cover batteries that have small channels or spaces around the covers next to the jars into which the sealing compound is poured. This type of battery is the most common type.
Compound in bulk or in thin iron barrels can be cut into small pieces with a hatchet or hand ax. To cut off a piece in hot weather, strike it a quick hard blow in the same place once or twice, and a piece will crack off. Directions for properly beating sealing compound will be found on page 150.
The following instructions apply to batteries having double covers. These are more difficult to seal than the single cover batteries. If you can seal the double cover batteries well, the single cover batteries will give you no trouble.
Always start the fire under the compound before you are ready to use it, and turn the fire lower after it has melted, so as not to have it too hot at the time of pouring. If you have a special long nosed pouring ladle, fill it with compound by dipping in the pot, or by pouring compound from a closed vessel. If you heat the compound in an iron kettle, pour it directly into pouring ladle, using just about enough for the first pouring. The compound should not be too hot, as a poor sealing job battery will result from its use. See page 150.
Pour compound on the lower covers, as in Fig. 229. Use enough to fill the case just over the tops of the jars, Fig. 230. Then pour the rest of the compound back in compound vessel or kettle. To complete the job, and make as good a job as possible, take a small hot lead burning flame and run it around the edges of case, tops of jars, and around the posts until the compound runs and makes a good contact all around. If you have an electric fan, let it blow on the compound a few minutes to cool it, as in Fig. 231. Then the compound used for the second pouring may be hotter and thinner than the first.
Fill the pouring ladle with compound, which is thinner than that used in the first pouring, and pour within 1/16 inch of the top of the case, being careful to get in just enough, so that-after it has cooled, the covers will press down exactly even with the top of the case, Fig. 232. It will require some experience to do this, but you will soon learn just how much to use.
As soon as you have finished pouring, run the flame all around the edges of the case and around the post, being very careful not to injure any of the vent tubes. A small, hot-pointed flame should be used. Now turn on the fan again to cool the compound.
While the compound is cooling, get the cell connectors and terminal connectors, put them in a two-quart granite stew pan, just barely cover with water, and sprinkle a tablespoon of baking soda over them. Set the stew pan over the fire and bring water to boiling point. Then pour the water on some spot on a bench or floor where the acid has been spilled. This helps to neutralize the acid and keep it from injuring the wood or cement. Rinse off the connectors and wipe them dry with a cloth, or heat them to dry them.
Now take the top covers, which must be absolutely clean and dry, and spread a thin coat of vaseline over the top only, wiping off any vaseline from the beveled edges. Place these covers right side up on a clean board and heat perfectly limp with a large, spreading blow torch flame. Never apply this flame to the under side of the top covers. The purpose is to get the covers on top of the battery absolutely level, and exactly even with the top of the case all around it, and to have them sticking firmly to the compound. There is not an operation in repairing and rebuilding batteries that requires greater care than this one, that will show as clearly just what kind of a workman you are, or will count as much in appearance for a finished job. If you are careless with any of the detail, if just one bump appears on top, if one top is warped, if one cover sticks above top of case, try as you may, you never can cover it up, and show you are a first-class workman. See that you have these four conditions, and you should not have any difficulty after a little experience:
1. You must have just enough compound on top to allow the top covers to be pressed down exactly even with upper edge of case.
2. The top covers must be absolutely clean and have a thin coat of vaseline over their top, but none on the bevel edge.
3. A good sized spreading flame to heat quickly and evenly the tops to a perfectly limp condition without burning or scorching them.
4. Procure a piece of 7/8-inch board 1-1/2 inches wide and just long enough to go between handles of battery you are working on. Spread a thin film of oil or vaseline all over it.
Having heated the covers and also the top surface of the compound until it is sticky so that the covers may be put down far enough and adhere firmly to it, place the covers in position. Then press the covers down firmly with a piece of oiled wood, as in Fig. 233, applying the wood sidewise and lengthwise of case until the top of cover is exactly even with the top of the case. It may be necessary to use the wood on end around the vent tubes and posts as in Fig. 234, to get that part of the cover level. If the compound comes up between covers and around the edges of the case, and interferes with the use of the wood, clean it out with a screwdriver. You can then finish without smearing any compound on the covers.
When you have removed the excess compound from the cracks around the edges of the covers with the screwdriver, take a large iron spoon which has the end bent into a pouring lip, and dip up from 1/2 to 2/3 of a spoonful of melted compound (not too hot). Wipe off the bottom of the spoon, Fig. 235, and pour a small stream of compound evenly in all the cracks around the edges of the covers until they are full, as in Fig. 236. Do not hold the spoon too high, and do not smear or drop any compound on top of battery or on the posts. No harm is done if a little runs over the outside of the case, except that it requires a little time to clean it off. A small teapot may be used instead of the spoon. If you have the compound at the right temperature, and do not put in too much at a time, you will obtain good results, but you should take care not to spill the compound over covers or case.
After the last compound has cooled, --this requires only a few minutes, --take a putty knife, and scrape off all the surplus compound, making it even with the top of the covers and case, Fig. .237. Be careful not to dig into a soft place in the compound with the putty knife. If you have done your work right, and have followed directions explicitly, you have scraped off the compound with one sweep of the putty knife over each crack, leaving the compound smooth and level. You will be surprised to see how finished the battery looks.
Some workmen pour hot compound clear to the top of the case and then hurry to put on a cold, dirty top. What happens? The underside of the cover, coming in contact with the hot compound, expands and lengthens out, curling the top surface beyond redemption. As you push down one corner, another goes up, and it is impossible to make the covers level.
Single cover batteries are scaled in a similar manner. The covers are put in place before any compound is poured in. Covers should first be steamed to make them soft and pliable. The surfaces which come in contact with the sealing compound must be perfectly dry and free from acid. Before pouring in any compound, run a soft flame over the surfaces which are to be sealed , so as to dry them and warm them. Close up all cracks between Jars and covers as already directed. Then pour the cover channels half full of sealing compound, which must not be too thin. Now run a soft flame over the compound until it flows freely and' unites with the covers and jars. Allow the compound to cool.
For the second pouring, somewhat hotter compound may be used. Fill the cover channels flush with the top of the case, and again run a soft flame over the compound to make it flow freely and unite with the covers, and to give it a glossy finish. If any compound has run over on the covers or case, remove it with a hot putty knife.
With the covers in place, the next operation is to burn in the cell connectors. Directions for doing this are given on page 213. If you did not fill the jars with electrolyte before sealing the covers, do so. now. See page 364.
You should have a set of stencil letters and mark every battery you rebuild or repair. Stamp "POS," "P," or "+" on positive terminal and "NEG," "N," or on negative terminal. Then stamp your initials, the date that you finished rebuilding the battery, and the date that battery left the factory, on the top of the connectors. Record the factory date, and type of battery in a book, also your date mark and what was done to the battery. By doing this, you will always be able to settle disputes that may arise, as you will know when you repaired the battery, and what was done.
To go one step farther, keep a record of condition of plates, and number of new plates, if you have used any. Grade the plates in three divisions, good, medium and doubtful. The "doubtful" division will grow smaller as you become experienced and learn by their appearance the ones to be discarded and not used in a rebuilt battery. There is no question that even the most experienced man will occasionally make a mistake in judgment, as there is no way of knowing what a battery has been subjected to during its life before it is brought to you.
The next operation is to thoroughly clean the case; scrape off all compound that has been spilled on it, and also any grease or dirt. If any grease is on the case, wipe off with rag soaked in gasoline. Unless the case is clean, the paint will not dry. Brush the sides and end with a wire brush; also brighten the name plate. Then coat the case with good asphaltum paint. Any good turpentine asphaltum is excellent for this purpose. If it is too thick, thin it with turpentine, but be sure to mix well before using, as it does not mix readily. Use a rather narrow brush, but of good quality. Paint all around the upper edge, first drawing the brush straight along the edges, just to the outer edges of rubber tops. Now paint the sides, ends and handles, but be careful not to cover the nameplate. To finish, put a second, and thick coat all around top edge to protect edge of case. Paint will soak in around the edge on top of an old case more easily than on the body of the case as it is more porous.
With the battery completely assembled, the next step is to charge it at about one-third of the starting or normal charge rate. For batteries having a capacity of 80 ampere hours or more, use a current of 5 amperes. Do not start the charge until at least 12 hours after filling with electrolyte. This allows the electrolyte to cool. Then add water to bring electrolyte up to correct level if necessary. The specific gravity will probably at first drop to 1.220-1.240, and will then begin to rise.
Continue the charge until the specific gravity and voltage do not rise during the last 5 hours of the charge. The cell voltage at the end of the charge should be 2.5 to 2.7, measured while the battery is still on charge. Make Cadmium tests on both positive and negatives. The positives should give a Cadmium reading of 2.4 or more. The negatives should give a reversed reading of 0.175. The tests should be made near the end of the charge, with the cell voltages at about 2.7. The Cadmium readings will tell the condition of the plates better than specific gravity readings. The Cadmium readings are especially valuable when new plates have been installed, to determine whether the new plates are, fully charged. When Cadmium readings indicate that the plates are fully charged, and specific gravity readings have not changed for five hours, the battery is fully charged. If you have put in new plates, charge for at least 96 hours.
Measure the temperature of the electrolyte occasionally, and if it should go above 110°F., either cut down the charging current, or take the battery off charge long enough to allow the electrolyte to cool below 90°F.
If the specific gravity of the electrolyte is 1.280 to 1.300 at the end of the charge, the battery is ready for testing. If the specific gravity is below or above these figures, draw off as much electrolyte as you can with the hydrometer. If the specific gravity is below 1.280, add enough 1.400 specific gravity electrolyte with the hydrometer to bring the level up to the correct height (about 1/2 inch above tops of plates). If the specific gravity is above 1.300, add a-similar amount of distilled water instead of electrolyte. If the specific gravity is not more than 15 points (.015) too low or too high, adjust as directed above. If the variation is greater than this, pour out all the electrolyte and add fresh 1.280 specific gravity electrolyte.
After adjusting the electrolyte, continue the charge until the gravity of all cells is 1.280-1.300, and there is no further change in gravity for at least two hours. Then take the battery off charge and make a final measurement of the specific gravity. Measure the temperature at the same time, and if it varies more than 10° above or below 70°, correct the hydrometer readings by adding one point (.001 sp. gr.) for each 3 degrees above 70°, and subtracting one point (.001 sp. gr.) for each 3 degrees below 70°. Be sure to wipe off any electrolyte which you spilled on the battery in adjusting the electrolyte or measuring the specific gravity. Use a rag dipped in ammonia, or baking soda solution.
Whenever you have time to do so, make a 20-minute high rate discharge test on the rebuilt battery, as described on page 266. This test will show up any defect in the battery, such as a poorly burned joint, or a missing separator, and will show if battery is low in capacity. If the test gives satisfactory results, the battery is in good condition, and ready to be put into service, after being charged again to replace the energy used by the test.