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Old 17-05-2007, 08:24   #1
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Cracks in top of house batteries???

A routine inspection of my batteries shows that one of them has developed two cracks in the top, I can see the electrolyte through the 16th inch wide by 2 inch long cracks. I don't know how they could have gotten there since they have not frozen... does anyone know if there is an adequate repair or do they need to be trashed???
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Old 17-05-2007, 08:37   #2
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Yep - you need a new battery.

Deep discharges in cold (usually freezing) weather will cause the battery to freeze, and the expansion of the electrolyte can damage the plates, separators or even crack the battery case.

Don't twist a tight battery lug back and forth, or use a screwdriver to try and pry it off. You can inadvertently crack the battery case ,or break the seal between the case and the protruding terminal. A puller is cheap, easy to use, and does the job safely.
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Old 17-05-2007, 09:37   #3
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I agree with GM, trash 'em. Go buy some AGM's and forget wets.

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Old 17-05-2007, 13:31   #4
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Hang about!. Does the battery still work???? Is it producing the Ahrs it should?? If yes, then simply reseal the top back up and get some more life from it. A good clean, ruff up with some sand paper and smear epoxy filler over it.
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Old 17-05-2007, 15:42   #5
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If the cracks are just in the TOP, and you know the batteries haven't froze, then the cracks are from stresses in the plastic casing. Either from bad casting (rare but possible) or madly mixed plastic (rare but possible) or possibly from over-tightening battery terminals or hold-downs.

If the batteries aren't terribly old, first, I'd contact the manufacturer. If the cracks are not at the terminals or under the hold-downs, so there is no question of abuse, they may be willing to make some accomodation even if the warranty is gone. There are consumer laws dealing with manufacturing defects and concealed defects which go beyond warranty tags, i.e. the Uniform Commercial Code, the Magnusson-Moss Act, etc. I think you can find mention of these on the FTC web site.
Depending on what the mfr says and how you interpret the warranty and the laws...that may be all you need to do.
But I'd also agree that a crack in the top can probably be safely patched with plastic welding (or a plastic ski bottom repair stick) or with some caulking or epoxy, after a good cleaning and some roughening. If it was in the SIDE of the case, I wouldn't try it. But on the top? Sure, why not.
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Old 17-05-2007, 16:06   #6
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A routine inspection of my batteries shows that one of them has developed two cracks in the top
Actually they are bad once you can see the swelling. Cracking means they really are bad. It's not a bad way to just field judge a propsective boat. Swelling on the cases is a sure sign they are near dead and won't hold a charge.
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Old 17-05-2007, 17:16   #7
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Nah,

I can see your point Hello, but totally dissagree. Batteries are critical components of boats. If they are cracking there, where else might you have problems?? If you want to stick with wets you can pull those POS(s) out and get some new ones for a few hundred dollars. Or, pony up and get some real batteries (Lifeline AGM) and your battery issues are over for a long time.

Just my opinion... and why.

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Old 17-05-2007, 21:55   #8
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I agree that batteries can be critical, and acid leaks can be a real danger. But, from what we've heard, we have no reason to think this is anything more than a nuisance. After all, you could take the entire top off the battery and still run it perfectly well--as long as the acid didn't spill out when you heeled.
The cracks aren't a good sign, no matter how you look at it. But absent further information--it's a rash assumption to say they indicate anything wrong with the rest of the case (which they are only "glued" to, not an integral part of the same casting) or the battery itself. Could just mean someone used the wrong hold-down clamp and did a gorilla job on it.

And, unless I missed it? There's been no mention of swelling--other than yours. We're not dealing with swollen batteries, we're dealing with a cracked battery *lid*.
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Old 17-05-2007, 23:02   #9
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All the comments are valid but don't we still need to know root cause of the crack to make a recommendation?

1/ Mishandling - torquing of the connections, dropping etc.
2/ Freezing
3/ Over charging

And while we're talking about it, it sounds like OP ihas already made the choice to change the batteries so this discussion might be moot. Seems he wants an opinion on the replacement battery.

If I had anything useful to contribute (it would be a surprise) but it might be this.

It is a good time to spend time to check cables, connectors and do a general cleanup of the battery boxes and battery area including removing corrosion and repainting. Check cables especially in low points for excessive softness which could indicate internal corrosion. Frayed cable ends and deteriorated connectors should also be replaced.

If the batteries are not secured with boxes or straps you should do that as well. I just found out our batteries are laying on a wooden platform under the deck free to slide about - That's one of my next projects to sort out.
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Old 18-05-2007, 00:39   #10
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Thanks!

Wow! You guys are great! Been out working on the boat all day here in Juneau, AK and just checked the forum... lots of good info! Here is more background... checking with the previous owner they tell me the batteries are the originals, installed when they had the boat built in 1987... doesn't seem possible but they swear it's true! There is a quad-cycle monitor onboard and a power "cleaner" unit and they were very frugal on their use of electricity. If they weren't cruising, the boat was hooked to shore power and the monitor / charger stayed on 24/7. I see what I think is some slight swelling on the sides of the cases, the cracks are not around the terminals, they radiate from the lead connections on the top that connect the cells. There are no "hold down straps" and the batteries are in their own glassed box. Only one of the 4 batteries has the cracks, it would seem that if one froze they would all have frozen. I'm suspecting that the batteries are just old but they still seem to hold a good charge as my brother just used the boat recently for a 4 day trip and had no problems with them and when they topped off the batteries last month there were no cracks. I will try patching them and expect to replace them with gels or agm's when we get to the Seattle area next month. Thanks again for the help!
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Old 18-05-2007, 04:54   #11
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I will try patching them and expect to replace them with gels or agm's when we get to the Seattle area next month.
If you do replace with AGM's or Gels you will need to readjust the whole charging sytem. Charging AGMs like a Flood battery is bad for them. The idea is a good one but you need to see if you have AGM settings for the regualtor and charger. If so then it also should be calibrated with a digital volt meter. This will make it last a lot longer.
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Old 18-05-2007, 08:00   #12
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I will try patching them and expect to replace them with gels or agm's when we get to the Seattle area next month.
Yep, I would replace them. Just go ahead and budget it. Do not get traditional gells, go AGMS. If you want a good name direct into the mfg for Lifeline, pm me and I will help. THat will be your best pricing.

As PBlais said, better plan on changing out that charger too. I doubt a 20 year old charger will support your batteries. You need a good 3 stage charger, etc. I have a Xantrex Prosine 2.0 chg/ivt and give it a very good reccomendation. Outback makes a better one but its shape is a bit squirelly for a boat. Either one is a good product.

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Old 18-05-2007, 08:41   #13
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Okay, thanks guys! Looks like I'll have to do some research on the charger that is onboard, I'm fairly certain that since there were no AGM's around 20 years ago that the charger won't have an AGM setting. It seems that you are convinced that AGM's are the way to go and I'm willing to do that. I wasn't aware of the reliability of this "new" technology. (They had to drag me kicking and screaming into the 21st century!) Thanks again, got to head down to the boat and finish the retrofit install of the new autopilot. Time to get cruising again!
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