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Old 09-01-2006, 04:53   #1
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"Gelling like a Felon"

This past Sunday, I spent part of the day changing out the batteries aboard my 26 foot sailboat. The boat is on the water, which made for a some what chilly days’ work. Saturday would’ve been a better day for the work, but I gave up working on the Sabbath some time ago. What I thought was interesting, was the fact that I was putting the gel cell batteries back in the boat that I had bought for her back in 1994 when I purchased her. The batteries are roughly eleven years old!!

A few Sundays ago, I took a friend of mine that attends the same Seventh Day Baptist church as I do, to the lake with me. Randy had never sailed before. I hadn’t been to my boat in awhile but I was confident that the batteries on board would crank up the inboard diesel. I have a solar panel and a trickle charger that has always worked proficiently at keeping the batteries charged up during the sometime long periods of the diesel lying still. To my disappointment, after Randy and I got on board and I tried to crank the diesel, it was obvious that both batteries were dead. In my mind, the batteries that had let me down are “new.” I had purchased the wet cell batteries to replace the gel cells with two seasons ago prior to making a trip to the Dry Tortugas. What was ironic about it was that there wasn’t anything wrong with the gel cells that were aboard. I just reasoned that since the batteries were almost eleven years old, it would probably be wise to change them out before doing an offshore trip.

Not wanting to dissappoint my friend Randy, we sailed the day without use of the diesel. It really challenged my sailing skills since my boats' slip is on the last finger pier, at the very far end of a long cove. Every now and then, I'll practice sailing back to the dock, but on the day of mention, we sailed both from, and to the dock, dropped anchor under sail,and picked up anchor under sail. Luckily, everything went perfect. I think Randy really believed that I knew what I was doing.

Back when I had I pulled the gel cells, I kept them, rather than discarding them. I have a piece of equipment that I use for a side business that has a shot battery. I charge up one of the gel cells and take it with me on jobs to jump start the bad battery on the piece of equipment. (Poor folks have poor ways) I have a trickle charger at home that I use on my motorcycle, and also with the gel cells. When they aren’t needed, I rotate them on the trickle charger. Due to a heavy side job schedule, I had gotten slack in following this process and had let one of the gel cells drain completely down. I noticed that it only took about two days to completely recharge the dead gel cell battery on the trickle charger, while it took four and a half days for the dead wet cell battery. Both batteries are approximately of the same cranking amp rating. Of course there are a lot of variables in the strengths and weaknesses of batteries, but it amazed me that an eleven year old gel cell battery is out performing a two year old wet cell battery!

When I re-installed the gel cell batteries in the boat, it took about a dozen cranking attempts before the diesel fired up. I believe it was due to the fact that it had been so long since the diesel had been cranked up, and also due to the fact of the cold air temperature. But the old gel cells proved that they still have the juice to get the job done!! Now I’m wondering,……. are these batteries going to out live me?

Ps 139:9-10

If I take the wings of the morning,and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me,and thy right hand shall hold me.
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Old 09-01-2006, 05:14   #2
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I certainly hope you outlive your batteries as they have already lived a miraculous life. It's always nice to have a winner (even if your lead acid ones weren't).
As an aside, I was told by an auto electrician never to load test gel cell batteries as it will most likely destroy them. I can't remember if he specified cranking or deep cycle but it was definitely specific to gel. Anybody have experience?


Positively, socially deviant.
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Old 09-01-2006, 10:20   #3
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since you stated that the gell cell cranked the engine 10 times looks like I would look at your solor panel and diode, if ok check the wet cells specific gravity, I have had wet cell go bad in two years due to a bad cell. As far as the gells, I think if I was going off shore I would of replaced 11 year old ones.
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Old 09-01-2006, 10:27   #4
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Hmmm, can't see why load testing would be different to any normal load Pete... but??.....
Trickle chargers can be death to batteries. Make sure you have a good trickle charger. At your time of year, I suggest the solar panels would be next to useless. simply not enough sun. Cold will be a big big enemy. If you are one of those that are up in the area were brain cells freeze over(they would have to if you were in the mind to want to live there then then chances are the extreme cold has been a major detriment to the charge of the battery. You should get a three step charger and one with temperature sensing. this will ensure correct charge at all times and temperatures to your bank.

For God so loved the world..........He didn't send a committee.
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