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QUESTION ON BATTERIES


Waldren

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I just had a 6 volt battery explode. It is a first for me. I am 72 and been around automobiles all my life but this is a first. I'm working on my 42 Lincoln and the battery was setting on a fender cover on the front fender(hood is off). I put my slow charger on it so that I could attempt to start the motor this weekend. I heard an explosion and found the battery acid all over my garage washer and dryer and the motor,floor a real mess. Any idea what would cause this. I was on 6 volt charge the battery is about a year old from Sams Club. Lee Waldren Fort Myers,Fl.

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Over the years I have had 2 explode (both 12v) The first one had sat on a concrete floor for a month at the body shop. It was put in the car while still in the booth so we could pull it out (FRESH paint) The moment I hit the key BOOM! The second was as yours was, slow charger and again, when I hit the key BOOM! Acid squirted out from the gaps and was all over the new paint and newly painted engine.

I think it was a buildup of the hydrogen gas from possibly over charging or in the my 1st example, a defect like shorted cells inside that ignited the hydrogen. It was a horrible mess.

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Thankfully, our explosion happened inside the battery box of a BIG truck. We have noticed in the past that with Big truck batteries (4 in each unit in most cases) a shorted battery in the group will suck the energy out of the other 3. This shorted battery is usually very hot to the touch. If we have a no-start truck situation, we will unhook the shorted battery from the group, jump the engine, and after some road use, the other 3 batteries will charge up and be fine.

In the case of our explosion, a truck would not start one morning. Upon opening the box up, we had one in the group that had blown the whole side out of the battery. After replacing with another used battery, everything was fine and is still in use after 5 months of usage. The driver had never heard the explosion, which I'm sure happened on the road while driving, those loud "tunes" and all, you know?

Don’t they always say when jumping batteries to hook to the dead battery first? Maybe that’s to give you a little distance from the dead/shorted battery!

Just be careful!

Wayne

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No one has mentioned removing the battery fill caps before charging. This was always a thing that I was taught. Have the battery open and make sure air is moving around it when charging. This will dissipate any large buildup of hydrogen and help prevent high pressure explosions. The hydrogen will "pop" but the battery case may not rupture, saving the acid spill issue.

I have moved to the "Optima" battery (a hi capacity gelled battery) in hopes of preventing some of these "spill" issues. ;)

They make fake antique battery shells that fit over these if you are really looking for the "correct look" for your car also.

post-67404-143138981397_thumb.jpg

Edited by 1936 D2 (see edit history)
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On the original question - I recall that someone accidentially used a 12v charger on a 6v battery and it exploded. So, I would double check that somehow a switch was in the wrong position on the charger if there was an option, or possible an incorrect charger used. But, it can still hapen with gas build-up. It does make a mess.

John

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Guest billybird

I'm a fan of the Optima Battery also { not saying they can't explode }. Also a fan of the Battery Tender. however,I never use it with the battery in the car. I've heard all my life about batteries exploding, but have never had the misfortune of it happening to me. I'm just glad you are o.k. and was not standing close by.

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Several years ago I took the 6V battery out of my 1929 Studebaker for charging overnight on the workbench. During the night I was awakened by the sound of an explosion in the attached garage. The battery exploded covering everything in battery acid with the battery case shredded into several pieces. Unfortunately, my wife’s new mini-van was parked next to the workbench and took most of the impact and battery acid. I found parts of the battery case on the roof of the mini-van. In all of my years charging batteries this is the one and only time I have had this happen, and I hope to never have it happen again. The only blessing is that the wife’s mini-van got coated in acid and not the Studebaker.

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Guest Water Jacket

Waldren -- '36 D2 and BB are right about Optima batteries, tho' they're spiral wound technology, not cheap gel batteries. I've used nothing but in my '47 Packard Super Clipper since the mid-'90s, which, as mentioned, is the only car of the '40s to retain the quality of a gear-reduction starter, and has the largest engine of the '40s, in my case, with a higher 7.5:1 compression. So if any vintage/Classic car is going to tax a six-volt battery, it's a '40s Packard Super 8, tho' i also know fellows using a six-volt Optima in Cadillac V-16s, Packard Twelves.

Can't imagine ever going back to one of those heavy, funky, wet batteries. If you're concerned about appearance, as mentioned above, there are antiquey looking camouflage shells available. Personally, i could care less what the batter looks like. The Optima leaves me all kinds of room on my battery tray so i can rest tools and lights there when i'm doing maintanence.

I'm all for authentically rebuilding, preserving the cars, but don't need a reproduction of a bulky, heavy wet cell battery. Weight is the enemy in any serious road car, and your Lincoln's engine is not a torquer, needs to be wound up in every gear, so an Optima that only weighs 19 lbs. is the way to go. If it readily cranks my car, it'll spin yours. All my A-C-D, Packard and CCCA friends use Optimas. No green fuzz/corrosion on your battery terminals, and they hold a charge like no one's business.

I trickle charge mine every five weeks or so merely

as the closer to 100% charge ANY battery is kept, the longer it lasts.

Glad Don was able to help.

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The battery tenders are the way to go. Unlike a charger which will continuously feed the battery even if it's fully charged, they tend the battery, only topping them off as necessary, never overcharging. Keep in mind these are tenders and NOT chargers, so start with a charged battery and let the tender, tend.

Certainly worth the small price. I have one on the Harley all winter as well as the Skyliner and Amphicar.

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Guest Water Jacket

Amphicar speaks the truth. Battery tenders are the way to go for any battery. But i'm tight with a buck, and have a 1940 Montgomery Ward six-volt battery charger that puts out only an amp or two on the low setting, and i monitor the battery with one of those slick little Harbor Freight & Salvage volt/ohmeters i bought for the munificent sum of $9.95 in 1997 and have yet to change that little ohmeter's original battery.

I'm all for quality, but some old car friends have me using a couple Harbor Freight & Salvage tools, but don't tell anyone.

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No one has mentioned using a battery hydrometer for testing. It is important to maintain the specific gravity in a battery's cells as well as the voltage. When an otherwise good battery gets somewhat sulphated from disuse, a charger, say a 10 volt one, will drop back as the battery charges, and eventually to a zero charging rate. That does not necessarily mean thaqt maximum charge has been acieved. It may be discovered using a hydrometer that the desired specific gravity, 1260, hasn't been reached even though the voltage may be ok. Without testing with a hydrometer, that wouldn't be determined. Armed with knowlege that the geravity needs to be elevated it can be possible to do so by discharging the battery and recharging at about a 1 amp rate. I have brought totally dead batteries back this way which would not take a charge at all at a 10 amp rate. I once gat an expensive Diehard Platinum almost new for free that was stone dead and rejected charging at all on even 5 amps until it was left for days charging at 1 amp. I used an ancient 1 amp chargfer bought at Pep Boys for one dollar back in the dark ages. (paid for itself many times over) The battery came back beautifully.

When hooking a charger to a battery one precaution is to plug the charger in last, to prevent arcing that could occurr if you hooked the charger to the posts after it was plugged in., .

Edited by Dave Henderson (see edit history)
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Guest Oldengineer

Waldren;

It happened to a OEM battery in a Dodge Spirit that I owned years ago. I drove the car into town and parked it in a pay lot. As I was walking away from the car, the lot attendant tried to start it to move it, and, the battery just exploded. Blew the whole side out of the battery. I put a new battery in the car, and, when I got it home, I loaded my bug sprayer with baking soda and water. I sprayed down the whole underhood area to kill the acid, and, then rinsed with plain water.

Regards;

Oldengineer

Edited by Oldengineer (see edit history)
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Guest John W. Cina

had one Blow up in my pu while driving down the road - blew top off battery - acid over engine compartment - big mess to cleanup.

Another time disconnecting charger - blew caps off - got acid on my beard - thought it might eat my beard off - washed quick with Baking Soda & water - lucky missed eyes...

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