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Jethro, Go Get Those Batteries

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Today we are going to discuss “when to replace batteries” in electric sweepers/scrubbers.

I was asked to check out a walk behind scrubber. All I was told was that nothing worked. This machine was a nice “Noble-Castex 32” scrubber around five years old. When I started investigating, I was horrified at the condition of the batteries. The machine takes six, 6 volt batteries hooked in line. Let me tell you what I found.

  • The battery cable ends on two of the batteries were loose as a goose, and came off by hand.
  • The batteries had a good ½ inch layer of dust and dirt on top.
  • The battery connector was a 175 Anderson, and it was cracked.
  • After questioning the owner, I found the batteries were not charged consistently, some days 1-2 hours and other days 6-8.
  • Next, I began to check the hydrometer readings against my chart, which I will list for you.

Specific Gravity @80% F     Battery Condition
1.270                                100%
1.230                                 75%
1.190                                 50%
1.150                                 25%
1.120                                 Discharged

The batteries also would no longer take or hold a charge. It was time to replace them. There are some very good brands on the market. However, I seem to always install the Trojan J305HC “High Capacity” or the L16 at 335/350 amp hours. The L16, which I call the Jethro battery, because if you remember the Beverly Hillbillies and how strong he was, it takes a Jethro to pick them up at 125 lbs. a piece times six.

Generally, new batteries come fully charged. 8-12 hours is enough time to charge a set of fully discharged batteries.

How can this be prevented in the future?

  1. Keep cables tight at all times
  2. Remove batteries periodically and wash them down with baking soda and water. Use a wire brush to clean the terminal posts and cable connectors. Apply petroleum jelly to the posts and tighten the connectors. Dirt and corrosion will take 30% of life from a battery. At $150 to $200 a battery, replacing them is an expensive proposition.
  3. Use an automatic charge and set on “Full Charge.” Some machines have built in chargers and generally have the same settings. Never allow the batteries to remain discharged for any length of time!
  4. Check battery acid level during charging. If necessary, add only distilled water, never electrolyte.

Walk behind scrubbers are generally very similar when it comes to batteries, comparing brand to brand and model to model. The small ones are 24 volt which take four, 6 volt batteries and the larger ones are 36 volt which require six, 6 volt batteries.

Please e-mail any questions to me at mikec98423@yahoo.com

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