Suprf1y
Suprf1y UltimaDork
9/5/18 9:16 a.m.

I don't know why I even tried but the battery in the car I'm putting back on the road has been sitting (in the car) for 15 years. It was new in 03 when I built the car, was used for about a year then it sat.

I put my basic transformer and diode charger on yesterday and after a dozen or so hours it was actually showing some current. I checked and it was at 12.5V and holding. So I put my fancy electronic charger on to see what would happen. I fully expected the charger to either set a fault code or appear to be charging with rapid amperage drop then say it's fully charged - that's what it normally does with a bad battery. I was shocked when none of those things happened, and it looks like it's charging, though very slowly. I disconnected the charger last night and ran the high beams for about 5 minutes and the voltage hit 12V and stayed there.

I don't know if this thing is going to come back or it's just teasing me. I can buy a battery, but it won't be nearly as much fun as trying to get this one to work. I'm wondering if it's happening because it was basically new, and discharged only once?

Has anybody seen anything like this before?

AngryCorvair
AngryCorvair MegaDork
9/5/18 10:05 a.m.

not exactly the same scenarios, but:

anecdotal experience #1:  when i got my '53 chevy in 1988, it had a 6V battery that was about 15 years old, it was dead and had been dead for about 5 years.  i charged it on the lowest setting for about 24 hours, and after that it would hold a charge for about 3 weeks if not driven.  i had that car for about 2 years.  i think the low output of the 6V generator helped keep it alive.

anecdotal experience #2:  when i got my '98 740iL in 2016, it had a dead battery with a 2007 stamp, so only 9 years old.  it never really sat dormant like the '53 did.  i removed it from the car and charged it on my lowest setting (i think 2A) for 36 hours.  after that, it would hold a charge for 10 days.  i had that car for less than a year, and it developed a parasitic loss (speculated to be heater blower resistor) that would kill it overnight.

good luck.

akylekoz
akylekoz Dork
9/5/18 10:20 a.m.

Drop that battery as hard as you dare to knock the junk off the plates.  

I see you have a fancy battery charger, some of those have a plate cleaning setting also.  My fancy charger will not charge a dead batteryangry, so I have to put a dumb charger on first to give it some voltage then the fancy one will take over and do its job.  It's crazy it has lots of functions, just won't charge a dead battery.

snailmont5oh
snailmont5oh Dork
9/5/18 2:56 p.m.
akylekoz said:

Drop that battery as hard as you dare to knock the junk off the plates.  

Maybe don't do that. 

Once, after installing an engine, while trying to get it to fire, I used slight impact from the back of a screwdriver handle to seat the positive terminal. When I went to crank the engine, BAM! The battery blew right the berkeley up. Acid was everywhere. Nobody was hurt, but it destroyed the paint on the new engine, and the ceramic coating on the headers. I'm careful with batteries now. 

snailmont5oh
snailmont5oh Dork
9/5/18 3:04 p.m.

I have a battery in my pickup from 1996. At one point, it wouldn't take a charge (on high) from my charger, which is just smart enough to turn itself off when a battery is fully charged, but isn't "fancy" by any means.  I put it on low (2A), and the "done" light didn't immediately light, so I figured I'd let it go until it did. It took two weeks.  After that, it held up for over two more years, and I did it again. Now, I routinely give "bad" batteries that treatment. 

I guess it's about giving the Sulfer  ions time to dissolve back into the water, which apparently takes longer when their caked onto the plates. 

Suprf1y
Suprf1y UltimaDork
9/5/18 4:16 p.m.
akylekoz said:My fancy charger will not charge a dead batteryangry, so I have to put a dumb charger on first to give it some voltage then the fancy one will take over and do its job.

Mine is the same and that's exactly what I did. I have 3 settings on the smart charger, 2A, 6A and 10A. 'll try leaving it on lowest settings and see what happens.

One of my coworkers grew up in the Soviet union, long enough ago that things like new batteries were generally unavailable. Being an electronic tech of some sort, he designed and built a special charger to bring back old batteries and he says it worked. I will see if he has any input.

I also still have a pail of battery acid that I was using when I was building limited street stock motors and the intake and exhaust manifolds needed to be 'cleaned' out. If it doesn't charge maybe I'll try putting some new acid in it

mtn
mtn MegaDork
9/7/18 10:42 p.m.

The Miata battery was new sometime this spring. I’d left an OBD reader in the port and it killed the battery, and then I didn’t drive it for a month or so, because I’ve been too busy with business travel (seriously, I normally drive 40 miles a day; I’ve been out of town so often I’ve only put 300 miles on the DD in the past month). 

 

A couple days ago I put a cheap Everstart charger on the battery. This is the real cheap Walmart one, which is apparently just advanced enough that it won’t charge a completely dead battery. 

 

Tonight I jumped the car, and drove it around for about 15 minutes. High revving too, trying to get the volts up. On a long straight, I turned it off. Well, it didn’t start again, but it did at least have enough power to click. 

 

So im going about... uh... 50? 60? car is dead, and thinking... well, gotta get it turned on again. Dumped the clutch in second. That is most interesting way I’ve burned rubber before. Call it my tribute to Burt.

 

Put it back in the garage, and this time the charger says it has enough charge to charge it. Hopefully I can drive it tomorrow. Without a jump or a push start.  

snailmont5oh
snailmont5oh Dork
9/8/18 12:40 a.m.
mtn said:  So im going about... uh... 50? 60? car is dead, and thinking... well, gotta get it turned on again. Dumped the clutch in second. That is most interesting way I’ve burned rubber before. Call it my tribute to Burt.

Next time you're in that situation, just put it in high gear. All it needs to do is turn the engine as fast as the starter would, which is pretty slow. When I'm pushing someone to start, I usually make them use third, and that's at fat-guy-pushing speed. 

frenchyd
frenchyd SuperDork
9/8/18 2:10 a.m.

In reply to Suprf1y : I’ve brought many a battery back from the dead. Here’s the process. 

Find a large glass bowl

remove the caps  

Drain the acid and water into the bowl set it aside. 

Fill the battery up with water and then gently slosh it around, dump that into a plastic bowl.  

The white stuff that comes out and settles is lead sulfate.*  Once it has settled out you can gently pour out the surface water carefully retaining the lead sulfate into a container for proper disposal later.

Now repeat the above process, water, slosh, drain, settle. Until no more lead sulfate comes out. 

By now the lead sulfate has settled completely in the bottom  of your glass bowl. Using a turkey Baster  type squeeze bulb gently sux off the acid solution  careful not to sux up any of the white lead sulfate and squeeze it into the battery cell until you reach about a half inch below the fill line. 

Once all the cells are filled to about the same level  top off with distilled  water.  If you have a battery tester check the PH level to confirm you’ve retained enough acid. If not you can buy acid at any auto parts store. 

* the lead sulfate sloughs off the lead plates settles in the bottom of the battery  and once it reaches the bottom of the plates shorts out the cells and kills the battery removing the sulfate restores life into a battery. 

** caution the lead plates are fragile handle the battery gently especially once the acid is drained. 

I’ve saved all sorts of batteries doing this including the extremely expensive ones in electric forklifts and standby stationary power plants. 

 

 

frenchyd
frenchyd SuperDork
9/8/18 2:21 a.m.
akylekoz said:

Drop that battery as hard as you dare to knock the junk off the plates.  

I see you have a fancy battery charger, some of those have a plate cleaning setting also.  My fancy charger will not charge a dead batteryangry, so I have to put a dumb charger on first to give it some voltage then the fancy one will take over and do its job.  It's crazy it has lots of functions, just won't charge a dead battery.

Please don’t do that! Oh you might get lucky once but probably not.  The lead plates in a used battery are very fragile. break one and the battery is junk. 

Read above how to restore a battery

basically you pour off the contents into a big glass bowl, let the lead sulfate settle out, rinse out the battery  with water and then  using a turkey baster take the acid from the glass bowl and fill the cells back.   Careful  not to sux any white lead sulfate. Now add distilled water and you should be good to go. 

Dont forget to clean off the terminals. Diet Coke works best. Coke is second.  Pepsi a very distant third. 

mtn
mtn MegaDork
9/8/18 2:07 p.m.
snailmont5oh said:
mtn said:  So im going about... uh... 50? 60? car is dead, and thinking... well, gotta get it turned on again. Dumped the clutch in second. That is most interesting way I’ve burned rubber before. Call it my tribute to Burt.

Next time you're in that situation, just put it in high gear. All it needs to do is turn the engine as fast as the starter would, which is pretty slow. When I'm pushing someone to start, I usually make them use third, and that's at fat-guy-pushing speed. 

My way is more fun

Curtis
Curtis UltimaDork
9/8/18 5:04 p.m.
frenchyd said:

In reply to Suprf1y : I’ve brought many a battery back from the dead. Here’s the process. 

Find a large glass bowl

remove the caps  

Drain the acid and water into the bowl set it aside. 

Fill the battery up with water and then gently slosh it around, dump that into a plastic bowl.  

The white stuff that comes out and settles is lead sulfate.*  Once it has settled out you can gently pour out the surface water carefully retaining the lead sulfate into a container for proper disposal later.

Now repeat the above process, water, slosh, drain, settle. Until no more lead sulfate comes out. 

By now the lead sulfate has settled completely in the bottom  of your glass bowl. Using a turkey Baster  type squeeze bulb gently sux off the acid solution  careful not to sux up any of the white lead sulfate and squeeze it into the battery cell until you reach about a half inch below the fill line. 

Once all the cells are filled to about the same level  top off with distilled  water.  If you have a battery tester check the PH level to confirm you’ve retained enough acid. If not you can buy acid at any auto parts store. 

* the lead sulfate sloughs off the lead plates settles in the bottom of the battery  and once it reaches the bottom of the plates shorts out the cells and kills the battery removing the sulfate restores life into a battery. 

** caution the lead plates are fragile handle the battery gently especially once the acid is drained. 

I’ve saved all sorts of batteries doing this including the extremely expensive ones in electric forklifts and standby stationary power plants. 

 

 

This is basically how a manufacturer rehabs batteries, but they physically take it apart.

You'll most likely need more acid.  Once the lead sulfate has formed, that means that some of the acid is chemically spent.  The dance is between the potential for the acid/lead reaction to make electricity.  As long as it is charged, there is saturation of electrons in the reaction and the acid doesn't attack the lead.  Once they go dead, they make lead sulfate, so some gets spent.

One of the things working against you is that the lead in a cranking battery is much like pumice so its not easy to get the crustys off the lead.  They do this so the battery can discharge lots of amperage at once; surface area.  Deep cycle batteries use smooth lead plates, so discharging them doesn't give as much real estate for lead sulfate, but also doesn't give enough burst amperage for most cranking duties.  The porous lead that gives you higher cranking amperage also likes to hold the crustys.  The smooth lead in deep cycle batteries is what allows it to discharge deeper without becoming crusty, at the expense of surface area and peak current availability.

There are also grassroots ways of blasting the lead sulfate off the plates with higher voltage, although it can end very badly.  Like exploding sulfuric acid bad.

frenchyd
frenchyd SuperDork
9/9/18 12:10 p.m.

In reply to Curtis :Well said,  as I mentioned you can buy acid at an auto parts store,best way is to test it’s PH  but whatever you do you will need water. Make sure it’s distilled water. Tap water is quick death to a battery.  

 

 

44Dwarf
44Dwarf UberDork
9/9/18 8:39 p.m.

I've rinsed out as described above and fill with water and Epsom salt mixture it seemed to work on the two LARGE equipment batteries and a small car battery I've done it on.  

2tsp of Epsom salts per quart of HOT water mix well let cool pour in battery and charge with 2 amp charger overnight.

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
9/9/18 8:45 p.m.

I have an old charger it is a non computer control one that has 2, 15, & 100 amp charge settings. What I do I hit it with 100 amp's for a couple minute then drop back to the 2 amp setting for 24-36 hours. If this does not revive it I do what frenchyd does.

Matt
Matt New Reader
9/10/18 8:06 a.m.

i have an AGM battery and found those things fall into "deep discharge" if left alone (or if i leave the key on...).  They say to store them with full charge. I left the key on in the race car for a few days and the battery was toast as far as my limited knowledge would let me believe - stone dead and won't take a charge... So i called the manufacturer, in this case Optima and their tech guy said that battery is Ok and the rehab process was to take a standard lead-acid battery and charge the both of them together in parallel, the new "fancy battery chargers" (like mine) will take the micro signal from the deeply discharged battery and thinks its garbage, not allowing it to produce current flow.  But with the other battery in line it will. they said to take the lead acid battery off after the AGM has enough charge and then let it go solo charge. It worked but the AGM got quite hot and was hissing at one point, kinda scary because i too have had one these thing blow up on me unexpectedly, spending hours in the ER. The battery was good and has been since that happened 3 years ago and i've had to do 1 more time.

as a safety note, i NEVER do ANY battery maintenance without safety glasses on. being temporarily blind once is plenty in this lifetime!!

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia Reader
9/10/18 11:02 a.m.

I gave up on Optima batteries because they would go dead and not charge up , 

Hopefully doing it in series might bring them back to life , 

How long can an  Optima sit  ( years ) and still be brought back to life ?

these are 6volt ones

thanks for the info

wspohn
wspohn Dork
9/11/18 4:01 p.m.

This sounds like a masochist's holiday, trying to ressurect a deceased battery.  Just toss that damned thing and buy a new one.  And pick up a battery tender while you are at it so it doesn't do it again.

Suprf1y
Suprf1y UltimaDork
9/11/18 4:10 p.m.

In reply to wspohn :

You should try reading the original post, but I'll save you the time.

Car has been sitting 15 years with a battery that was a year old at the time of storage.

There was no thought of not replacing the battery. Charger was hooked up just to see what happened.

Battery actually took a charge.

Posted thread to see if anybody else had done the same and their results.

I'm resurrecting a 31 year old 3 cylinder turbo car built by Suzuki. There is already enough masochism involved in the build. No more is actually required.

 

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