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ContinuousWave: Small Boat Electrical
The Joy of a New Battery
|Author||Topic: The Joy of a New Battery|
posted 10-19-2010 09:38 AM ET (US)
I knew better. We all do at some point, right? How many times we've seen someone launch their watercraft and crank the battery dead because of a flooded engine, poor maintenance or simply wore out and way past the time for replacement.
My buddy from Oregon (a battery engineer!!!) arrived yesterday for five day visit, it was ~50F, Lake Michigan glass smooth so I got the Outrage ready and hooked up the battery charger just in case for a cruise.
He rolled in, dumped all his stuff in the guest room, hitched up to the 4 Runner and headed for the ramp.
You know the rest of the story, 1995 Johnson 115 starts hard anyway and the battery was kaput. Luckily there was only one boat at the ramp. So I said, "why don't you have a beer and I'll go get another battery...."
OFf to Barrett's in Spring Lake, bit the bullet on a brand new Interstate battery, back to the boat within 20 minutes, battery engineer had it out of the console, stuck in the new one, varooooom! and away we went out to a rough Lake Michigan with seas building.
That Amp meter was way up in the green indicating the new battery was loving all the juice it could get.
So, no worries or at least fewer worries regarding my single battery system.
And I don't mind paying a few more bucks to what has been for me a great source of information and help w/ my marine projects Barrett's in Spring Lake.
posted 10-19-2010 10:21 AM ET (US)
I have two battery stories for this week.
First, on Saturday, I took my boat out on the Detroit River. I went to the Wyandotte Municipal Boat Ramp to launch. After waiting my turn, I began to back down in the launch slot that should have opened next. Before I got very far, one of the launch employees whistled to stop me, and then told me to wait at the other launch stop. The fellows who launched on the side I had originally started down had a dead battery. During the time that it took me to unload my boat from the trailer, park my truck and trailer, get in boat and leave, the other fellows had attempted to start their boat with two different jump-start battery packs, removed their old battery from the boat, and were heading out to buy a replacement. Of course, while this was all going on, the boat's owner was swearing up and down that the battery was fine yesterday, when he had run the boat for two hours on the ear muffs.
Second, on Saturday, while I was out on my boat, my wife's car broke down on the side of the road. She stated that while she was driving down the road, all of the warning lights on the dash came on, and then the motor just shut down. She had the car towed to the local repair shop and left it to be repaired. On Monday, the shop jump-started the car, ran it for a while, and then called my wife and told her she could pick it up. When she asked what the problem was, they told her it could either be a bad battery or a bad alternator, but they hadn't tested either and they weren't sure. (Outstanding service!). Anyway, we picked the car up and immediately took it to Auto Zone to have the battery and the alternator tested. It turned out that the seven-year old battery was bad and the alternator was fine. We paid for the new battery and the Auto Zone employee installed it for us, free of charge.
What's interesting is that when I was at the boat ramp, I was shaking my head at the fellows with the bad battery, not believing for a second that their battery could have gone bad overnight. Yet, with my wife's car, that was exactly what had happened. Her car ran fine one day, and the next day it was dead on the side of the road.
Finally, I agree with Pete - it sure is a nice feeling have a fresh new battery in any vehicle - car or boat.
posted 10-19-2010 11:50 AM ET (US)
K Albus, you were lucky the battery lasted that long, the longest use I have ever got out of a battery is around 5 years... I change my boat batteries ever 2 years, you just can not get out and walk to the auto parts on a boat...
posted 10-19-2010 06:16 PM ET (US)
I've had 3 batteries go like this on cars out here , usually cheap ones with only a year warranty, OEM ones usually last longer but even my brand new Audi S5 battery died in just under 4 weeks and no amount of charging would it hold enough power to restart the engine.
You can tell it's just about to go as it takes just one little bit more turn to start the engine then the next day it's dead
posted 10-19-2010 07:24 PM ET (US)
I went to Dallas to pick up my new whaler 2 weeks ago. I run an Optima yellow top in my jeep. Jeep ran fine all the way to Dallas, 250 miles. Stopped several times on the way down, Jeep started great. Got the the dealership, hooked up the boat and away we went. Drove about 150 miles toward home and decided to eat at a resturant we had heard about for years. Went inside had nice meal, came out to leave and the battery in the Jeep was dead. So I try to jump from the Whaler battery, not enough juice to turn the jeep over. Go back to the resturant and they send an employee with his truck to jump me back to life, put cables on and still not enough juice to start the jeep. Removed the battery, put in the whaler battery, remember I have never started the whaler yet, just picked it up from dealer, start jeep drive home on whaler battery, stop in town and get new optima yellow top and we are good to go. Whaler to the rescue.
posted 10-19-2010 09:09 PM ET (US)
The battery in my Apple MacBook Pro died this week. It was over three years old.
In Michigan, never go into the fifth winter with the same battery.
posted 10-19-2010 09:31 PM ET (US)
In the Arizona desert, some of the locals counsel not to start a fourth season on the same battery.
I keep one of my fast lake boats out there. It's under an awning and never sees the sun unless it's on the lake, but there's no protection from the 115degF heat some days. No doubt it's the heat that kills them, even in the shade.
posted 10-22-2010 12:47 AM ET (US)
The OEM battery in my 2006 Tacoma died suddenly last year, the day before Thanksgiving. The truck started with vigor on the first turn of the key when I left the office. 25 minutes later, I stopped at the post office to collect our mail and got nothing but that ominous clicking from the solenoid when I returned to the truck.
It was so abrupt that I couldn't recognize it for what it was--a dead battery. Very odd.
posted 10-22-2010 11:44 AM ET (US)
Sheila, the same thing happened to my car yesterday. I too was surprised because there was apparently no warning that the battery was going bad. My brother had just driven the car for 20 minutes without problems, stopped for 15 minutes, then clicking when he turned the key. The battery was original and about 4 years old with ~80k miles.
Jimh, you're lucky that your MBP battery lasted 3 years. I bought one of the first 15" MBP's and had to replace batteries every 6 months or so. Once Applecare was done I sold that computer and got a new MBP. So far so good, after a year and a half.
We've had a few issues with dead batteries in the boats, but they've all been caused by operator error (leaving the battery switch on during storage). After the recent episode with my car, I'm thinking the boats should be on a more frequent battery change schedule. How often do you all replace the batteries in your boats?
posted 10-22-2010 11:45 AM ET (US)
Sounds more like a loose connection on the battery.
posted 10-22-2010 12:25 PM ET (US)
Your right on the mark.
posted 10-22-2010 12:51 PM ET (US)
In the old days I never had a battery fail outright. It always had diminishing returns or had an inability to sustain a charge but would still work at diminished capacity. After having two batteries that did the outright fail on me in recent years I was told that the new batteries have a tendency to have the wire that connects the plates to the post (either negative or positive) fail inside of the battery. Does anyone know if there is any truth to that statement? I never saw that happen on batteries manufactured prior to the 1990's. My first experience with a battery that did an outright fail (worked fine all day and then middle of the day stopped working and would not even jump) was in 1995 on my 1992 Ford pickup.
posted 10-22-2010 01:29 PM ET (US)
Kb5xg: One of the problems people have with jumping batteries is that the cables that are being used are crap(to thin/light). The heavier the cables the better it is for jumping, it carries the flow of the electric with no resistance. Another trick if the cables are to thin, touch the cars bumpers together (must be metal to metal this creates your ground) then connect both cables to the positive side of the battery (now you have two cables carrying the load to start the vehicle). This has save a lot of people I know...Good luck
posted 10-22-2010 01:44 PM ET (US)
K Albus: In you first "story", you mentioned that the boaters with a dead battery tried to jump start it with two different battery jump boxes.
Why did this not work? How big was the boat?
posted 10-22-2010 02:02 PM ET (US)
The boat was an older runabout of approximately 17 feet. The motor was an old Evinrude of approximately 1980s vintage, approximately 90 h.p. The motor would not turn over at all with the boat's own battery. After the first jump-pack was attached, the motor cranked over a few times, but would not start. After several attempts at starting, the jump-pack began to lose power. A second jump-pack was brought out, and the process was repeated. By the time I was leaving the dock, they had decided to go and buy a new battery, and had removed the old battery. I don't know what happened after that.
The boat in question was a complete wreck - full of garbage and in very poor condition. Just about everybody at the dock was very skeptical of the boat owner's claim that he had started and run the motor for a couple of hours just the day before. After the apparent sudden death of my wife's car battery, however, I was a little less skeptical about the boat owner's claim.
posted 10-22-2010 02:06 PM ET (US)
By the way, the boat in question did not appear to have any electronics on it. The motor probably could have been pull-started without any battery. This apparently did not occur to anybody at the dock.
posted 10-22-2010 02:32 PM ET (US)
My old Evinrude didn't have an alternator in it, so I was always worried about it being sufficiently charged - running the depthfinder all the time and the radios, etc. Seems I was always charging the thing before a trip out. It is heaven having a new engine that charges my battery!!
posted 10-22-2010 03:18 PM ET (US)
You would until it happens to you :)
With tempratures well over the 100's for most of the year it soon takes it's toll on cheap batteries that are under constant load from running AC etc in city traffic
posted 10-22-2010 11:34 PM ET (US)
Ever had a battery blow up while sitting in the driveway after driving on a hot day ?
posted 10-23-2010 09:57 AM ET (US)
[Moved to SMALL BOAT ELECTRICAL. In the future please begin discussions about small boat electrical items like batteries in the SMALL BOAT ELECTRICAL discussion.]
posted 10-23-2010 10:02 AM ET (US)
My battery engineer buddy just told me a story about a lead acid battery that blew up on him back in the day. That's why I have questions about installing a conventional battery in my center console.
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