The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Flooded golf cart battery update

golf cart status after battery being flooded this past winter

It might be too early to get our hopes up, but over the last week we've been trickle charging each battery back to life and today I hooked them up for a test.

The charger acted normal and shows a steady current flow, which is a lot more than the nothing it was doing back when we first towed her home.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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As dirty as those batteries are, it's a wonder they hold a charge for very long at all. Dirty batteries will discharge across the terminals of a dirty battery.

If there are drainage holes where the batteries currently are, then disconnect all the wires and keep them clear, otherwise remove batteries to some place, clean and elevated off the ground. Make sure the battery caps are firmly in place, then using a good brush (not a wire brush) and copious amounts of clean water -- clean the batteries and the battery box. Golf cart batteries not in an oily factory shouldn't need a battery cleaning chemical. Just get them clean --top and sides.

When they are clean and dry check the electrolyte, and top off with clean water. Batteries made now don't have to have distilled water, from the instruction sheets I've read in the last ten years. If removed, put them back in the battery box and reconnect the wires, making sure the terminals and battery posts are clean using an appropriate wire brush.

Clean batteries will charge more easily and maintain there charge longer. So make it part of routine maintenance to clean them before they get in the state as shown in your photo.

Comment by Vester Thu Apr 18 21:42:50 2013

Hear, hear, Vester!

I hope that the wiring, electronics and motor have survived their dunking intact. Unless the relay that switches the power from the batteries to the motor is sealded shut, I think it would be a good idea to open and clean it before you get a short-circuit or before it gets stuck in the ON position.

I think I would get the multimeter out and check the wiring before reinstalling the batteries. At least check with your mechanic if it's safe to use the cart in this condition. It wasn't designed as a submersible.

Comment by Roland_Smith Fri Apr 19 13:59:28 2013

I wish you the best of luck with the salvage operation and completely understand the reasons behind it, but electrical motors, wiring and switches that have been submerged are not something I would count on.

Wire acts like a wick, I work on boats and have tried to cut back a few inches of a cable to get clean wire only to find the wiring under the insulation is completely black and crumbling.

Even if you do all the labor of removing the components, Having an electrical shop clean, dip and meg test the motors, replace all the wiring and switches likely exceeds what you can pick up another used golf cart for. The batteries are the most likely salvageable component from that rig!

Comment by Eric Rylander Fri Apr 19 18:52:09 2013

If the batteries were dunked up to the terminals, that is not to say that they cannot be used, but there is probably SOME irreversible damage done that will surely reduce the life of the batteries. I would be worried more about the motor though and make absolutely sure that it isn't grounded out. Trickle charging the battery from completely dead to full charge is almost a waste of time. You need a 3 stage charger to get full charge on each battery. I wish you luck!

"Check out my Survivalist Blog at the Clever Survivalist and read daily Survival Guide content."

Comment by Clever Survivalist Blog Survival Guide Sat Apr 20 11:10:55 2013

If the motor doesn't turn even when you have power there is a good change that the bearings in the motor have rusted and need replacing. Additionally the commmutator will probably need to be cleaned and the brushes need checking if they can still move and press on the commutator.

Luckily these kinds of motors are pretty simple. You should be able to find several videos about it on youtube.

Old-school golf carts use a couple of relays and big resistors for speed control. The relays might need cleaning if they're not sealed.

Newer models use a pulse-width-modulation (PWM) controller which is generally cast ("potted") in epoxy resin to make it waterproof. If you have one of those it should be allright.

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Apr 21 18:13:38 2013

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