Vehicle battery nostalgia

Discussion in 'Car and Van Talk' started by diymostthings, Dec 19, 2019.

  1. diymostthings

    diymostthings Well-Known Member

    Can anyone remember when it was possible to buy a vehicle battery from a well know high street store (still thriving) which came in the form of a "kit" consisting of the battery itself with no electrolyte, together with separate bottle(s) of electrolyte? You had to add the electrolyte at home and then carefully charge the battery to precise instructions.

    The idea was to ensure that your battery was "factory fresh" with no dodgy usage history prior to you buying it. (Something that still worries me today).

    The reason I ask is that my son thinks I imagined this and that I am showing the first signs of old age.

    Is he right?
  2. furious_customer

    furious_customer Screwfix Select

    I'm not old enough to personally remember this, but sealed lead-acid batteries ("maintenance free") first appeared in the mid 1970s so I bet the other types were readily avaiable all through the 80s.
  3. Dam0n

    Dam0n Screwfix Select

    Motorbike batteries until very recently still came like this.

    It's only because of people throwing acid in each others faces in London that they have now changed the law and have to sell a fully sealed battery to the public instead of an empty battery and a bottle of acid.
  4. KIAB

    KIAB Super Member

    Remember that from the 70's,& I remember going to buy 6v car batteries for a MG & Triumph.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2019
  5. rogerk101

    rogerk101 Screwfix Select

    ... and yet you can still walk into a builders supplier and buy as many 5 litre bottles of hydrochliric acid as you want. They sell it for cleaning cement off bricks. It's just as aggressive and will do as much harm to the face/body as any battery acid.
    Heat, Dam0n and KIAB like this.
  6. Dam0n

    Dam0n Screwfix Select

    Evening gobbo. Merry Christmas to you sir
  7. Yea, I used to work at Mercedes and the batteries for the smart cars came like this. That was probably around 12 years ago.
  8. candoabitofmoststuff

    candoabitofmoststuff Screwfix Select

    I bought a battery like this, direct from a Ford dealer, approx 1990. (It was definitely between 1988 -1992, because I know where I got it from, and where I lived at the time)!

  9. robertpstubbs

    robertpstubbs Screwfix Select

    In 1961 you could buy a battery filler for 6/6.

  10. soabar

    soabar Member

    Up until about the mid nineties most reputable brand batteries were supplied into wholesale dry & filled as required, with only the bargain basement stuff shipping wet.

    Acid slowly but surely started becoming harder to get due to increasing transportation expenses & dry disappeared almost overnight... Can't say I miss the smell (or the holed clothing..)!
  11. Wayners

    Wayners Screwfix Select

    What's stopping someone removing acid from a sealed battery? Strange laws. Anyone throwing that stuff is mentally Ill and should be locked up for a very long time. Crazy world
  12. FlyByNight

    FlyByNight Screwfix Select

    And what is a "Gay Christmas Wrapper" ?
  13. MGW

    MGW Screwfix Select

    I seem to remember acid came in 5 gallon plastic bottles and the batteries came "dry charged" adding acid they had enough to start car which would then charge them, however they had to be left to stand after filling before use, and people wanted a battery now, not in an hours time, so we would pre-fill and charge the batteries.

    Non dry charged would need 24 hours charge before use, a CAT dry charged battery could be 5 years old when filled, so it made sense to store dry charged. With valve regulated lead acid used today there is no option but to supply filled, I remember reading on a charger different instructions for glass mat batteries, seemed odd selection of terms as most batteries had glass mats, it was referring to valve regulated lead acid.

    It is like calling a primary cell alkaline, most AA batteries are alkaline, zinc carbon cells are alkaline, but that is not what they mean.

    First battery I ever used was a gel battery, used to heat the valves in a radio, 1950's, the flooded lead acid was not called that then, as they were all flooded, if a battery was being stored then it was fully charged then emptied but since not dried and sealed it had a limited life, around 2 years, batteries were not pure lead, there was another metal added to help stick the spongy lead to the plates think antimony, but this also made the battery gas when charging, a new process could spread the antimony thinner so less was required, this started the low maintenance battery, a lot of cheating went on, like having plates only 2/3 height so there was a load of extra liquid so it took longer before the battery failed.

    Valve regulated lead acid, sealed lead acid, and absorbed glass mat are in the main the same, just a different name, these have only just enough acid to do the job, and can be turned upside down and still used, common to find them on their side in things like stair lifts, they were used a lot as small 7 Ah and like for alarms, but today they are used for cars with stop start technology, a computer in the car works out what charge is required, and when renewing the battery computer has to be reset.
  14. Bob Rathbone

    Bob Rathbone Screwfix Select

    It is known as a 'Dry charged' battery, most of the time you just put in the dilute acid and the battery was ready to go. Last one I bought was in 1980.
  15. MGW

    MGW Screwfix Select

    Some were 'Dry charged' but not all, I remember having batteries that when filled took 24 hours to charge up before they could be used, dry charged were always sealed and you had to break the seal to fill them. The specific gravity varied as to what part of the world you were in, the hotter the country the lower it was, and you always added acid to water, never water to acid as it heats up when mixed, I remember in Algeria having the carboy in a bath of water to keep it cool when mixing.

    Charging has also changed, back in 1970's we had stage chargers, but rare, forklifts and milk floats mainly, was told the military had constant current chargers, but I never saw one, in the main it was manual control for static and voltage on vehicles, current control was only to stop charger burning out, only ever worked on one alternator with current control CAV 208 used on buses, designed to give around 20 amp output at tick over, max output limited to either 60 or 80 amps there were two models. Dynamos had current control and some even had bucking coils to remove the residual magnetism as other wise the output would not go low enough, nearly always some current limiting.

    Today the current controlled battery charger is common, I got one from Lidi, it has 0, 0.1, 0.8, 3, and 3.8 amp output and it drops to each stage as the trigger voltage is reached, the main advantage is it does not damage valve regulated lead acid (VRLA) batteries, it has three options never used the frost option, the other two are under or over 20 Ah, if over it will auto change between 0.1 and 0.8 amp to maintain and start at 3.8 amp under 20 AH it will auto charge off, 0.1 and 0.8 and start at 3 amp. Because of the defined stages I can charge a battery using an energy meter and view the progress on the PC, I get a graph of charging rates.

    What surprised me was charging of a sulphated battery, until the Lidi charger only way to monitor was manual, with the Lidi charger with the energy monitor which it is plugged into I can review what it has done, so as with many modern chargers it has safety feature which will switch it off with under or over voltage, so direct onto a sulphated battery it would not work, so cheated and put a small 7 Ah battery in parallel to allow charger to stay energised, did this with 3 or 4 batteries both VRLA and flooded and I found it could take up to 2 weeks which nothing happening, charger sat at zero output on the under 20 Ah range, then it was as if some one had flicked a switch, battery would accept charge it would it seems fully charge, then return to the 0.1 amp output for some time then start alternating zero to 0.1 amp and finally switch off, and all tests seemed to show battery was A1 again.

    Until having a energy monitor and stage battery charger if the battery had not recovered in a week it was scrapped, but one battery took over 3 weeks before it recovered, did have one which seemed to recover then voltage dropped again clearly a faulty cell, likely damaged by my trying to get it to recover previously using a normal charger.

    Oh suppose I should say although now retired and was an industrial electrician for many years before I retired, I did my apprenticeship as a motor vehicle and bridge builder, and became an auto electrician passing all the auto electrical exams before the sidewards move to industrial and commercial electrics, I will not say from extra low to low voltage as some vehicles work on 10 kV so in some ways the voltage went down when I made the sidewards move.

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