Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Salted Battery, Golf Cart Edition

Things have been going mostly pretty well here for now. I’m working remote, there’s plenty of stuff to keep Mom and me occupied after work, and we have dealt with most of the little things and all the bigger ones.

Mom’s electric golf cart has been acting up for a while now. First, there was the “wouldn’t run” issue that somehow cleared itself last year. But it was still giving trouble, bogging on hills and even cutting out for a few seconds at a time. So before we came up, she got on the phone with some friends. Wicked Stepfather had parked the cart in the garage for the winter, figuring it would be less moist there.

Here’s where the fun begins. They couldn’t get the thing to go at all. One of the brilliant folks, missing the power cord sticking out below the driver’s seat, put a car battery charger on one of the batteries (it has six). Here’s the fun part: they’re 8V batteries. OOPS They couldn’t get it to go (gee, I wonder why) and ended up pushing it down the hill and into its garagelet around the back of the house.

So we got there, I plugged it in to charge up. Still nothing. I figured the batteries were shot, a pretty good guess because they were the original batteries and the cart is six years old. So I lifted the seat to get the capacity and any other information that would help us get replacements… and when I shone a trouble light down the side, I saw the disconnected positive cable. Wicked Stepfather had wisely disconnected it last year to cut down on battery drain over the winter.

Ooooooookaaaaayyyyyyy. I hooked that back up, plugged the charger in, and the cart rewarded us with motion, hooray! But it was still bogging and cutting out. The battery that had been abused with a car charger had boiled out most of its water, so we added about a quart to get it back up to scratch. That helped with the cutting-out part, but not completely, and it was still bogging on hills.

Out with the old…
So since the Sam’s in Johnson City (about 50 miles away) carried them, we decided to add that to Mom’s list of stuff. Six batteries, $100 apiece. Yay. We got them home, and I brought the cart up top so we only had to carry the batteries 10 feet or so. These suckers weigh about 50 lbs (22-23kg) apiece, so I had a good time getting the oldies out of the cart. But with them out of the way, Mom took the other end of each battery and helped me get them into position.

This is when the next thing happened: the new batteries have their terminals spaced closer together than the old ones. That means there was about an inch more distance between terminals on adjacent batteries. Since they’re connected in series (six 8V batteries = 48V), and the connecting cables had little to no slack, they were about an inch too short. The long one, connecting the two rows, was okay, so we just needed four short cables.

Undaunted, we called Lowe’s. They had 18-inch (450mm) battery cables for riding lawn mowers and ring terminals. Since half the length would be more than sufficient, I figured to cut the cables in two and make four out of two. It turned out the cables were about half as thick as the originals, so I bought a second pair and doubled them up.

Double, double, less chance for trouble?
Wicked Stepfather has a little workbench space in the storage room behind where the cart goes. He didn’t have a crimp tool that would handle 4-gauge terminals, but he had a bench vise and that was sufficient. It didn’t take long to cut, strip, and crimp them all. I brought them back upstairs and made the connections.

Finally, it was time to plug it in to charge. I was glad the cart was outside, just in case something caught fire. Fortunately, that wasn’t an issue. So yesterday, I took it on a shakedown cruise. It pulled the hills without any problem, never cut out, and is working just fine in general. After the cruise, I touched the cables—not even slightly warm.

So that pretty much wraps up all the maintenance kind of stuff that Mom couldn’t handle on her own. The lawn mower started on the second pull after two years, which makes me think Wicked Stepfather put preservative in the gas. We made pizza yesterday and had guests over, and that went well.

Looks like I’ll be going back to the manor for a few days next weekend. I’ll come back Monday (since I took the second half of June for vacation), spend maybe another week here, then Mom will spread her wings or something like that. Maybe she’s flying up north or something. I’ll figure it out. I miss the wife, Charlie, and Mason (and DD, who has been married two weeks now), but not much of anything else.

2 comments:

  1. What a busy life you've been leading!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Helen, it's not too bad. I didn't have a commute, so I had more time to rest and relax in between "stuff." I'm home now, heading back up to Mom's tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete

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