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Battery problems/questions?

Discussion in 'Catalina 310' started by marchem, Sep 5, 2016. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. marchem

    marchem

    Joined Nov 16, 2012
    487 posts, 29 likes
    Catalina 310, 2000, #31
    US Santa Cruz, CA Santa Cruz
    2000 C310, hull #31. 2, 4D batteries (stock configuration), no idea how old they are. Promariner ProNautic 30A charger that I installed 8 months ago. All of the battery wiring looks like stock, except six or so months ago I rewired the negative side with two busbars, Victron shunt (on A), temp sensor for the ProNautic, new heavy duty lugs, properly crimped, and some new 1/0 cable (done per Maine Sail's techniques). Rewiring the positive side is on the list.

    Because we keep things in the frig and are at a slip I've got the charger running almost all the time (reefer is 12V only). I opened things up today to check the water level in the batteries and discovered that there was a light layer of corrosion on almost all the exposed metal. I'm guessing the batteries are offgassing some sulfuric acid fumes, since hydrogen gas shouldn't cause corrosion. The water level was down in all the cells, but not drastically low. The specific gravity of the cells were all between 1.265 and 1.3, so no dead cells.

    I'm wondering if having the frig drawing current is confusing the charger, and causing it to overcharge the batteries, leading to excessive acid release. I've been thinking of upgrading to a large house bank of 6V batteries, but now I'm worried that they too will suffer from whatever is going on here. Any thoughts on what's happening, and if I should worry and do something to fix it?
     


  2. JK_Boston_Catalina310

    JK_Boston_Catalina310

    Joined Nov 18, 2010
    1,850 posts, 42 likes
    Catalina 310
    US Hingham, MA
    The fridge shouldn't be an issue. We ran ours nonstop at the dock for almost 2 years.

    How are the batteries performing?
     


  3. marchem

    marchem

    Joined Nov 16, 2012
    487 posts, 29 likes
    Catalina 310, 2000, #31
    US Santa Cruz, CA Santa Cruz
    The hydrometer shows all the cells as ok. We don't spend long times away from the dock, so I don't really know how the batteries would do. I guess I could leave the charger off with the reefer on for a few days, and see what happens. The Victron monitor will track voltage and amps used. The previous charger was the original dumb one, and routinely boiled the batteries. I would hope the ProNautic would be kinder, but it does run at 14.4V for 40 minutes every time I turn it on.

    This makes me think that the Balmar battery monitor would be very useful.
     


  4. Franklin

    Franklin

    Joined Jul 20, 2005
    2,300 posts, 64 likes
    Hunter 376
    US Out there somewhere. Kemah, Tx
    I lived many years tied to a dock with a few different types of chargers always on. I did have trouble with one of the smart chargers but they don't make that one anymore. I currently use TrueCharger2 40amp and it worked well for about 3 years with my trojan batteries before I left for anchoring. The batteries have to gas some orelse the plates will get covered with stuff and not work well.
     


  5. marchem

    marchem

    Joined Nov 16, 2012
    487 posts, 29 likes
    Catalina 310, 2000, #31
    US Santa Cruz, CA Santa Cruz
    I agree that there should be some gas produced, but normally it's hydrogen, which shouldn't cause corrosion of the metal. That's why I'm pretty sure it's sulfuric acid boiling/fuming out.
     


  6. Franklin

    Franklin

    Joined Jul 20, 2005
    2,300 posts, 64 likes
    Hunter 376
    US Out there somewhere. Kemah, Tx


  7. marchem

    marchem

    Joined Nov 16, 2012
    487 posts, 29 likes
    Catalina 310, 2000, #31
    US Santa Cruz, CA Santa Cruz
    Batteries.JPG Here's a picture of the corrosion. The stainless nuts on the battery posts were all new 6 months ago. (I haven't rebuilt the hot side yet.) I also added about a quart of water to the two batteries yesterday. That seems like an awful lot to me. I'm worried that the charger is over charging, although I don't know why. I'm hesitant to upgrade the batteries until I know I won't have the same problem with new ones (probably 4 GC-2 6V, still deciding if I want to use all 4 of them for the house with a new 27 for "starting", or keep them wired as is).
     


  8. JK_Boston_Catalina310

    JK_Boston_Catalina310

    Joined Nov 18, 2010
    1,850 posts, 42 likes
    Catalina 310
    US Hingham, MA
    Here is what I find most interesting about the picture, the corrosion on the battery terminals seems far more sever then the corrosion on the grounding buss in the picture. What are the relative ages of the buss vs. the nuts on the batteries?

    My first thought might be cheap Chinese stainless steel on the washers and nuts, where did you get them?
     


  9. marchem

    marchem

    Joined Nov 16, 2012
    487 posts, 29 likes
    Catalina 310, 2000, #31
    US Santa Cruz, CA Santa Cruz
    I'm pretty sure I replaced everything (except the battery clamps) at the same time. Can't remember where I got the nuts for the battery terminals; the buss nuts came with them (Blue Sea). Of course the buss is farther away. All of the new crimped terminals (negative side only) look about the same-not as bad as the nuts, however.
     


  10. Maine Sail

    Maine Sail Moderator

    Joined Feb 6, 1998
    10,431 posts, 354 likes
    Canadian Sailcraft 36T
    US Casco Bay, ME
    Your batteries are likely shot. You will need to determine at which point they start gassing by opening up the cells and looking in with a flashlight (wearing eye protection). Use the custom settings menu of the charger and start at 13.6V and re-program & work your way up to 14.4V +. If they begin gassing/bubbling robustly below about 14.3V then the batteries are the problem. The other problem could be high shore side loads bumping the charger back to an absorption cycle, or faulty dock power that blacks-out and regularly re-boots the charger. I have boat loads of those chargers out there without corrosion issues & many of them are set to 14.8V for absorption.

    Any time you do work on batteries a terminal protection grease or spray should be used on the terminals, lugs and busbars etc.. That said I suspect it is your batteries that are the issue..

    One of the safest solutions for shore side charging, to avoid inadvertent bumps back to absorption, is to program the charger to not exceed 13.4V by using the custom menu and setting both absorption & float to 13.4V..
     


  11. KZW

    KZW

    Joined May 17, 2014
    524 posts, 29 likes
    Catalina 310 #307
    US Bluewater Bay, FL
    How long has it been since you last checked the batteries? A quart of water is a lot. If the batteries are overcharging you will vent two things:
    - Sulfuric Acid fumes, perhaps accounting for the corrosion on the terminal fasteners
    - Hydrogen. Trap the hydrogen in a small space, add a spark, and you can have a Hindenburg disaster! The flash burn can back up into the battery, resulting in an explosion, pending the condition of the vents in the caps.
    In my boat, a year ago, with the original dumb battery charger, the 4D batteries when from full of water to totally dry in just two weeks. I replaced the charger with a computer charger, and replaced the batteries with four 6V golf cart batteries. I believe JK has a similar experience more than a year ago.
     


  12. marchem

    marchem

    Joined Nov 16, 2012
    487 posts, 29 likes
    Catalina 310, 2000, #31
    US Santa Cruz, CA Santa Cruz
    Thanks! I should have mentioned that when we got the boat a year ago it had the original dumb charger. The PO didn't leave it running, and I discovered why when I did and discovered the batteries boiling and hot! So I'm not surprised they are toast. I set the charger to 13.4 V, hopefully that will help until I can get new batteries and wiring installed.

    You'd think I would have known to put some spray or grease on the exposed metal. You can be sure I will with the new parts, and after cleaning these up.
     


  13. marchem

    marchem

    Joined Nov 16, 2012
    487 posts, 29 likes
    Catalina 310, 2000, #31
    US Santa Cruz, CA Santa Cruz
    I've read about both your and JK's battery upgrades, and will be doing something similar for my batteries, now sooner than later! Still trying to decide if I should arrange them as 2x2 banks, or a 4x1 bank and add a 27/24 for bank 2. I did replace the original charger just after we got the boat when I discovered it boiling the batteries.
     


  14. sailnewbie

    sailnewbie

    Joined Feb 13, 2016
    551 posts, 41 likes
    macgreggor venture 224
    us athens ohio ohio river
    12 volt batteries are meant to be at 12volt unless there drawn below that then a charge is in order, i know my charger puts out nearly 14 volts which is great but a constent 14 for long periods is going to cause an over heat and evaporate the water
     


  15. paulj

    paulj

    Joined Mar 16, 2007
    1,215 posts, 10 likes
    Catalina 310
    US Anacortes,Wa
    My new batteries, Aug 2015.

    paulj
    :hook2:
     

    Attached Files:



  16. marchem

    marchem

    Joined Nov 16, 2012
    487 posts, 29 likes
    Catalina 310, 2000, #31
    US Santa Cruz, CA Santa Cruz
    Paulj, it looks like you've wired the 4 6V batteries as bank 1, with a separate 12V bank 2. Your battery orientation isn't what Maine Sail suggests is optimum (http://www.pbase.com/mainecruising/flooded_battery_orientation). Maybe not a big deal, but did you consider orientating the 6V batteries the other way? Looking at KZW's batteries his are also bow/stern, rather than port/starboard.
     


  17. paulj

    paulj

    Joined Mar 16, 2007
    1,215 posts, 10 likes
    Catalina 310
    US Anacortes,Wa
    Rob Franks
    Well now there is a picture on........ how not to have your batteries orientation.

    I had a 50 % chance of understanding on how to place the batteries...but I did get the 12 volts:plus:.

    paulj
    :hook2:
     


  18. marchem

    marchem

    Joined Nov 16, 2012
    487 posts, 29 likes
    Catalina 310, 2000, #31
    US Santa Cruz, CA Santa Cruz
    As long as you don't heel the boat it won't matter!! It's certainly easier to get them to fit your way, and Catalina Yachts installed the original 4Ds the wrong way too. And I agree, 12 V is much better than 6, 18, or 24!
     


  19. marchem

    marchem

    Joined Nov 16, 2012
    487 posts, 29 likes
    Catalina 310, 2000, #31
    US Santa Cruz, CA Santa Cruz
    Maine Sail, I still haven't done my battery/wiring upgrade, but I keep getting closer. While thinking about this, in the case of being plugged in with the reefer running most of the time, I was wondering if adding a 12V AC/DC power supply to run the reefer at the dock, rather than using the batteries and charger, would solve the problem of bumping the charger back to absorption? I worry that once I get new batteries (4xGC2 is the plan) running the charger at 13.4 V all the time will be tough on the new batteries. Or am I just overthinking this, as I am prone to do?
     


  20. Lisa

    Lisa

    Joined Oct 12, 2017
    70 posts, 19 likes
    Catalina 310
    323 US Middle River, Maryland Middle River, Md
    Interesting reading here, watching this closely as having our system checked and upgraded is on the list of things to do over the winter down time. Hoping to find someone qualified locally that can do the work, as its really not my bag of tricks. And the more I read the less I'm even interested in doing this myself.

    Our fridge is on all the time and I noticed that when we got the boat a few weeks ago that the battery charger switch on the panel was off. When we left the boat last Sunday I had turned it on. Now you guys have me paranoid my batteries are boiling over in my boat with the stock charger. We had a cabelas brand marine charger on our last boat, was supposed to be a somewhat smart charger, we left that on all the time and had no problems over winter or all year. You know the first thing I'm gonna do when I get to the boat tomorrow is check my batteries.

    Not to highjack the thread, but... We are having the boat hauled this year for the winter, what is the best thing to do with the batteries? Kinda thinking bring em home and put them in the basement with a trickle charger? I plug my motorcycle in with a battery tender over the winter and that seems to work ;-) Last year our boat stayed in the water plugged in with the Cabela's smart charger. The batteries were older and both needed replacing in the spring. The batteries in our 310 were new this past july, so I'd kinda like to take care of them.

    Mike
     



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