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Dead Battery

Discussion in 'Catalina 310' started by SawyerCurt, May 25, 2018. Add this thread to a FAQ

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  1. SawyerCurt

    SawyerCurt

    Joined Dec 16, 2011
    146 posts, 14 likes
    Catalina 310
    US Atlantic Highlands
    I am not a battery / electronics person.

    I had no issues over the winter with my (I assume) 4D batteries, but once I launched this season I came back a week later (lots of rain in the NE) and Battery #2 was in the red.


    I ran the engine for 30 min and then left (more rain), and the next weekend Battery #2 was in the red. I ran the engine for over an hour, and while it looked initially like it was charged up, the needle dropped and dropped until it was back in the red. So I have 2 questions. First, I have never put water in these because they clearly say not to open.


    First, should I have been ignoring this warning and instead opening and putting water in them??

    Second, is 17 years essentially end-of-life for these? I assume they are the original batteries.

    Third, I don't know that I am up for a major battery replacement at this point. I think I'd rather just drop another 4D in there, and I think I've seen recommendations as to brands in the forum. Is there any reason why not to just drop in a replacement that outweighs a full battery replacement?

    If these questions have already been answered, just tell me to RTFM (or forum) and I'll look for the answers. But I did a quick search and found one thread that sort of addressed #3 and maybe #2, but not #1.

    Again, I am not a battery or electronics person.
     


  2. Bill Roosa

    Bill Roosa

    Joined Jun 6, 2006
    6,965 posts, 140 likes
    Hunter 40.5
    US Harrington Harbor North, MD
    Charge the batteries, disconnect the #2 ground and grab your volt meter. Immediatly after charging measure the voltage. wait 15 minutes and measure again. A slight drop to normal resting voltage is normal. a drop below that is a clear indication of an internal short and the battery is toast. If both are the same age then it is probably time to change that one too but you appear to have the batteries electrically separated so if it goes it will not take the new one with it. You can replace a single battery with the same size (volts and AH capacity)
     


  3. Don S/V ILLusion

    Don S/V ILLusion

    Joined Sep 25, 2008
    4,989 posts, 240 likes
    Alden 50
    US Sarasota, Florida
    If the batteries are actually 17 years old, that might be a world's record! Start shopping for new ones asap.

    And definitely don't just "drop a new one in". You will kill it quickly if you connect it to those relics.
     


    peter_ms and Alansails like this.
  4. JK_Boston_Catalina310

    JK_Boston_Catalina310

    Joined Nov 18, 2010
    1,934 posts, 70 likes
    Catalina 310
    US Hingham, MA
    Yes these look like 4D from the pictures. You can do some testing to see if these are dead but if you had these for more than 5 years it may not be worth it.

    If it was my boat, I would pull these two batteries, bring them to a metal recycler (probably get $60-100 each for the lead in your area as opposed to the core fee). Then go to Sam's club and get 4 of the Duracell ECG2 batteries. Then install these batteries in series, two 6 volts tied together to make a 12 volt battery. It wouldn't be the full upgrade like myself and others have done but it would be relatively easy and would get you running with two banks better than you have had before.

    By the way, running your engine for a half hour to hour probably doesn't do too much. With the stock alternator setup you are lucky to see more than 30 amps at idle speed per hour. So if you are below 50 state of charge on those batteries (probably 180 Ah total when new) they are down around 60-80 Ah. You only put 15-30 amps back in. So you will still have a low state of charge. Might be time to add some solar. Let me know if you need a hand designing something.
     


    Alansails likes this.
  5. LeslieTroyer

    LeslieTroyer

    Joined May 20, 2016
    1,493 posts, 457 likes
    Catalina 36 MK1
    US Everett, WA


    peter_ms and Alansails like this.
  6. Benny17441

    Benny17441

    Joined May 24, 2004
    5,341 posts, 299 likes
    CC 30
    US South Florida
    Based on your statement of no issues over the winter but now battery #2 is the red and your observation that the needle dropped quite rapidly into the red after an hour's charge I would think there is more than a fair chance that the battery is toast. If in addition that battery is 17 years I would say it could be a miracle if that battery is not toast. Although the recommendation is that batteries in a bank be of the same type and age you may replace a single battery with the understanding that the older batteries will hamper the performance of the new one and that you run the risk that when one of the older batteries go bad that it may damage the new one. If you decide to do so just get the cheapest battery that you can find. In helping you make the decision whether to replace a single battery you could have the remaining batteries tested to see in what kind of condition they are and what kind of capacity they have remaining. If you feel you could get 1 or 2 years use of the bank it may be worth it just to replace one. The other major consideration is the type of sailing, if you are going on extended trips or passage making then you would need new batteries.
     


  7. 2 OLD PIRATES

    2 OLD PIRATES

    Joined May 2, 2012
    173 posts, 2 likes
    Catalina 310
    Ca Toronto
    I've got the same batteries. There 2010 and on a yearly bases, on haul-out, I top up the water and charge. It seems to keep them stable. I'm up here in Canada (great lakes ) so I keep my fingers crossed each spring. I was also told that it was good to take the cables off also.
    Cheers
    2 OLD PIRATES
     


  8. JK_Boston_Catalina310

    JK_Boston_Catalina310

    Joined Nov 18, 2010
    1,934 posts, 70 likes
    Catalina 310
    US Hingham, MA
    The factory setup on this boat is that each of those batteries are connected as a separate bank through at Perko 1/2/both/off switch. So unless he uses the both selection all the time it's not an issue.
     


  9. JK_Boston_Catalina310

    JK_Boston_Catalina310

    Joined Nov 18, 2010
    1,934 posts, 70 likes
    Catalina 310
    US Hingham, MA
    Pirates,

    I highly recommend you read Mainesail's article on what is a deep cycle battery on Marine How To. These large 4Ds are really made to start heavy equipment and trucks. So the lead is thinner and the amp hour capacity is much less for similar weight of actual deep cycle batteries. Plus they are heavy as hell.
     


  10. seadaddler

    seadaddler

    Joined Dec 19, 2006
    5,328 posts, 109 likes
    Hunter 36
    US Punta Gorda
    Sounds like you need to replace but a hour running engine is not very good and get rid of those monster heavy batteries and all new 4 -6 volt batteries.
    I changed my 2-4 D to 4-6 volt and added solar and love it all.
    Nick
     


  11. SawyerCurt

    SawyerCurt

    Joined Dec 16, 2011
    146 posts, 14 likes
    Catalina 310
    US Atlantic Highlands
    Thanks, everyone. It sounds like I should just go ahead and replace everything. Sigh. And Jesse, I only put the switch to "All" when I'm running the engine...I know there was just an article about why it is a bad idea to do this, but I've been alternating years - Using #1 to start and #2 for the house, then the next year using #2 to start and #1 for the house. I've had the boat for 4 years, and I have no idea if the PO ever replaced them or if they are original. I have to remove the crossbars holding them in to see the label.
     


  12. SawyerCurt

    SawyerCurt

    Joined Dec 16, 2011
    146 posts, 14 likes
    Catalina 310
    US Atlantic Highlands
    Jesse, I think you wrote an article for your blog or Mainsheet about replacing your batteries...I'll go read that tomorrow when we're expecting rain all day...
     


    JK_Boston_Catalina310 likes this.
  13. marchem

    marchem

    Joined Nov 16, 2012
    605 posts, 54 likes
    Catalina 310, 2000, #31
    US Santa Cruz
    I second replacing both 4Ds with GC2s (4 total). They fit almost exactly the same space, cost less, are true deep cycle batteries, have more capacity, are much easier to move around. No need to do the rewiring now, although it might be something to think about.

    No Sams Club around here, so I bought mine at Costco (Interstate batteries). Something like $80 a piece for them.
     


    Alansails likes this.
  14. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    5,166 posts, 1,642 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    Curt.. If they truly are 17 years old, then they have served the boat well and owe nothing.
    Now is a good time to consider what you need and how you use the boat.
    Are you a:
    1. Out on the hook for weeks at a time rely on the batteries to keep your phone/lights/electrical systems going during the whole adventure? Then you need a great big battery package and efficient electrical recharging systems.
    2. Day sailing, a bit of racing, and find the marina at night sailors can do with a minimal system maybe even a single battery just to get the motor going. Lighten the weight on the boat and go further and faster under sail.
    For certain we are not getting younger, and the idea even the thought of trying to get one let alone two of those big batteries out of your boat hurts my back. The 4 Golf Cart deep cycle multi battery 400 amp hour systems could be a replacement. So could one or two of the true deep cycle 12 volt batteries serve your needs. It is all about deciding what those needs are.
     


  15. FastOlson

    FastOlson

    Joined Apr 8, 2010
    930 posts, 81 likes
    Ericson Yachts Olson 34
    US Portland OR
    One note about battery life -
    Many owners of all kinds of boats say that they get 5 years out of a battery, and quite a few report more than that. We got 9 years out of our previous pair of Trojan GC batteries that comprise our house bank. Our emergency bank, a 12 volt Optima, is over 10 years old.
    We leave the charger on all the time we are at our dock, about 10 months a year.
    I have heard of Rolls batteries going as long as 19 years, but then they cost a lot more and usually need to have the mounting box enlarged - often a challenging thing for production boats.
    One caveat about replacing a 4D: carefully measure for the new box and whether the height you need is available for a taller GC ("golf cart") format battery case. They are a true deep cycle battery and are a great upgrade, but often a stock boat interior was designed around the shape of a 4D. :(
     


  16. jeepbluetj

    jeepbluetj

    Joined Jan 18, 2016
    427 posts, 117 likes
    Catalina 30
    US Dana Point
    Definitely go for the golf car batteries.
    1. They're better
    2. They're cheaper
    3. Your back will thank you, since they're smaller.

    You will need to procure two short cables for the series jumper.
     


  17. Benny17441

    Benny17441

    Joined May 24, 2004
    5,341 posts, 299 likes
    CC 30
    US South Florida
    Hard to tell what the original factory set up might be on an individual production boat; they mostly come with a battery switch and a single battery and rely on the commissioning dealer to install a setup of the buyer's choosing. The problem with an old bank is that their finite number of charge/discharge cycles will be on the short end and their capacity to store power will be diminished. Undoubtedly having banks of different ages and condition will result at some point in time on the increasing frequency of having to combine both banks. Someone may work around the negatives to squeeze the last useful life of all the batteries and others may consider it a hassle and have the budget to replace all batteries at once. A cruiser may not have the luxury of dealing with weak batteries while a daysailor may not even notice some of his batteries are weak. The secret is knowing how batteries work and what your needs are and doing the best thing for you and your boat.
     


  18. Benny17441

    Benny17441

    Joined May 24, 2004
    5,341 posts, 299 likes
    CC 30
    US South Florida

    Sawyer the two separate banks system is not the most efficient setup but it provides emergency back-up and redundancy so it is widely utilized. The recommendation that the use of the banks be alternated is so that both banks will be used up at approximately the same rate and the batteries be kept at approximately the same condition. Many of us will alternate the banks on each and every outing which might be unnecessary but perhaps easier to keep track of than if we were to alternate every few weeks. On the other hand alternating the use of batteries on a yearly basis, although most simple, seems to defeat the purpose as at given points you will have a battery 1 year older than the other and that may not make a difference at the beginning but it is sure to make one in the final years of their useful life. On the average battery one year is a big percentage of their life.
     


  19. SawyerCurt

    SawyerCurt

    Joined Dec 16, 2011
    146 posts, 14 likes
    Catalina 310
    US Atlantic Highlands
    We day sail and do a few trips a year where we sail somewhere, spend the night, and sail back. We we ocassionally sleep on the boat overnight in the marina just for fun. I'm on a mooring, so the only time my charger is plugged in is when I'm on the hard for the winter, and then only when I'm on the boat doing work as the harbor doesn't permit unattended boats to be plugged in.
     


  20. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    5,166 posts, 1,642 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    Ok. Do you have solar? If not would be worth investigating.
    I elected to go with 2 true deep cycle 12volt 135 amp hour batteries. That gives me two identical batteries. It gives me some options. Cost was about 150 a piece and 65 pounds. So I can lift and move them.
    http://www.dynobattery.com/products/sweeper-and-aerial-lifts/30tmx.php
    They have been a good fit for the past 2 years.
    Keep your options open.
     



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