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Discussion Starter #6
Make sure you clean around the area before opening the plugs to avoid letting dirt into the battery. Also do this on a well ventilated area, hydrogen gasses escape the battery.
 

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'Fessing up some ignorance :rolleyes: because it has been, what, a couple decades since I had to top off a battery... Using distilled water, at what level do I bring up the water to in the cells? Just covering up to the top of the plates? The bottom edge of the fill hole? I remember it should be evenly filled per cell.

Steve.
 

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Personally, if I have to start topping off battery water, I’ll just chuck it away and get a sealed one.
 

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'Fessing up some ignorance :rolleyes: because it has been, what, a couple decades since I had to top off a battery... Using distilled water, at what level do I bring up the water to in the cells? Just covering up to the top of the plates? The bottom edge of the fill hole? I remember it should be evenly filled per cell.

Steve.
Yes, that's good, maybe to bottom of fill hole. Only because otherwise you will spill some water and acid when reinstalling the cap. Having said that, if you do spill some, just wash with a water hose. no biggie
 

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'Fessing up some ignorance :rolleyes: because it has been, what, a couple decades since I had to top off a battery... Using distilled water, at what level do I bring up the water to in the cells? Just covering up to the top of the plates? The bottom edge of the fill hole? I remember it should be evenly filled per cell.

Steve.
With regard to the H2O level, I just filled until the cells were covered.
 

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The idea is to never run it dry. If you do for any length of time, the battery is toast or will be shortly.
 

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'Fessing up some ignorance :rolleyes: because it has been, what, a couple decades since I had to top off a battery... Using distilled water, at what level do I bring up the water to in the cells? Just covering up to the top of the plates? The bottom edge of the fill hole? I remember it should be evenly filled per cell.

Steve.
There is a fill line on the side of the battery. kinda hard to see when its in the battery holder.
 

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This is purely subjective but in my experience the old unsealed batteries had more cranking grunt per unit volume than the more recently manufactured sealed ones, and also lasted longer. It used to be common and not too expensive to get a 60 month battery. Now the best you can do in most cases is 36 months and it costs an arm and a leg. And, the 36-month battery will definitely die at 36 months.

On water fill level, I've always filled until you get a meniscus when the water touches the bottom of the cylindrical level tubes in each cell.
 

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It should really be referred to as topping up the acid level as that's what you're doing, albeit with distilled water. Should we also check the electrolyte with a hydrometer ? I also thought that technology was long gone.
 

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... In next week's episode, we'll review the latest trends in rotary dial telephones, and our round table discussion will cover the dangers, both real and perceived, of dropping your beer can pull tab inside the can before drinking. But this week, we'll cover car battery maintenance. (Geez.)

This morning, I've done a few minutes of poking around the internet about car batteries that "still allow you to perform maintenance". I worded that deliberately, because after those few minutes I've concluded that owning a car battery that allows me to check the water level, and add water as necessary, is not necessarily a bad thing. "Maintenance free" wet cell batteries may not be as maintenance free as we'd think, they may still have ventilation provisions built into them to allow charging gasses to escape (charging gasses being hydrogen and oxygen, which when combined were previously the water inside the battery electrolyte), but may not allow provisions to replace water that is no longer inside the battery (which also leads to a shorter battery life). Note the battery electrolyte does not go away, just the water component from the electrolyte recipe, water is what may need periodic replacement.

Wet cell lead acid batteries, while charging, can cause the water in the cells to separate into hydrogen and oxygen gasses, especially in overcharging situations. Other nuggets of info:
-BE SAFE! Battery acid can blind you, burn you, and eat holes through stuff is splashes on. It's ph level is less than 2, very acidic, very nasty. The sites below offer safety info. Protect yourself and your work area.
-Your vehicle alternator doesn't necessarily "charge" your battery as much as it maintains the full charge of the battery. Think trickle charger for a battery in storage. You'd use a separate full power battery charger to charge a battery that is, for whatever reason (such as low charge from long term storage), at a below-full-charge state.
-In batteries that allow adding water, do not use tap water due to dissolved minerals and other materials that can be in the water, use only distilled water. It's a buck a gallon at the grocery store.
-Charge a battery only in a well vented area, remove all sources of spark or ignition (incl. the vehicle being shut off) to prevent explosion of venting hydrogen gas. (I was present for this event once, I never want to see it again.)
-Make sure the battery is sitting level (achieve, if needed, buy driving onto scrap wood blocks or similar), clean the top of the battery and remove the caps from the tops of the cells. The water level inside the cells needs to at least cover the top of the metal plates before charging. Differing water levels in the cells is possible, they may not all be at the same level. The electrolyte can warm and expand during charging so do not fill the cells more than just over the top of the plates prior to charging. Leave the caps loose while charging to allow hydrogen and oxygen gasses to escape. After charging, add more water as necessary. Sites I viewed suggested anywhere from 1/2 inch of water coverage above the plates, to filling with water to touch the bottom of the cell vent/fill holes (see linked video).

Video-
https://www.crownbattery.com/news/watering-your-lead-acid-battery-the-basics
https://www.concordia.ca/content/dam/concordia/services/safety/docs/EHS-DOC-146_LeadAcidBatteries.pdf

Since I have almost three seasons on my Spider's factory battery, and since this topic is fresh in my head, in the coming days I'll do this-
-Clean dirt away from the top of the battery. Make sure the top of the battery is level.
-Pull the caps and add distilled water as needed just to cover the plates a little bit.
-Put the caps back over the cells but leave them loose to vent charging gasses but keep dust and dirt out.
-Attach a battery charger per its instructions and recharge the battery to full charge.
-After the charging is complete and I've shut off and removed the charger, I'll top off the cells again as needed, either the same way shown in the video link above, or to the full water level indicator on the battery (if one exists).
-Securely reset the battery cell caps.
-Go find somewhere fun to drive!
I'll repeat this process a few times throughout the Spider-driving season, but monthly may not be a bad protocol to adopt, for sure at the start and end of the season, too.

Good topic, folks, and apparently one few of us are thinking about.

Steve.
 

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Man, this is getting serious and technical. Just fill the damn thing with destilled water and keep going. If too much added, hit it with a water hose. If battery was ok to begin with, why charge? When battery gets tired you will know. You can then stick a hydrometer in it if it makes you feel good, but you will likely find a dead cell or two, and a new battery. only time I ever test is if it somehow got very very low on water These days I have a fancy electronic tester for the cars and farm equipment., and typically it means something went haywire as I usually keep an eye on them. Most farm equipment gtes checked and refilled if needed in the fall after oil changes and similar winter preparedness. it is not rocket science folks.😃
 

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Well Jetlag, Sir, there is a whole generation of automobile owners who have never had to remove the cap from a battery, much less knew of the history of it. (They probably don't know a carburetor from a percolator coffee pot, either. Zerk fitting? What's that?) And there is almost a whole generation of older automobile owners (let's say age 50 and up, which includes me) who have pretty much forgotten about doing it- haven't had to check batteries since, uh... 19... So rather than simply say fill it and move on, I offered up some context and perspective as to why, just like our auto shop teachers, our fathers, our grandfathers did for us back when we were young-uns. See, we don't have that sort of education anymore, from family or schools, so I got all serious and technical for the young-uns of today who might just care one little iota. And, of course, for those of us who have nearly forgotten how things were done in the past.

Steve.
 
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