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Old 07-07-2010, 11:17 PM   #21
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Hmm, that's interesting. I'll have to check with my pops. He did this work back in the 80s around metro-Atlanta running battery routes for Interstate. So, depends on what was available then I guess. He did mention the plates condition, but not sure if he was as well versed in those areas. He may get what you are saying though.

Until then!

Update on the battery:

Apparently the charge was down to 1A already on the medium 6A charge rate after just 1 1/2 hours of charging. Its being left over night, but we'll see. Could this mean bad alternator? I'll drive it down to test it once I get my brakes finished tomorrow.
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Old 07-08-2010, 04:05 AM   #22
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well if you take your car into autozone or some place, they can check your alternator to see if it's functioning properly. Don't let them "test" your battery because a severely discharged battery will show up as "bad" when it's really just discharged..

As for your battery charger, you never mentioned what model it was.. The reason I'm suspect about your battery charger is because my neighbor with his something like 40 yr old 4a battery charger thought he had fully charged his battery with his charger but then was confused when he couldn't start his truck. I volunteered my charger and discovered that his battery was only at 10v.. Either get another charger or keep that charger on that battery for like another day or something. Maybe you should get a volt meter and check the voltage of the battery with nothing to attach just to make sure that it's actually charged somewhat.. One thing I've noticed with those "dial" battery chargers is that on a very discharged battery, they'll display funny things but if you leave the charger on the battery long enough it'll eventually charge the battery. Maybe you should consider charging at the lowest rate even if it takes at least two days to fully charge the battery. Remember, at 11.8V, at 2a on a 50ah battery, it'll take approximately 28 hours to charge!
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Old 07-08-2010, 09:13 AM   #23
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Okay, its a Schumacher SE-82-6.

That's all I've got for now. Its a manual/dual rate, according to the front label. We left it on 12V 6A for 18 hours, and the needle was way low. I wanted to leave it on longer, but my pops needed it. If we wind up needing to charge it again I'll try the slower method, but with this charger it appears as though it wouldn't start charging on the 12V 2A setting.
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Old 07-08-2010, 01:55 PM   #24
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Okay, its a Schumacher SE-82-6.

That's all I've got for now. Its a manual/dual rate, according to the front label. We left it on 12V 6A for 18 hours, and the needle was way low. I wanted to leave it on longer, but my pops needed it. If we wind up needing to charge it again I'll try the slower method, but with this charger it appears as though it wouldn't start charging on the 12V 2A setting.
I'd just keep trying again and if your dad keeps "needing it", then I'd suggest buying one of the battery chargers I had linked to in this thread. There ARE more advanced ones that have a desulfate and equalization, however I didn't like how they didn't have a 6a charge rate. One reason why I like the chargers with a digital display is because they actually put out an error message when they can't charge something unlike the ones with a dial on the face of them.
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Old 07-08-2010, 07:05 PM   #25
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Well, after work today I started charging it again on 12V 6A, but immediately it fell off to 1A rate and trying to attempt a charge at the 2A setting doesn't register that it is even attempting to charge.

For the summer, if its 70% discharged( or a better percentage than that), I'll take it with this battery. I'm hoping it will last until the winter time. Other areas of the car need attention in the process of restoring it still, but since I had the wheels off doing front end brake work I figured it was a chance to give it a nice long charge. I'll leave it overnight again and see where it is tomorrow when I go to put the brakes back on(rotors turned at the shop while at work, right now they are waiting for pickup).

EDIT: Perhaps I'll get the alternator tested while I'm at it.
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Old 07-08-2010, 08:28 PM   #26
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<snip>

When one of my batteries discharges to the point where it won't start a vehicle and I jump-start it, either of two things will happen:
1. I idle or drive for a few minutes and then never have a problem with the battery. It reads well above 12v and starts fine on the coldest days. I have to believe that my vehicle, on an average drive, charges it more than it discharges it and eventually completely charges it.
2. It never charges enough to start the vehicle. It is immediately dead.
That pretty much mirrors my experience over the past, oh, almost 40 years. Any car I've had with an alternator has had the capacity to charge a battery in good repair within a very few miles of driving.

When I was a kiddie-poo, I had a couple cars with GENERATORS. A typical generator put out about 20 amps or so...barely enough to run the car, the heater blower, the headlights, wipers and light the tubes in the radio. Even then, if the heater was on, the "GEN/FAN" light would glow softly (this was a Corvair). It would easily take a 40-50 mile round trip to fully charge a battery with that car. The smallest alternator I've had on any car was twice the capacity of those generators, and my '80s cars had 100 amp alternators. Modern ones are probably even more. They should have no problem charging a battery pretty quickly.
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Old 07-08-2010, 08:41 PM   #27
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That pretty much mirrors my experience over the past, oh, almost 40 years. Any car I've had with an alternator has had the capacity to charge a battery in good repair within a very few miles of driving.

When I was a kiddie-poo, I had a couple cars with GENERATORS. A typical generator put out about 20 amps or so...barely enough to run the car, the heater blower, the headlights, wipers and light the tubes in the radio. Even then, if the heater was on, the "GEN/FAN" light would glow softly (this was a Corvair). It would easily take a 40-50 mile round trip to fully charge a battery with that car. The smallest alternator I've had on any car was twice the capacity of those generators, and my '80s cars had 100 amp alternators. Modern ones are probably even more. They should have no problem charging a battery pretty quickly.
What you seem to not be aware of is that despite the "capacity" of these alternators, they're not always running at capacity. See the car's ECU and the load sensor in the alternator is what determines the rate in which the alternator outputs. In fact, one of the features of the Civic VX is that it has a less aggressive alternator output where it won't run the alternator all that much in city driving and will be more aggressive when DFCO. So it's very plausible that some auto manufacturers go on the edge and try to eek out as much fuel economy as possible for CAFE regulations by having a very non aggressive charging scheme. So while the car will work fine, the batteries will have to be replaced more often and since nobody is none the wiser, it just goes on.

How you drive is also very important since if you do lots of city driving and turn the engine off and on a lot, it's not a surprise that the battery will be more discharged than charged. Most people have found a 10% fuel economy improvement by removing the alternator belt so with this in mind, it's no surprise this is one area an auto manufacturer will look at in order to improve fuel economy.
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Old 07-08-2010, 08:58 PM   #28
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You shouldn't be adding acid to the battery just distilled water - the acid originally added to the dry battery is all the sulfuric acid its plates are chemically designed to handle and any fluid loss is actually water broken down by electrolysis into H2 and O2 from over charging or cell imbalance causing the weaker cells to over charge and loose water.

A lot of "smart" charger still run a little high on the voltage so get a really smart charger or you will end up overcharging the battery. The charging can take a day or two of slow charge (2 amps or less) to really get deep into the plates and bring the battery up to full charge if it is getting old. Although a great alternator can charge the battery up quickly for the bulk of the charging it still needs to run a really long time to get the last bit of charge into the plates.

Check your toe in with a laser pointer level or just sight it with a straw taped to a stick against your rim bead. See where the front wheels point making sure they don't diverge - they should converge with about a degree or half a degree meaning that the wheels should point together at about 500 feet ahead of the vehicle.
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Old 07-08-2010, 09:15 PM   #29
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<snip>So it's very plausible that some auto manufacturers go on the edge and try to eek out as much fuel economy as possible for CAFE regulations by having a very non aggressive charging scheme. So while the car will work fine, the batteries will have to be replaced more often and since nobody is none the wiser, it just goes on.

<snip>
Naturally, the alternator will put out as much current as is required by the car's electrical system. During the day time, on a 72 degree day, with a fully charged battery, it will be putting out just enough to keep the car running. After a jump start, on a 110 degree (or 20 below) evening, it'll be putting out quite a bit more. The voltage regulator (or ECU) will adjust the output as appropriate.

How often do batteries need to be replaced in modern cars? My perception has been that batteries last longer nowadays than in the before time. Seems that back in the '70s, if I got two years out of a battery, I was doing good. Since the '90s, I've had cars sometimes 6-7 years, and never replaced the battery.
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Old 07-08-2010, 09:18 PM   #30
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<snip>

Check your toe in with a laser pointer level or just sight it with a straw taped to a stick against your rim bead. See where the front wheels point making sure they don't diverge - they should converge with about a degree or half a degree meaning that the wheels should point together at about 500 feet ahead of the vehicle.
On a rwd car, you're right.

On a fwd car, they should be straight, or slightly toed-out.

Gotta check the Geo's alignment one of these days...it's been pulling a little to the right lately...
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