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Old 8th June 2009, 22:29   #1
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Default What do You do for Upkeep of Your Vintage Car Battery?

For us who own a vintage or classic car or more of them, the problem is that these are mostly used during weekends. Cars for daily commuter use by owners are few and rare.
Most other components of the car can get acclimatised to once a week use, for the better or worse, but for the battery. It protests and cannot withstand non-use or infrequent usage. As such, most of our old cars are refitted with alternators and that saves the dynamo-like running for a good charge. Despite the alternators getting fitted, the batteries tend to wither and show tendencies of impotency.
I use my Landmaster once or twice a week, preferably during weekends, when the traffic is somewhat sparse. Sunday mornings and afternoons are the best preferred for drives. But despite my nearly 10 plus kilometers running every week, the battery does not remain in fine fettle.I have a charger that props up the battery charge once in a while. I also plan to get a cranking handle to aid starts. But for larger engines of 1500cc and so on, one must be careful while using the cranking handle that tends to give "backs" or reverse jerks. I am also told that side valve engines need more effort from the self starter/ battery for starts as compared to overhead valves or overhead camshafts.
Do give your opinions and musings on battery maintenance of your favourite cars.

Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 8th June 2009 at 22:32.
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Old 8th June 2009, 22:35   #2
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Well, as I don't have jumper cables etc. at present, I simply disconnect the battery and connect only when starting up the cars (which is atleast every weekend.)

I do check the distilled water level once in a while.

Last edited by Stanher : 8th June 2009 at 22:37.
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Old 8th June 2009, 23:38   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anjan_c2007 View Post
For us who own a vintage or classic car or more of them, the problem is that these are mostly used during weekends. Cars for daily commuter use by owners are few and rare.
Most other components of the car can get acclimatised to once a week use, for the better or worse, but for the battery. It protests and cannot withstand non-use or infrequent usage. As such, most of our old cars are refitted with alternators and that saves the dynamo-like running for a good charge. Despite the alternators getting fitted, the batteries tend to wither and show tendencies of impotency.
I use my Landmaster once or twice a week, preferably during weekends, when the traffic is somewhat sparse. Sunday mornings and afternoons are the best preferred for drives. But despite my nearly 10 plus kilometers running every week, the battery does not remain in fine fettle.I have a charger that props up the battery charge once in a while. I also plan to get a cranking handle to aid starts. But for larger engines of 1500cc and so on, one must be careful while using the cranking handle that tends to give "backs" or reverse jerks. I am also told that side valve engines need more effort from the self starter/ battery for starts as compared to overhead valves or overhead camshafts.
Do give your opinions and musings on battery maintenance of your favourite cars.
Most people tend to kill their battery by cranking it till the petrol fills up. It is a good idea to fit additional electric pump and switch it on to fill the carb and then crank. Also fit the alternator and the new maintenance free battery. Mohaan
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Old 9th June 2009, 01:20   #4
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What about battery trickle chargers and tenders? They are pretty inexpensive and available widely online. I've even seen Chinese makes on the net.
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Old 9th June 2009, 01:30   #5
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What we do is just disconnect the battery terminals or remove the battery or keep it at home. And whenever we want to start the car, get the battery from home, or just reconnect the terminals.
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Old 9th June 2009, 09:04   #6
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There is a much simpler solution. Fit an electrical cut-off switch, what was referred to as a chor switch back in the day. A toggle switch hidden discretely under the dash, just flick it and the battery is disconnected. Problem solved. Manually disconnecting the terminals every week is a chore. Of course, my case is a greater chore as I have only 2 batteries between all the cars
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Old 9th June 2009, 10:08   #7
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I would say just disconnecting the battery via the terminals or "chor switch " is not the solution.

The best bet would be to get the battery fully charged once to start with then connect a trickle charger to it when you are not using the car. This will keep the battery topped up waiting for your next trip.

Apart from this one could get an electronic fuel pump that will get the fuel to the carb for a car that has been stationery for a while. This would get you less effort wasted by the battery.

If one has put in an alternator then its a matter of just starting the car every weekend and letting it idle for say a half hour or so to fully charge the battery.

My uncle in California has a single owner Merc E300. He drove it regularly for a couple of years. From the past three years he has not driven it nor had it insured or taxed. One would see him on weekends sitting in the car with the engine running reading a paper for an hour or so.

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Old 9th June 2009, 11:25   #8
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An electric fuel pump is certainly a useful feature, barring the time bomb ticking sound. It will attract negative marking in a competition, alongwith the alternator. I use both in some cars though, practicality concerns force it.

I believe Morris 8 and Minors would come with factory fitted electric pumps. That they were less reliable than a mechanical unit is another matter altogether. I know because my Amby has it.

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If one has put in an alternator then its a matter of just starting the car every weekend and letting it idle for say a half hour or so to fully charge the battery.
Starting your car and letting it idle will serve the purpose ideally, but I do not find that practical. Besides, realistically speaking, our kind of cars either will not idle for half an hour, or may heat up by that time. Your physical presence is required for half an hour, again cumbersome. Just my two bits.
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Old 9th June 2009, 19:21   #9
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i think we could install a small inverter system so charge the battery as and when required
had seen this installed in a contessa
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Old 9th June 2009, 20:13   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karlosdeville View Post
An electric fuel pump is certainly a useful feature, barring the time bomb ticking sound. It will attract negative marking in a competition, alongwith the alternator. I use both in some cars though, practicality concerns force it.
I believe Morris 8 and Minors would come with factory fitted electric pumps. That they were less reliable than a mechanical unit is another matter altogether. I know because my Amby has it.

Starting your car and letting it idle will serve the purpose ideally, but I do not find that practical. Besides, realistically speaking, our kind of cars either will not idle for half an hour, or may heat up by that time. Your physical presence is required for half an hour, again cumbersome. Just my two bits.
I too have kept aside my Landmaster's original electric fuel pump replacing it with an electronic unit. The sound is louder than the engine sound once the fuel level is down to the finish line.Even when the ignition is put "on"the sound emanates. Otherwise there's no sound while on the move with enough of fuel in the tank.
Alternators are very essential to keep these jalopies and their batteries running.
Idling is not very practical as a solution, though unavoidable sometimes.
We must all have a domestic car battery chargers compulsorily as the messiah for the battery, I believe.

Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 9th June 2009 at 20:14.
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Old 10th June 2009, 00:16   #11
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Since a lot of people here would like to keep their cars as stock as possible battery trickle chargers and tenders are still the best. This also increases the battery life and ur always ready to go. You even get solar powered ones. Like I said they are not expensive at all. Check out these chinese ones. You have various options to charge too, solar, AA/AAA batteries, AC-DC wall adapter, etc.

Read about them here.

Cheers
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Old 10th June 2009, 19:46   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TuffRyder View Post
Since a lot of people here would like to keep their cars as stock as possible battery trickle chargers and tenders are still the best. This also increases the battery life and ur always ready to go. You even get solar powered ones. Like I said they are not expensive at all. Check out these chinese ones. You have various options to charge too, solar, AA/AAA batteries, AC-DC wall adapter, etc.

Read about them here.

Cheers
Thanks TuffRyder for the information - I saw the Chinese Solar Trickle Chargers site but do they have dealers in India to sell these products? Trickle chargers are much more practical than simple chargers, i believe unless there is an emergency or hurry.
The Chinese emergency kit comprising the torch, tow cables and jump starting wires are also quite necessary for using and moving around unscathed on these jalopies.
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Old 10th June 2009, 22:28   #13
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Anjaan: Im not sure if they have any dealers in India but you can write to them and find out. You can also place an order with them saying ur interested in a deal but would need a sample first and place an order for one or few sets.

Cheers
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Old 11th June 2009, 17:44   #14
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Originally Posted by mohaan View Post
Most people tend to kill their battery by cranking it till the petrol fills up. It is a good idea to fit additional electric pump and switch it on to fill the carb and then crank. Also fit the alternator and the new maintenance free battery. Mohaan
Exactly mohan! I do just that with my 47 Dodge. Even though my mechanical pump works, I use the electric one before cranking the starter. Even after a week of standing still she starts up in go.

Having an alternater and maintenance free battery also simplifies life to a great extent. Dont need to get hands messed up everytime you want to go for a drive, plus no more battery down problems.
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Old 16th June 2009, 00:04   #15
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Exactly mohan! I do just that with my 47 Dodge. Even though my mechanical pump works, I use the electric one before cranking the starter. Even after a week of standing still she starts up in go.

Having an alternater and maintenance free battery also simplifies life to a great extent. Dont need to get hands messed up everytime you want to go for a drive, plus no more battery down problems.
I like your practical thinking. As an owner we should just turn the key and the car should start - no messy issues. Besides you are not likely to need a battery charger but have one ready. Is your Dodge a fluid drive ? Put up a picture please. Mohaan
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