Fill out the claim check and give it to the customer, tearing it off along the perforated lines. Fill out the battery tag, indicating after "Instructions" just what is to be done.
[Fig. 183 Front & Back of the Battery Service Card]
Make a sketch of the top of the battery in the space provided, dip the tag in the paraffine dip pot (see page 182) and tack the card on the battery. File part 3 in a standard 5 by 8 card index file. To the right of the "WORK-COSTS" table are spaces for entering the date on which the work is completed, the date the customer is notified and the date the battery goes out. These dates are useful in keeping a record of the job. When the job is finished and the rental comes in, enter the costs in the "COSTS" table, and note the date the bill was paid, in the space marked "PAID."
[Fig. 184 Rental battery card to be tied on car of customer]
File all the 5 by 8 cards (Part 3) in alphabetical order in a "dead" ticket file, in either alphabetical or numerical order. With this file you can build up an excellent mailing list of your customers. You can note how many new customers you are securing and how many customers are not coming back. The latter information is very valuable, as it enables you to find out what customers have quit, and you can go after them to get their repair business again.
When a rental is put on a card, the card shown in Fig. 184 may be tied to the car where it is easily seen. This will serve as a reminder to the customer and will help advertise your shop to those who ride in the car.
Each rental battery should have a number painted on it in large white letters, or should have attached to it at all times a lead tag on which is stamped a number to identify the battery. To keep a record of the rental batteries, a card or sheet similar to that shown in Fig. 185 may be used. Each time the rental is put on a car, a record is made of this fact on the card. Each rental battery has its own card, and reference to this card will show at once where the battery is. Each card thus gives a record of the battery. The number of the rental is also written on the Stock Card shown in Fig. 183, but the purpose of putting the number on these cards is merely to make sure that the battery is returned when the customer's battery is replaced on the car and to be able to figure out the rental cost quickly and add it to the time and material costs in repairing the customer's battery.
The Record Card shown in Fig. 183 does not help you locate any particular rental battery. For instance, suppose that rental battery No. 896 is out and you wish to know who is using it. You may, of course, look over the "Battery Tags" which are tied to the batteries which are being repaired in the shop, or you may examine the file containing the record cards, but this would take too much time. But if you refer to the rental file you can determine immediately where rental battery No. 896 is, since the cards in this file should be arranged numerically.
The rack on which rental batteries are placed should have a tag bearing the same number as the rental battery tacked to the shelf below the place provided for the battery. Each rental battery should always be placed in the same place on the shelf. You can then tell at a glance which batteries are out.
A good plan, and one which will save space, is to write the number of the rental battery on the customer's claim check, and when repairs on his own battery are completed, to set his battery in the place provided on the rental rack for the rental which he is using. When he comes in for his battery, you can tell at a glance whether his battery is ready by looking at the place where the rental he is using is normally placed on the rental rack. If a battery is there you will know that it is his battery, and that it is ready for him.
[Fig. 185 Rental Battery Stock Card]
You could, of course, look through the batteries on the "Ready Rack," but this would take more time, since the numbers of the batteries on this rack will always be different, and you would have to look through all the batteries on the "Ready Rack" before you would be able to tell whether any particular battery were ready. By putting a customer's battery in place of the rental he is using, you will have only one place to look at in order to know whether his battery is ready.
CHAPTER 13. BUSINESS METHODS. ————————-
Success in this day and age cannot be attained without a well thought-out plan of action. There is no business which does not demand some sort of system of management. The smallest business must have it, and will go to ruin without it. Hence every battery service station proprietor should see to it that his affairs are systematized — arranged according to a carefully studied method. Most men look upon "red-tape" with contempt and in the sense of a mere monotonous and meaningless routine, it merits all the contempt poured upon it. Hard, fast and iron-clad rules, which cease to be a means, and become an end, prove a hindrance rather than a help. But an intelligent method, which adapts itself to the needs of the business, is one of the most powerful instruments of business. The battery man who despises it will never do anything well. It does not matter how clever he is, how good a workman he is, how complete his knowledge of batteries, if he attempts to run his business without a plan, he will eventually come to grief.
Every battery service station proprietor is eager to build up his business, and improve the character of his trade, because this in turn means that he will be assured of larger sales to a good class of customers. And it is at once evident that there are a number of requirements that affect this question of building up a business, one of the first in importance being that of purchasing.
One of the first things with which the battery man is faced is the question of what, where, and in what quantities to purchase. The philosophy of correct purchasing consists in getting the right materials, in proper quantities, at a low price, and with as little cost for the doing of it as possible. The purchasing problem should be a most interesting and important subject to the proprietor of every service station, because the policy pursued with regard to purchasing will not only largely govern the economy of all his expenditures, except rent and payroll, but it will also control his selling policies. Goods are sold, and services rendered only because some one wants to buy. The customer's purchasing problems govern the proprietor's selling problems. To sell properly, it is necessary to meet the requirements of those who buy.
Correct purchasing is not merely a matter of "buying." The buying itself has but little to do, after all, with the question of real economy in this part of the business. The proprietor's purchasing policy should not cease when the purchase order is
[Fig. 186 Stock Record]
made out, but should continue after the goods have been delivered, received and inspected. He should see that they are properly stored, that they are put to the use intended, and that they are used efficiently. This can be accomplished to good advantage by the use of the Stock Record illustrated in Fig. 186.
When goods are received, each item should be entered on these Stock Record cards, keeping in mind always that the requirements of a "perpetual" or "going" inventory of this kind are that a separate account be kept with each kind or class of stock, and not alone with each class, but with each grade of each class.
For example, if a quantity of batteries were received, it would not suffice to have one card only for the entire quantity, unless they should happen to be all of the same type and make. It should be understood that these cards are a record of all articles coming into stock, and all articles going out of stock in the way of sales or otherwise, with an individual card for each kind, grade, style or size of stock carried on hand.
From the purchase invoices covering stock received, an entry is made in the column headed "Received", to the proper account, showing date, order number, quantity and price.
Each sales tag is used to make the entries in the columns headed "Disbursed", in which the date, tag number, quantity, price, and the balance quantity on hand are shown.
If this is done daily, for all the sales tags of the particular day, and the cards on which the "disbursed" entries were made are kept separate from the balance of the cards, it is an easy matter to arrive at the cost of all sales for each day, The advantage of having this daily information will be explained and illustrated in following paragraphs.
The Use and Abuse of Credit.
The question of the proper use of credit is closely allied with the purchasing of goods. A great many business failures can be traced directly to overexpanded credit. Any battery service station proprietor who does not place a voluntary limit on the amount of credit for which he asks is, to say the least, running a very great business risk. The moment he expands his credit to the limit, he leaves himself with no margin of safety, and a sudden change in business conditions may place him in a serious situation.
Commercial agencies usually call this condition a lack of capital. The real cause, however, is not so much lack of capital as it is too much business on credit. This does not mean that credit should not be sought; or that all business should be done on the capital actually invested in the concern. Credit is necessary to commercial life. Very few business concerns are so strong financially as to be able to do without credit.
Credit should be sought and used intelligently, and it is not a hard matter for any battery service station proprietor to keep his credit good. All that is necessary is to take a few precautions, and observe in general the principles of good business. The first requisite, of course, is to accept no more credit than the business will stand. Sometimes it is possible to secure enough credit to ruin a business. Its present condition and future prospects may appear so good as to warrant securing all the credit possible under the circumstances.
It requires courage to limit the growth and the temporary prosperity of a business by keeping down the credit accepted. It is very hard to refuse business. It is difficult not to make extensions when there is enough business in sight to pay for the extensions. But the acid test of whether or not you should extend and borrow is not the amount of business that can be done, but the amount of money that can be spared. The mere fact that you have the money or can get it does not in the least mean that it should be spent.
And the reason for this is that, in order to keep your credit good, you must meet all obligations promptly. Nothing has a more chilling effect on any business than failure to meet all indebtedness when due. As soon as additional time is requested in which to meet obligations, your credit rating begins to contract; and if, at the same time, your credit has been overexpanded the business is placed in a most difficult position. More than one concern has gone to the wall when faced with this combination.
Proper Bookkeeping Records.
The principal difficulty in this matter of the proper use of credit will lie in poor bookkeeping records, making it impossible for the proprietor to know very much about his financial position or operating condition day by day and week by week and month by month.
Many service station proprietors figure what they owe once a year only, when they inventory, and many do not keep a permanent record even then; and usually those who are neglectful in this regard are the ones who owe the most, proportionately, who do not take their discounts, and who do not progress.
The following table covers the average discounts allowed in various lines. If you study it, and find out how much it costs you to lose discounts, you will at once realize the necessity for the proper sort of bookkeeping records.
1. 1% cash, 30 days net . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12% per year 2. 2% cash, 30 days net . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24% per year 3. 3% cash, 30 days net . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36% per year 4. 5% cash, 30 days net . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60% per year 5. 8% cash, 30 days net . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96% per year 6. 1% 10 days, 30 days net. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18% per year 7. 2% 10 days, 30 days net. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36% per year 8. 3% 10 days, 30 days net. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54% per year 9. 5% 10 days, 30 days net. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90% per year 10. 8% 10 days, 30 days net. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144% per year 11. 1% 10 days, 60 days net. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14.4% per year 12. 2% 10 days, 60 days net. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28.8% per year 13. 3% 10 days, 60 days net. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43.2% per year 14. 5% 10 days, 60 days net. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72% per year 15. 8% 10 days, 60 days net. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115.2% per year
Then there is the matter of expenses; rent, wages, insurances, taxes, depreciation, freight and express, and all the other miscellaneous items that go to make up the total of your cost of doing business. Expenses eat up a business unless controlled. They ought to be so analyzed that you are able to place your finger on items which appear too large, or uncalled for, or which need explanation.
A Daily Exhibit of Your Business.
In order to accomplish this, you ought to keep a record similar to that shown by Fig. 187—a Daily Exhibit of your business.
The advantage of this record is that it will give any battery man daily information as to the following facts of his business:
1. The amount of stock on hand. 2. The amount of gross profit. 3. The percentage of gross profit.
It will give monthly information as to:
1. The expense and percentage of expense. 2. The actual net profit. 3. The percentage of net profit.
Such information will help you to locate exactly when and where your losses come; during what months and from what causes. It will enable you to turn losing months this year into profitable months next year; to tell whether your losses were due to a too great expense account, or to too low gross profits.
The percentage columns on the sheet are the most important, because only by percentages can you make proper comparisons, and know just how your business is headed. You cannot guess percentages; you must have a way of knowing continually what they are, in order to be certain of getting the right return on your investment.
[Fig. 187a "Daily Exhibit" form]
[Fig. 187b "Daily Exhibit" form, continued]
In analyzing this Daily Exhibit, you will note that it is ruled for five weeks and two extra days, in order to provide for any one and all months of the year. The various columns are provided so that the entries in them will give a clear-cut story of the actual state of your affairs, daily, weekly, and monthly. Each column will be considered in the order in which it appears on the form.
First Column—"Merchandise on Hand." In starting this record the first day, the figures entered in this column must be an actual physical inventory of your stock on hand, priced and extended at cost. Do not total this column.
Second Column—"New Goods Added to Stock." The figures entered in this column should be the total value of all new goods received from manufacturers or jobbers on the particular day. If you return any articles to the seller immediately upon receipt, and before putting them into your stock, deduct such goods from the invoices and enter only the net amount in this column. This column should be totaled every week and every month.
Third Column—"Goods Returned by Customers;—Deduct from Sales." The total value of all goods returned by customers extended at the prices charged customers should be entered in this column daily. Every week and every month this column is totaled.
Fourth Column—"Cost of Goods Returned;—Deduct from Cost of Goods Sold." The cost of all goods returned by customers should be entered in this column. The cost prices can always be secured from the Stock Record cards, as previously explained. Total this column every week and every month.
Fifth Column—"Goods Returned to Manufacturers." Sometimes there is occasion to return merchandise after it has been put into stock. In such cases, the money value of the articles sent back to manufacturers or jobbers should be entered in this column. This does not mean such goods as were returned on the day received, and were deducted from the seller's invoice, and at no time have appeared in the second column, "New Goods Added to Stock," but only to such merchandise as was originally entered in the second column, and later returned to the manufacturer. This column should be totaled every week and every month.
Sixth Column—"Goods Sold, Less Goods Returned." Enter here total of selling prices on sales tags for each day, after deducting amount in the third column. Total this column every week and every month.
Seventh Oolumn—"Cost of Goods Sold, Less Cost of Goods Returned." The total of the sales extended at cost prices for each day, minus the amount showing in the fourth column, should be entered in this column. It should be totaled every week and every month.
Eighth Column—"Gross Profits." To arrive at the figures to be entered in this column deduct the amount in the seventh column from the amount in the sixth column. Total this column every week and every month.
Ninth Column—"Per Cent to Sales." This percentage should be figured every day, and every week and every month, and is arrived at by dividing the figures in the eighth column by the figures in the sixth column. It will pay you to watch this column closely. You will be astonished at the way it varies from day to day, week to week, and month to month. If you watch it closely enough, you will soon learn a great deal more about your business than you ever knew before. You do not need to total this column.
Tenth Column—"Accounts Receivable." On the day the Daily Exhibit is first started, the figures for this column must be taken from whatever records you have kept in the past. Do not total this column.
Eleventh Column—"Collections." Every day you collect any money from those customers who run charge accounts with you, enter the amount collected in this column. Total it every week and every month.
Twelfth Column—"Cash Sales." Every day enter the amount of cash sales in this column, and total it every week and every month.
Thirteenth Column—"Charge Sales." The amount of daily sales made to those customers who do not pay cash but run a charge account should be entered in this column. Every week and every month this column should be totaled.
General Calculations. To arrive at the amount of "Merchandise on Hand" after the first day, which is, as has been previously explained, an actual physical inventory, add the amounts showing in the first and second columns, and deduct from this total the sum of the fifth and seventh columns. Enter this result in the first column for the next succeeding day. Continue as above throughout the entire month.
After the first day the figures in "Accounts Receivable" column are obtained by adding together the amounts showing in the tenth and thirteenth column and deducting from this total the amount in the eleventh column. This balance will be entered in the tenth column for the next day, the same procedure being followed for each day thereafter.
"Merchandise on Hand" after the close of business on the last day of the month should be entered in the first column on the line marked "Month Total." This same amount will be carried forward to the first column of next month's sheet and entered on the line of the particular day of the week on which the first of the month falls.
Following the "Month Total" are the "Year to Date" and "Last Year to Date." These figures are important for purposes of comparison. Arrive at total for "Year to Date" by adding the total for the present month to the total for "Year to Date" found on the previous month's sheet. The figures for "Last Year to Date" are taken directly from the sheet kept for the same month last year. It is, of course, evident that this cannot be done until one year's records have been completed.
Expenses and Profits.
Under the heading "Summary" at the bottom of the sheet, provision has been made for finding out how much net profit YOU have made for the month.
On the line marked "Gross Profits" enter the "Month Total" figures in the eighth column. Below this enter all the various items of expense as follows:
(1) Advertising: By advertising is meant such copy, signs, etc., which may be prepared and used for the purpose of keeping the public informed as to your ability to serve them—in other words, any space which is used for general publicity purposes, such as for instance, your card in the classified telephone directory, or blotters, folders, dodgers which you may have printed up and distributed.
Do not load this account with church programs, contributions to the ball team, tickets to the fireman's ball and the like. These are donations, and not advertising.
(2) Electricity: All bills for electrical current will be charged to this account.
(3) Freight: Charges for all freight and express will be made to this account.
(4) Insurance: The total yearly insurance should be divined by twelve, to obtain the amount to be charged to this account monthly.
(5) Proprietor's salary: Many battery service station proprietors do not charge their own living as an expense. That's a serious mistake, of course. If those same men should hire a manager to run their service station, the manager's salary would naturally be charged to expense. The amount of money withdrawn from the business by the proprietor should therefore be charged to expense.
(6) Rent: The amount of money you pay monthly for rent should be charged to this account. If, on the other hand, you own your own building, charge the business with rent, the same as if you were paying it to someone else. Every business should stand rent; besides, the building itself should show itself a profitable investment. Charge yourself just as much as you would anyone else; don't favor your business by undercharging, nor handicap it by overcharging.
(7) Supplies: The cost of all supplies, small tools and miscellaneous articles which are bought for use in the business and not for sale should be charged to this account.
(8) Taxes: The yearly amount of taxes paid should be divided by twelve, in order to arrive at the monthly proportion to be charged to this account.
(9) Wages: The amount of wages paid to employees should be charged to this account. Care should be taken to determine the actual amount for the month, if wages are paid on a daily or weekly wage rate.
(10) Miscellaneous: Any expenses of the business not listed above will be charged to this account. This may include such items as donations, loss on bad accounts, and such like items of expense. You may itemize these into as many headings as you desire, but for the purposes of the Daily Exhibit combine all of them under "Miscellaneous Expense."
All these expense items are then added together, and this total is entered on the line marked "Total Expenses."
Deduct "Total Expenses" from "Gross Profit" to arrive at "Net Profit."
To arrive at the totals for "This Year to Date," carry the figures forward from the previous month's sheet and add figures for present month.
The figures for "Last Year to Date" will be found on the sheet for the corresponding month of last year, and are copied in this column.
All percentages should be figured on sales. The figures shown on each line in the "Amount" columns under the headings "This Month," "This Year to Date" and "Last Year to Date" should be divided by the "Month Total" of the sixth column, shown above, i. e., "Goods Sold, Less Goods Returned."
When you take inventory, the amount of stock should equal "Merchandise on Hand," as shown by the Daily Exhibit. But there will generally be a discrepancy, varying with the size of your stock, and that discrepancy will represent the amount of goods gone out of your station without being paid for; sold for cash and not accounted for; sold on credit and not charged, and the like. It's worth something to know exactly what this amounts to. The place for this information is under "Inventory Variations" on the sheet.
The space headed "Accounts Payable" is provided for recording, on the last day of every month, just what you owe for accounts and for notes, and also the same information for the corresponding date of last year.
Invaluable Monthly Comparative Information.
You see now that by the use of the Daily Exhibit you have a running history of your business by days, weeks and months. But this is hardly sufficient for a clear view of your business, since you will want some record which will tell you what the year's business has been, and how it varied from month to month.
[Fig. 188. Statistical and Comparative Record]
This is provided for in the Statistical and Comparative Record, illustrated by Fig. 188, on which the amount of sales, cost of sales, gross profit, expenses and net profit are entered for each month of the year. All the figures for entry in this record are taken directly from the Daily Exhibit at the end of the month, which makes the work of compiling it a very easy task.
The advantages of a record of this kind can hardly be overstated. The figures in the upper part of this statement will show which months have been profit payers and which have not, while from the figures in the lower part of the report you are able to determine the percentage any group of expenses bears to sales, and are thus in position to subsequently control such items.
Do not let the fear of doing a little bookkeeping work prevent you from keeping these records. They should go a long way toward solving the problems which the average proprietor faces today:
1. Selling his goods and services without a profit. 2. Failure to show sufficient net profit at the end of the year. 3. Constantly increasing cost of doing business.
You may think at first glance that it will require a great deal of extra work to keep these records, but in this you are mistaken. They are very simple and easy to operate. The American Bureau of Engineering, Inc., will advise you where to obtain these forms.
CHAPTER 14. WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE BATTERY? ———————————————
When a man does not feel well, he visits a doctor. When he has trouble on his car, he takes the car to a service station. What connection is there between these two cases? None whatever, you may say. And yet in each instance the man is seeking service. The term "Service Station" generally suggests a place where automobile troubles are taken care of. That does not mean, however, that the term may not be used in other lines of business. The doctor's office is just as much a "Service Station" as the automobile repair shop. The one is a "Health Service Station" and the other is an "Automobile Service Station." The business of each is to eliminate trouble.
The battery repairman may think that he cannot learn anything from a doctor which will be of any use to his battery business, but, as a matter of fact, the battery man can learn much that is valuable from the doctor's methods of handling trouble. The doctor greets a patient courteously and always waits for him to tell what his symptoms are. He then examines the patient, asking questions based on what the patient tells him, to bring out certain points which will help in making an accurate diagnosis. Very often such questioning will enable the doctor to determine just what the nature of the illness is. But he does not then proceed to write out a prescription without making an examination. If he did, the whole case might just as well have been handled over the telephone. No competent physician will treat patients from a distance. Neither will he write out a prescription without making a physical examination of the patient. The questioning of the patient and the physical examination always go together, some questions being asked before an examination is made to give an approximate idea of what is wrong and some during the examination to aid the doctor in making an accurate diagnosis.
The patient expects a doctor to listen to his description of the symptoms and to be guided by them in the subsequent examination, but not to arrive at a conclusion entirely by the description of the symptoms. A patient very often misinterprets his pains and aches, and tells the doctor that he has a certain ailment. Yet the doctor makes his examination and determines what the trouble is, and frequently find a condition which is entirely different from what the patient suspected. He then prescribes a treatment based on his own conclusions and not on what the patient believes to be wrong.
Calling for Batteries. A doctor treats many patients in his office, but also makes his daily calls on others. Similarly, the battery repairman should have a service truck for use in calling for customers' batteries, especially where competition is keen. Some car owners cannot bring their cars to the repair shop during working hours, and yet if they knew that they could have their battery called for and have a rental battery installed, they would undoubtedly have their battery tested and repaired more frequently. In some instances a battery will be so badly run down that the car cannot be started, and the car is allowed to stand idle because the owner does not care to remove his battery, carry it to a service station and carry a rental battery with him. Batteries are heavy and generally dirty and wet with acid, and few people wish to run the risk of ruining their clothes by carrying the battery to a shop. The wise battery mail will not overlook the business possibilities offered by the call for and deliver service, especially when business is slow. A Ford roadster with a short express body will furnish this service, or any old chassis may be fitted up for it at a moderate cost. Of course, you must advertise this service. Do not wait for car owners to ask whether you will call for their batteries. Many of them may not think of telephoning for such service, and even if they do, they might call up some other service station.
When Batteries Come In
What does a man expect when he brings his battery to the battery service-station? Obviously lie expects to be greeted courteously and to be permitted to tell the symptoms of trouble which he has observed. He furthermore expects the repairman to examine and test the battery carefully before deciding what repairs are necessary and not to tell him that he needs new positives, new separators, or an entirely new battery without even looking at the battery.
When a car is brought to your shop, you are the doctor. Sonic part of the mechanism is in trouble, and it is your duty to put yourself in charge of the situation. Listen to what the customer hp to say. He has certainly noticed that something is wrong, or he would not have come to you. Ask him what he has observed.
He has been driving the car, starting the engine, and turning on the lights, and certainly has noticed whether everything has been operating as it should. The things he has noticed were caused by the trouble which exists. He may not know what sort of trouble they indicate, but you, as the battery doctor can generally make a fairly accurate estimate of what the trouble is. You should, of course, do more than merely listen to what the customer says. You can question him as to how the car has been used, just as the doctor, after listening to what a patient has to say, asks questions to give him a clue to what has caused such symptoms.
The purpose of the preliminary questioning and examination is not merely to make an accurate diagnosis of the troubles, but to establish a feeling of confidence on the part of the customer. A man who owns a car generally possesses an average amount of intelligence and likes to have it recognized and respected. Your questioning and examination will either show the customer that you know your business and know what should be done, or it will convince him that you are merely putting up a bluff to hide your ignorance.
What the customer wants to know is how much the repairs will cost, and how soon lie may have his battery again. Estimate carefully what the work, will cost, and tell him. If a considerable amount of work is required and you cannot estimate how much time and material will be needed, tell the customer that you will let him know the approximate cost later, when you have gone far enough with the work to be able to make an estimate. If you find that the battery should be taken off, take it off without any loss of time and put on a rental battery. If there is something wrong outside of the battery, however, it will be necessary to eliminate the trouble before the car leaves the shop, otherwise the same battery trouble will occur again. If there is no actual trouble outside the battery, and if the driving conditions have been such that the battery is not charged sufficiently while on the car, no actual repairs are necessary on the electrical system. The customer should be advised to drive in about every two weeks to have his battery tested, and occasionally taken off and given a bench charge. It is better to do this than to increase the charging rate to a value which might damage the generator or battery.
Adopt a standard method of procedure in meeting, a customer and in determining what is wrong and what should be done. If the customer is one who brings his car in regularly to have the battery filled and tested, you will: be able to detect any trouble as soon as it occurs, and will be able to eliminate it before the battery is seriously damaged. A change in the charging rate, cleaning of the generator commutator or cutout contact points, if done in time, will often keep everything in good shape.
With a new customer who has had his battery for sometime, you must, however, ask questions and make tests to determine what is wrong. Before sending the customer away with a new, rental, or repaired battery, test the electrical system as described on page 276.
The most important transaction and one which will save you considerable argument and trouble is to get everything down in black and white. Always try to have the customer wait while you test the battery. If you find it necessary to open the battery do this in his presence. When he leaves there should be no question as to what he shall have to pay for. If more time is required to determine the necessary work, do not actually do the work without getting in touch with the owner and making a written agreement as to what is to be done and how much the cost will be. The Service Record shown in Fig. 183 may be used for this purpose.
The following method of procedure is suggested as a standard. Follow it closely if possible, though in some cases, where the nature of the trouble is plainly evident, this will not be necessary any more than a doctor who sees blood streaming from a severe cut needs to question the patient to find out what is wrong.
It may not always be necessary to ask all the questions which follow, or to ask them in the order given, but they cover points which the repairman should know in order to work intelligently. Some of the information called for in the questions may often be obtained without questioning the customer. Do not, however, hesitate to ask any and all questions covering points which you wish to know.
1. Greet the customer with a smile.
Your manner and appearance are of great importance. Be polite and pleasant. Do not lose your temper, no matter how much cause the customer gives you to do so. A calm, courteous manner will generally cool the anger of an irate customer and make it possible to gain his confidence and good will. Do not argue with your customers, Your business is to get the job and do it in an agreeable manner. If you make mistakes admit it and your customer will come again. Keep your clothes neat and clean and have your face and hands clean. Remember that the first glimpse the customer has of the man who approaches him will influence him to a very considerable extent in giving you his business or going elsewhere. Do not have a customer wait around a long time before he receives any attention. If he grows impatient because nobody notices him when he comes in, it will be hard to gain his confidence, no matter how well you may afterwards do the work.
2. What's the Trouble?
Let the customer tell you his story. While listening, try to get an idea of what may be wrong. When he has given you all the information he can, question him so that you will be able to get a better idea of what is wrong.
(a) How long have you had the battery? See page 242.
(b) Was it a new battery when you bought it?
(c) How often has water been added?
(d) Has distilled water been used exclusively, or has faucet, well, or river water ever been used? Impure water may introduce substances which will damage or even ruin a battery.
(e) Has too much water been added? If this is done, the electrolyte will flood the tops of the jars and may rot the upper parts of the wooden case.
(f) How fast is car generally driven? The speed should average 15 M. P. H. or more to keep battery charged.
(g) How long must engine be cranked before it starts? This should not require more than about 10 seconds. If customer is in doubt, start the engine to find out. If starting motor cranks engine at a fair speed, engine should start within 10 seconds. If starting motor cranks engine at a low speed, a longer cranking time may be required. The low cranking speed may be due to a run-down or defective battery, to trouble in the starting motor or starting circuit, or to a stiff engine. To determine if battery is at fault, see "Battery Tests," below.
(h) Has the car been used regularly, or has it been standing idle for any length of time? An idle battery discharges itself and often becomes damaged. If car has been standing idle in cold weather, the battery has probably been frozen.
(i) Has it been necessary to remove the battery occasionally for a bench charge?
(j) Has battery ever been repaired? See page 322.
1. Remove the vent plugs and inspect electrolyte. If the electrolyte covers the plates and separators to a sufficient depth, measure the specific gravity of the electrolyte. If the electrolyte is below the tops of the plates and separators, see following section No. 2.
If all cells read 1.150 or less, remove the battery and give it a bench charge.
If the specific gravity readings of all cells are between 1.150 and 1.200, and if no serious troubles have been found up to this point, advise the owner to use his lights and starting motor as little as possible until the gravity rises to 1.280-1.300. If this is not satisfactory to him, remove the battery and give it a bench charge.
If the specific gravity readings are all above 1.200, or if the gravity reading of one cell is 50 points (such as the difference between 1.200 and 1.250, which is 50 "points") lower or higher than the others (no matter what the actual gravity readings may be), make the 15 seconds high rate discharge test on the battery. See page 266. If this test indicates that the internal condition of the battery is bad, the battery should be removed from the car and opened for inspection. If the test indicates that the internal condition of the battery is good, the specific gravity of the electrolyte needs adjusting. The difference in specific gravity readings in the cells is due to one of the following, causes:
(a) Water added to the cell or cells which have low gravity to replace electrolyte which had been spilled or lost in some other manner.
(b) Electrolyte added to the cell or cells which have high gravity to replace the water which naturally evaporates from the electrolyte.
(c) Trouble inside the cell or cells which have low gravity. The high rate discharge test will show whether there is any internal trouble.
If any cell shows a gravity above 1.300, remove the battery, dump out all the electrolyte, fill battery with distilled water and put the battery on charge.
If the gravity of one or more cells is 50 points less than the others, water has been used to replace electrolyte which has been spilled or lost in some other manner, or else one or more jars are cracked. A battery with one or more cracked jars usually has the bottom parts of its wooden case rotted by the electrolyte which leaks from the jar. If you are not certain whether the battery has one or more cracked jars, see that the electrolyte covers the plates in all the cells one-half inch or so, and then let the battery stand. If the electrolyte sinks below the tops of the plates in one or more cells within twenty-four hours, those cells have leaky jars and the battery must be opened, and new jars put in.
If the low gravity is not caused by leaky jars, give the battery a bench charge and adjust the level of the electrolyte.
2. If you found electrolyte to be below tops of plates in all the cells, the battery has been neglected, or there mail be leaky jars. Add distilled water until the electrolyte covers the plates to a depth of about one-half inch.
(a) If it requires only a small amount of water to bring up the level of the electrolyte, remove the battery and give it a bench charge. See page 198. Only a brief charge may be necessary. Ask the driver when water was added last. If more than 1 month has passed since the last filling, the upper parts of the plates may be sulphated, and the battery should be charged at a low rate.
(b) If it requires a considerable amount of water to bring up the level of the electrolyte, and the bottom of the wooden battery case shows no signs of being rotted, the battery has been neglected and has been dry for a long time, and the plates are mostly likely badly damaged. Open the battery for inspection.
(c) If only one cell requires a considerable amount of water to bring up the level of its electrolyte, and the bottom of the wooden battery ease shows no sign of being rotted, that cell is probably "dead," due to in internal short-circuit. To test for "dead" cells, turn on the lamps and measure the voltage of each cell. A dead cell will not give any voltage on test, may give a reversed voltage reading, or at the most will give a very low voltage. A battery with a dead cell should be opened for inspection.
(d) If the bottom part of the wooden battery case is rotted, and a considerable amount of water had to be added to any or all cells to bring up the level of the electrolyte, the battery has leaky jars and must be opened to have the leaky jars replaced by good ones.
If there is any doubt in your mind as to whether any or all jars are leaking, fill the cells with distilled water and let the battery stand for twelve to twenty-four hours. If at or before the end of that time the electrolyte has, fallen below the tops of the plates in any or all cells, these cells have leaky Jars and the battery must be opened and the leaky jars replaced with good ones. The electrolyte which leaks out will wet the bench or on which the battery is placed and this is another indication of a leaky jar.
In addition to the tests which have been described, a general inspection as outlined below will often be a great help in deciding what must be done.
1. Is battery loose? A battery which is not held down firmly may have broken jars, cracked sealing compound around posts or between posts and separators, and active material shaken out of the grids. There may also be corrosion at the terminals.
2. Are cables loose? This will cause battery to be in a run down condition and cause failure to crank engine.
3. Is there corrosion at the terminals? This will cause battery to be in a run-down condition and cause failure to start engine. Corrosion is caused by electrolyte attacking terminals. A coating of vaseline on the terminals prevents corrosion.
4. Is top of battery wet? This may be due to addition of too much water, overheating of battery, cracks around posts and between posts and cover, electrolyte thrown out of vents because of battery being loose, or electrolyte or water spilled on battery. Such a condition causes battery to run down.
5. Is top of case acid soaked? This is caused by leaks around posts or between covers and jars, flooding of electrolyte due to overheating or due to addition of too much water, or by electrolyte spilled on covers.
6. Is lower part of case acid soaked? This is caused by leaky jars.
7. Are ends of case bulged out? This may be due to battery having been frozen.
This general inspection of the battery can be made in a few seconds, and often shows what the condition of the battery is.
Two simple tests may be made which will help considerably in the diagnosis.
Turn on the lights. If they burn dim, battery is run down (and may be defective) and battery needs bench charge or repairs. If they burn bright battery is probably in a good condition.
With the lights burning, have the customer or a helper step on the starting switch. If the lights now become very dim, the battery is run down (and may also be defective), or else the starting motor is drawing too much current from the battery.
For the convenience of the repairman, the battery troubles which may be found when a car is brought in, are summarized in the following tables:
All Cells Show Low Gravity or Low Voltage
A. Look for the following conditions:
1. Loose or dirty terminals or cell connectors. This may reduce charging rate, or open charging circuit entirely. Remedy: Tighten and clean connections.
2. Corrosion on terminals or cell connectors caused by acid on top of battery due to over-filling, flooding, defective sealing, lead scraped from lead-coated terminals, and copper wires attached directly to battery. A badly corroded battery terminal may cause the generator, ignition coil, and lamps to burn out because of the high resistance which the corroded terminal causes in the charging line. It may reduce charging rate, or open charging circuit entirely. Remedy: Remove cause of corrosion. Clean corroded parts and give coating of vaseline.
3. Broken terminals or cell connectors. These may reduce charging rate or open charging circuit entirely. Remedy: Install new parts.
4. Generator not charging. Remedy: Find and remove cause of generator not charging (see page 284).
5. Charging rate too low. Remedy: If due to generator trouble, repair generator. If due to incorrect generator setting change setting. If due to driving conditions increase charging rate.
6. Acid or moisture on top of battery due to defective sealing, flooding, spilling electrolyte in taking gravity readings, loose vent plugs. This causes corrosion and current leakage. Remedy: Find and remove cause.
7. Tools or wires on battery causing short-circuits. Remedy: Tell customer to keep such things off the battery.
8. Short-circuits or grounds in wiring. Remedy: Repair wiring.
9. Cutout relay closing late, resulting in battery not being charged at ordinary driving speeds. Remedy: Check action of cutout. See page 282.
10. Excessive lighting current, due to too many or too large lamps. Remedy: Check by turning on all lamps while engine is running. Ammeter should show three to five amperes charge with lamps burning. In winter the charging rate may have to be increased.
B. Question Driver as to following causes of low gravity and low voltage:
1. Has water been added regularly?
2. Has impure water, such as faucet, well, or river water ever been added to battery?
3. Has too much water been added?
4. Has electrolyte been spilled and replaced by water?
5. Has battery been idle, or stored without regular charging?
6. Is car used more at night than in daytime? Considerable night driving may prevent battery from being fully charged.
7. Is starter used frequently?
8. What is average driving speed? Should be over 15 M. P. 11.
9. How long is engine usually cranked before starting-? Cranking period should not exceed 10 seconds.
C. If battery has been repaired. The trouble may be due to:
1. Improperly treated separators used.
2. Grooved side of separators put against negatives instead of positives.
3. Separator left out.
4. Cracked separator.
5. Positives used which should have been discarded.
6. Bulged, swollen negatives used.
7. Poor joints due to improper lead-burning.
D. Battery Troubles which may exist:
1. Sulfated plates.
2. Buckled Plates.
3. Internal Short-circuits.
4. Cracked Jars.
5. Clogged Separators.
Gravity Readings Unequal
1. Acid or moisture on top of battery, due to defective sealing, flooding, spilling electrolyte, loose vent plugs. This causes current leakage. Remedy: Find and remove cause.
2. Tools or wires on battery, causing short-circuits. Remedy: Tell driver to keep such things off the battery.
3. Electrolyte or acid added to cells giving the high gravity readings.
4. Electrolyte spilled and replaced by water in cells giving low readings.
5. Grooved side of separators placed against negatives in cells giving the low readings.
6. Separator left out, cracked separator used, hole worn through separator by buckled plate or swollen negatives, or separators in some cells and new ones in others.
7. Old plates used in some cells and new ones in others.
8. Impurities in cells showing low gravity.
9. Shorted cell, due to plates cutting through separators.
10. Cracked jar.
11. Oil some of the older cars a three wire lighting system was used. If the lights are arranged so that more are connected between one of the outside wires and the center, than between the other outside wire and the center, the cells carrying the heavier lighting load will show low gravity.
12. On some of the older cars, the battery is made of two or more sections which are connected in series for starting and in parallel for charging. Oil such cars the cells in one of the sections may show lower gravity than other cells due to longer connecting cables, poor connections, corroded terminals, and so on. Such a condition AN-ill often be found in the old two section Maxwell batteries used previous to 1918.
This is a condition in which the hydrometer readings would indicate that a battery is almost or fully-charged, but the battery may fail to operate the starting motor. If the lights are burning while the starting switch is closed, they will become very dim. The gravity readings may be found to be above 1.300.
The probable causes of this condition are:
1. Electrolyte or concentrated acid added instead of water.
2. One of the numerous "dope" solutions which have been advertised extensively within the past two years. Never use them. If customer admits having used such a "dope" warn him not to do so again.
1. Water not added.
2. Electrolyte replaced in wrong cell after taking gravity readings.
3. Cracked jars.
4. Battery overcharged, causing loss of water by overheating and excessive gassing.
1. Sulfated Plates.
2. Carbonized, dry, cracked separators.
3. Considerable shedding.
1. Water not added regularly.
2. Impure water used.
3. Impure acid used.
4. Battery on hot place on car.
5. Alcohol or other anti-freeze preparation added.
6. Excessive charging rate.
7. Improperly treated separators.
8. Battery over-charged by long daylight runs.
1. Sulfated Plates.
2. Burned, Carbonized Separators.
3. Buckled Plates.
4. Excessive Shedding.
Electrolyte Leaking Out at Top
1. Too much water added.
2. Battery loose in box.
3. Cracks in sealing compound due to poor sealing, or cables pulling on terminals, or due to poor quality of sealing compound, or good quality compound which has been burned.
4. Vent plugs loose.
1. Upper portion of case rotted by acid.
2. Electrolyte low.
3. Plates sulphated.
4. Upper parts of separators dry.
1. When May a Battery Be Left on the Car?
(a) When you find that the specific gravity of all cells is more than 1.150, the voltage of each cell is at least 2, the voltage doe's not drop when the lights are turned on, or the lights do not become very dim when the engine is cranked with the starting motor, there are no loose terminals or connectors, the sealing compound is not broken or cracked so as to cause a "slopper," the electrolyte covers the plates, the box is not rotted by acid, and there are no broken jars.
These conditions will exist only if battery has been well taken care of, and some trouble has suddenly and recently arisen, such as caused by a break in one of the battery cables, loosening of a cable connection at the battery or in the line to the starting motor.
2. When Should a Battery Be Removed From Car?
(a) When you find broken sealing compound, causing the battery to be a "slopper."
(b) When you find inter-cell connectors and terminals loose, corroded, or poorly burned on.
(c) When you find box badly rotted by acid, or otherwise defective.
(d) When you find a cracked jar, indicated by lower part of case being acid soaked, or by low electrolyte, or find that electrolyte level falls below the tops of the plates soon after adding water.
(e) When you find a dead cell, indicated by very low or no voltage, even on open circuit.
(f) When specific gravity of electrolyte is less than 1.150, or gravity readings of cells vary considerably.
(g) When battery voltage drops to about 1.7 or less per cell when lamps are turned on, or lamps become very dim when the starting motor is cranking the engine, or the high rate discharge test shows that there is trouble in the cells.
(h) When you find that electrolyte is below tops of plates, and it requires considerable water to bring it up to the correct height.
(i) When battery overheats on charge, or discharge, although battery is not located in hot place, charging rate is not too high and lamps and accessories load is normal.
(j) When battery is more than a year old and action is not satisfactory.
(k) When a blacksmith, tinsmith or plumber has tried his hand at rebuilding the battery. Such a battery is shown in Fig. 189.
(1) When ends of care are bulged out.
3. When Is It Unnecessary to Open a Battery?
(a) When the only trouble is broken sealing compound. The battery should be resealed.
(b) When loose, corroded, or poorly burned on terminals and connectors have merely resulted in keeping battery only partly charged and no internal troubles exist. The remedy is to drill off the connectors, or terminals, and re-burn them.
(c) When the external condition of battery is good, and a bench charge, see page 198 (with several charge and discharge cycles if necessary) puts battery in a good condition, as indicated by voltage, cadmium, and 20 minute high rate discharge test.
4. When Must a Battery Be Opened?
(a) When prolonged charging (72 hours or more) will not cause gravity or voltage to rise. Such trouble is due to defective plates and separators.
(b) When battery case is badly acid soaked. A slightly acid soaked case need not be discarded, but if the damage caused by the acid has been excessive, a new case is needed. Plates may also be damaged.
(c) When one or more jars are cracked. New jars are needed. The plates may also be damaged.
(d) When one or more cells are "dead," as indicated by little or no voltage, even on open circuit. New plates (positives at least) may be required.
(e) When battery is more than a year old and action is unsatisfactory. (Battery will not hold its charge.) Battery may have to be junked, or new separators may be required. Every battery should be reinsulated at least once during its lifetime.
(f) When a blacksmith, tinsmith, or plumber have tried to repair a case, Fig. 189.
[Fig. 189. A Blacksmith and Tinsmith Tried Their Hands on This Case, Lower Part Enclosed in Tin, Strap Iron, Covered with Friction Tape, Around The Top]
(g) When the ends of case are bulged. A new case is needed. If the battery has been frozen it should generally be junked. There are some cases on record of a frozen battery having been thawed out and put in serviceable condition by a long charge at a low rate followed by several cycles of discharge and recharge. Generally, at least, a new case, jars, and positives are required.
NOTE: New separators should always be installed, whenever a battery is opened for repairs, unless the separators already in the battery are new, and the trouble for which the battery was opened consists of a leaky jar, a separator left out, or some other trouble which does not require pulling the plates out of mesh.
CHAPTER 15. REBUILDING THE BATTERY. ———————————-
How to Open a Battery
[Fig. 190 Battery to be opened]
A battery is open when its plates have been drawn out of the hard rubber jars. All parts are then exposed, and accessible for inspection and repairs. In an assembled battery, the top of each cell is closed by a hard rubber cover. Leakproof joints are made between these covers and the rubber jars and the wooden case by means of sealing compound which is poured in place while in a molten condition, and joins the covers to the jars and which hardens as it cools. The joints between the covers and the posts which project through the covers are in many batteries made with sealing compound. The cells are then connected to each other by means of the cell connectors, also called "top-connectors," or simply "connectors." These connectors are joined to the lead posts, to which are connected the plate groups by fusing with a flame, and melting in additional lead to make a joint.
In opening a battery, we must first disconnect the cells from each other, and then open the joint made by the sealing compound between the covers and the jars and case. The plates may then be lifted out of the jars, and the battery is open. The steps necessary to open a battery follow, in the order in which they must be taken.
1. Clean the Battery. Set the battery on the tear down rack. See that the vent plugs are all tight in place. Then clean the outside of the battery. Remove the greater part of the dirt with a brush, old whisk-broom, or a putty knife. Then put the battery in the water, using a stiff bristled brush to remove whatever dirt was not removed in the first place. A four-inch paint brush is satisfactory for this work, and will last a year or more if taken care of. If water will not remove all the dirt, try a rag wet with gasoline.
2. Drilling Off the Connectors and Terminals. When you have cleaned the outside of the battery as thoroughly as possible, set the battery on the floor near your work bench. Make a sketch of the top of the battery, showing the exact arrangement of the terminals and connectors. This sketch should be made on the tag which is tied to the battery. Tic this tag on the handle near the negative terminal of the battery or tack it to the ease. Then drill down over the Center of the posts. For this you will need a large brace with a heavy chuck, a drill the same size as the post (the part that goes down into the battery), a large screw driver, a center punch, and a hammer.
[Fig. 191 Drilling post and cell connector]
With the center punch, mark the exact centers of the tops of the posts and connectors. Then drill down about half way through the connectors and terminals until you cut through the part of the connector which is welded to the post. When you can see a seam between the post and connector you have drilled through the welded part. See Figs. 191 and 192.
Now pry off the connectors with the screw driver, as shown in Fig. 193. Lay a flat tool such as a chisel or file on the top edge of the ease to avoid damaging the ease when prying off the connectors.
If any connector is still tight, and you cannot pry it off with a reasonable effort, drill down a little deeper, and it will come off easily, provided that the hole which you are drilling is exactly over the center of the post and as large as the post. There are five things to remember in drilling the connectors and posts:
[Fig. 192 Connector drilled to correct depth]
(a) Be sure that the hole is exactly over the center of the post.
(b) Do not drill too deep. Make each hole just deep enough so that the connector will come off easily. Fig. 192 shows a cross section of a post and connector drilled to the proper depth. Notice that you need not drill down the whole depth of the connector, because the bottom part is not burned to the post.
(c) Be sure that the drill makes the right sized hole to permit the connectors and terminals to be removed easily when drilled half way through. An electric drill will do the work much faster than a hand brace.
(d) Protect the edge of the battery box when you pry up the connectors with a screw driver.
(e) Remove your drill after the hole is well started and see whether the hole is in the center of the post. Should you find that it is off center, tilt the drill, and with the end of the drill pointing the center of the post as you drill, gradually straighten the drill. This will bring the hole over the center of the post.
Having removed the connectors, sweep all the lead drillings front the top of the battery into a box kept for lead drillings only. Fig. 194. When this box is full, melt the drillings and pour off in the burning lead mould.
[Fig. 193 Prying off cell connector]
Post Seal. If the post seal consists of a lead sealing nut, this may be removed now. With some types of batteries (Willard and U. S. L.), drilling the connectors also breaks the post seal. With other batteries, such as the Vesta, Westinghouse, Prest-0-Lite, Universal, it is more difficult to break the post seal.
[Fig. 194 Brushing lead drillings into box]
On these batteries, therefore, do not break this seal before drawing out the plates. You may find that it will not be necessary to separate the groups, and the post seal will not have to be broken at all, thereby saving yourself considerable time on the overhauling job.
3. Heating Up the Sealing Compound. Having disconnected the cells from each other by removing the cell connectors, the next step is to open the joint made by the sealing compound between the covers and jars. Fig. 195 shows the battery ready for this step. When cold, the compound is a tough substance that sticks to the cover and jar, and hence it must be heated until it is so soft that it is easily removed. There are several methods by means of which compound may be heated. These are as follows:
Steam. This is the most popular, and undoubtedly the best means of heating the compound, and in the following instructions it will be assumed that steam has been used. The battery is either placed in a special box in which steam is sent, or else steam is sent directly into each cell through the vent tube. In the first method the compound is heated from the outside, and in the second it is heated from the inside of the cell.
[Fig. 195 Battery ready for steaming]
[Fig. 196 Drawing up an element]
If the battery is placed in the steaming box, about ten minutes will be required for the steam to heat up the sealing compound. For batteries which use but very little compound, less time is required. if steam is sent directly into the cells through the vent tubes, five to seven minutes will generally be enough. The covers must be limp and the 1 compound must be soft before turning off the steam.
Hot Water. The electrolyte is poured out of the battery, which is then inverted in a vessel of hot water. This method is slower than the others, and is more expensive because it requires a larger volume of water to be heated.
Hot Putty Knife and Screwdriver. The compound may be dug out with a hot putty knife. This is a slow, unsatisfactory method in most instances, especially in those batteries which use a considerable amount of sealing compound. With some batteries using only a small quantity of compound, a heated putty knife may be run around the inside of the jar between the jar and the cover. This will break the joint between the cover and the jar, and allow the plates to be lifted out. The compound is then scraped from covers and inside of jars, heating the knife or screwdriver whenever it cools off.
Lead Burning Flame. Any soft lead burning flame may be used. Such a flame may be adjusted to any desired size. Where steam is available, a flame should, however, never be used. The temperature of the flame is very high, and the covers, jars, case, posts, and vent plugs may be burned and made worthless. Even for the expert repairman, a flame is not as satisfactory as steam.
The Gasoline Torch. This is the most unsatisfactory method, and should not be used if possible. The torch gives a hot, spreading flame and it is difficult to prevent the covers, jars, case, etc., from being burned. Do not use a gasoline torch if you can possibly avoid doing so. Alcohol torches are open to the same objections, and are not satisfactory, even in the hands of a highly skilled workman.
If a flame is used for heating the compound, be sure to blow out with a hand bellows or compressed air any gas that may have gathered above the plates, before you bring the flame near the battery.
Electric Heat. Special electric ovens for softening sealing compound are on the market. The heating element is brought close to the top of the battery. Where electric power is cheap, this method may be used. Otherwise it is rather expensive.
[Fig. 197 Resting element on jar to drain]
When the sealing compound has been softened, place the battery on the floor between your feet. Grasp the two posts of one cell with pliers, and pull straight up with an even, steady pull. If the battery has been steamed long enough, the plates will come up easily, carrying with them the cover (or covers, if the batter has upper and lower covers) to which the compound is sticking, as shown in Fig. 196. Do not remove the plates of the other cells until later.
Rest the plates on the top of the jar just long enough to allow most of the acid to drain from them, Fig. 197. If you have removed the post seal, or if the seal consists of compound (old Philadelphia batteries), pry off the covers now with a screw driver. Otherwise, leave the covers in place while cleaning off the compound.
While the plates are resting on the jars to drain, scrape the compound from the covers with a warm screw driver or putty knife, Fig. 198. Work quickly while the compound is still hot and soft, and comes off easily. As the compound cools it hardens and sticks to the covers and is removed with difficulty. If the battery has sealing compound around the posts, this should also be removed thoroughly, both from the cover and from the post.
When you scrape the compound from the covers, do a good job. Do not scrape off most of it, and then leave pieces of it here and there. Remove every bit of compound, on the tops, edges, sides, and bottoms of the covers. If you need different sized putty knives or screw drivers to do this, use them. The time to remove all the compound is while it is still hot, and not after it has become hard and cold. If the battery has single covers, the compound can be removed very quickly. If the battery is of the old double-cover type, the job will take more time, since all the compound should be scraped from both top and bottom covers, Fig. 199.
[Fig. 198 Removing compound from cover]
As soon as you have removed the compound from the covers of the first cell, serape away the compound which may be sticking to the top and inside walls of the jar, Fig. 200. Here again you must do a good job, and remove all of this compound. If you do not do it now, you will have to do it when you try to put the plates back into the jar later on, as compound sticking to the inside walls of the jar will make it difficult, and even impossible to lower the plates into the jar.
Now draw up the plates of the next cell. Rest the plates on the top of the jar just long enough to drain, and then lift off the covers, and remove all of the compound, from cover, posts, and jar, just as you did in the first cell. The third cell, (and the others, if there are more than three cells) are handled just as you did the first one.
Remember that you should lose no time after you have steamed the battery. Hot compound is soft and does not stick to the covers, jars, and posts and may therefore be removed quickly and easily. Cold compound is hard, and sticks to the covers. Draw out the plates of only one cell at a time, and clean the compound from the cover, posts and jar of that one cell before you draw out the plates of the other cells. In this way, the compound on the covers of the other cells will remain hotter than if all the plates of the battery were drawn out of the jars before any of the compound was removed from the covers. You should have all the plates drawn out, and all the compound removed within five minutes after you draw up the plates.
[Fig. 199 Removing sealing compound from double cover]
Throw away the old compound. If is very likely acid-soaked and not fit for further use.
What Must Be Done with the Battery?
The battery is now open, and in a condition to be examined and judgment pronounced upon it. The question now arises, "What must be done with it!" In deciding upon this, be honest with your customer, put yourself in his place, and do just what you would like to have him do if he were the repairman and you the car owner. The best battery men occasionally make mistakes in their diagnosis of the battery's condition, and the repairs necessary. Experience is the best teacher in this respect, and you will in time learn to analyze the condition of a battery quickly.
Handle every cell of a battery that comes in for repairs in the same way, even though only one dead cell is found, and the others are apparently in good condition. Each cell must be overhauled, for all cells are of the same age, and the active materials are in about the same condition in all the cells, and one cell just happened to give out before the others. If you overhaul only the dead cell, the others cells are quite likely to give out soon after the battery is put into service again.
[Fig. 200 Removing compound from top of jar]
It is absolutely necessary for you to have a standard method in working on battery plates. You must divide your work into a number of definite steps, and always perform these steps, and in the same order each time. If you have a different method of procedure for every battery, you will never be successful. Without a definite, tangible method of procedure for your work you will be working in the dark, and groping around like a blind man, never becoming a battery expert, never knowing why you did a certain thing, never gaining confidence in yourself.
It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of having a standard method of procedure and to stick to that method. Careless, slip-shod methods will please your competitor and give him the business which belongs to you.
1. Examine plates to determine whether they can be used again Rules for determining when to discard or use old plates follow.
2. If all plates of both positive and negative groups are to be discarded, use new groups.
The question as to whether the old negatives should be used with new positives has caused considerable discussion. If the negatives are old and granulated, they should of course be discarded. Remember that the capacity of negatives decreases steadily after they are put into service, while the capacity of positives increases. Putting new positives against negatives which are rapidly losing capacity is not advisable. However, trouble often arises in a battery whose negatives still have considerable capacity, and such negatives may safely be used with new positives.
If you feel that a battery will not give at least six months more service after rebuilding with the old negatives, put in all new plates, or sell the owner a new battery, allowing him some money on the old battery. But if you really believe that the negatives still have considerable capacity, put in new positives if required. If all new plates are used, proceed as directed in this chapter, beginning at page 348.
3. If you find that only some of the plates are to be discarded, or if you are not certain as to the condition of the plates, eliminate any short circuits which may exist, and give the battery a preliminary charge, as described later, before you do any work on the plates. Plates that are fully charged are in the best possible condition for handling, and you should make it an ironclad rule that if some of the plates can be used again always to charge a battery before you work on the plates, no matter what is to be done to them. If both positives and negatives are to be discarded, the preliminary charge should not, of course, be given, but if only the negatives, or the negatives and some or all of the positives are to be used again, give this preliminary charge. Very few batteries will come to your shop in a charged condition, and an exhausted battery is not in a good condition to be worked on. Charge the whole battery even though only one cell is in a very bad condition. This is a method that has been tried out thoroughly in practice, not in one or two cases, but in thousands. Batteries in all sorts of conditions have been rebuilt by this method, and have always given first class service, a service which was frequently as good, if not better than that given by new batteries.
Examining the Plates
Place an element on a block of wood as shown in Fig. 201. Carefully pry the plates apart so that you can look down between them and make a fair preliminary examination. Whenever possible, make your examination of the plates without separating the groups or removing the old separators. This should be done because:
(a) Very often the active material is bulged or swollen, and if you pull out the old separators and put in new ones before charging, the element spreads out so at the bottom that it cannot be put back into the jars without first pressing in a plate press. Pressing a complete element with the separators in place should never be done if it can possibly be avoided. If it is done the separators should be thrown. away after you have charged the battery, washed and pressed the negatives, and washed the positive.
[Fig. 201 Element on block for examination]
(b) If you put in new separators before giving the battery the preliminary charge, the new separators may pick up any impurities which may be on the plates, and will probably be cracked by forcing them between the bulged and sulphated plates. If, however, the old separators are covered with sulphate, it is best to throw them away and put in new separators before giving the battery its preliminary charge, because such separators will greatly hinder the flow of the charging current. In batteries using rubber sheets in addition to the wooden separators, remove all the wooden separators and leave the rubber sheets in place between the plates. Where only wooden separators are used in a battery, these may be thrown away and perforated rubber separators used for the preliminary charge. Rubber separators may be used again. See (a) above about precautions against pressing a complete element.
[Fig. 202 Separating the groups]
If you are not absolutely certain as to the condition of the plates, draw out a few separators. If separators stick to the plates, loosen them by inserting a putty knife blade between them and the plates. Removing a few separators will permit you to separate the groups before removing the rest of the separators. To separate the groups, grasp a post in each hand, as, in Fig. 202, and work them back and forth, being careful not to injure the posts, or break off any plates. With the groups separated, the remaining separators will either fall out or may be easily pushed out with a putty knife. Ordinarily, the groups may be separated in this way if the elements have thirteen plates or less.
The natural thing to do at this point is to decide what must be done to the plates, and we therefore give a number of rules to help you determine which are to be junked, and which are to be used again. Study these rules carefully, and have them fixed firmly in your mind so that you can tell instantly what must be done with the plates.
[Fig. 203 Positives from frozen vehicle cell, showing active material sticking to separator]
When to Put In New Plates
1. If one or more jars are cracked and leak, and positive plates have been ruined by freezing, as shown in Fig. 203, and if upon drawing out the separators, and separating the positive and negative groups the active material drops out of the grids, the only way to put the battery in a good condition is to put in new positives, and new jars and case if necessary.
Make a careful estimate of
1. (a) Cost of new jars. 2. (b) Cost of new plates. 3. (c) Cost of new case if needed. 4. (d) Cost of labor required.
Try to have the owner present while you are opening his battery. If, however, he could not wait, and has left, call him up and tell him what the total cost will be, and if he has no objections, go ahead with the job. If he is not entirely satisfied with your price, try to get him to come to your shop. Show him the battery, explain its condition, tell him just what must be done with it, and explain how you made your estimate of the cost of the whole job. If you do this. there will never be any misunderstanding as to cost. Tell him the cost of a new battery, and let him decide if lie wants one. If the cost of repairing is almost as much as the price of a new battery. advise him to buy a new one, but allow him to make the decision himself. He will then have no cause for complaint.
[Fig. 204 and 205 Show Diseased Negatives. The Large Ones Only Eight Months Old. Active Material, Granulated and Blistered]
2. If the battery is more than two years old, and the active material on the negative plates is granulated (grainy appearance), Figs. 204 and 205, and somewhat disintegrated; if the plates are weak and brittle around the edges, and several grids are cracked, Fig. 206, and the plates have lost a considerable amount of active material; and if the case has been rotted by the acid, the battery should be junked.
[Fig. 206 Weak and cracked positives]
Call up the owner, and tell him he needs a new battery. If he does not seem pleased, ask him to come to your shop. Then show him his battery, and explain its condition. If you are courteous and patient, you will sell him a new battery. Otherwise he will never return.
[Fig. 207 Buckled plates, and Fig. 208 An unusually bad case of buckling]
3. If the positive plates are badly distorted from buckling, as in Figs. 207 and 208 discard them, for they will cut through new separators, if put into commission again, ill from two to six months.
4. A battery which has has been dry and badly sulphated at some past period of its life will have the dry portions covered with a white sulphate, the acid line being clearly distinguishable by this white color, as shown at A and B in Fig. 201. If the plates are otherwise in good shape and you wish to use them, give them the "water cure" described on page 349.
[Fig. 209 Corroded, bulged and sulphated negatives. Disintegrated, rotten positives.]
[Fig. 210 Disintegrated positives.]
5. Rotten and disintegrated positive plates, Figs. 209 and 210, must be replaced with new plates. The plates have fallen to pieces or break at the slightest pressure. Disintegrated plates are an indication of impurities or overcharging, providing the battery is not old enough to cause disintegration normally,—say about two years. The lead grid is converted into peroxide of lead and becomes soft. As a result, there is nothing to support the paste, and it falls out. Better put in new negatives also.
6. Batteries with high gravity or hot electrolyte have burned and carbonized separators, turning them black and rotting them, the negative paste becomes granulated and is kept in a soft condition, and gradually drops from the grids on account of the jolting of the car on the road. Fig. 211 shows such a battery.
7. Dry, hard, and white, long discharged, and badly sulphated plates, Figs. 201 and 209, are practically ruined, though if the trouble is not of long standing, the plates may be revived somewhat by a long charge at a very low rate, using distilled water in place of the electrolyte, and then discharging at a current equal to about one-eight to one-tenth of the ampere hour capacity of the battery at the discharge board. Charge and discharge a battery a number or times, and you may be able to put a little "pep" into it. In charging sulphated plates, use a low charging rate, and do not allow gassing before the end of the charge, or a temperature of the electrolyte above 110 deg.F.
[Fig. 211 Side and end view of element from traveling salesman's battery]
8. If a battery case is not held down firmly, or if the elements are loose in the jars, the plates will jump around when the car is in motion. This will break the sealing compound on top of the battery, and cause the battery to be a slopper. The active materials will be shaken out of the grids, as shown in Fig. 212, and the plates will wear through the separators. New plates are required.
9. If Battery Has Been Reversed. Often the plates of such a battery disintegrate and crumble under the slightest pressure. If the reversal is not too far advanced, the plates may be restored (See page 81), but otherwise they should be discarded. This condition is recognized by the original negatives being brown, and the original positives gray.
From the foregoing explanations, you see that most of the trouble is with the positives:
(a) Because the positive active material does not stick together well, but drops off, or sheds easily.
(b) Because the positives warp or buckle, this causing most of the battery troubles.
(c) Because the positive plate is weaker and is ruined by freezing.
When the Old Plates May be Used Again
1. If one or more plates are broken from the plate connecting straps, or the joint between any strap and the plate is poorly made. If plates are in good condition, reburn the plate lugs to the straps.
Fig. 212. Element from a "Slopper." Element was Loose in Jar and Jolting of Car Caused Paste to Fall Out.
2. Straight Rebuild. If the general condition of the battery is good, i.e., the plates straight or only slightly buckled, only a slight amount of shedding of active material, no white sulphate oil either plate, the grids not brittle, active material adhering to and firmly touching the grids, the positive active material of a dark chocolate brown color and fairly hard (as determined by scratching with blade of a pocket knife), the negative active Material dark gray in color and not blistered or granulated, and the plates not too thin, make a straight rebuild. To do this, charge the battery, remove any sediment from the bottom of the jar, wash and press the negatives, wash the positives, clean the parts, insert new separators, and reassemble as directed later. The only trouble may be cracked sealing compound, or a broken jar. Broken jars should, of course, be replaced.
[Fig. 213 Badly bulged negatives. Such plates must be pressed]
3. Badly bulged negative plates, Fig. 213, cause lack of capacity because the active material is loose, and does not make good contact with the grids. If the active material is not badly granulated (having a grainy appearance) the plates call be used again. Sulphated negatives have very hard active material, and will feel as bard as stone when scratched with a knife. Hard negatives from Which active material has been falling ill lumps Oil account of being overdischarged after having been in in undercharged condition may be nursed back to life, if too much of the active material has not been lost.
4. The formation of an excessive amount of sulphate may result in cracking the grids, and the active materials falls out in lumps. Such plates may be put in a serviceable condition by a long charge and several cycles of charge and discharge if there is not too much cracking or too much loss of active material.
5. Positives which are only slightly warped or buckled may be used again.
6. When the only trouble found is a slight amount of shedding. Positive active material must be of a dark chocolate brown color and fairly hard. Negatives must be a dark gray.
7. When the plates are in a good condition, but one or more separators have been worn or out through, or a jar is cracked.
If the battery is one which will not hold its charge, and plates seem to be in a good condition, the trouble is very likely caused by the separators approaching the breaking down point, and the repair job consists of putting in new separators or "reinsulating" the battery.
What To Do With the Separators
It is the safest plan to put in new separators whenever a battery is opened, and the groups separated. Separators are the weakest part of the battery, and it is absolutely essential that all their pores be fully opened so as to allow free passing of electrolyte through them. Some of the conditions requiring new separators are:
1. Whenever the pores are closed by any foreign matter whatsoever. Put in new separators whether you can figure out the cause of the trouble or not. The separator shown in Fig. 201 is sulphated clear through above the line B, and is worthless. The separator shown in Fig. 203 should not be used again.
2. When the separators have been cut or "chiseled off" by the edge of a buckled plate, Fig. 214.
3. When a buckling plate or plate with bulged active material breaks through the separator, Fig. 214.
Fig. 214. Separators Worn Thin and Cut Through on Edges by Buckled Plates. Holes Worn Through by Bulged Active Material, Center One Shows Cell Was Dry Two Thirds of the Way Down.
4. When a battery has been used while the level of the Fig. 214. Separators Worn Thin and Cut Through on Edges by Buckled Plates. Holes Worn Through by Bulged Active Material. Center One Shows Cell Was Dry Two Thirds of the Way Down electrolyte has been below the tops of the plates, or the battery has been used in a discharged condition, and lead sulphate has deposited on the separators, Fig. 201.
[Fig. 215 Rotted separators]
5. When a battery has been over-heated by overcharging or other causes, and the hot acid has rotted, burned and carbonized the separators, Fig. 215.
6. When a battery has been damaged by the addition of acid and the separators have been rotted, Fig. 215.
7. Separators which are more than a year old should be replaced by new ones, whether plates are defective or not.
When you have put in new separators, and put the battery on charge, the specific gravity of the electrolyte may go down at first, instead of rising. This is because the separators may absorb some of the acid. If the battery was discharged when you put in the new separators, the lowering of the specific gravity might not take place, but in most cases the specific gravity will go down, or not change at all.
Find the Cause of Every Trouble
The foregoing rules must be studied carefully and be clearly tabulated in your mind to be able to tell what to put into commission again and what to discard as junk. It will take time to learn how to discriminate, but keep at it persistently and persevere, and as you pass judgment on this battery and that battery, ask yourself such questions as: What put this battery in this condition? Why are the negative plates granulated? Why are the positive plates buckled? What caused the positive plates to disintegrate? Why are the separators black? Why is the case rotten when less than a year old? Why did the sealing compound crack on top and cause the electrolyte to slop? Why did one of the terminal connectors get loose and make a slopper? Who is to blame for it, the car manufacturer, the manufacturer of the battery, or the owner of the car? Why did this battery have to be taken off the car, opened up and rebuilt at 5 months old, when the battery taken off a car just the day before had been on for 30 months and never had been charged off the car but once? There is a reason; find it. Locate the cause of the trouble if possible, remove the cause; your customer will appreciate it and tell his friends about it, and this will mean more business for you.
If you have decided that some or all of the plates may be used again, the next thing to do is to separate any plates that are touching, and put the battery on charge. It may be necessary to put in new separators in place of the defective ones. Examine the separators carefully. Whenever you find the pores of the separators stopped up from any cause whatsoever, put in new separators before charging.
1. Sometimes the negative plates are bulged or blistered badly and have worn clear through the separators, Fig. 214, and touch the positives. In cases of this kind, to save time and trouble, separate the groups, press the negatives lightly, as described later, assemble the element with new separators, and it is ready for charging.
2. There is another case where the groups must be separated and new separators inserted before they will take charge, and that is where the battery has suffered from lack of water and has sulphated clear through the separators, Fig. 201. The separators will be covered with white sulphate. Chemical action is very sluggish in such cases.
If you find that the separator pores are still open, leave the separators in place and proceed to separate the plates that are touching. How? That depends on what insulating material you have available that is thin enough. If nothing else is available, take a piece of new dry separator about 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch square, or a piece of pasteboard the same size. Use a screw driver or putty knife to separate the plates far enough to insert the little piece of insulation as in Fig. 216. Free all the shorts in this way, unless you have some old rubber insulators. In this case, break off some narrow strips 3/4 inch wide or less, put two together and repeat the operation as above, using the rubber strips instead of the pieces of separator. Insert down 1/2 inch or so and bend over and break off. Occasionally the Lipper edges of the plates are shorted, in which case they must be treated the same way.
[Fig. 216 Clearing short circuits]
[Fig. 217 Cleaning scale from posts before replacing connectors temporarily for charge]
When you have in this way cleared all the "shorts" in the elements place the elements back in the jars in the same position as they were when you opened the battery, and add enough distilled water to the electrolyte to cover the plates to a depth of one-half inch.
If the negatives are badly sulphated (active material very hard), they will charge more quickly if all the old electrolyte is dumped out and the cells filled with distilled water before putting the battery on charge. This "water cure" is the best for sulphated negatives and will save many plates that could otherwise not be used again. Make it a rule to replace the old electrolyte with distilled water if negatives are sulphated.
Fig. 218. Tapping Connectors in Place. Preparatory to Charging After Battery Has Been Opened and Shorts Removed
The next operation is to put the battery on charge. Grasp each post in the jaws of a pair of gas pliers and work the pliers back and forth, Fig. 217, so as to remove the scale and allow the connecting straps to make good contact. Now take a knife and cut off the rough edges left in the connecting straps by the drill. Taper the edge, if necessary to go on post. Turn the connectors upside down and pound gently in position, Fig. 218, to make a good connection. Temporary charging connections may also be made by burning lead strips on the posts. This being properly done, the battery is ready for charging. Check up the connections to be sure they are correct.