Battery cables & charger

Drive motor and electrical issues

Battery cables & charger

Postby jdunmyer » Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:27 pm

I am working on my E16 (see thread in General area) and am going to install 'new' batteries. As I've had 3 electric golf carts, I'm familiar with the basics of battery care, charging, etc, but have noticed this:

Golf carts usually have eye-type terminals on the cable ends, where the Elec-Traks use automotive-style connectors. Personally, I think I prefer the eye terminals, but did GE have a reason do do otherwise?

Some folks seem to use a Minn-Kota multiple-bank charger instead of the onboard unit. Is that because of the pack becoming unbalanced due to the lift motor and lights being tapped into the middle?

Is there any reason I can't use a golf cart charger? I have 3 or 4 of them, and they have neat little meters that tell you what's going on. I can easily add a golf cart charging receptacle, as I have one from my scrapyard shopping.
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Re: Battery cables & charger

Postby FarmallMan » Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:43 pm

There is a good reason to use the "automotive style" posts. They have a larger surface area than the lug-type terminals, and a lower resistance accordingly. These tractors can really pull a lot of amps using accessories like the snow blower, etc. This tends to build a lot of heat in the lug-type terminals, and it's not uncommon to see tractors that have had melt downs on terminal posts where lug terminals have been used. I make up my own cables with #4 welding wire and the "automotive" type post clamps.

No issues at all with using a golf cart charger. What I recommend most people do for external chargers is to get a twist lock plug to fit the accessory port that's already built into the tractor. It's all ready wired correctly and is protected by the circuit breaker that's located on the "fire wall" panel next to the fuses.

It has been my experience that pack imbalance due to use of the lights and lift is more of a perceived problem than an actual one. Maybe it's a problem for others, but not for me. I use the stock charger, and find it works pretty well. Use a hydrometer and get to know the various timer settings and it will serve you pretty well.

Congrats on your new tractors!

Nick 8-)
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Re: Battery cables & charger

Postby jdunmyer » Mon Dec 01, 2014 11:44 pm

Nick,
You may be right about the greater contact area, but the golf cart people (hobbiest types) also use #4 or even #2 wire, heavy-duty controllers, etc, etc. Of course, they have meltdowns also.

My first electric golf cart came with an old Lester charger with timer, and I got very good life from my batteries. I actually preferred it in a way to the new, fully-automatic unit with my EZ-Go RXV 48-volt cart. If I ran the cart just a bit, I might set the timer for a couple of hours, just to top it off.

My only reason for installing a GC receptacle on the ET is that I have at least 2 or 3 GC chargers that will plug right in, no need to modify them. Six of one, half-dozen of the other, I suppose.

I'll get some new stainless steel bolts & nuts for the existing battery terminal clamps and stay with them.

Thanks for the thoughts!!
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Re: Battery cables & charger

Postby FarmallMan » Tue Dec 02, 2014 2:42 pm

Always happy to share! When I make up cables, I order new terminals from McMaster-Carr. At $2.40, they're hard to beat. http://www.mcmaster.com/#69645k56/ I'm not very familiar with golf cart power demands, but fairly high current demand (120 + amps) can be sustained for minutes at a time when snow blowing, tilling, etc. I tend to think of golf carts more like cars where they have high demand spikes, but averages out to a lower level. Maybe my thoughts on the topic are mistaken.

If I were to wire up an external charger port (are they the power pole type of connector?), I would probably wire the positive lead to the load side of the power disconnect and run the negative lead to the bottom end of the current shunt for an E15 or to wire 4 on the lower right contactor if it's the E16. This will give you the ability to isolate the battery pack in case of wire abrasion, etc. as well as use the "Fuel" gauge as an additional indicator.

Nick 8-)
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Re: Battery cables & charger

Postby jdunmyer » Tue Dec 02, 2014 9:57 pm

Nick,
You're right about G.C.s being "mostly" intermittent in loading. The abuse comes in when climbing a hill, perhaps with passengers, especially on a lifted cart with oversized tires. Even at that, it's not going to be like tilling, snowblowing, or even mowing.

The most-common charging connector on 36-volt G.C.s is a 2-prong "crowfoot" style. It looks similar to the PTO outlet without the ground (center) prong. The plug on the cord typically has a nice big handle for plugging/unplugging, and the prongs are relatively long for good contact. The chargers themselves are usually rated at 20-25 amps or so, and the older units are essentially identical to the E.T. on-board outfit, a simple ferro-resonate design. See: http://www.golfcarcatalog.com/products/ ... C-25A.html for a pic of a typical old-style charger. There's also a pic of the 2-prong cord w/plug.

I do have one charger that's more sophisticated and rated at up to 45 amps, I think it was meant for a walkie-type forklift. It seems to work OK, but it's very heavy.

Most golf carts have the charger receptacle wired directly to the batteries, no fuse or anything.
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Re: Battery cables & charger

Postby jdunmyer » Tue Dec 23, 2014 12:01 am

Today, we installed the G.C. batteries and the snow blade. Observations:

The batteries just BARELY fit in the rear compartment, I'm actually concerned about the wires coming from below.
Driving 'er down the driveway, the ammeter will easily go into the 'red' and stay there in either 3rd or 4th gear.
The voltmeter reads 'low', but that's apparently to be expected. I have a digital meter on the golf cart that I may retrofit.
I mis-connected the wire to the lights and they went off like flashbulbs. (if you're old enough to remember those things!)
We dragged the mower deck over so we could plug it in; it runs fine, but is a bit noisy, I think the bearings are bad. There are spare bearings in the boxes of parts that I got with the machine, but I'm unsure as to whether they're for the mower deck or what. There's 2 different sizes/part numbers.

I installed a golf cart charging receptacle in place of the timer on the on-board charger. The charger is on the bench, waiting for a capacitor. Will also replace the timer with one from a junker that I have on hand.

That's it for now, am open to comments. :D
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Re: Battery cables & charger

Postby Jeff Antonucci » Mon Dec 29, 2014 2:48 pm

Yes - the batteries are a tight fit. Where the cables come through the frame they were wrapped in a piece of rubber from the factory, and I like to also cover them in automotive type corrugated tubing.

As you found out the hard way, the lights and lift are not supposed to run on 36V. Lights are 12V and the lift is 18V if I remember correctly. However some guys (like me) like to run the lift at 24V, and some even run it at 36V.

I have found the ammeter is in the red a lot even with a fully restored tractor and new batteries. With older batteries it is worse. Current draw goes up as battery voltage goes down.

Yes - the mower motor bearings are different sizes top & bottom. The large diameter mower motors also use different size bearings than the small dia.

Sounds like you are making good progress.

Jeff
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Re: Battery cables & charger

Postby jdunmyer » Mon Dec 29, 2014 8:41 pm

Jeff,
I knew that the lights and lift operate on lower voltage, but connected the headlight wire to the wrong post. All is well now, and the lift works fine also. One of the manuals shows the exact hookup, but some of the battery diagrams show only the batteries, not the accessories, and I guessed wrong. That's what happens when you're in a bit of a hurry. :(

I'm thinking that the ammeter reads way high due to a poor connection on the shunt. Gotta do some investigation to find exactly where the shunt even IS. I have one of those slip-on starter current ammeters, and it reacts as I'd expect, so I don't think that it's actually drawing excessive current. It would also be possible to connect my DVM to the accessory outlet to see exactly what's going on with the voltage.

I've not decided what to do with all this stuff. We spent some time sorting out the 3 boxes of spare parts that were part of the deal, and there's a LOT of pieces/parts. The P.O. must have come upon a deal, because there's no way he figured on using 3 or 4 master switches, for instance. I'm thinking that if I unload the E15, I might put the 'better' mower deck on it and use the NOS deck on the E16. We got the snow blade mounted, depth footies welded on and paint touched up, so it's good to go. Gotta make sure I get it reinstalled on the tractor before it snows. :)
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