Charging problem

Drive motor and electrical issues

Charging problem

Postby imflipside » Thu Jul 09, 2015 3:27 pm

I have an Elek-Trak E15 that uses NI-CD wet cells instead of flooded lead-acid batteries. The machine worked fine for a year, then I noticed that the batteries weren't charging as fully as they used to (they have the right amount of water in them). While looking around for the problem, I accidentally shorted the battery bank to the point that some electrolyte boiled (I topped up the missing water - very little). Looking around for damage I noticed that one of the diodes on the heat sink next to the transformer had a wire disconnected (this might be the root cause of the batteries not fully charging earlier, or the result of the short, I don't know). When I reconnected the wire and tried charging the batteries a breaker popped on my house fuse panel, but the fuses on the tractor itself did not pop.

Leaving the wire disconnected allows the batteries to charge, but not fully.

I suspect the diode is damaged and that the wire should be connected.
For those more familiar with this equipment, does this make sense to you?

I understand a new heat sink and diodes are available, do you think replacing it is a solution?

Right now I have a really hard time getting access to the transformer and heat sink/diodes, how is this part of the machine usually accessed?

The E15 is a great tractor that does everything I need, I just have to get it working again!
Any help is greatly appreciated.

Tks!
Darren.
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Re: Charging problem

Postby Bushman » Fri Jul 10, 2015 7:12 pm

Yes, that makes sense on the diode failure. Both dealers have the diode heat sink assemblies, I believe. It tripped your house breaker because the batteries could not "pull" current through the tractor circuit breaker with the bad diode.

Easiest way to access the charger is to remove the wires on the charger cover (with the disconnect off, of course) and remove the screw holding it to the grill. Pull the cover up and disconnect the charger timer connector, then remove completely. Two bolts hold the charger to the frame. You'll need a 1/2" socket with a long extension for inside and a 1/2" wrench underneath. Once the bolts are out, you might remove the closest battery, so you can flip the charger up on its' side and disconnect the positive wire on the heat sink (usually orange insulation.) The ground wire will usually come loose without holding the bolt from underneath the charger base. Once both wires and bolts are disconnected, you can lift the charger out.

Without the wire connected, you were getting "half" of the charging power, so it would have taken twice as long to charge. Either way, it needs repaired and would never come up to full charge.

Good luck,

Chad
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Re: Charging problem

Postby imflipside » Fri Jul 10, 2015 7:23 pm

Thank-you so much for your feedback. I ordered new diodes yesterday and hope to get them next week, when I do I'll swap them out and hopefully fix the problem!

When I was investigating the charging problem I used compressed air to clean the transformer inside the tractor, but now when I plug it in there's a distinct smell, kind of a nutty, roasting smell you get when you first turn on your furnace in the Fall after not using it all Summer. I assume this is dust burning off, or maybe be the transformer getting too hot because of the imbalance caused by the bad diode?

Your thoughts?

This is a great community of Elec-Trak enthusiasts.

Thanks again,
Darren.
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Re: Charging problem

Postby Bushman » Tue Jul 14, 2015 1:47 pm

The smell is probably everything getting hot. You shouldn't turn it on until you get the new diodes in. I can't believe I did not mention it in my first post, but the capacitor should be changed at the same time. I can imagine you didn't order one of those, too. The bad capacitors have a distinct acid-y smell, but it's usually once they've leaked out.
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Re: Charging problem

Postby imflipside » Sun Aug 30, 2015 1:01 am

I can't believe it's been two months already! I've been charging the batteries with solar panels to bypass the onboard charger so I could keep using the tractor even though the onboard charger wasn't working. That worked, but the batteries weren't fully charging because the solar panels are small and there hasn't been enough sun lately. I finally made time today to replace the diodes and capacitor and I'm happy to report the charger now works great and has already fully charged the batteries. The new capacitor was physically taller than the original one, but it installed with a little MacGyvering. The new diodes and heat sink appear to be an improved design and installed easily. Thanks to everybody who helped with this problem.

What a great machine.
Darren.
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