Proactive battery replacement?

Discussion in 'Maintenance Bay' started by bcool, Nov 12, 2018.

  1. bcool

    bcool Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I have a Gill battery in my Archer that's around 5 years old based on the serial #. I say "about 5 years old" because there's no log entry for when it was put in prior to my buying the plane. I contacted Gill & they gave me a rough date based on the serial #.

    My question is, should I go ahead & replace the battery before it decides to give up the ghost? Or, will I get sufficient advance warning that something's going wrong? I'd hate to get stuck at a remote airfield when it finally decides to conk out on me :)

    If I recall correctly my car battery seemed to doing just fine until one day it totally died without any warning - will an aircraft battery work the same way?
     
  2. scottfromboston

    scottfromboston Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Are you regularly checking the electrolyte levels (60-90 days)? Are you using a minder or another appropriate charger periodically as well? Have you checked the capacity recently?
     
  3. bcool

    bcool Pre-takeoff checklist

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    No..no..and no :rolleyes:

    It's a sealed battery...I don't have a minder but I fly it at least every other week and it seems to crank the engine just fine - even in the colder weather.
     
  4. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas En-Route

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    See if the shop that does your annuals has a battery tester designed for aircraft batteries:

    [​IMG]

    This thing puts a load on the battery and draws it down, measuring the time it takes to reach a calibrated minimum voltage. Gill says that a battery that measures 80% minimum is OK. We used one at most annuals if the owner agreed to it. The battery usually came out anyway, and once the battery was charged and the electrolyte topped up, we'd connect the tester and leave it to do its thing. Just had to recharge the battery afterward and put it back in the airplane. Doesn't take all that long. If it's done every year and recorded in the logs, you can track the battery's deterioration over time and replace it before it leaves you powerless, whie avoiding unnecessary replacement.

    The machine is expensive, and the time and amortization mean that the test will cost some money. You have to weigh that against simply replacing the battery. For yours, a Gill at five years, I'd just replace it now and test it next year. If it were my airplane it would get a Concorde.
     
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  5. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Gill.
    5 years.
    Change it.

    I have a friend who changes his every year. I guess he got caught aog one day and that was it.
     
  6. mondtster

    mondtster Pattern Altitude

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    If this is something you want to avoid I'd just replace it.

    It always amazes me how many people limp a battery along that is way past its prime then feel inconvenienced by a dead battery away from home.
     
  7. Bell206

    Bell206 Line Up and Wait

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    Proactively, that is the $64,000 question. But when you decide to change the battery, you can still be proactive toward getting the most out your new battery (7+ years) by doing the following:

    1) Have your electrical system checked thoroughly: wiring/connections for condition plus clean and secure, entire ground circuit to include secondary ground planes back to battery, no parasitic drains, charging at proper values, indicating values in limits, etc.
    2) Follow the OEM instructions to the letter on installation. Especially when putting battery into initial service. More batteries are damaged/set during their initial use.
    3) Follow the OEM instructions on servicing: flying/short term/long term storage, charging methods, capacity checks, etc.

    I can't guarantee you'll get 7+ years out your battery but I have had a 90% success rate with close to 9+ years on Concorde batteries.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018
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  8. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    At the least put a load test on it,if your not sure when it was installed,you might want to change it. .
     
  9. NoHeat

    NoHeat En-Route

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    Did your friend totally discharge the battery?

    If you avoid discharging it totally, and if you do replenish the electrolyte twice a year, and keep it on a trickle charger during periods of disuse, then a Gill flooded-cell battery can easily last five years. My Gill flooded cell battery is now five years old, and it works great.

    I replaced my previous one at about seven years, when it just barely passed the capacity check, using a machine at the shop like the one in Dan Thomas's post. A nice thing about the flooded cell batteries is that their declining health is detectable.
     
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  10. Clip4

    Clip4 En-Route

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    Where is the battery mounted? Heat and vibration on the firewall.
     
  11. tspear

    tspear Pattern Altitude

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    Less of an issue for Gill flooded than AGM batteries like Concord. With flooded you can generally recover lost fluid if maintained but AGM is justs has offs and you have no recovery.

    Tim

    Sent from my SM-J737T using Tapatalk
     
  12. Eric Stoltz

    Eric Stoltz Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I read your post like you are answering your own question. I had the same question at one time. Cheap insurance to have a nice new battery. My plane can sit for a month at times, and the battery minder addition was a fine addition. We wired a pigtail directly to the battery and have a nice little plug on the hat shelf for easy access. After a month of sitting with the minder on, the starter really slings the engine no prob. Also, its nice to have a minder plugged in after messing around with the avionics, training on rainy days. My mechanic told me about how the minder works. I can't remember why it works so well, and why it is so good for the battery, but I heard him well enough to get it.
     
  13. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Cleared for Takeoff

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    At 5 years I would change it, sorry but especially a Gill.

    I changed a Concorde at something beyond 6, just for preventative maintenance.

    I would also consider switching over to Concorde.
     
  14. tspear

    tspear Pattern Altitude

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    When you add up all the cheap insurance it starts to be real money.

    Concord AGM vs Gill Flooded should depend on how (or if) you take care of your battery and where it is located.

    Tim


    Sent from my SM-J737T using Tapatalk
     
  15. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform Pattern Altitude

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    I’m not sure that a weak battery won’t tax your other components, so I’d replace. Think about your starter, alternator, etc.
     
  16. Bill Watson

    Bill Watson Pattern Altitude

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    I’ve been through the Gill (flooded plate), Concorde (AGM) to non-TSO Odyssey (AGM) journey. I now maintain (2) Odyssey 680s in my RV-10. I think the experimental crowd tends to pay a lot more attention to battery maintenance because of the $$ involved independent of the labor. There’s also a lot of experimentation....

    I agree with switching to AGM technology but know that they are slightly different. They are dependable and long lived *IF* installed and maintained according to OEM instructions (see above).

    Lot’s of experience here with my current AGM batteries because I’ve ruined a half dozen of them over the past 10 years! Some of them never even had the chance to fly. I know the reason for each and every failure. Each was easily avoidable by following the OEM instructions.

    They thrive on slightly higher charging voltages both in and out of the aircraft. Many old chargers don’t use a high enough voltage and some go too high on discharged batteries. The older trickle chargers are slow death as well. (See OEM instructions)

    Either get rid of any parasitic loads, use (the proper) trickle charger or disconnect when not in use. Charged AGM batteries can be stored for long periods of time without harm. Less than adequately charged AGMs inevitably die early. (See OEM instructions)

    A battery capacity tester is a fine tool but it is not needed for AGM batteries. I can do everything I need to do with a simple voltmeter and a charger from Walmart; check plane charging voltage, check battery charge level, check charger voltage, track battery health and determine when it’s time to replace it. It just takes a voltmeter and a charger that can bring the battery up to full charge. (Always wait hours or overnight between charging and voltage testing for accurate results)

    I can’t speak to what Concorde publishes but Odyssey’s documentation is a spot on bit of installation and maintenance information. All I had to do was read and follow it.



    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
     
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  17. Dan Thomas

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    All that there. Especially the new battery preparation. Its like breaking in a new engine: do it right or suffer shorter life and other problems.
     
  18. Cruzinchris

    Cruzinchris Pre-Flight

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    SIMPLE CHECK OF YOUR BATTERY HEALTH:
    If you have a digital voltmeter on your plane (you should have by now):
    - Make sure the battery is around average temperature.
    - Turn on master switch, you should see your normal voltage (12.3 is about right). Write that down.
    - Turn on either the pitot heat (ideal) or landing light (not LED, we want some real current draw).
    - Note the voltage. >11 Volts would be okay. Regardless, write down the voltage and keep a historical list of the results.
    - When the battery starts to fail, that voltage will be lower and lower. Replace when it is down by .5 volts or so.
     
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  19. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If you have had a battery minder on it, it'll probably be good for a while yet. If not, replace it with a Concorde.

    I have one Gill that's at least 8 years old and one Concorde that's 4 years old. (2 batteries in the Mooney.) Battery minders on both, and they test fine... But when that other Gill goes, it's being replaced with a Concorde too.
     
  20. Dan Thomas

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    More advice: don't top it up with tap water. The minerals in much tap water are alkaline and neutralize the acid, weakening the battery. Use distilled water. It's cheap and readily available, and a gallon jug will last you a long, long time.

    And don't top it up unless it's on charge and actively gassing off. The electrolyte expands during charge, and if you top up the battery to the split rings when it's not charging, the electrolyte will swell enough (once the alternator charges it) to overflow. Not only does that cause corrosion in your battery box and other places, but it ends up diluting the acid as you keep topping up with water. More shortened battery life and poor performance.

    There are battery maintenance manuals online. Every new battery comes with one. If you're tired of hemorrhaging money buying batteries, it would be a good idea to read one.
     
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  21. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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