We’ve all done it at sometime or another, maybe just to get that last ride of the season in, or just didn’t have the funds for the “right stuff,” at the time. For the few that avoided ever doing it, great job, wish I was on your “got it right the first time” list.
What am I talking about? The thing that “lights the fire”: the Battery.
I’ve cut the top section off of both a Yuasa brand Wet-Cell style battery and a popular brand of “will-fit”.
The good/bad thing about "will-fit" is that it’ll work. Or let me correct myself, it’ll “fit” and usually work well enough to lure us into a false sense of security.
In the first photo you can see that the construction isn’t the same internally, but very similar, which is necessary to function as a battery of any sort.
So it turns out that the OEM batteries DON’T have TWO hamsters in the wheel and the aftermarket ones only ONE. I was so sure……LOL.
A simple pleasure ride can rapidly turn into a serious situation if someone is put in danger due to a failed battery.
At first look, it appears that the non OEM battery has many more plates, and it does. The plates in the low cost battery are of a much more impure lead, and not near as strong.
The strength of the plates is what causes a lot of battery failures, running second only to sulfation. Sulfation is usually the culprit to most batteries’ demise, as I have found over my last 40 years of experience. Pictured below are two batteries of equal service life.
The whitish coloration on the battery at right is just that, Sulfation. It grows kind of like a cancer or rust.
This in turn weakens the plates and causes them to break, crumble, crack, FAIL! The left battery shows nothing but a healthy shot of an opened battery and the high quality materials it takes to build one.
To prevent sulfation when the battery isn’t being used, attach a proper Trickle Charger, also known as a battery maintainer. There are several brands on the market. We are strong advocates of the Deltran “Battery Tender” brand and line of chargers, and Yuasa has a new one out that is said to be great. Knowing the quality of the rest of the things they make, it’s a sure bet to past the test.
Also as a part of scheduled maintenance, be sure to use distilled water only to the fill-to line.
Never use electrolyte after the battery has been put into service. Some feel this will help *renew* the battery. It won’t. It is likely done,… finito, toast, ready for the round-file!
The truest test for a battery under real world situations is the “Load-Testing” of it. It simulates the real work it must do to perform well. Here are two fine examples of the tool. No real tool box is complete without one. The one on the left will do M/Cs, ATVs, Cars, Trucks, and our PWCs!
The left one is Matco’s offering that runs about $75.00
And the one on the right is Snap-On’s Digital Tester that will do from 6 volt batteries up to 24 volt monsters. Both not only load-test your battery but they also let you know if you’re “charging” or not.
Once you have one of these, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it! It is nice to have and eliminate the guess work. Some still use a Hydro-Meter, to test the specific gravity, but I haven’t seen one in many years.
I haven’t touched yet on the tops of the batteries. (not shown) They have much larger lugs that run out to form the positive and negative terminals. These too can be a point to examine when looking for a quality built battery.
Most all will have a venting barb, BUT, only a TRUE PWC BATTERY will have a check valve built-in. You can bet the left one in the picture does!
The Yuasa’s posts are heavy-duty in their build, and well-formed, both in their construction and their “pass-through” of the casing. I have also seen this in Hawker Engineering’s batteries, as well as DEKA’s.
These are high-tech batteries that you pay a very premium price for, but the value is that there are some out there on their 8-9th year of service.
I hope this tech-bit about something we all depend on helps some folks, I know it would have helped me!
PS: NO battery has EVER been drained due to sitting on CONCRETE! LOL