Dumb question about battery charging

Fri Aug 20, 2004 9:40 am

I may be having electrical system problems (6 volt, positive ground with a ditsributor) as my battery seems to slowly lose its charge over time. It seems to me that I get a lot more starts out of the battery than I should if it wasn't charging at all - but it gradually (two weeks or so with regular starts) begins to turn the starter over slower and slower. The battery itself is less than 6 months old and seems to hold a charge just fine when not in use.

I have begun to look at the problem and will no doubt have questions a'plenty if the trouble persists after I take care of some obvious things - clean all the connections, put in a new amp meter (mine's broken), etc. In the meantime, I want to top off the charge on the battery, but I know precious little about these systems.

My question is this: Is it OK (safe) to put a charger on the battery while it is still hooked up to the tractor? The cable connections are on there good and it's a pain to get them on and off, but I certainly don't want to damage the tractor, or myself for that matter. Of course it's no problem to pop the cell caps to prevent hydrogen gas build-up, and charge with a 6V trickle charger in a well-ventillated area. I appreciate any advice.

Fri Aug 20, 2004 9:49 am

Slappy, go ahead and charge it in the tractor. Just loosen the caps so it can vent.

Fri Aug 20, 2004 9:53 am

Depending on just how much you use it during those 2 weeks, it is quite possible to go that long or longer between charges even if the generator isn't working.

You don't have to disconnect the battery before putting a charger on it. With everything shut off, the battery isn't really hooked to anything anyway. You don't even have to take the lid off the battery box. Hook the hot lead from the charger to the lug on the starter switch. I probably wouldn't do that with one of the big quick chargers, but a trickle charger is OK.

Fri Aug 20, 2004 2:32 pm

Dr. Becker:

I really hate to question the wisdom of a any wise old sage such as you, but I also charge my battery in the same fashion by connecting my charger to the starter lug and a good ground. But..... shouldn't we be connecting the negative lead of the charger to the starter lug? I know I'll rot in hell for these comments, but just couldn't resist. Love you Jim.

Fri Aug 20, 2004 2:44 pm

Dad, Dad, Dad.............. Could one not say that whatever lead from the battery charger is not connected to ground would be the "Hot" lead in a direct current circuit???? The generalization of a DC system is that you have a "Hot" and a "Ground" to provide current flow. Either of these two could be either polarity as long as the other was the opposite polarity. Hence.....Dr. Becker's reference to the "Hot" lead would summarily be correct would it not?

Your loving son,

Say "Hey" to Maw for me.

Fri Aug 20, 2004 5:24 pm

Yeah, what Bigdog said.

I intentionally worded it that way to not confuse anyone with a negative ground system.


Sat Aug 21, 2004 9:45 am

Having a PO (previous owner) 12V conversion, I'm confused about + or - ground (to the frame), but I'm gonna go with the negative to the frame and the + up to the starter terminal... I hope I don't blow anything up!

I sanded down part of my battery box and am gonna try to use it as the ground like Rudi's server pics, although I could not find a flat cable so I am just running a short regular battery cable to the round hole in the top of the box like you guys said...

Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:00 am

That would be the standard way to connect on a 12 volt system. To verify it just look at the battery posts. One will be parked + and the other -. which ever one is connected to the ground cable (normally - on 12 volt systems) is the lead of your charger you want to connect to the frame.


Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:02 am

Aye, there's the rub...

The battery is sitting next to the tractor, disconnected from both cables, and I can't remember which way it was hooked up before I took it off...

I just assumed it was - ground, not knowing that the early tractors were + ground.

:shock: :oops:

Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:04 am

If it's 12 volts, connect the - terminal to the ground cable (going to chasis). On 6 volts it would be the + terminal to the ground cable. don't forget to polarioze the generator.


Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:18 am

OK, I have my sunglasses on the generator - they're polarized, is that enough?

Mon Aug 23, 2004 10:39 am

BD, my son:

Remember out on the back porch when we were going over circuits when you were a wee lad of three or four? I can remember it just like it were 40 years ago. I guess my ramblings fell on deaf ears. Oh well, you turned out fine and I'm mighty proud of you anyway.

My only concern with Dr. Becker's epitome was that I would surmize that most people would consider the plus lead, or the one with the red handle on a DC battery charger to be the 'hot' lead. With this assumption in mind, I was fearful that following Dr. B's instructions to the letter, just might cause someone to connect the red or plus lead of the charger to the starter lug. Which on an original 6V system would be backward. Just trying to help.

Why don't we just get Mom to bake us up a nice Possum pie and well sit down and laugh about it a bit. My place or yours?

Mon Aug 23, 2004 10:58 am

Possum Pie!!!!!!!!!

OK! Tell Maw to start bakin'! Her favorite son is on his way home!!!!!!! :D :D :{_}:

Mon Aug 23, 2004 11:25 am

Maybe you should just get out your thermometer to find the HOT one. Don't forget your oven mits, you might get burned.

j/k :D

BTW, I can get you some possom meant, real cheap. Just let me get my shovel, and i will go scrape it off the road in front of my house. It's been "tenderized".

Mon Aug 23, 2004 11:31 am

Sun dried possum is always good! :)