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  • exploding battery

    I have a 1950 landcruiser, original condition with 51,000 miles. Yesterday I drove about 3 miles parked for one hour and when I came out the battery was totally dead. No lights etc. Had to have the car towed home. today we were trying to fix the problem. We charged the battery overnight and todaay, no luck. I did notice while driving the car yesterday that the ammeter was jumping back and forth. We tried jumping the starter solenoid to no avail. We coud not find any bad connections and we cleaned the battery terminals and when we pulled the starter switch, it turned over once. when we pumped the gs and tried again, the starter turned once and the battery exploded. Acid all over the engine compartment. No one was hurt, only loss of hearing for about ten minutes. This is of course a 6volt battery, positive ground. We have ordered a new voltage regulator and will wait a few days before installing a new battery and trying again. Anyone have any ideas? One additional thought. when it would not start, I was checking the battery cables and the positive cable was very hot.any help would be appreciated.

  • #2
    It happens. Just stay observant of safety precautions around batteries.

    I saw it happen at SB in 2002 in a very nice '56 Golden Hawk.


    3E38
    4E2
    4E28
    5E13
    7E7
    8E7
    8E12
    8E28

    59 Lark
    etc

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    • #3
      Just a guess, but your battery may have had an internal short.


      SnowLark
      In the middle of Minnestudea
      sigpic
      In the middle of MinneSTUDEa.

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      • #4
        Hot battery cable is telling me there was a huge current. There is likely a bad short someplace. Could be in the generator/regulator circuit someplace but the wire gauge there seems unlikely to support a bad enough short to make the battery explode. I'd also check the starter and solenoid. If this car has all original wiring, the cloth over rubber insulation is likely gone bad and could be crumbled away and allowing a short to the car body/frame.

        Jeff in ND

        '53 Champion Hardtop

        Jeff in ND

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        • #5
          I had a 6 V battery explode on me once. BANG! Battery acid all over the place.

          It happened when I boosted it with a 12V.

          I've boosted 6V with 12V many times before and many times after.

          I just think that this battery was shorted inside AND gas had built up under the caps. The perfect storm.

          PS: Yes, I do stand back a little more when I do it!!

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          • #6
            Expert322 - When did you check the water level in the battery last time? The water level may be too low that it can lead to exploded by spark jumping between the plates inside the battery as you start up. Thought it should helps you.

            Steven

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            • #7
              Beats me,
              Bad ground from engine to frame?

              I blew all the caps off a battery once when I was a teeny bopper, pulled off a charging cable with the charger still running...

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              • #8
                Battery cable getting too hot? Means something is drawing a pretty huge current. A bad starter can do that. If the bushings are worn in the starter, the armature can drag on the pole shoes for the field, and current draw really shoots up, if it is able to crank the engine at all.

                On a six-volt car, using 12-volt rated (undersize) battery cables almost gurantees the cable will get hot, even if the starter is good. Since most parts-store battery cables on the racks are made for 12-volt service, it's VERY common to find six-volt cars with incorrect battery cables.

                Some batteries are just plain defective. The current-style hard-top batteries have their inter-cell connections in the form of a spot weld between lead tabs on either side of the bulkhead between cells. There's a hole in the bulkhead; the spot welder presses these tabs to meet through the hole, and current is applied to make the weld. The welding process is just like that used to make spot welds on body panels, but the metal is MUCH thicker. Occasionally, you get a bad spot weld, and the battery will become intermittent. It might run the lights OK, and test good with a hydrometer, but the bad weld won't pass enough juice for the starter, and an arc occurs at the break. If this happens just after charging, when the air space in the cells is filled with hydrogen, Ka-boom! happens.

                If you dissect the exploded battery, you might see the tell-tale signs of such arcing if you trace the current path through the cells. Be sure to wear protective clothing if you try this! If the battery was fairly new, and still under warranty, best to have the dealer who sold it do that.

                Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands
                Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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                • #9
                  It's happened to me twice in past ten years. Both were 12v batteries in relatively late model vehicles (GMC truck and a Porsche). As mentioned in preceding post, both exploded very violently during starting. Probably coincidental, but both were same brand (DieHorribly?). Sears store people just shrugged and said "it happens". I'm fervently hoping that violent explosions and showers of acid should be less likely with products (such as Optima and Odyssey) NOT filled with liquid acid.

                  Gil Zimmerman
                  Riverside, CA

                  1955 Speedster
                  1956 Golden Hawk
                  1958 Packard Hawk
                  1958 President
                  Gil Zimmerman
                  Riverside, CA

                  1955 Speedster
                  1956 Golden Hawk
                  1958 Packard Hawk
                  1958 President
                  1963 Avanti R2

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                  • #10
                    I am surprised that Gord and others did not mention this. Be sure that you immediately neutralize the acid and wash everything down well with water.

                    Guido Salvage - "Where rust is beautiful" and real Studebaker horsepower lives

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                    • #11
                      An Optima 6-volt battery is a nice option for us 6-volt owners.

                      '53 Commander
                      Art Morrison chassis
                      LS6 ASA/4L60E
                      '53 Commander
                      Art Morrison chassis
                      LS6 ASA/4L60E

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                      • #12
                        Gary, you are quite right about neutralizing the acid, and washing down with water. I didn't mention it, because with the time that has passed, it'd be like locking the barn after the horse has been stolen.

                        Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands
                        Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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                        • #13
                          gary was right aboutthe acid. the first thing I did was to get the hose and completely wash the engine compartment and the exterior, including my arm which was sprayed. thanks for all the comments. We will try again when the voltage regularot and the new battery arives

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                          • #14
                            I've seen a 6 volt battery explode because it was jumped with 12 volts. The battery was frozen at the time and the guy that jumped it knew better. I blew up a 12 volt battery beacuse I was careless and didn't turn off the high current charger when I disconnected it. There must have been a large amount of hydrogen gas venting from the battery and the spark from disconnecting the charger was enough to blow the top off of the battery. Fortunately in my case, the battery was on the bench and not in the car, but I still ruined a Die Hard battery. Bud

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                            • #15
                              Funny story that could have been serious: My friend on a cold winter night in NH decided to check his battery water level with a lit match! He came back in OK, less eyebrows........

                              '59 Lark hardtop w/355 blown sbc, 700R4, 8.8" rear w/ 3.73 gears

                              Dogs are a man's best friend. Just ask my Dachshunds!

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