Batteries are like the rest of us…..

….they get old.  Weak.

But, before they pass on to that great recycling depot in the sky, they (like us) strain to do what they used to do.  Which is: give up their energy in aid of comfort (irony).  If you are any kind of decent battery owner, you work ’em til they get a bit embarrassing and then you send them off to the battery rest home.  Out of sight, out of mind……like we old folks.

There is more than just a little anthropomorphism in there, I know that, but that is what we had to do with eight of our old 8D buddies – get rid of them.  And I feel their pain.  I  have empathy. They were no longer pulling their weight.  And they have to do at least that – they each weigh about 150 pounds.

We started about eight years ago with twelve of the monoliths.  THAT was a schlep!  That’s 1800 pounds of lead and acid on small boats and up steep slopes!  Sadly, over the years, a couple failed prematurely and, although I replaced them, that is a fool’s game – you can’t really put new batteries in with old.  But I did it anyway.  I figured ‘gambling’ (sacrificing) with the two newbies would keep the other ten going.  But you can’t do that and not eventually screw up.  Two replacements is about the extent of it on a battery bank of 12.

And then, as the years marched on and more died, I cut back to the best eight.

And, eventually, I bought eight more new ones to form a ‘NEW TEAM’.  They could not be paired with the old team because they would be pulled down by the old, aging group.  So, two groups of eight with one group young and strong and the other starting to limp along somewhat.  A battery switch kept them apart.

And then it was time.  The old guys were just not doing their job.

Batteries are like horses, too.  An old horse can pull your buggy and you just go kind of slow.  Maybe REAL slow but you go.  But, if you add a young, big, strong Percheron, the new guy not only pulls your buggy but he also has to pull the old guy.  It’s actually easier on the new guy to do it alone.

And so it is with us.  We are now relying on the eight new guys (about four years old now).  We took the old guys down to the lower deck this summer and planned to move them off but, well, you know…they are not the only things around here getting old.  We took our time til it was, well, embarrassing.

And that brings us to today.  We are getting off island for a week.  There really was no excuse (trust me) and so we decided to take four of the eight with us when we go.

To the euphemistic battery rest home.

The logistics of all this aren’t really much…..you lower the batteries to the lower deck (not easy but not complicated).  Then you lower them to the sea when there is a boat there to receive them.  Calm weather is a prerequisite.  Which explains why we chose today.  But…..to get a 150 pound battery into a small boat is particularly not easy.  You can use two people/horses but, really, the one good horse has an easier time of it because two horses on one side of a small boat loading in another 150 pounds is asking to be tipped over.

So…here’s where Sal comes in……. again!  Her boat has about eight inches of freeboard.  That is LOW in the water.  If I stand on one side of it, it tips like a skateboard…resisting the pressure my weight puts on it until it gives up and then everything ‘squirts’ one way or another.  But Sal can walk around it.  She can stand on the gunwhale.  Sal can work on her boat.  I cannot.  The two of us on the boat?  Next to ridiculous.  

So, the plan was to bring two boats around, tie one off to the side for me to use later.  I then lower the batteries to sea level and then Sal puts her little boat-front right smack dab on the cart of the lower funicular.  The question was: “Can Sal move 150 pounds of dead weight from the cart to the boat?”

Bear in mind that ‘ol Sal is only 130 pounds herself!

So, she tied her boat tight to the cart and, with one leg on the bow of her boat and one on the cart, pull-slid the first battery to the edge.  She lifted one half of it an inch or so and then dragged it onto the edge of her boat and then, because of the slant of her deck, slid it down to the middle.  One down, three to go.

After two were in, the boat was kind of low in the water at the front.  So, Sal dragged and pulled the first two to the back of her boat.  And then repeated the exercise to get all four in.  And then, for fun, we added a 100 pound winch that a friend needs to borrow.

Took Sal about 15 minutes to load 700 pounds onto a small boat!

I hauled the cart back to the deck, climbed into the second boat (had I been in Sal’s boat, we would all be in the water at this juncture).  And we proceeded to the other island where our car is.  I got the truck and backed it to the beach.

The tide was higher than usual.  So high, in fact, I could drive right into the sea with only 2/3 of the rear wheels showing.  That put Sal’s boat only about one foot lower when she came up to the back of the truck.  In rubber boots we pull-hauled the batteries and the winch into the back of the truck.  We then took it up the hill to our little utility trailer.  There, we jockeyed trailer and truck so that we could off-load and the whole schmozle went into the trailer.

Weather permitting, we will repeat the whole exercise in a couple of weeks and the chore will be done.

8 thoughts on “Batteries are like the rest of us…..

    • Typically 9 or 10 cents a pound ( in the case of an 8D: $15.00) but sometimes a ‘flat rate’ of $25.00. Depending on how far South you go to recycle.

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    • Me, too. Those cost about $400 each ($5K for 12) and last for seven years if you are good. The new set cost $600 each ($5K for 8) and last 15 years (claimed). So batteries are a real cost. But the Li-ion batteries are not the answer. They may be for me…they only have to ‘see me out’ but – long term – they are going to have to develop something that will get 25 years. Too laborious swapping them out.

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  1. Our first set of batteries grew as our system did. When the first one capped out at eight, we purchased eight more for a separate systems like you did. We use golf cart models so they are a bit easier to manage, but even so they are heavy. In 2015 we replaced all 16, quite an expense but it was the best way to have everything in good shape. Of the 16 old ones, 8 were turned in and 8 of the best went to John to use at his place. As an adopted “son” he is always getting our hand-me-downs in addition to being hired to work on our place. – Margy

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