One of the best quotes that apply to all initiatives is, “If you want something done right, it is best to do it yourself.” The same goes for procuring battery plates for your batteries. In case you utilize a lead-acid battery, you must realize that the plates can degrade over time, even though you use them judicially.
While changing the electrolyte is pretty straightforward, you may need assistance when swapping out old plates. They are an essential part of the electrodes, and repair shops can charge a premium if you want to repair your battery. Still, you can choose to make the plates yourself with a few intricate steps. If you’re up for it, here is a definitive guide that will tell you how to make battery plates that fit the slots without burning a hole in your pocket.
Process of Making Battery Plates
If you want to make battery plates on your own, it helps to procure some specialized equipment beforehand. The dimensions of the plates need to remain perfect, which is why you should focus on precision rather than production volume. A few essential pieces include the following.
- Metal dies
- Soldering kit
- Smelter for lead alloys with molds for the plates
- Safety gloves, pliers, and grips
- Additional tools for handling the plates and molten alloys
- Portable drill kit with screws
- Metal pellets for smelting (lead oxide, zinc, tin, bismuth, and others as per your alloy configuration)
- Cork powder and dry glue
- A vacuum suction device along with a sprayer
- Containers to hold various solutions
Caution: The process involves hazardous operations like smelting and pouring molten metals. So, if you believe you’re not qualified to handle them, you can go to a nearby battery repair shop where professionals can do the job for you.
Step 1: Clean the plate molds
Initially, you need to ensure that the plate molds are clean. Take a wire brush and remove any contaminants from the surface. Any residue can damage the alloy, making it ineffective when using the plates. You may also use a basic cleaning solution if you have the time to let the molds dry.
Step 2: Set up the metals to heat
Before preparing the mold, you can prepare the smelter for the metals, as they take some time to melt. It is pretty straightforward. Just place the metal pellets within the smelter and heat it. For best efficiency, you can add lighter metals later on.
Step 3: Prepare the mold to receive the metal
As the metals are heating up, you can use the time to prepare the molds. They need a flux covering on the surface that prevents the molten metal from sticking to the surface. It helps to have a mixture of water, cork powder, and dry glue for that.
First, grind the cork powder to a fine salt-like form before dissolving it in water. For every 300 grams of powder, you need 750 ml of water. Then, you need to place it in a sprayer, preferably vacuum operated, before adding dry glue. Gently spray the solution over the molds and let it dry for some time.
Step 4: Pour the molten metal alloy
Once you’re sure that the molds are ready to go, it’s time to clamp them together and introduce the molten metal through the sprue. Pour the metal slowly, as any air gaps or excess fillings can spill over to your hand. Always maintain a safe distance and wear gloves throughout the process.
Step 5: Extract the plates
Once the metal cools, you can safely remove the plates from the mold. It is best to use pliers or a similar tool to pry them loose. They may seem deformed as some of the alloys may still be cooling down. That’s why you need to let it rest as you create more plates.
Step 6: Clean the metal
Once plates are adequately cooled, use a knife or grinder to remove the deformities. Afterward, you must cover the plates in clay and wrap them with paper. That ensures that the surface is uniform and contains no air gaps.
The paper absorbs the excess moisture. You can later remove it and expose the plates to dry further. You can use an oven with a temperature close to 70°C if the area around you doesn’t receive much sunshine.
Step 7: Attach the plates to the battery
When the plates are dry, you can use water or a regular metal cleaner to remove the flux and attach them to the terminals. It’s time to power up the drill and make inserts for the jaws. Ensure that the measurements are correct, and use a marker to spot the required locations. Once the screws are fastened, you can place the plates in each cell and proceed with the rest of the assembly.
See full this video: How to make battery plates
How Are Battery Plate Dimensions Calculated?
Keep in mind that the plates are highly reactive and can contain a layer of corrosive solution over them. Thus, you need to measure the dimensions very carefully. If you’re taking out old plates from a defunct battery, you need to use gloves and dip them in distilled water. Clean the plates with a basic agent before taking measurements.
You can measure the area with a ruler or measuring tape. For measuring the thickness, you may need a screw gauge.
How to clean battery plates?
Unlike other metal components of the battery, the plates require reactions to clean thoroughly and safely. It involves removing the sulfation of the electrodes rather than wiping off dirt. First, separate the plates and use a basic solution to neutralize the acid over the surface. A mixture of water, baking soda, and aspirin work quite well.
Ensure not to rub it rigorously throughout the surface. Instead, dip a soft cloth in the solution and gently wipe the surface. Let the plates rest for the reaction to take place. You can observe some steam letting off from the surface. Once the reaction subsides, reconnect the plates to the terminals and insert them back into the battery.
Next, fill the battery with distilled water to adequate levels and connect it to a trickle charger. Leave the charging on for about five hours, although the exact duration depends upon the battery’s capacity. You may spot a few bubbles fizzling out at the surface, indicating the release of sulfur dioxide and retaining the plates to their original quality. Upon concluding, you can disconnect the charger, drain the water, and fill the battery with adequate electrolytes.
See full this video: Cleaning Battery Plates Baking Soda Water
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
How To Know When Battery Plates Are Degrading?
Several telltale signs let you know when the battery plates are degrading. You can lift the top lid and use a flashlight to watch for signs of sulfation. It comes about as several spots across the surface. In addition, you should check for corrosion at the terminals and the leakage of electrolytes from the outer cover.
How Many Plates Are in a Battery Cell?
It depends upon the type of battery for a particular application. You can create a cell from just two plates, one positive and the other negative. Yet, several manufacturers use a cluster of multiple plates to increase current density and extend battery life. It’s best to use at least 6 plates at a time for most cases.
How Many Plates in a 12V Battery?
Depending on the current capacity, a 12V battery may have 7, 9, 11, or 17 plates. That’s because there are cells in multiples of four, and every third cell needs two additional plates to balance the voltage drop.
How Many Plates Are in a 100Ah Battery?
While the precise number can vary with the manufacturer, most agree with 19 plates, including both positive and negative terminals, for a 100Ah battery. That’s because it ensures an even distribution of four plates per cell. An additional plate prevents overcharging and can lend the ions to maintain good battery life.
How Many Plates Are in a 200Ah Battery?
A 200Ah battery can have up to 55 plates, but most manufacturers find using 31 plates optimal. It reduces their expenses when replacing the plates for the specimens that come in for recycling.
While you can find replacement plates for your lead-acid batteries online, creating them yourself can prove much more economical. You can even use the same setup for various other applications, letting you generate passive income. Still, dealing with molten metal is literally playing with fire. So, it’s best to ensure that you and your employees have the proper safety measures and training.