Battery Type for a Special Project.

Submitted: Monday, Aug 31, 2015 at 10:28
ThreadID: 130147 Views:2446 Replies:3 FollowUps:17
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Hi all - hoping everyone is well doing whatever you are doing wherever that is.

Once again I am looking for some input from all you experienced and knowledgeable folk that make this forum so valuable.

I am involved as a volunteer in restoring the odd (1950's / 1960's era) diesel electric locomotive to service that once graced our local and national railway systems. They will be returned to a low frequency tourist railway type service.

Part of this is the need for new batteries, but the "problem" as I see it is going to be the re-charge of these batteries given the old (basic) technology involved.

This particular project requires a 96V bank which is charged simply by placing it across a regulated 110V DC generator used to run all the electrics aside from the traction motors. Starting is achieved by applying this 96V bank to the same generator which then acts as a starter motor (it is directly coupled to the engine).

That equates to a voltage of 13.75V per 12V battery for "charging" and for what I know that will not be very good for re-charging most current starting batteries which seem to be Calcium and are charged at about 14.4V in automotive type situations.

Original batteries were 16 x 6V plain old Lead Acid batteries (high CCA) but we could use 8 x 12V batteries as current replacement with some size constraints (need to be around large car size batteries).

Exide list a Gel battery (the Prevailer) that seems to have the lowest voltage charge and float profile (14.1 for bulk and 13.5 - 13.8 float) as compared to their Calcium (14.8 for bulk and 13.5 - 13.8 float).

So thoughts and suggestions please ?? Do we just need to find plain old vanilla flavoured batteries somewhere ??


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Reply By: HKB Electronics - Monday, Aug 31, 2015 at 11:10

Monday, Aug 31, 2015 at 11:10
I would go for something like the Century marine pro's, they should happily float charge at your 13.75V. can be topped up, which may be advantageous in that your probably going to mount them in close proximity to the diesel and temperatures are most likely going to be high in summer. They have both standard battery and screw terminals.

As long as your only using them to start the diesel charging at the 13.75V shouldn't be an issue, it worked ok initially so should be ok now assuming the train will be running long enough to put back what is taken out during starting and your not discharging them to deep levels running auxiliary items.

As for Calciums, most batteries are calcium hybrids these days. it would only be full calcium batteries designed specifically for a cars with charging systems designed for full calcium batteries that might be problematic.


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Reply By: pop2jocem - Monday, Aug 31, 2015 at 16:13

Monday, Aug 31, 2015 at 16:13

If you are not already involved with the railway heritage guys in Bassendean maybe they could help.

I presume you already know about the Hotham Valley and Pemberton Tramway mobs.

I did my "time" in the Midland workshops as a fitter and a good mate was there as an electrician. Unfortunately the poor bugger passed away too early last year so obviously a bit hard to ask him for advice.

May I ask, only out of idle curiosity, what class of loco you are currently restoring?

Good luck with your project.

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Follow Up By: KenInPerth - Monday, Aug 31, 2015 at 19:02

Monday, Aug 31, 2015 at 19:02

Thanks for your reply - the project is with RHWA in Bassendean.

I am aware of HVR and they got caught with this problem for the reasons I am investigating - they found their nice new truck batteries would not recharge in service.

This current project is XA1402.

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Follow Up By: HKB Electronics - Monday, Aug 31, 2015 at 19:46

Monday, Aug 31, 2015 at 19:46
Other option might be to raise the generator voltage to 115V?

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Follow Up By: KenInPerth - Monday, Aug 31, 2015 at 20:09

Monday, Aug 31, 2015 at 20:09
Raising the voltage may be an option I need to investigate - although it also runs a number of DC motors, load regulators, and other stuff and I don't know how sensitive any of that may be to the change.

My bet is that the consensus would be we would rather leave that alone.

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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Monday, Aug 31, 2015 at 23:11

Monday, Aug 31, 2015 at 23:11

When you mentioned XA1402 for some reason that old classic song "Smoke gets in your eyes" started playing in my

Memories of the mighty 2 stroke V8 Crossley on full noise during tub testing also came to mind.

I have been promising myself a visit to the rail heritage center for some time. Sort of a trip down memory lane so to speak.

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Follow Up By: KenInPerth - Monday, Aug 31, 2015 at 23:23

Monday, Aug 31, 2015 at 23:23

We are starting one of the static ones up very soon apparently - hence the need for batteries. Then they will go into the project loco.

Can't wait for the noise.
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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Tuesday, Sep 01, 2015 at 10:07

Tuesday, Sep 01, 2015 at 10:07

That would be interesting to see, especially if it hasn't been run for a while and no load. Might be an idea to notify Ashfield residents of an impending haze alert if there is a bit of an easterly

I can still remember seeing those X's running around when the reed valve banks were getting a bit passed their use by date and all that lovely black snot was oozing down the outside of the engine compartment. I think they ran a few of them on the passenger runs so bugger all load which didn't help.
Try getting away with that now in more environmentally aware times.

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Follow Up By: Ron N - Wednesday, Sep 02, 2015 at 10:38

Wednesday, Sep 02, 2015 at 10:38
Pop - I, too have many memories of those snot-dribbling, smoking Crossleys of the X-class, polluting the W.A. countryside far and wide!!
I struggle to imagine the reasons why anyone would want to revive them!! [;-)

Oh well, it could be worse, I suppose - Ken and his mates could be reviving and running an ancient U-class choofer, hauling dog-box carriages!!

I think I've still got cinder particles in my eyes from hanging out of the dog-box doors and windows on the ricketty old U-class school train to Governor Stirling High School in the early 1960's! [:-)

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Tuesday, Sep 08, 2015 at 00:04

Tuesday, Sep 08, 2015 at 00:04

Sorry about the time lag.

So both of us were Guvo boys way back in the early 60's.

I started there in 1960 and left at the end of 1962 to start my apprenticeship on all that lovely WAGR rolling stock.

I remember all the U class locos parked up in the grave yard at the back of the workshops. I think they also had them hauling the "rattlers". No coal to worry about. Just the noxious fumes from whatever bunkering oil they

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Reply By: Member - Boobook - Tuesday, Sep 01, 2015 at 06:07

Tuesday, Sep 01, 2015 at 06:07
I might be missing something here but 16 x 6v series batteries would need the same charge as 8 x 12v ones. Ie the current charging system, while old in design, was made for 96V of batteries if working ok.

Anyway, given the infrequent use, it is a good idea to keep the batteries on charge while sitting.

If you use one of many non calcium set of batteries with a lower voltage requirement, and charge the batteries when not in use, the 110v generator should be fine to keep the batteries topped up during the day when in use. That's more than most modern cars charge with, on a per cell basis. And I guess it isn't going to be started too many times in the day when in use.

There are a few 96V chargers around. For example Snaptec in NSW have a few. For example the SR750B9 is a 96V charger. 120V boost, 110V float. It's 6.25A and says up to 110AH batteries so should be fine in your situation if left over night.

Alternatively you could break the batteries into 2 banks of 4 for charging. 48V is a common voltage for telephony and there are hundreds of chargers designed for that voltage in the market.

Doing it this way, you don't have to modify anything in the train which could be near impossible and wouldn't make the purists happy.....
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Tuesday, Sep 01, 2015 at 06:21

Tuesday, Sep 01, 2015 at 06:21
Another, better option is to remove that pommy, sick sounding Vickers donk and chuck in a loud, throbbing, smoking, V16 GM EMD 567 2 stroke. Now those things can make a noise.

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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Tuesday, Sep 01, 2015 at 06:40

Tuesday, Sep 01, 2015 at 06:40
I can't help myself now Ken.

This is my favourite. Going up Warrenheip bank near Ballarat.
6 EMD's, full load and steep hill.

Can't make it up the hill. I love the bit from about 5:30 where 6 diesels are at full throttle ( 900 RPM) and move at about 1 mph. Later it can't even move.

Love it.
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Follow Up By: KenInPerth - Tuesday, Sep 01, 2015 at 09:49

Tuesday, Sep 01, 2015 at 09:49
Wonderful stuff - thanks. There is an old hand at the yard that will really enjoy this.

We are meant to be getting GM1 early next year after a show in the East.

We are trying to keep the whole charging process simple as the loco will be about 3 hours out of Perth and not have people to mess around with it much.

Another group used 12V calcium (hybrids ??) and ran into a problem with charging in service and had to resort to other charging means. We need to try and avoid that. While it floats them OK they eventually run out of puff and need a proper out of service charge to bring back a decent SOC.

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Follow Up By: Gronk - Tuesday, Sep 01, 2015 at 09:53

Tuesday, Sep 01, 2015 at 09:53
I presume that is a steepish climb ?

What happens next ?? Wait for more locos ?
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Tuesday, Sep 01, 2015 at 10:19

Tuesday, Sep 01, 2015 at 10:19
Keith, I am inclined to agree you need some supplementary charging. I would prefer to go the single 96 V charger route as it removes the necessity of having to disconnect the batteries to charge the system.

Your problem is the down time between runs. Probably also will be the running time each trip under heavy loads (and more idling time.) Under heavy loading the batteries would be in a hotter ambient temperature. The higher the temperature the lower the voltage that is needed to charge the batteries. Your batteries are operating under a very marginal charging regime and thus need a bit of a boost.

Another way of floating them could be 8 5 to 10 W 12 V panels in series. This would not need a regulator in the system. If the loco is stabled under cover then a heavy twin core lead from the roof down could be connected to the batteries.
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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Tuesday, Sep 01, 2015 at 10:26

Tuesday, Sep 01, 2015 at 10:26

This is just a thought and not sure how practical it would be to implement.
A few years ago I had a dealership for the Polaris brand of ATVs and Ranger side by side off road vehicles. They brought out an electric powered model which used 2 banks of 12v batteries. Each bank was connected in series and the 2 banks were then connected in parallel to provide 48v for the traction motor. For Australia they fitted 240v mains powered battery chargers. Being 110v mains the US models obviously used 110v powered battery chargers. These were off course AC rather than the 110v DC that the X class used for their ancillary power requirements.
Would it be possible to have a permenantly mounted charger with rectifier so that the 110v DC power is maintained for the control circuits but the bulk and float charges upped slightly to keep the battery banks up to full SOC? I wouldn't imagine those old girls would have much if any electronics to get all hot and bothered by a few extra volts.

Just a thought.

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Follow Up By: Zippo - Tuesday, Sep 01, 2015 at 11:01

Tuesday, Sep 01, 2015 at 11:01
Given the infrequent running you will inevitably require a supplementary charging system. There's no need to split the 96V bank to apply a supplementary charge. All that is required is a number of individual chargers with floating outputs e.g. 4x 24V units.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Wednesday, Sep 02, 2015 at 17:23

Wednesday, Sep 02, 2015 at 17:23
KenInPerth posted:

"We are meant to be getting GM1 early next year after a show in the East."

That is fantastic. Such an important loco. That is great for your group.

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Follow Up By: KenInPerth - Wednesday, Sep 02, 2015 at 17:35

Wednesday, Sep 02, 2015 at 17:35
Some sceptics here think we may not see it even though it was "bequeathed" to us quite some time ago. They think the East will want to keep it once they see it. It was meant to be on it's way here now but someone managed to hijack it for the show.

A lot of money has been spent on it getting it "track worthy" for towing on the main lines.

We are all hoping desperately we get it here early next year.

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