Turned the ignition switch on in my 26 after a 4 months sabatiical and all hell broke lose. There was a LOUD explosion that could be herd all over the farm. It relocated the back floor boards and sent battery parts flying everywhere. The battery was a Walmart EverStart 26R with about 30 months in the car. Yes, I kept it topped off with distilled water. It was good when I last used it and It was hooked up to a trickle charger just before I turned on the switch. The entire top part of the battery was blown off showering the entire underneath of the car with fragments and acid. Think God it was under the car and not on my work bench. The WM auto manager had never see anything like it and neither had I.
I'll send a picture as soon as I can get the 12yr old kid from down the street to show me how to do it. Jerry,
I've definitely heard of batts going up exactly like that and I'm betting there's more to it than just turning on the ignition switch. What I mean is a large electrical draw from somewhere. Just turning on the switch might not do a thing in itself especially if the timer isn't grounding one of the coils in which case nothing electrical should happen at all. Until you crank a least. I had 3 hooked up in series go up on me when I hooked up a booster to a truck. Didn't know the starter was jammed on and had killed them by continuous cranking. Boom.. all 3 at once. Good thing the steel cover was on.
Very common do a search it is an internal short
The acid in the bat puts off hydrogen normally
All it needs is a spark
Welcome to the club. This was eight years ago, so I don't remember how much of a drain there was on the battery, but I do remember that the top went really high in the air.
Well, it is about time for another "battery warning" thread. There have been several in the past, and many of us (including me) have experienced the wonder of a battery going Ka-BOOM! (Although for me, it was not one of my model T batteries, but the battery in the old '65 Ford pickup I used to drive for work.) I would try to link to one of the older threads on the subject, but all my bookmarks mysteriously vanished about a week ago.
Yes, it does happen. More often than most people think. Always be cautious working with lead/acid batteries. One should keep the idea in the back of their mind, that a lead acid battery can explode at almost any time. Several things can cause such a mess. However, battery charging is usually involved. When a lead/acid battery is being charged, some of the water in the sulfuric acid is split into hydrogen and oxygen (why water needs to be added occasionally). This occurs whether the charging is being done by the engines generator, or a bench charger. This results in a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen inside the enclosed space above the battery cells. And THAT is an explosive mixture. All that is needed then , is a spark inside. Often, a bad connector or a plate short inside the battery can provide a spark when a sudden power draw hits it. With my pickup, I hit the starter, and the whole truck jumped. The cell with the bad connection was was blown completely to pieces, most of the top blown clear off, acid all over the engine compartment.
I usually charge batteries out away from anything valuable.
In April it is suspected that the battery I hooked to the 12 volt charger that I had removed from my T ,exploded about 30 minutes after I went into the house. Lost garage,13 Ford roadster, 14 depot hack , F150 . House damaged but could have been worse. Fire Department saved the house before it got past the cedar siding. Be careful. Wish I could give some safety advice but I can't. The garage is finally almost finished and thanks to help of good Model T friends there is a little 25 roadster there. Life goes on and can't wait until spring
There was no large draw on the battery. I am suspecting a leaking case allowed enough air to enter creating an explosive bomb. A replacement battery did just what's supposed to do.
I keep my model T battery in the garage on trickle charge over the winter till spring. Garage attached to house. Am I doing the right thing? I'm still on edge with the cotter pin issues.
I have had several batteries blow up on Me over the last fifty years, last one was a generator battery a few months ago that had a maintainer connected to it, when I hit the starter the battery post connector arced and BOOM it was a ever start as well, blew the end of battery out and a hole in top, got my attention real fast and a little acid spray, had a small lawn tractor battery blow up it had been on a charger and when I hit the starter Ka Boom, blew cap off battery that hit the ceiling of my porch and with it happening under a ceiling the sound was reflected and concentrated and I lost some hearing in one ear along with a acid face wash. I agree with wayne battery charging is usually involved, I prefer to have My chargers on a timer, that turns on for a few hours daily, and when charging on the bench pull the battery caps off allows battery to vent and prevents gas buildup, make sure all battery connectors are clean and making good contact, allow battery to cool after charging before using if possible, and never check a battery for life by shorting it with a metal object,don't ask me how I know. was over forty years ago some lesions I learn fast. Like replacing drain plug before filling engine with oil.
I wonder who is the manufacture of these WalMart EverStart batteries. I am just curious. There are really only a few battery manufactures out there. I can tell you that Chrysler (at least when I worked for them) used to have Exide make their batteries as well as Napa--at least around here. I buy the best top of the line Napa batteries and have had great luck---maybe you really do get what you pay for?
I do realize that this can happen to any battery manufacture though.
I really want to build an enclosure of some sorts (that is vented of course) so I can charge batteries away from my garage, that can contain such a mishap. I feel I have been super lucky so far not having one blow up for me. My charger is a newer "smart" type that tends to shut itself off if it detects an issue (and I have seen it do that), but that is not fool proof.
EverStart is a brand name for Johnson Controls.
Never charge a battery without proper ventilation - never charge a battery near flammable or ignitable materials.
I would never use a trickle charger - if a battery was not being used daily I would remove it from the vehicle & relocate it to a climate controlled environment.
Batteries have a life - if you operate them beyond their usable life they are a bomb ready to explode.
Years ago the battery in my 66 F-350 tow truck apparently shorted out internally, caught fire during the night, melted the battery and cables and floor mat [battery is under pass floor]. Luckily that's as far as it went. I bought it in 1968 and still have it. Since that happened I never leave any of the battery's in any of my old cars hooked up when I'm not using them. If you have a good battery, you don't need a trickle charger or anything else. My cars are stored from November to the end of April when I hook the battery's back up to start them. Every one of them starts right up every time.
I've never seen it happen first hand, but I came back from lunch once and a co-worker who had been doing a little routine maintenance under the hood of his truck during his lunch hour, had to be taken to the emergency room due to his battery blowing up in his face. He had no major long term injuries, thank the Good Lord, but he had bruises all over his face. It's a wonder the acid did not do more harm than it did. I guess he got it washed off soon enough that there was not enough time to do any real damage.
Been there done that, was NOT awarded a "T" shirt. Postmortem revealed that the connection between cell 1 and 2 was cracked, when I put a load on the battery (starting the tractor) it sparked,that was all she wrote.
I worked at a Ford dealership in the 60's. One of the mechanics decided to do some electric welding on a personal project on his lunch hour. Unfortunately he was close to some batteries when he tried to strike an arc. Maybe his ground clamp was not on the metal good enough but the arc jumped to the terminal of the closest battery. Quite a bang when the battery exploded. Happily, no injuries. I don't remember, but I suspect the battery must have been hooked to a charger
In my days of Company Cars and two way radios, it was in the 70's if I remember right. I was getting Ford Crown Victoria's with the 400 engine, and this was about the time of the "Maintenance Free" batteries, they didn't have a removable cap, and one couldn't check the water. I quickly learned how to prize the lid off with a pocket knife and do that. Point of story, I could be driving along, or parked at a job site, and key the mike, and "Boom", there would be an explosion under the hood and the engine would die. What was happening, of course, was that the battery water had boiled away to some extent, and when you put the load on the battery with the radio, it would suck the plates together and you had a problem. We had lots of vehicles, and finally went to some after market supplier and exchanged the batteries for one with caps.
I'm with Warren on use of battery charger/tender.
Recall phoning him after his garage fire, and we talked about battery charging. Prior practice has for me to leave the battery tender on, un-monitored. Never More!
Most all chargers and tenders now have clear Warnings against leaving the charger un-attended.
Now I either remove the battery and store and charge in the garage with ventilation, and check fluid level, loosen caps to vent, if a capped battery, and then monitor the activity until the charger reads 100%, and then unhook. In the car, remove the negative lead to battery, check fluid, loosen caps, and then charge, monitoring until charge is done.
current label on my charger used for the Optima battery.
What about using a micro-maintainer such as a 200mA 9V charger hooked to a 6V battery. Is the small juice enough to cause either cook off of water or an internal spark if there was a short? I like to keep batteries I've taken out of vehicles on these in the basement. Maybe a bad idea. Also, I like to keep one on the T in the garage as it may not be taken out for a month or more until there's a nice day to drive.
Are these 6 or 12 volt batteries that are blowing up? Steve Jelf's photo shows a 12 volt. My late father-in-law's battery explosion was also a 12 volt. I may be way out of whack on this, but if 12 volt units prove to be more of a problem than 6s, it seems like it would pay to stick to the original type and pay more attention to good connections and grounds so it can perform its best. Not to mention carburetion and coils so the engine doesn't need to be spun at 500 rpm in order to start.
Just sayin', as the feller says.
Definitely not associated with 12 volt batts only. Can happen to either one. As has been mentioned a number of times above it's a build up of gas either from charging or discharging and a spark caused by an internal batt problem or a external wiring/load problem. Something set Jerry's off when he turned on the ignition switch.
Once I was present when this redneck hopped in his truck and it didn't turn over. He got out, opened the hood, produced a hammer, and said, "That's why I carry this, just tap on the terminals...." and before I could finish my overlapping sentence while turning away -- BOOM. Everybody's ears were ringing. He's lucky he didn't seriously injure somebody.
I quit leaving battery chargers of any description unattended after somebody I know left a trickle charger on his motorhome while he went away on vacation and burned down his house.
My guess would be the battery shorted either by a loose connection inside or a build up of plate material on the bottem? I think the tractor pictured is a WD-45 and i had one 40 years ago.Bud.
Whatever You use, a 12V or 6V car battery, while charging it produce at one pole Hydrogen H2 and at the other pole Oxygen O2. A heat source or spark will bring these gases back together as Water 2H2O with a BANG.
There for, just after charging a car battery, you need to give it some time to eliminate the gases. Do not use it just after charging.
Before disconnecting the charger first take of the power.
On Steve's photo there is some green stuff on one of the poles this can be enough to generate a spark when setting the contact on and blew you battery.
Just my experience.
While driving my 1976 Oldsmobile station wagon on I-495 in Massachusetts, the battery exploded violently. There was no outside reason for the explosion, nothing had "just" been turned on or off. Phillip Thompson is correct.
I have debated posting on this but I believe the potential benefit is worth while.
I have worked with heavy equipment, automotive, and submarine equipment for over 50 years. I have never had, seen results, or heard of a friend having a battery explode. I am NOT disputing that it does occur.
The PRIME cause of battery explosions is LACK OF MAINTENANCE.
The largest problem is letting the electrolyte level drop too low. This allows the top of the battery to fill with highly combustible hydrogen/oxygen. While most liquids will conduct electricity, if the plates are submerged, there will be no spark should the plates come in contact with each other. Also there will be less hydrogen/oxygen in the top of the battery to explode.
Second; the lack of clean terminals. Dirty terminals can cause sparks to occur directly next to the hydrogen/oxygen mix.
Third, proper battery securing. Loose batteries tend to cause loose internal parts, loose terminal connections, and loose battery caps. All of these can contribute to sparking in a hydrogen atmosphere and explosion.
While there are several more potential problems such as manufacturing defects, I believe I have hit upon the most likely and the ones we can most easily control.
It is my belief that most battery explosions are caused by low electrolyte levels. Check your batteries and make sure they are filled properly.
I guess I'm a lucky guy. I've never had a problem with any battery I've ever owned! When charging, I always remove the cell caps.
So an unattended charging battery can blow up, but if you're standing right next to it, it won't? I gotta say, if one was gonna blow up, I'd rather be UN-attending it, rather than attending it.
So let's say you ARE attending the charging of a battery. What does one look for as a sign of impending explosion? What are the proper steps to take when said signs are recognized?
We recharge a battery every time we start almost any engine.Bud.
We most all use 6 volt vintage type batteries. Modern 12 volt are sealed. 6 volt. type 1 have caps
that are vented. Hydrogen is released in small amounts. I have known of 6 volts batteries exploding, but not modern 12 volt sealed ones. Can sealed ones explode is there if a cracked case?
Hal: I am with you do not wish to be in the vicinity when one goes BOOM. If a cell is shorted due to sulfation it would cause localized heating which could cause the battery case to swell, but I don't want to do the experiment to see how much warning that would give you! Newer chargers will detect a shorted battery and will not charge them. I do use the timer on my chargers so as not to overcharge my batteries.
Hal, the battery doesn't know it's being watched. The difference is you can observe them, check the electrolyte level, see that the charger is operating properly and the battery isn't boiling, etc. while you're milling around and doing other things. Same reasons you wouldn't leave a running machine tool or a Model T idling where you couldn't take a few steps and shut it off. Terry nailed it with "maintenance". Nobody said you have to stand there point-blank staring at the top of it.
I charge my fair share of batteries and have never had an incident and am most often aware of those who do have incidents leaving them unattended or being the type to just hook up chargers without ever taking a peek inside.
Ever heard of someone who mistakenly puts a 6v battery on a 12v charger setting and walks away from it? I have, and you'd get plenty of warning just checking on it occasionally rather than taking off to run errands and letting it cook.
Last spring, for a moment I thought I blowup a battery. I was doing the normal spring maintenance to get the T ready for a road again. I was under the hood doing something, and BOOM. I thought it was the battery, but it was the really old Riverside spare tire. If I recall I had only put 20-25 psi in it as I did not fully trust the tire.
In 71 years, I have blown 2, 6 Volts up, and 3 12 volts up.
Normally they are old Batterys, with build up. All you need inside is a spark to jump from Pos. to Neg. Always Stand back.
Acid could burn your little Post Off.
I have a Duralast Gold in my 77 Monte Carlo. I've kept it on a battery tender. After reading this thread I've checked the batteries and I can't remove the area where the caps would be. There appears to be breathers on each side of the battery top though. But now I'm concerned about the electrolyte level. My T battery has caps and is fine, Exide from Tractor Supply.
I have a NAPA 6/12 volt battery charger/maintainer but don't leave it connected once the charger has gone into maintain mode.
It has two charge rates of 6/3 amps for 12 volts and 3/1 amps for 6 volt batteries.
I think trickle charging is not only better for batteries but also way less prone to create substantial amounts of hydrogen gas.
I hope you are not considering removing the sealed caps on your battery. 34 years ago a knucklehead where I work went about forcing off the sealed caps on a battery in a squad car. He got out the biggest screwdriver he had, which was more of a pry bar, and went to prying the plastic. He set the screwdriver down on the fender ( a Dodge Diplomat) and the screwdriver then rolled off the fender and hit both top posts! The battery blew up in his face! I can still remember the huge boom. He still works here and lucky for him had no lasting effects or injuries.
Just don't want anyone else to get injured this way.....
No I won't force the top off but how do you know the electrolyte is at the proper level?
Good question. Is it a safety hazard for them to manufacture batteries you can't check the electrolyte in? Some of the responses above would sure lead one to that conclusion.
I wonder what % of batteries sold now are made in china?? Are there any brands/types that are explosion proof? Bud.
The batteries that are sealed are sealed for the life of the battery. There is no checking of the electrolyte level nor the specific gravity. Some of these batteries have an eye in a single cell that will show green when charged and black when discharged. This is not foolproof though. When the battery no longer holds a charge or fails a load test it is to be replaced.
This has been what I have gone by for close to 40 years.
Most sealed batteries are Absorbed Gas Mat type where the electrolyte is permanently enclosed in the mat. I am not sure what the electrolyte is. It may or may NOT be sulfuric acid as in most lead acid batteries.
As Willis stated, when the battery no longer holds a charge or fails a load test, time to replace it.
Well I was in need of some golf cart battery's back in about 2007 and went to the local Interstate dealer and bought 6 of their "rebuilt" battery's. Most were interstate but all had their labels removed and the "Econopower" sticker on them.Lucky for me when i tested the battery's after hooking them up I put the seat on the golf cart and sat down. I hit the go pedal and I went up! hit my head on the golf cart roof.
I called those turkeys and told them what happened. "Oh you hooked them up wrong".
Well sir,how was I able to drive the golf cart up the house to rinse the acid off with a garden hose if they were hooked up wrong?
I took it back,supposedly had a warren-tee. It took them #&#&#'s a month to warren-tee that battery. And it was a Interstate,they are the only green top 1's.
Now this battery was just tested and filled before i carried it home.It had the right amount of acid. How it didn't blow up on the guy with the big tester I don't know.
I had a lawnmower battery on charge and took it off and went to start it and Kaboom.
Fumes or gases and a spark,that was the cause.
I use alot of the AGM batterys now in my golf carts. I must say,I like the fact they don't leak and I don't have to fill them with water.At 20 apiece with a core used,they are a bargain in more ways than 1. No more rusted out frames for 1 thing.
Guy's all I can now is use some kind of eye protection when fooling with these cheap batteries, please...... Jerry.
An old fellow here that owned a junkyard was leaning over a Wards battery working on an engine,the battery exploded and he lost an eye out of it. It was probably an old type that had screwon caps,he didn't say exactly what he was working on,maybe electrical.
if nothing else always wear your safety glasses when you are working on the car then you are protected
for what ever happens. philip
A bit of Texas and Houston and battery history. Back in the late '40's - early '50's, I was driving a truck in the oilfields, and a route we all followed going into or through Houston was on old Hwy 90 and on up to OST (Old Spanish Trail or Wayside) and on into or through Houston. At that intersection, such as it was, was a battery graveyard. There was a huge pile of junk batteries there, and an old black fellow, wearing bib overalls, and I think rubber boots, no glasses or anything else, that was breaking up those old batteries with a single bitted axe. He had a pile of battery lead and a pile of the hard rubber cases, and was there every time I went by. The acid ran off on the ground, and when it rained, all that ran off into the bar ditches and on into Sugar Land and Houston. If he wasn't blind after this, I would be surprised, and I wonder at his skin and all handling that live acid. How times have changed in a lot of ways, but bless his heart, he was making it the best way he knew how, I am sure he was just a hand, and did not own the place, and I sure never stopped to find out.
Anyone know of an OPTIMA battery explosion? I switched my lead/acid batteries to 6V Optima batteries and expect NO PROBLEMS....Am i at risk anyway??? Paul
I have an Optima in my Fordor but, am changing it out in the spring. It came with the car when I bought it and it doesn't crank over well. Not sure how old it is but, I will go back to the old style battery when I replace it.
yes optima batteries explode and there having a problem with them currently. philip
I had a 12v optima blow one of the sealed caps off and spray acid/vapor in my trunk of my track car. I figured it was a alternator issue, but the alternator passed all testing and has been in the car another year without issue after battery replacement. Scared me pretty well.