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Thread: Battery cables some maint TIPS

  1. #1
    Senior Member SavageSun4x4's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
    17 Oaks Ranch, Boerne, Texas

    1967 to 1994

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    Default Battery cables some maint TIPS

    1) Battery fumes and corrosion under the hood:

    Battery cables do in fact wear out. Not due to organic issues but rather the exposure to water/moisture/humidity and in and around the battery the acidic level of the air itself. Electricity travels on the OUTSIDE of the cabling. Hence I use welding grade cabling for battery use rather than automotive grade. Welding grade is finer wire thus carrying more juice for a given size of cable (1 ga welding grade vs 1 ga automotive grade). Finer wire also provides more flexibility of the cable itself.

    For most users this is not even a consideration as all they ever do is put in a new battery from time to time and thats that. But for us off roaders with winches, OBA, lights, long idle times and lots of loading and charging we really put a strain on the battery. This in turn puts stress on the copper cabling and after a time corrosion begins to reduce the efficiency of the cabling (remember what I just said about electricity traveling on the OUTSIDE of the cable)!

    When you see the white - greenish fuzz on and around your battery terminals its a safe bet that it is ALSO INSIDE the cabling also. In fact a key reason why this occurs is due to the increased resistance of the electric flow(s) in the cable.

    If you are using OEM cabling and you have added winch, ham radio, lights etc then you should consider upgrading the cabling. THINK: Chain is only as strong as the weakest link.

    What is important: You have 2 connections, negative and positive. In most all American cars the ground is the negative. I cannot STRESS enough NEGATIVE GROUND. Most issues occur in the ground.

    Where to ground: Ground to the (in no order) engine block, frame, body. Generally we only see a negative cable running down to the starter, thus the block. Then we see straps to the engine block from the body thus the body to frame mounts. Not a bad plan and certainly cost effective. But if you want to do it RIGHT and do it to support heavy loads then you should run cabling to each major component. Not as hard as it sounds or as expensive either.

    When I got the 55 Willys a short time ago, first thing I noticed was the engine did not spin on starting as well as it could or should. The battery terminals were corroded. I removed the negative cable to the block, pulled the screw out of the block and was amazed it started at all. I cleaned it with a steel wire wheel, flushed out the screw opening with soda bicarbonate (Arm & Hammer) then blew it out with air to dry it. Made a noticeable difference in the engines ability to start.

    If we have any long-time Corvette owners on here they can chime in on this. Corvettes are made of fiberglass and grounding on a Corvette is or can be a nightmare. Get under the skin of one and you will find grounding straps EVERYWHERE. Notice how winches have a negative cable that runs back to the battery and is not just grounded on the frame where it sits.

    2) But what about the POSITIVE cable: What is important is that you get a good connection to the alternator/voltage regulator to insure good charging takes place. But then us Jeepers start bolting on all kinds of big energy devices. Many of them require a neg/pos connection direct to the battery.

    3) How to do it: I build battery cables and I like to think I do it right. I use solid copper battery terminals that have the cabling SOLDERED into them. Solder provide excellent connections. Welding grade cable matched to the terminals for your best fit. I also build 'quick disconnects for winches and jumper cables that are hard-wired to the battery. Here I use solid copper that is silver plated for these connections. Build a set of jumper cables like this and they should last you the rest of your life if you take care of them...

    4) Basic maintenance you can do: Gather some tools.

    Arm & Hammer baking soda (or any soda bicarbonate product, about $0.75 cents

    Steel wire battery cleaner. Wal Mart about $1.98

    Mix a couple of heaping spoons full of soda in a glass of water, stir till dissolved and gently pour on your terminals. It will bubble like crazy. Using a wire brush clean the terminals and continuing to pour on the soda/water mix until it no longer bubbles or foams.

    Rinse well with clean water. Dry with a rag and shot liberally with WD-40 to remove all moisture (the WD in WD 40 stands for MOISTURE DISPLACING).

    Put it all back together and many of you will notice an improvement in brighter lights, easier, quicker starting, starter spinning faster etc. NOTE, watch you battery terminals and if the 'fuzz' reappears soon afterwards, then REPLACE your battery cables ASAP.
    Last edited by SavageSun4x4; 02-06-2011 at 13:32.

    '15 Jeep Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock...OLD SCHOOL 6 Spd Manual Trans
    17 Oaks Ranch Companies LLC


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