By Capt. Steve Chaconas
If you have a bass boat, you have at least three batteries. These batteries are responsible for starting your outboard, and running your electronics, and powering trolling motors. Any failure and you are dead in the water.
Batteries depend upon a chemical reaction of sulfuric acid with lead plates to create direct electric current. As the reaction proceeds, sulfates are deposited on the plates, reducing their ability to produce current. Recharging batteries puts sulfates back into the solution, which in turn gives the battery the potential to provide electricity once again.
Make sure you use the right battery for the application. Marine batteries with their heavier plates and stronger internal construction are built for rough duty.
Be careful around batteries. Wear long sleeved shirts and goggles for eye protection. Rubber gloves are a good idea too. Only work on batteries in a well-ventilated space.
Here are a few tips that will help you maintain your battery systems:
- Check Connections
Make sure all battery connections are tight and clean of corrosion. Clean if needed with a solution of baking soda and water, a rag and a wire brush or sandpaper. Run a thin bead of silicone around the base of the battery post and install a felt battery washer. Coat everything with the grease to eliminate contact with the battery gas.
- Check Water Levels
Check all batteries and make sure fluid is at least 1/8 inch over the plates, but do not fill to the top of the case. Use distilled water. Best to check while battery is warm, and water is expanded to prevent boil over. It is not necessary to remove your battery caps when charging.
- Charge After Use
Always charge your batteries as soon as possible after use! Never store batteries below 90 percent of charge, which will shorten battery life. Modern transformers used in chargers shut the unit off to prevent overcharging. There are many stages these charges go through to return batteries to full charge.
Periodic battery testing is a must. Deep cycle batteries used with trolling motors are very different from automobile batteries. Testing is different.
*Done properly, you must know the ampere-hour testing of your battery. (Most group 27 batteries are rated at 105 ampere-hour.)
*The battery must be fully charged, and each cell tested with a hydrometer, making sure all cells read 1275 or better. Cells must not vary more than 10 points. If one cell is more than 10 points low, then your battery is bad.
- An Easier Way
Fully charge the batteries, test with a hydrometer, and then go fishing. If you make it back before you charge your batteries, check each cell with a hydrometer again. Readings will be lower than your previous reading, but each cell should not vary more than 10 points from the other. If a cell varies more than 10 points, you have a bad battery.
- In Series
For better performance, when there is more than one battery wired, either in a series or in parallel, make sure all batteries are of the same size and replaced at the same time.
Battery testing and charging is cheaper than a tow. Putting a price on a lost day on the water is well worth the investment of time, testing equipment and a good charger.