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J Tiers
11-20-2015, 08:42 PM
Got my copy a few days ago.

That's a very interesting idea which I had not thought of. I like it!

I have some packs for an older DeWalt drill-driver, one of which I was about ready to pay for the second rebuild on.... I think I will try your plan on it.

I never even considered the idea, thinking that the packs would all be about the same price as the original, but with that much difference it really becomes attractive.

And I bet the cheaper ones do not get a special far lower quality battery. They all come from pretty much the same place. Packs seem to last about 4 or 5 years no matter what.

Paul Alciatore
11-21-2015, 02:48 AM
I am glad you liked it.

The first one I rebuilt is still going strong about 1 1/2 years later.

I am still waiting for the issue.

George Seal
11-21-2015, 08:11 AM
waiting here also

Mike Amick
11-21-2015, 12:39 PM
umm .. no offense, but maybe you could fill some of us in on the conversation.

What battery article. Not all of us are subscribers (I know we should be .. but) if that
is the source of the information.

Paul Alciatore
11-21-2015, 03:18 PM
Mike, my article is a description of how I rebuilt an 18 Volt, B&D nicad battery pack for my hand held drills. If you have ever tried to replace or have rebuilt a battery for these drills (and other tools) then you know that the major manufacturers take you to the cleaners for replacement batteries and the re-builders charge almost the same amount. Since I am a cheapskate, I looked for a better solution.

From the original text of my article, "As I see it, there are two main problems with rebuilding your own NiCad battery packs: first, the cost of the new cells and second, connecting the cells together. There are 15 1.2 Volt cells in an 18 Volt battery pack and the cost would be around $2.50 per cell or about $37.50 for the lot. When you throw in shipping, you are going to pay well over $45.00 to replace the cells in only one battery."

So, I searched for a less expensive way to buy the needed cells, preferably already assembled in a group suitable for the B&D batteries. I found it at Harbor Freight, of all places. They had an 18 Volt nicad battery for $14.99 and it was on sale at that time for around $12.99. It looked good so I got one and ripped into it.

The article explains, in detail, the various steps I took to replace the original cells with the cells from the HF battery.

For a bonus, I discovered that the B&D OEM battery used SUB C sized cells with a spacer to take up the extra space, but the HF battery used the full sized ones which have greater capacity. I tossed out the B&D spacer and they fit perfectly. Tells you something about B&D: several things, actually. Not only do they have an enormous profit on those replacement batteries, but they planned the upgrade to the XL or extended life cells right from the start. And they planned to extract the maximum amount from you, the customer, right from the start. And B&D is one of the less expensive brands of battery powered tools.

So I wound up with not just a like-new battery, but one with more capacity. My original date on the article is 1/4/14 so I have been using it now for around 22 months or so and it is still going strong. Sorry, but I have not counted recharge cycles. But that has alleviated my remaining concerns about the quality of the cells in the HF battery. I wasn't really too worried in the first place as those cells are probably produced in just a few large factories and are probably the same quality regardless of the price the consumer pays.

I plan to put the article on line at PAE2Ktips.com, but if you do not want to wait on that, PM me with your e-mail and I will send you a copy of the original without the magazine edits. The magazine should be on the news stands now and Village press does sell back copies. And you really should subscribe.

Mike Amick
11-21-2015, 05:23 PM
thanks Paul

Damn .. that sounds like good info. I knew I shouldn't have let my subscription slide.

Just threw away a mikita battery pack .. if I would have only known.

kendall
11-21-2015, 07:23 PM
The cost to replace or rebuild batteries is why I'm working (albeit very slowly) on an adapter for my cordless tools. The 'factory' batteries cost $70 ea, can get same AH and volt batteries for $30 for different tools.

Dan Dubeau
11-21-2015, 08:41 PM
Back in the 90's Dad had an almost endless supply of makita 9.6v packs from work. They tossed them when they wouldn't hold a charge, but it was usually only one or 2 bad cells. He'd take the good cells, and make good packs from them. As far as I know he's still got those drills, and they're probably in the same spot in his garage if I were to check tomorrow. We suffer from the same packrat syndrome. We have a hard time throwing anything out if we can fix it, or reuse it somehow. It's both a blessing and a curse.

I've got a couple old nice drills (craftsman, and hitachi, both 18v nicad) that have bad batteries, but I both cant be bothered to throw them out, or take the time to rebuild the packs, so they sit waiting. I've bought into the 18v Lithium Makita line, so I really don't have the motivation to fix the old ones when the new technology works so much better IMO. The price of the new lithium batteries is scary though....but you can still find good deals once in a while.

J Tiers
11-21-2015, 11:01 PM
Sorry to be cryptic about it... I didn't want to be the one to describe the article, since some may not have gotten it yet. Thought I'd let Paul do that if he wanted to.

I must have been in the first group to get the mag this time. Usually I am last, and the threads about articles have dropped several pages back before I see the mags.

Paul Alciatore
11-21-2015, 11:19 PM
J,

I also had not seen the magazine when you first posted. I still haven't received my regular issue, but got the courtesy pack of four extra issues from Village Press today. I was delighted to see that the article made the cover. I never expected that.

Anyway, my description above was from my original text. I knew that George had made some small changes, but did not know the extent of that. Turns out they really were very minor. He shortened the title, rewrote the captions for the figures to make then clearer and longer, and that is about it.

On the idea of just replacing the bad cells, that has been done. A TV station where I worked a few decades ago rebuilt their nicad battery packs. Back then, a battery with enough nicad cells to produce 24 Volts cost between $150 and $450, depending on the manufacturer and added features like microprocessor controller for monitoring the charge. They had a constant operation going to replace the bad cells. Personally, I think it would have been far more efficient to just replace all the cells at a time and have a basically new battery that would not have to be rebuilt for several years. But they didn't ask me.

At about $15 for the replacement cells, I can not see taking the time to find bad cells. And then needing to do it again in a month or three. Although, as I said before, I am a cheapskate; I gladly tossed the old cell cluster in the trash and never looked back. Perhaps there were some good cells there, but how long would they last? It's not worth my time.

lakeside53
11-21-2015, 11:44 PM
hopefully you correctly disposed of the nicads ... not in the trash ;)

Paul Alciatore
11-22-2015, 04:14 AM
Actually I think they are still on a shelf, awaiting that disposition.




hopefully you correctly disposed of the nicads ... not in the trash ;)

lakeside53
11-22-2015, 11:04 AM
lol.. I carry them around in my truck forever until I remember to actually take them into the HD (or wherever) store when I go in.

vpt
11-22-2015, 11:11 AM
I have been battery free for well over a year now (may be two). I am a happier man because of it and I can actually get work done when I want to instead of watching and waiting for batteries to charge or warm up so they work.

J Tiers
11-22-2015, 11:29 AM
I have been battery free for well over a year now (may be two). I am a happier man because of it and I can actually get work done when I want to instead of watching and waiting for batteries to charge or warm up so they work.

Battery free....... and extension cord rich! I don't think I would consider that a good trade.

I was and remain, happy as a clam in the mud to be able to do many things without unrolling and dragging around an extension cord first. And having it pulling on me when I am up the ladder, and having to roll it up after.

Being battery free is no bargain in my book. Not unless you have one of those pocket-sized nuclear power units in the correct voltage to use in place of the battery.

N ot to mention the cases where the cord would be hundreds of yards, or maybe a mile+ long......

flylo
11-22-2015, 12:46 PM
I have a Hitachi 4 pc set with a ET18DM charger that came with a fake battery & about a 20' cord that you plug into the charger so the tool is running without a real battery while the battery charges. Great idea but didn't last long because I think the fiqured out it would affect battery sales. I have 8 batteries but dropped one of the 3.0ah. Look up Hitachi ET18DM on Amazon & you'll see the cord on the bottom of the charger that goes to the fake battery but is not included. Best of both worlds. I bought it as a sample from my tool salesman for $200 with all the batteries. I have a 4 pc Makita set I'll do the battery fix too. Both are the pro series as both companies sell the same looking sets at Sams club & many of the box stores with smaller motors & batteries so check the specs before you buy "the cheaper one"

vpt
11-22-2015, 01:46 PM
Battery free....... and extension cord rich! I don't think I would consider that a good trade.

I was and remain, happy as a clam in the mud to be able to do many things without unrolling and dragging around an extension cord first. And having it pulling on me when I am up the ladder, and having to roll it up after.

Being battery free is no bargain in my book. Not unless you have one of those pocket-sized nuclear power units in the correct voltage to use in place of the battery.

N ot to mention the cases where the cord would be hundreds of yards, or maybe a mile+ long......


I think it depends on the user. A battery tool may be good for those that drive 3-4 screws in a board and said they put in a good day. Others, like myself, use tools all day long. Unless you have a bank of 20 batteries charged up, warm, and ready to go every morning there will be lots of standing around watching the light on the charger or sitting by the fire/stove waiting for the batteries to warm up so they will actually work. Probably good for union guys but not me. :D

This is my battery pack, it never goes dead and works in all temps.



http://powerequipment.honda.com/Content/images/Models/Features/eu2000i-lightweight.jpg

Norman Bain
11-22-2015, 02:08 PM
I was in a meeting last week and for some reason we got ourselves onto NiCad batteries and the life thereof. One of the participants suggested that giving the packs a shock with an arc welder would "shake" the crud off the crystals inside the battery; thus restoring them to health.

I felt that if it was that easy it would be well known and done by all and every. Would someone here pls update me on the state of play so I can sound informed when next I meet with them.

Tks,
Norman

Dave C
11-22-2015, 02:22 PM
I was in a meeting last week and for some reason we got ourselves onto NiCad batteries and the life thereof. One of the participants suggested that giving the packs a shock with an arc welder would "shake" the crud off the crystals inside the battery; thus restoring them to health.

I felt that if it was that easy it would be well known and done by all and every. Would someone here pls update me on the state of play so I can sound informed when next I meet with them.

Tks,
Norman

That idea scares the crap out of me:eek:

vpt
11-22-2015, 02:26 PM
http://weldingweb.com/showthread.php?79481-Welder-saves-nicad-batteries!

Mike Amick
11-22-2015, 02:27 PM
During the nicad days .. I too was ready to call it quits on battery power. But now with Li-ion that's changed.

If my Mikita 18v drill/driver broke today, I would replace it immediately. Although I might try one of the new
brushless models, or even one of the brushless with a new way of hammering that's suppose to be better.

These light Lithium drivers work for a long time, hold a shelf life of almost forever, charge in 15 mins, and
will drive a screw right through a board.

And to answer your question Norman ... He's kind of right. Guys that live in the battery world, know that
ni-cad's after time will develop "whiskers" between the plates. Taking a car battery and hooking it up to the
whisker-ed battery will blow the whiskers away ... giving the battery a bit more life, not totally renewing it ..
but .. it helps.

Wayne Sippola
11-22-2015, 06:22 PM
I put in about 5000 screws last month doing my roof (metal roof on 1" strapping, also screwed down) using a driver and the two batteries. 18V Li-ion, the smaller batteries that came with the Bosch drill and driver. Dead battery fully charges in 30 minutes - and the charged one always lasted longer than that. Would have been a real pain dragging a cord around. And these batteries are over 6 years old. I built my shop using the same driver and batteries. Very happy customer with the Li-ion batteries!

I actually got the set more for the drill than the driver - having never owned a driver before that. Turns out the driver sees 90% of the work. Very handy tool!

Paul Alciatore
11-22-2015, 07:32 PM
I can't say that I have ever tried that, but I would advise wearing a flack jacket, steel helmet, and eye protection if you decide to. Oh, and a steel codpiece hanging on the flack jacket.




I was in a meeting last week and for some reason we got ourselves onto NiCad batteries and the life thereof. One of the participants suggested that giving the packs a shock with an arc welder would "shake" the crud off the crystals inside the battery; thus restoring them to health.

I felt that if it was that easy it would be well known and done by all and every. Would someone here pls update me on the state of play so I can sound informed when next I meet with them.

Tks,
Norman

J Tiers
11-22-2015, 08:32 PM
The standard way to do that involves a 6 volt battery. You connect each shorted cell in turn to it in opposing polarity, but one wire you just connect for a moment, basically brush over the terminal. If any whiskers, that should fix them.

It only works for a short while in most cases. No explosions.

EDIT: "Opposing polarity" means plus to plus. It works, but usually there are more whiskers just waiting to short the cell when they grow longer, so it works for only a short time.

lakeside53
11-22-2015, 08:35 PM
I did that in the 80's to literally hundreds of diving light battery packs.. brush a 12v car battery terminal... Correct polarity, one cell at a time. Pretty much all of them came to life and could be charged normally.

boslab
11-23-2015, 01:10 AM
Do you mean momentarily connecting the cell in parallel with another battery?, I don't quite understand, not unusual but I've never been afraid to ask stupid questions!
Mark

lakeside53
11-23-2015, 01:18 AM
Exactly.... just a "touch".

J Tiers
11-23-2015, 01:58 AM
Yes, momentarily in parallel with a higher voltage battery that has a lot more current capacity.

The higher voltage drives the current, and the current capacity provides the capability to vaporize the "whiskers" that are shorting the cells.

Problem is, where there is one, there are usually more, with many that have not grown quite to the length to short the plates. Blow out one, and another will grow to replace it. So the fix may need to be repeated.

The short time does not allow any significant heating or cell damage. Just be sure not to let the wire weld in position when you do this!

CarlByrns
11-23-2015, 07:38 AM
I was in a meeting last week and for some reason we got ourselves onto NiCad batteries and the life thereof. One of the participants suggested that giving the packs a shock with an arc welder would "shake" the crud off the crystals inside the battery; thus restoring them to health.

I felt that if it was that easy it would be well known and done by all and every. Would someone here pls update me on the state of play so I can sound informed when next I meet with them.

Tks,
Norman

This has been discussed in depth on weldingweb. Short answer is it works for a while.

Seastar
11-23-2015, 09:05 AM
Back in my NiCad days I would blow out the whiskers with a large capicator charged to a higher voltage.
That eliminates the possibility of welding the terminals and destroying the battery and maybe yourself.
Happily, I now am using nothing but Lithium powered portable tools.
I do have one 12 Volt drill that I removed the battery and added long wires with battery clips.

I just clip it to a 12 volt battery in a car or truck or to a smaller more portable 12 Volt lead acid battery.
It works all day that way.
If you have an old 12 Volt or even 18 Volt drill laying about this is an easy, effective way to repurpose it.
Bill

boslab
11-23-2015, 09:55 AM
Thanks for explaining, appreciated, I have a few nicads that won't charge, I think I'll give that a go
Mark

vpt
11-23-2015, 03:35 PM
I put in about 5000 screws last month doing my roof (metal roof on 1" strapping, also screwed down) using a driver and the two batteries. 18V Li-ion, the smaller batteries that came with the Bosch drill and driver. Dead battery fully charges in 30 minutes - and the charged one always lasted longer than that. Would have been a real pain dragging a cord around. And these batteries are over 6 years old. I built my shop using the same driver and batteries. Very happy customer with the Li-ion batteries!

I actually got the set more for the drill than the driver - having never owned a driver before that. Turns out the driver sees 90% of the work. Very handy tool!



I had two! Those are the ones you have to wait till they warm up before they work or if they get to hot they shut down. Out of the two drivers and three batteries I got maybe 2 years out of the whole deal.

Try drilling some 3/4" holes in some 1/2" plate with your cordless drill. ;)

dockterj
11-23-2015, 04:21 PM
Hey Paul, I have the same B&D packs and tried the Harbor Freight "upgrade." I didn't think they lasted as long but I think it's time for me to test it again. Thanks for that. I also have a bunch of sub c lipos or lion (need to double check) that I might try as well but I don't want to mix up chargers - might not be good!

J Tiers
11-23-2015, 05:17 PM
I had two! Those are the ones you have to wait till they warm up before they work or if they get to hot they shut down. Out of the two drivers and three batteries I got maybe 2 years out of the whole deal.

Try drilling some 3/4" holes in some 1/2" plate with your cordless drill. ;)

I have done that. The batteries did not last as long as poking holes in 2 x 4.

But then, the drill-drivers are not intended for that application. You are using the wrong tool, really, so it would not be surprising to have it not work as well unless you power externally.

CarlByrns
11-23-2015, 05:24 PM
Two questions:
1) Does HF have a battery pack made of Sub-C nicads?

2) What is the AH rating of the HF batteries?

vpt
11-23-2015, 06:15 PM
I have done that. The batteries did not last as long as poking holes in 2 x 4.

But then, the drill-drivers are not intended for that application. You are using the wrong tool, really, so it would not be surprising to have it not work as well unless you power externally.


They are a drill too, if they were only intended to be a driver they would just be called "driver". :p

Paul Alciatore
11-23-2015, 09:18 PM
Carl, I have only two answers.

1. I do not know. The battery pack that I purchased was the only one I saw in their store and it had the full sized C cells. I gave the HF stock number in the article. It was 68413 and it is still available today.

2. Again, I do not know, but the cells in the battery that I purchased were definitely heavier so they were real, full sized C cells and not smaller cells in a full sized C package. And yes, I have seen that done by name brand manufacturers. It is an old, old trick to make their nicads seem to be less expensive than the competition's.

I can tell you that, in use, they last at least as long between charges as the original B&D batteries and probably longer. But who knows, perhaps the B&Ds are not even full sub C size inside.

PS: I checked the HF web site and that battery is currently on sale at $12.99, the same price I paid almost two years ago.




Two questions:
1) Does HF have a battery pack made of Sub-C nicads?

2) What is the AH rating of the HF batteries?

Paul Alciatore
11-23-2015, 10:25 PM
After doing some looking on the internet I have found that the idea of using the Drillmaster battery from HD is not a novel idea. Although I was not aware of it, several others have posted it on the internet. Perhaps I was the first or perhaps not: I make no claims other than to say I was unaware of any others when I wrote the article.

B&D has had several versions of their 18 Volt battery. I had the four originals which were supplied with my drills, the HPB18 model and one HPB18-OPE, the one replacement I had purchased. I think that B&D also made made other versions that seem to be no longer available. The original HPB18s are rated at 1 Amp Hour and the HPB18-OPEs at 1.5 Amp Hour. The HF battery I used for the rebuild is rated at 1.3 Amp Hour so my original feeling that the rebuild is better than the OEM battery is apparently correct.

So, at $12.99 vs. $40 plus for the HPB18 model and even more for the HPB18-OPE, using the HF cells for the re build is a very economical option.

I do not recommend trying to rebuild battery packs with different types of cells. Each cell chemistry has it's own needs for proper recharging and if you mix the cells with a charger that was intended for another type of battery you may not get optimum results. You can even damage the cells or even cause then to burst. If you rebuild with different types of cells, in most cases you need a new re charger.

I haven't looked, but perhaps there are similar sources for other types of cells. I am quite busy with other projects at the present.




Hey Paul, I have the same B&D packs and tried the Harbor Freight "upgrade." I didn't think they lasted as long but I think it's time for me to test it again. Thanks for that. I also have a bunch of sub c lipos or lion (need to double check) that I might try as well but I don't want to mix up chargers - might not be good!

Mike Amick
11-23-2015, 10:36 PM
One thing I would like to know is how hard is it to take the packs apart. Any tricks ?

J Tiers
11-23-2015, 10:51 PM
They are a drill too, if they were only intended to be a driver they would just be called "driver". :p

You mean.... just like I wrote where I called them a "drill-driver"? :D

Supposing that novel idea to be true..... There is such a thing as using the wrong size of the right kind of thing.... Otherwise the excavation contractors would show up with one guy and a garden shovel....... yes it will "dig", but........

Paul Alciatore
11-24-2015, 02:11 AM
It is called a screwdriver. As I remember: B&D had six screws and the HF had four. Both seem to have been made with rebuilding in mind. Easy apart and easy back together. No glue to bust.

Tool List:

Phillips screwdriver
Straight slot screwdriver
Soldering gun (or iron ~ 40-60 Watts)
Swiss Army knife (any knife)
Small scissors
Diagonal cutter
Wire stripper (optional)
Ball peen hammer, 4-8 oz.
Bench vise with anvil area
Volt Ohm meter - inexpensive one is fine (optional but provides confidence when making the connections)

Materials:

HF battery
Electric tape, 12 - 18 inches
Insulated, stranded wire, #12 or #14, red, about 4 inches
Bare copper wire, #12, solid
Electronic solder, several inches
Electronic solder flux, a few drops

If you don't have most of this except for the HF battery, yours is a poor shop indeed.




One thing I would like to know is how hard is it to take the packs apart. Any tricks ?

DR
11-24-2015, 09:44 AM
How are the cells connected? I know some older cell packs have small tabs that are spot welded for connection.

Way back, my first CNC machine had a Panasonic battery pack soldered to it's circuit board. Nobody could find a replacement battery based on the part number on the battery. The machine manufacturer wouldn't sell only the battery, they had a flat $500 dollar exchange for the board, no matter it's condition. So I figured at worst I would be out the $500.

I took the circuit board to a high tech battery shop in Silicon Valley. All over the shop were signs, "we do not do repair work". It must have been a slow day, the guy took pity on me. He unsoldered the pack, pried it open exposing "standard" mini cells. I was surprised, not expecting that. Using his tiny spot welder he connected new cells, snapped the case together and resoldered it to the board. $20 bucks and a half hour I was out the door.

Dan Dubeau
11-24-2015, 11:36 AM
One of the Wife's friends was over last night and happened to mention she was going to pick up another drill to run one of her blank knitting machines (for yarn dyeing) so I gave her my old 18v craftsman. The battery only lasts for about 10-15 minutes, but it might be good enough for her. It feels good to cross a project off the to-do list....ha ha.

Paul Alciatore
11-24-2015, 01:24 PM
As I explain in the article, assembling the cells into a suitable arrangement is one of the problems with rebuilding these battery packs. Yes, the cells are connected with flat metal straps that are tack welded to them. They do this to avoid heating the cells and damaging them, which soldering would do. The tack welders that they use are made for this purpose and they have two electrodes that are spaced about 1/8" apart. The welding current passes through the strap and battery terminal ONLY between these electrodes. None of the welding current passes through the battery itself. So the heat is highly concentrated in that exact spot where it is needed and the cell is kept cool. All nicad batteries that I have seen are assembled this way. I watched one of these welders in action at a local shop that rebuilds the batteries. It is fast and easy, but I suspect the tack welder costs at least several hundred dollars, if not more.

The whole trick in rebuilding the batteries is to find the needed cells ALREADY assembled into the series configuration and mechanical configuration needed at a good price. The HF battery provides that and all that is needed is to connect the terminals from the B&D pack to the positive and negative terminal of that assembly.

I also suggest that if you did need a different physical/mechanical configuration, as some other brands of battery would require, that you could cut the straps in the HF battery assembly IN THEIR MIDDLE, between the cells. That would leave two short straps that you could solder to. With some care this could be done without heating the cells. But in the case of the B&D battery, this was not necessary. "I love it when a plan comes together!", and this one sure did.

Oh, and that local shop would have been happy to assemble a pack of nicads to my specs for around $45, cells included. But financially I may as well have just purchased a new battery.




How are the cells connected? I know some older cell packs have small tabs that are spot welded for connection.

Way back, my first CNC machine had a Panasonic battery pack soldered to it's circuit board. Nobody could find a replacement battery based on the part number on the battery. The machine manufacturer wouldn't sell only the battery, they had a flat $500 dollar exchange for the board, no matter it's condition. So I figured at worst I would be out the $500.

I took the circuit board to a high tech battery shop in Silicon Valley. All over the shop were signs, "we do not do repair work". It must have been a slow day, the guy took pity on me. He unsoldered the pack, pried it open exposing "standard" mini cells. I was surprised, not expecting that. Using his tiny spot welder he connected new cells, snapped the case together and resoldered it to the board. $20 bucks and a half hour I was out the door.

vpt
11-25-2015, 11:10 AM
You mean.... just like I wrote where I called them a "drill-driver"? :D

Supposing that novel idea to be true..... There is such a thing as using the wrong size of the right kind of thing.... Otherwise the excavation contractors would show up with one guy and a garden shovel....... yes it will "dig", but........



If the machine breaks down all the time, needs to be charged every time you need it, or doesn't ever start in any sort of cold weather, that guy with the shovel just might be the best bet. :D