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Good old Harbor Fright strikes again.

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  • Good old Harbor Fright strikes again.

    Battery was dead in one vehicle today when I wanted to move it. Last driven a bit over a week ago. (It's an older vehicle, does not have the always on crap that ones 30+ years newer do).

    So, having a battery charger (from HF) I decided to charge it, rather than go out and replace it, which is what it really needed. I charged it a while back, after the vehicle had not been driven for a couple weeks, and all worked fine.

    So, this time I hook it up, and I got a loud buzz, and about the same time, smoke. Hmmmm, that is not the desired result, so disconnected it and decided the better choice was to replace battery, since it was older than dirt, and had gone dead before. And that is what I did, even though the battery cost 1.5x what it did last time.

    Being a typical techie-wiremonger, I investigated the charger. Yep, diodes failed, one shorted, the other appears open. Manufacturer had put in two "pellet" diodes, each with a contact area about 3mm diameter on top and bottom face, smeared some grease on a piece of aluminum, and held them down with a spring-loaded piece of plastic that had the top contacts in it, riveted in place, with the rivet squashing the spring closed.. Piece of plastic was now shaped like a banana, so whatever force was on it originally had decreased, and also was now at somewhat of an angle.

    I think the cost of the "solution" was more than the cost of installing a reasonable pair of diodes in a typical TO218 or similar case, but obviously their vendor did not. They did install a battery-cord automatic circuit breaker (which I need to test, now that I think about it), so that likely prevented having a lot of reverse current.

    It does not appear that the transformer is more than slightly discolored in the wiring, and even that is likely just the wire varnish, given how even the insulation color is. Smoke seems to have been the diode case frying.

    When I get around to it I will decide what part to use to replace the dead parts.

    Good old Harbor Fright.... always there when you need 'em!
    1601

    Keep eye on ball.
    Hashim Khan

  • #2
    Tiers, its from china what do you expect? This is not news or even note worthy in that we have had years of training to become accustomed to buy a Chinese pos and throw it out when it doesn't work. They collect our money and we have no recourse. I'd tell you to send it back to China but they would just put it in a new box and sell it back to horror freight.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by rickyb View Post
      Tiers, its from china what do you expect? This is not news or even note worthy in that we have had years of training to become accustomed to buy a Chinese pos and throw it out when it doesn't work. They collect our money and we have no recourse. I'd tell you to send it back to China but they would just put it in a new box and sell it back to horror freight.
      Well, now, that does not have to be true. And when most things from china are a LOT better than they used to be, why would you continue to spout that garbage?

      It's not the chinese NEARLY as much as it is the customers of the chinese, the importers, the ones who want another 3 cents off the price here, a nickel there...... they give savings bonuses to purchasing agents....and they do not count warranty against that bonus.....Before you know it, on 10,000 pieces you have a nice addition to your purchasing agent "yearly savings" and the bonus you get.

      And why do the importers do that? The customers of the chinese (the importers) do that because (so they say), YOU want them to.... YOU demand the lowest prices, so say the importers.

      I say it is YOU, because I know darn sure it is NOT ME.

      No recourse? With stuff like this, that I can fix, I do. In other cases, I have bounced a bad item right back to the importer. They probably re-stocked it and sold it to YOU.

      BTW, if you think you can buy a regular 10A charger that comes from anywhere in the US, go for it. The US one will probably be a WORSE POS than the chinese one. (IF you can find one, I'd bet any you do find are made in china anyway, just with a US name tag glued on.)
      Last edited by J Tiers; 05-21-2020, 07:27 PM.
      1601

      Keep eye on ball.
      Hashim Khan

      Comment


      • #4
        You know, i wanna give Mr Tiers a round of applause just for that retort. Well said mate, its not the country thats at fault, its the customers. Chinese manufacturers just build to a price point, if you want to pay the top of the line price then you can get top of the line equipment. If some skinflint wants to pad his bottom line by cutting a few diodes out of a circuit, well, his money spends as good as anybody elses does as far as the factory is concerned

        Comment


        • #5
          I still have an old Schauer battery charger that looks like hell but still works fine. I got it sometime in the 70s, for maybe $5 or even free. It is a very simple design, IIRC. Just a transformer, diodes, power zener, and a rheostat. It's one of those things I think about cleaning up and repainting, but I'll probably never get a round tuit.

          Just like this one, but the handle rotted off on mine and I replaced it with a piece of wire:

          https://www.ebay.ca/itm/Vintage-Scha...8AAOSwGWtdcyCa

          Click image for larger version

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          http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
          Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
          USA Maryland 21030

          Comment


          • #6
            Harbor Freight 10/2/50 amp charger: $54.00 4.1 out of 5 rating of 3622 ratings
            Schumacher 10/2/50 amp charger: $82.99 3.9 out of 5 rating out of 168 ratings

            Interesting...

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by J Tiers View Post

              And why do the importers do that? The customers of the chinese (the importers) do that because (so they say), YOU want them to.... YOU demand the lowest prices, so say the importers.

              I say it is YOU, because I know darn sure it is NOT ME.
              I agree with your assessment that the problem is driven by consumers demanding lowest cost not necessarily best value or quality, But if you're not demanding the lowest prices, why are you shopping at Harbor Freight? Why not buy a Schumacher? Or a Noco? They're both US companies and, while their internals certainly use components sourced from China, they have a reputation to defend and, based on my experiences with Schumacher, very good customer service. If you spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $150, you can get a charger with a 3+ year warranty and a solid, proven design.

              I would like to see a picture of the setup if you think of it, just for laughs.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by J Tiers View Post
                It's not the chinese NEARLY as much as it is the customers of the chinese, the importers, the ones who want another 3 cents off the price here, a nickel there...... they give savings bonuses to purchasing agents....and they do not count warranty against that bonus.....Before you know it, on 10,000 pieces you have a nice addition to your purchasing agent "yearly savings" and the bonus you get.

                And why do the importers do that? The customers of the chinese (the importers) do that because (so they say), YOU want them to.... YOU demand the lowest prices, so say the importers.
                When I wanted a Kurt Klone vise, I noticed the Phase II distributor was a 10 minute drive from me, so I visited them. A manager actually gave me a tour, and explained their business model. He said they go visit the factories in China churning out all this stuff and carefully choose the ones with the best quality control, not the best price. I love my vise! Much nicer than my previous Bridgeport 6". I could have gotten one of more dubious quality cheaper from Enco or such. But I chose not to do that.

                As far as H-F, it's always YMMV. I feel I've won so many times more often than lost at that casino that I keep going back. Especially for those 'once in a blue moon' tools like the air riveter in my recent thread, not the everyday stuff. Finished that job, even if I never use it again those 150 stainless rivets were worth the $32! But I'm researching building a tiny teardrop trailer for my son, and that riveter may make it's mark there!

                Location: Jersey City NJ USA

                Comment


                • #9
                  OK So many people keep knocking HF for the stuff they sell but seems that many of those people are still buying their stuff. Whats up with that, if its so bad quit buying from them and start buying somewhere else. I have purchased many things from them and can't say that I've ever had a really big problem with them or the stuff I purchased. Bought a 10in tile saw and their blade for it and the saw is great but the blade didn't last thru two boxes of tile. They were happy to refund my money for the blade and I bought a higher quallty blade that cost me almost half what I paid for the saw but has now done 2 full tile jobs. Bought a small belt sander that works good but the belts from HF suck, bought differant belts and alls good, bought the 12 ton press does everything I have needed it to do is it top of the line no but works for what I need it for did some up dates to it to make it better for me.

                  Look people things can go bad from anyone. Just a few months ago I used my Snap On charger from when I was still working and the timer switch broke. I'm not complaining its 20 years old but cost me about $300.00 at the time When I took it apart everything inside the switch is plastic thats what broke. Should I be complaining ??? Can't even guess how many batterys it charged and cars it help get started when it was in its prime. Still works but now has no timer.

                  Give it up and quit buying from them and put your money at a different store and than you can complane about someone else's stuff.
                  John From Slinger, Wisconsin

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I bought 11 battery chargers that were returns from a store going out of business. I gave a dollar for the 11, 5 of the 11 actually worked.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by J Tiers View Post
                      ... Yep, diodes failed, one shorted, the other appears open. ...
                      2 diodes, not 4 diode bridge? Center tapped transformer, then?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        You guys know that I am NOT one to promote Harbor Freight ANYTHING,
                        but someone gave me one of these HF Viking chargers for free, and I have
                        to say I love it. Very light weight and long cords, does 6v and 12v batteries.
                        Has trickle and 4 amp output. My old transformer charger is so heavy, I
                        just always grab this one 80% of the time. I love it. (for what it is worth).
                        DZER

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I got tired of carrying my ancient Marquette battery charger around and picked up a 10 amp charger from tractor supply. Wife left the car door open overnight couple days ago, so I carried that nice light charger over to charge it. Found out that even though the manual calls the green light that comes on a "Full charge" light, it comes on at 7.62 volts, totally useless when you want to get a car started.
                          10 minutes with the old charger and the car started up fine.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Old School View Post
                            OK So many people keep knocking HF for the stuff they sell but seems that many of those people are still buying their stuff. Whats up with that, if its so bad quit buying from them and start buying somewhere else. I have purchased many things from them and can't say that I've ever had a really big problem with them or the stuff I purchased. ..........

                            Give it up and quit buying from them and put your money at a different store and than you can complane about someone else's stuff.
                            Originally posted by vectorwarbirds View Post
                            Harbor Freight 10/2/50 amp charger: $54.00 4.1 out of 5 rating of 3622 ratings
                            Schumacher 10/2/50 amp charger: $82.99 3.9 out of 5 rating out of 168 ratings

                            Interesting...
                            Schumacher is made in china for all the units I could find a "country of origin" statement for. Same for all the others I found a statement about. Schumacher was extra cheap when it was "made in USA", pretty much one of the bottom feeders then, IMO.

                            Why buy basically the same unit from a "different store" and get the same level of device, from the same offshore source and pay more?

                            Hey, I'm not "complaining".... I'm kind of surprised at the "cheap construction" that actually seems more expensive.

                            Diodes croak in many things. In this one, the construction likely was at fault, whoever thought that was a good idea was dreaming. I have designed some low cost stuff, but nothing as on-the-edge as this thing.

                            I repaired an old roll-out Made in USA Snap-On for my FIL. It had a huge selenium or similar rectifier setup about 6" square, with a 4" diameter "puck" on each fin, which had failed very completely, with holes melted in the rectifier cover. I replaced it with some large stud-mount parts on a real heatsink 25 years ago and it is still going as far as I know. He'd for sure mention it if there was any issue.

                            I have the circuit board out of the unit now, since it is refusing to turn on the output device, which I am not yet entirely sure of. So I'm going to trace the circuit. It has a bunch of transistors, most of which may run the "charge complete" light, and may be held open if some dolt gets the polarity wrong.. Whatever the output series device is, it gets shorted for the "starting" mode. Since the charger is all pulsing AC, it may be an SCR, and may also sense whether there is a battery out there, so it may just be that it will not turn on without it. Still going to trace it, inquiring minds want to know.

                            Here is a pic of the unit, with the new rectifier using half of a 25A full wave bridge rectifier (there is a 20A CB in-circuit, at top left). And a picture of the cute little plastic gizmo intended to hold the rectifiers, along with one of the rectifiers. Rectifiers were mounted to the same heatsink plate the new one is on, with one of the tiny contacts against the plate, and the other touching the terminal in the plastic gizmo, which has a coil spring holding it down. You can see that the RH one is melted into the plastic. I think that was the second one to fail, it carried all the short circuit current through the one that failed short, it heated up, and eventually seems to have failed open. (pic 2 was with no flash, accounting for the brownish tone to it. With flash, it was totally washed out)

                            The rectifier is sized for about a 6A to 10A capacity, probably not completely silly for this unit, given 50% duty on each.




                            Last edited by J Tiers; 05-22-2020, 12:31 AM.
                            1601

                            Keep eye on ball.
                            Hashim Khan

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by rickyb View Post
                              Tiers, its from china what do you expect? This is not news or even note worthy in that we have had years of training to become accustomed to buy a Chinese pos and throw it out when it doesn't work. They collect our money and we have no recourse. I'd tell you to send it back to China but they would just put it in a new box and sell it back to horror freight.
                              "its from china what do you expect?" I have to agree. My battery chargers are probably 40 years old US MADE and still work 100%

                              I don't think I would buy a tarp from that place.

                              JL..............

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