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Hints, Tips and Solutions (Do NOT post requests for help here) If you have any useful general hints and tips for vintage technology repair and restoration, please share them here. PLEASE DO NOT POST REQUESTS FOR HELP HERE!

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Old 14th Jun 2020, 12:15 pm   #1
stevehertz
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Default A reminder, a warning..

This is something we all know about, but if you're like me, it can still happen. I'm talking about leaving batteries in sets whilst they're not in use. I went to have a play with one of my nice big transistor sets, went to switch it on, nothing happened, opened the back up.. white powder everywhere. Luckily on this occasion I was able to completely remove the offending oxide and the terminals were not damaged, they cleaned up lovely with a fibre pen and then given a wipe with a cotton bud soaked in Servisol Super 10 contact cleaner.

I've now gone through all of my battery trannie sets and removed the batteries. Don't hesitate, do it now if like me you have trannie sets with batteries in them!
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Old 14th Jun 2020, 1:11 pm   #2
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Default Re: A reminder, a warning..

It is a warning worth taking note of. But I have a lot of test equipment with batteries that only gets used infrequently. My answers is to only use lithium batteries. In my experience they donít leak at least in the 10 years I have been doing this.
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Old 14th Jun 2020, 1:47 pm   #3
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Default Re: A reminder, a warning..

The batteries mainly used in my large trannies are 1.5V D cells. Firstly I don't think they're even available in Lithium, and secondly the cost would be prohibitive for up to six at a time for just one set.
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Old 14th Jun 2020, 1:53 pm   #4
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Default Re: A reminder, a warning..

A good example of the damage that can be caused is from my recent Uher 4000 Report Monitor tape recorder purchase. The seller said they had cleaned up the leak.

The damage to some of the battery contacts is worse than it looks in the photo and is not easy to clean up properly.

David
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Old 14th Jun 2020, 2:01 pm   #5
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Default Re: A reminder, a warning..

David, try to stick to mechanical means of removal, ie a stiff brush at first, then a fibre stick and if necessary a bit of very smooth wet/dry paper, trying not to remove the shiny plating. Neutralising liquids only spread the stuff. I've got a collection of toothbrushes and that kind of thing that I use, plus a powerful battery powered blower. Then like I said above, use a contact cleaner to 'prime' the contacts once they're clean and gleaming. Apologies if you're an expert on this kind of stuff! But I've done quite a few in my time. Oh, and I never believe what people on auction sites say. I guess he meant he'd got rid of the excess..
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Old 14th Jun 2020, 4:20 pm   #6
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Default Re: A reminder, a warning..

Another caution- don't forget those things you use once in a blue moon. e.g. I have a flea zapper I use on odd occasions on my dog. I'd had it out after latest one showed signs of possibly activity ,which fortunately turned out to be a false alarm. Swimbo got to it before I remembered the batteries. Fortunately next time, bulging batteries, but no leaks.
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Old 14th Jun 2020, 4:55 pm   #7
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Default Re: A reminder, a warning..

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Originally Posted by stevehertz View Post
David, try to stick to mechanical means of removal, ie a stiff brush at first, then a fibre stick and if necessary a bit of very smooth wet/dry paper, trying not to remove the shiny plating. Neutralising liquids only spread the stuff. I've got a collection of toothbrushes and that kind of thing that I use, plus a powerful battery powered blower. Then like I said above, use a contact cleaner to 'prime' the contacts once they're clean and gleaming. Apologies if you're an expert on this kind of stuff! But I've done quite a few in my time. Oh, and I never believe what people on auction sites say. I guess he meant he'd got rid of the excess..
Hi Steve, Thank you for all the inputs, I am no expert, hard toothbrush no good for the really bad ones, apart from removing the loose stuff, had to resort to abrasives including wet and dry. I do not have a fibre stick, I must get one.

Difficult when they are really bad not to remove some plating, was wondering if a metal (one of the brass type softer bristles) suede cleaning brush might be useful for this.

Yes know not to believe much of what some online sellers say, it was a lady by the way and I am sure she did what she could to clean it up.

David
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Old 14th Jun 2020, 5:25 pm   #8
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Default Re: A reminder, a warning..

Mmmmm, Duracell....
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Old 14th Jun 2020, 7:09 pm   #9
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Default Re: A reminder, a warning..

I find household vinegar works a treat. At school fetes my daughter used to pick up expensive toys such as Furbys for a few pence because they had corroded batteries in them, safe in the knowledge that daddy could fix them, and was never disappointed.
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Old 14th Jun 2020, 7:44 pm   #10
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Default Re: A reminder, a warning..

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I find household vinegar works a treat. At school fetes my daughter used to pick up expensive toys such as Furbys for a few pence because they had corroded batteries in them, safe in the knowledge that daddy could fix them, and was never disappointed.
Yes, acid neutralises alkali, but there's two schools of thought on this. I prefer to not introduce another wet, corrosive chemical into the tight, awkwardly shaped cavities that are called battery compartments. Liquids can leak through holes in the compartment and find their way onto PCBs and components.
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Old 14th Jun 2020, 9:16 pm   #11
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Default Re: A reminder, a warning..

Timely reminder.

I just opened a box with Tape, CD Minidisk players and one of the Philips portable tape players had some very nasty looking Alkalines lots of white powder and split casings

Fortunately there seems to be no damage.

They have been boxed up for at least 3 years and last used 15 years ago (they belonged to one of my sons and he moved out 15 years ago) so I have been very lucky.

Normally I would not have even looked.

Cheers

Mike T
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Old 14th Jun 2020, 10:15 pm   #12
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Default Re: A reminder, a warning..

For long lasting or infrequently used stuff I give the cells/batteries a good slavering of Vaseline. It won't stop corrosion but will enable easy removal and much less will be damaged.
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Old 15th Jun 2020, 7:24 am   #13
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Default Re: A reminder, a warning..

I am not that organised but I can see a use here for all those electronic calendars and reminder systems that increasingly pervade our lives, "Alexa remind me in two years time to check the flea Zapper batteries. Probably no use if you left it switched on though and the batteries are dead in a week.

Pete

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Old 15th Jun 2020, 9:06 am   #14
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Default Re: A reminder, a warning..

I remember how decades ago battery manufacturers used to brag about their batteries being leak proof. What happened?! Truth is, I don't think they were ever leak proof.
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Old 15th Jun 2020, 10:12 am   #15
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Default Re: A reminder, a warning..

I recall that, circa 1960, Ray-o-Vac batteries (that I only ever saw sold in cycle shops) were cased in steel and were marked with a guarantee of replacing any cycle lamp damaged by a leaking battery.
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Old 15th Jun 2020, 10:34 am   #16
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Default Re: A reminder, a warning..

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I recall that, circa 1960, Ray-o-Vac batteries (that I only ever saw sold in cycle shops) were cased in steel and were marked with a guarantee of replacing any cycle lamp damaged by a leaking battery.
I also seem to remember battery manufacturers claiming to replace equipment damaged by leaky batteries.
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Old 15th Jun 2020, 12:52 pm   #17
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Default Re: A reminder, a warning..

The old style that used the zinc electrode as the case dried out and became inert eventually. Another dodge was to introduce some water. Sealing all the chemicals in is asking for problems, no matter what is used for a seal. They're mass produced to a price, they tell you to remove unused batteries with good reason.
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Old 15th Jun 2020, 9:05 pm   #18
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Default Re: A reminder, a warning..

Hi.

I've lost count at the amount of equipment affected by leaking batteries. Radios, cassette recorders, RC handsets and worst of all test equipment. I have been caught out on several occasions where I forgot that I'd left batteries in test equipment. I recently started checking each piece of equipment to see if the batteries are within date. Some were showing signs of corrosion. Others that were out of date appeared to be OK so had a lucky escape there. I have now concluded that all batteries should be removed from equipment not used very often. It's better to spend the extra time fitting/removing the batteries than having to deal with the damage caused by leakage.

Many purchases from car boot sales and charity shops are often let down by batteries that have leaked. Several times I've seen leaking batteries in equipment that are within their useful life. I'd say alkaline batteries are significantly worse than zinc-carbon with regard to the extent of corrosion to the equipment. From experience, the AAA size is worse than AAs. I've not seen many problems with C and D cells.
I have however seen some pretty dire zinc carbon batteries that have severely leaked. I remember a blue Ever Ready PP9 that was virtually unrecognisable, it being totally rotten. There was significant damage to the radio as well including a badly corroded loudspeaker and a heavily stained plywood cabinet base.

OT but concerning leakage, an eBay purchase of an unworking Roberts R700 came complete with two nice new Panasonic PP9s. The radio was stinking of ruptured electrolytic capacitors, one of which could be seen to have blown open with white powdery deposits on the circuit board.

I'd also say that the problem is worse nowadays, Some of the reputable manufacturers don't seem to produce a reliable leak-free battery. It's funny, in one of my homebrew projects I found a Panasonic PP3 zinc-carbon (black/red colour case) with an expiry date of 1998. It showed no signs of leakage and was fit for use. I don't recall there being that many problems with Panasonic batteries.

Another source of trouble can be with rechargeable batteries. I have had a number of problems with NiCads causing nasty corrosion to circuit board copper foil and also to component leads. There doesn't appear to be obvious signs of leakage with these, perhaps they outgas corrosive gases?

Has anyone had problems with leaking NiMH cells?

Regards,
Symon
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Old 15th Jun 2020, 10:28 pm   #19
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Default Re: A reminder, a warning..

Post No.18;

I have known green crystals to start forming at the +ue of ageing Uniross Ni-Cad D cells (These cells were never really much use, to be frank)

At this point in history i admit that Lithium Metal Primaries (and Lithium Ion rechargeables) make me rather nervous. The sheer pressure to supply greater charge density within a given package seems to have bypassed common sense and to some extent regulation. It's alleged in some quarters that in the last 14 years three airliner disasters have been caused by chain reaction (cargo) Lithium battery failures.

Because of this i think that the Alkaline battery destruction that seems to be worse than ever- is just being thrown into shadow, and effectively ignored.

Dave
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Old 16th Jun 2020, 12:26 am   #20
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Mmmmm, Duracell....
Yes indeed. They seem to be the worst for leaking. One brand I will never buy now.
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