Friday, August 5, 2016

Fix Rejuvenate Restore Revive Dead or Bad Batteries

This is a simple effective means the restore the use of bad NiCad batteries you might otherwise be throwing out or dumping in the recycle bin.  This is for the 18V Dewalt NiCad batteries.  I do not know about any other types or voltage differences. 

Let me state that as with any DIY project you assume full risk and responsibility of your own safety and of those around you...and any damage that may result.  This could be risky or dangerous.  Though it has not happened to me there is the potential of a battery exploding.  At a very minimum make sure you are wearing safety glasses and that no one else is in the near vicinity.  Safety should also apply to any pets.

I found this process on a youtube video after I went to a local HD store to replace the 18V XRP batteries I use in my cordless drill.  When I saw the price tag of $89 each I thought I better investigate.  Wow... they took a big price jump since I last bought one....I am beginning to think they were mis-marked?  Amazon has them for $49 or a 2 pack for $70.   No-name brands that fit for $27. 

The high priced one was what spawned all of this.

I knew I had 2 batteries sitting on my workbench that would not charge.  Read with a digital volt meter the bad batteries read 0 Volts.  I reversed the leads.  Nothing!  The same nothing......0 Volts.  I couldn't even determine the polarity of the battery connectors.  Luckily I had a third battery on hand that still worked.

While I saw there are several methods of rejuvenating the NiCad batteries, the method using a wire feed welder appealed to me.  It was simple, easy to set up, and I had the welder.  Best of all it worked.  Though no one explained the theory I am assuming the various methods all use a higher DC voltage, and a way higher amp source to perform the magic.  All methods pulse the voltage through the battery you are trying to restore.

You will need a couple slide on terminal connectors to fit the terminals of the battery.  Crimp them on some short pieces of primary #10 copper wire.  Strip the other end of the wires and twist a loop in the end of each.  I used red for positive and green for negative/ground.   Depending on your battery connector style you might have to get creative to make connections.  Alligator Clips or something else might work?

Determine the polarity of your battery terminals using a volt meter.  Mark them with a sharpie.

Open up your wire welder (you do need wire loaded in the machine and extending out through the welder nozzle handle tip). 
       Loosen and drop the wire tension knob inside the welder to prevent the wire from feeding
       Dial the wire speed to "off" or to the lowest possible setting
       Set for the highest heat.
       Turn welder power on and click the weld/feed button on the nozzle handle and make sure wire DOES
              NOT feed
        Use a Volt meter between the welder ground clamp and the tip of the wire to check polarity
              You will have to trigger the nozzle button to see voltage flow.  Make sure you know your
              meter lead polarity.  If the meter goes negative, or reads negative, reverse meter leads.
              In most cases the welders grounding cable clamp should be negative.
              In most cases the wire sticking out of the welders nozzle handle will be positive.
              But know for sure before proceeding because you have to connect with correct polarity

Plug the made up wires onto the battery.

Connect the welders ground cable clamp to the matching polarity on your battery.  Let is hang there.  In my case my welders ground cable clamp read negative with the volt meter.  So I connect my welder ground cable clamp to the negatively connected wire of my battery.

Next you have to pulse the voltage through the battery.  Depress and Hold the trigger on your welders nozzle handle.  This energizes the wire sticking out the end of the nozzle you would normally weld with.  If you are set up correctly the wire is not feeding out the tip.  Make sure you do have about an inch of welding wire hanging out the end of the nozzle.

While still depressing the nozzle button so there is voltage, Tap or quickly drag the welding wire onto the other lead of your battery.  In my case I am tapping this on the positive wire.  You want to do this in such a way the welding wire does not start welding and bond to your battery wire.  You will, and should, see a spark.  Tap about 25 times rather quickly.  Stop and feel the battery to make sure it is not hot.  Repeat another 25 taps.  Again feel the battery for any excessive heat.  If not hot proceed with another 25 taps.  At this time you would have tapped about 75 times total.  Remove the welder cable clamped to the battery.  Read the battery with you volt meter.  If it worked you should be reading 16 to 18 volts.

If the battery reads lower you may need to tap it with the high amperage welder juice another set of 25 taps.

Once you have the battery in the 16 to 18 volt range, let is rest for 15 minutes. 

Once that battery has rested for 15 minutes put your battery in its normal charger over night.  You may find you brought your battery back to life.  So far I am batting 100% on the restorals.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Red Buses a.k.a Red Jammers

©Rick Beach
One of the few old White Company Red Buses (a.k.a Red Jammers) found in Glacier NP - Montana.



The "Jammer" name came from the sound the un-synchronized transmissions made when shifting gears.

The White Company at one time produced passenger cars that ran on steam. Around 1911 they converted to producing gasoline engine cars.

These old Red Buses were first introduced in Glacier NP back in the 1930's.

Volvo ended up purchasing the assets of White, when White went out of business. Volvo is now part of the Ford Motor Company. Ford Motor Company a leader in alternative fuels took a special interest in renovating the vintage Glacier Park vehicles back in 2000.

The fleet of 33 Red Buses now run on clean burning LPG (Propane). The original carburetor gasoline engines were removed and replaced with fuel injected 5.4L bi-fuel engines capable of running on either gasoline or propane.

Transmissions changed out to modern automatics.

The chassis was removed and replaced with a modified E-450 chassis.

The original brake system was replaced with a production 4-wheel disc ABS system.

The windows were replaced with modern safety glass. The external lights were brought up to current standards.

©Rick Beach

Friday, June 17, 2016

Polebridge Mercantile

On a recent trip to Glacier National Park I took a day to explore one of the endless back roads.  I knew of the destination having been there before.  Plus I enjoy the breathtaking scenery along the way.

Should I mention the fresh made pastries?  They were one of the objectives of the trip.  My favorite, the Huckleberry Bear Claws, and a cup of fresh brewed coffee.  If the scenery along the drive doesn't entice you, the pastries certainly will.

The Polebridge Mercantile was built back in 1914, just 4 years after Glacier Park became a National Park.  It was originally known as "Adairs".  William Adair and his wife lived in a homestead house next door.  That old homestead house in today's time, is the Northern Lights Saloon.  Adair's ran the Merc until just after World War II.

The bakery was started in 1994 and has become an attraction of its own.  Sip a cup of coffee and browse through all the unique items hanging on the walls and from the ceiling.  I am sure every piece has its own story.

You still have to walk out the back across the yard to take care of "business".  The outhouse is back there and still where you have to "go".  But this is high class.....pink carpeting on the floor.  Don't expect anything else.  It is still basic.  This is pretty much how "things" were taken care of a 100 years ago.

Finding Polebridge, Montana is locating the North Fork Rd (RT 486) out of Columbia Falls, Montana.  Or if you are in Glacier NP (West side) find Camas Rd and take that north to North Fork Rd.  This can be 25 to 35 miles depending on your route or starting point.  Much of it is gravel, but well traveled.  I have hit years the road is decent and you can go 45 mph without trouble.  Other years it is rough going.

Either point you start at will provide you incredible views along the North Fork of the Flathead River.  Distant mountains with snow covered tops, open vista's created by a forest fire sometime in the past.  Mother nature replacing the burn with new growth that has been replenishing the landscape for years.  Watch for animals.  Deer, Moose, and the elusive wolf that has been seen along the road at times.

Watch the river too.  Often there are animals along its edge, down for a drink.  Or colorful rafts floating by.  Rafting the river is a popular sport that you can enjoy on your own or by hiring an outfitter.

Regardless of your passions, this is one stop you will not want to pass by if you are visiting the general area.

Also visit the Polebridge Mercantile's Facebook Page.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Red Rock Cactus and Rain

The Desert Southwest offers some diverse scenery.  While most of the year that days are hot and sunny, there are cooler periods.  On occasion we are blessed with delightful rain.  While these rains can sometimes come down with such intensity they become deadly, they also transform the stark landscape into something of beauty.

I live on the western edge of Las Vegas, Nevada.  Further west of us is a rugged mountain range with peaks that exceed 10,000 feet.  At the foothills of this range is Red Rock Conservation Area.  The lower levels are desert.  From the desert floor there are giant clumps of sandstone jutting up hundreds of feet.  Sandstone walls of the Keystone Thrust, rise up from the valley floor up to  3000 feet.  Just behind them, the mountains.

I was watching the rain pouring on the mountains the other day and decided to drive up to Red Rock to enjoy a different kind of experience.  One of the rain and water flowing, rather than the normal dry, and unforgiving terrain.

Since this was the early part of May and we have had rain more than the past many years, the cactus, plants and bushes were in full bloom.

While not the optimum conditions for photography everywhere I turned I saw different colors.  The rain started again and I had to keep the gear dry.  So I popped back in the vehicle and enjoyed it and the drive out of the park.

For info on Red Rock Conservation Area click this link

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

RETIREMENT DIY - Changing a Brake Light Switch with a dose of humor

The joys of retirement. No money, but lots of time. Do stuff yourself you say. Save money!.....seems like a great plan!

I had to change my brake light switch today. It was messing up my cruise control and activating my trailer brake controller & trailer brakes. It would happen when the brake pedal was normal, driving down the road.

Seems like a simple enough repair on the surface. There was a $125 diag fee, plus parts and labor, to have this repair done. I already knew what the problem was. Not parting with $200-$300 seemed like a good DIY trade-off.

The $12 part came today off Amazon. A simple thing. Remove 1 bolt and a retaining clip, pull the switch out of position. Unplug the wiring harness connector. Reverse the process and call it done.

Now this is where it gets good. About the time you say its a 30 minute job, its not!

The bolt....no problem. The retaining clip....well this could be used for a measurement in an IQ test. I might add this is in a van, up under the dash, in the dark, and in a very awkward location. My arms would not bend that way. And that clip was not clearly visible.

I added a flash light, a stick to hold a major wiring harness out of the way. Knelt on the ground....couldn't see....couldn't bend my hands where I wanted them...

Contemplated the fact if I popped this thing off would I ever get it back on?

Now I am upside down on the drivers seat...head and neck on the floor trying to still figure out that retaining clip....the flashlight falls and rolls. Did I mention I am not 20 years old and can't bend like I used too? Well I guess I still can but it doesn't come without pain. Either immediate, or perhaps the next day. Time to try something else.

Thoughts of parts and labor not so out of line....LOL

I drag out the extension cord and a regular light....Tried the upside down seat thing again....did I mention when you get older your eyes don't focus as well as they did at one time...kept knocking my glasses caddy-wompus and had to re-adjust my upside down seat position so I could bend my arms to fix my glasses. I swear 40 some years ago this stuff seemed easier.

Deep breath and slow sigh.....This required a new tactic. I moved to lay across my two front seats and slipped down between the seats and the center engine hump, on my side, facing forward.....remember this is a van. More later on why a retired, more plump person, might find out later this would result in a new problem to solve.

Hey I found out how to remove the retaining clip. It took 2 seconds once you move through that learning curve. Being able to see from this crammed up vantage point certainly helped. Clip off, switch off, harness unplugged, didn't even break the cheap plastic harness connector lock! Those snap in locks that always break and really cause a problem.....reversed all steps and bolted the switch on, no problem. 5 Minutes.

The next problem (one that wasn't planned on) was getting myself off the floor and back on the seats. Squirming around while making the repair, had eased my body completely onto the floor. It was actually quite comfortable down there.

But I couldn't get back up! I was nearly pinned in there. One arm and hand up grabbing the steering wheel trying to pull myself up....the spare arm up above my head, trying to maneuver that spare arm up under my body to help push up. Several times my steering wheel hand accidentally blowing the horn. Feet thrashing the air trying to get them up on the passenger seat...hoping to get some leverage to help with the body lift.

I mention all of this because I found humor in myself and what I must look like if someone was watching. I started laughing. Had to rest and start over.

I did manage to get free just as my neighbor pulled up. I said "Hi". He made some remark in question format like "Are you laying down on the job again?" He obviously saw the flailing feet through the windshield.

What could I say? Busted!  I just laughed.  He had no clue what had just gone on.

I just chock this up to the joys of retirement. Now I have the time to fix stuff. But not the money to hire it done. The list seems endless. Every day is an experience! Some are just a little more humorous.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Twice a year we have a local group out of Las Vegas that camps at one of Nevada's Ghost Towns.  Our spring event will take place May 12 through the 15th, 2016.  The core group camps with anything from RV's, Teardrops,  to Tents.  RV spots are limited to 11 and normally all get reserved.  There are also a limited amount of rustic cabins for rent.  There is endless dry camping where you can camp out of your car and set up a tent.

We also have an October trip scheduled for October 13-16, 2016.

If you want the experience and car camping is your thing.  This would be a unique opportunity to attach to your Havasu Falls trip if you are coming in through Las Vegas.  Or just join us and have a fun weekend.

This is paved roads the entire way.  You can travel here with the family car or a rental with no fear of needing an off-road vehicle.

Gold Point, Nevada is about a 3 hour drive north out of Las Vegas.  It is remote but offers a rewarding experience.  The Saloon is opened for our group.  There are also some prepared meals available for purchase, but head count must be given. 

This is rustic camping for the most part.  Pit toilets, but there is a shower.  No tables.  No tree's.  Don't expect comforts and you won't be disappointed.  A shade/rain fly is recommended but not necessary.  As is a folding table.

Hard Luck Mine Castle
There are no services or store.  The nearest small town is about 40 miles away.  Be sure to bring everything you need.  Water is available.

The area is full of photogenic buildings, old iron, mining equipment, and machinery.  A handful of people live in the town and are restoring buildings while maintaining the old dilapidated look.

The town sits at an altitude just above 5000 ft so during spring and fall expect chilly nights and pleasant days.  Some years its rained and  we spent the day in the saloon sitting around the wood stove with a roaring fire.

One of the Las Vegas Dutch Oven cooking groups does a Saturday Potluck. Cost of admission to the potluck meal is to bring a dish or food of some sort.

There are endless gravel roads going off into the mountains in all directions.  One snakes over a hill to another Ghost Town called State Line...though 4 wheel drive may be required for that one. 

Or head over to the Hard Luck Mine Castle.  If you can get the owner to give you a tour (donations required) you will be amazed at what someone built in some very unforgiving terrain.

The Ghost Town of Rhyolite, Nevada is about a hour and a half drive one way from Gold Point (On paved roads).  It is another photographers dream. Totally awesome at sunrise or sunset!

You are pretty much on your own as far as food.  Though some meals can be arranged in advance.  Sheriff Stone (one of the proprietors will do breakfast, lunch, and dinner if arranged for in advance)

Come joins us around the campfire!

Sponsored by: "The Las Vegas Dutch Oven Enthusiasts"

Thursday, February 25, 2016



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