Was It Worth It?

My last post was all about how my replica Autolite battery had dies a very sudden death without warning. I managed to recreate the battery with a top cover from Mustang Maniac and battery from Toyota of all people. That page can be found here. I promised that I would take the old one apart to see just what was inside. The project took me a lot longer than I thought it would and you will see why as I go along.

The old battery case I wanted to keep, and possibly place a similar battery inside it at a later date maybe? So the work was going to be slow and careful so I didn’t destroy the case. As I knew there was another battery in there I wasn’t sure what to expect either. So the battery was taken into the shed for a plan of action.

When you undo the cell caps on this replica it’s quite obvious that there is a smaller battery in there and a large cavity at one end. By deduction that would mean that the terminals for the inner battery would be connected to the to top posts via cables.

I could see that the top was fitted originally there was a gap at the back corner where it hadn’t seated correctly, from the left corner of the pic below. So that was going to be my starting point.

side (top left of the picture shows the slightly raised corner)

The Dremel was out and a cutting disk will be used to go around the seam.

The dust from the battery was incredible. The closest I can put this to is a laser printer black toner cartridge powder. Rub it and it stains what it touches. Just the back cut had created a black cloud and difficult to breathe.

So the face mask when on and ventilation made better. The battery was turned over in turn for each side that needed the cuts. Some parts needed to be cut a little deeper as the mould on the inside hadn’t been cut through completely.

Once I had freed the lid I could see one wire that was holding it in place. That wire would have to be cut, then I could get to the other side which was tucked into the corner.

This corner cable was difficult as the battery was holding the cable tight against the case. I think during assembly the gel battery was attached to the lid and then lowered into a resin that held the battery in place and set hard to hold it in place. There would be no other explanation from what I could see.

The resin at the bottom had set like hard plastic and couldn’t be pulled or peeled out-of-the-way. This was a problem as I couldn’t see any other option only to cut the bottom out as well. I managed to bend the cable to the lid out the way to make the cut to remove the top completely. Now I could turn the battery upside down and cut the bottom out. Now I had to be extra careful so that I didn’t cut through the inner battery causing untold problems I wasn’t prepared for. I had lots of old towels to hand and thick gloves at this point to mop up any spillage.

With the bottom of the case cut through the battery was still not coming out. Closer inspection down the side I could see the resin had gone up the side of the battery too, yet another issue. I had various steel pallet knives that I use for filling in holes on walls with plaster etc. The plan now would mean gentle taps to try to crack the resin away without cracking the case itself. I did manage to keep breaking the thin blade to a jagged edge. This actually helped to cut through the resin, like a saw tooth. Those gentle taps turned into more force as I realised I was not getting through the resin.

After what seemed like hours the battery started to loosen and cracks could be heard when the resin was starting to separate from the case and the bottom panel with the battery still attached. Eventually it all came free and I could see why I had such a problem.

Now I had an “L” shape to separate from the battery itself if I wanted to keep the bottom, which I did. The same process would need to be applied again, tap into the narrow space between the battery and the bottom of the case. This stage took a lot longer than taking the bottom out due to the significantly more resin in place. After a lot of hammering and two palate knives later it was all apart and looking a mess.

The final stage was to put it all back together again. The inside was cleaned up to remove any dust and debris to make a clean surface for the jointing glue. I used a sheet of plastic under the battery and placed the bonding glue in the gaps around the base and the inside of the case. The plastic would peel of no problem and leave a gap that was filled with a black mastic again.

The top was cleaned up and the cables cut flush. If I wanted to fit a cable back in there I would have to use a tap and die set to create the anchor points.

The top was held in place with a tiny bead of silicon so that I could remove it if I needed to, but wouldn’t fall of if handled. Now that the uneven top had been cut flush, the battery top was now sitting flat on the bottom case, just how it should have been.

So what was inside? I have no idea what the battery was after all that. apart from the fact it was a gel battery with the following sticker details. Google hasn’t given me any more.

Can anybody else help me out with it? I think it was a golf cart type battery, but I could be wrong!

Related pages are the original battery review click here or cut and paste this link:

Autolite Replica Battery (group 24)

Making a new Autolite Group 24 battery click here, or cut and past this link:

Making An Autolite Group 24 Battery

So the question is now, was it worth it? The answer for me is yes. My inquisitive mind wanted to know what was in there.

I now have a very lightweight antique car battery that is nicely cleaned up and sitting on a wooden shelf in the garage. It just looks so wrong that it shouldn’t be there! The amount of effort to get it all part is not really worth it, perhaps a battery in the middle and not stuck to the side of the case would be much easier. But, thinking of the safety aspect with the battery sliding about, that wouldn’t have been good at all.

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12 thoughts on “Was It Worth It?

    1. Hi Dana, great idea for a safe tho! Now it’s just an empty black plastic box that looks heavy but weighs virtually nothing. Your right it’s a lot of money to go cutting up w8th a Dremel. But once it’s dead it’s useless. Still, it looks good on a shelf now.

  1. Amazing! That was a really interesting story, and a story of determination and perseverance. I take it that those replica batteries are quite expensive and/or hard to come by in the UK?

    1. Hi Tim. Thanks for your comments, it was a bit of a journey to say the least. You are absolutely right, the replicas are difficult to get in the UK. I guess it’s down to the weight and possible acid in the battery during shipping, who knows. All I know is that I paid a silly amount of money for it. My battery ended up costing me £400 plus an import duty of another 20% on top of that as well. If they could be purchased over here then somebody could make some pretty good money as I know a lot of people who would want one. They look great in the car and offer great performance while they last too.

      1. My battery ended up costing me £400 plus an import duty of another 20% on top of that as well

        If I had paid that much, I would have torn it apart too! Hope you get to find a second use for it, and thanks for a good writeup. I have always wondered what these replica batteries were made of. Now I think I will stick to my idea of using a standard battery and dress up lid. The dry cell battery inside looks pretty tiny I think, and it probably made of average components. A shame given what they charge for these (even in the States.)

        1. I wasn’t to impressed to say the least, they die without warning. OK one minute and a week later nothing and that is with a trickle charger on it designed for dry cell battery. I can’t find out what the dry cell is at all. I have been told it could be a golf cart battery. Which is quite impressive if it is. Like you say, dress up !it is the way to go, if you do it right nobody can tell. When the battery is in the tray there is virtually nothing to see of the see of the case anyway.

  2. I wonder why the manufacturer doesn’t sell the case on its own for you to put in your own battery? I think their margins would go up as the empty case would have paradoxically, added value and they could charge a little bit extra for the novelty.

    1. I agree with you 100% there Nigel. I only wanted the battery case to be honest. Now i have the option to creat my own if the need is there. However when the battery is in the car they only tend to see the top part anyway so the cover is enough – for now!

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