© Anthony Lawrence, aplawrence.com
If you need help with a golf cart, I suggest asking at Buggies Unlimited. Nice people, very helpful. There is almost NO chance that I can answer ANY question here!
I bought a used electric golf cart last year. Unfortunately, this year the darn thing stopped
By the way, I don't play golf. We live in a gated community with private
roads, so we can use golf carts to get around. It's a pretty big place -
we're more than two miles from the clubhouse and mail center, so the cart
is really nice to have, though more for my wife than for me.
Her arthritis keeps her from doing more than fifteen minutes or so..
But even for me it's nice to have in rainy weather when I want to run down
to get the mail or whatever.
You can't let batteries discharge over the winter, so when
it got cold I moved it out back near an electrical outlet where I could
plug the charger in. The the charging circuit on this is supposed to
be smart enough to only run when necessary, so it should be safe to just
plug it in and forget it, but I'm not trusting. I hooked up a voltmeter so I could keep an eye on the charge and do it manually. It turned out that
turning on the charger every few days kept the voltage up where
it should be.. or so I thought.
After the snow melted, I drove the cart from out back of the house to the driveway
and gave it another charge, then took it out for a spin. Two hundred feet
later it stopped dead and I had to push it back.. good exercise, yes, but
not what I had in mind.
I had bought the tech manual for this, so I'm not entirely helpless.
It is an electric cart, and I grok electric stuff to some degree, and
have voltmeters and clips and all that stuff to test with. The manual
is pretty detailed and shows test points and expected resistance or voltage
for just about everything. I was actually pretty hopeful when I flipped
through it to the troubleshooting section.
Unfortunately, I didn't get very far. I was able to eliminate some
of the more obvious things that could be wrong, but then things
started getting not so easy: the things I needed to get at are
underneath the main body - no matter how I twisted, there's no way I can
get at the places I need to poke my leads.
Aaargh. The manual does have instructions for removing the body cover,
but it's a fair pile of work, and there's a lot of rusty looking stuff that
has to come off. Rusty looking stuff scares me because sometimes you
can take it off but you can't put it back on.. which often leads
to a situation where I have to pay someone money to fix what I broke
in addition to what was already broken.
I'm ready to give up now - I have bad feelings about pushing
my limited mechanical skills farther. My wife, however, cheerfully
says that I should "call someone". By that she doesn't mean someone
who fixes these things for a living; she means someone in the neighborhood.
Certainly there are people in the neighborhood better with tools
than I am. There are probably monkeys at the zoo who are better.
But do I really think any of them have ever taken apart a golf cart?
Well, I know that one of them has, but still: I'd rather leave the
whole thing to someone with a lot of experience.
So there we are. Dead golf cart. Wife says I should call a
neighbor. I want to call the golf cart place to just come get it.
Instead I found The Buggies Unlimited Forum and described what I've been able to do so far.. they say it might the On Board Computer - a pricey little item, of
But after mulling this over, I decided to pull the batteries. They are
the weakest link because they are so old, and I also found
out something disturbing: the previous owner had let them run down
over one winter. The people who told me that said they were
the place he had bought it from. I had called them looking for
prices on the batteries, and they remembered this cart. They had
been able to revive the batteries, but said they were surprised:
they had actually reversed polarity.. that's NOT good.
I'd be really mad at the guy who sold it to me if were not for
the fact that I knew the batteries weren't going to last long. No,
he didn't tell me they had frozen, but I did know that they were six
years old, and that's very old for this kind of battery. So, yeah,
he "cheated" me, but only a little.
A new set is around $800.00, and it looks like I'm going to need that no
matter what. So I pulled them.
By the way, that's not easy to do. These puppies are in tight
spaces and are very heavy - over 60 lbs each. I'm pretty strong, but it wasn't easy
for me to get them out. I grabbed one post with vise-grips and the other
with pliers and lifted until
I could get underneath with my free hand.. not easy. Pro's probably have
some tool to help out..
Once I had them all out, it was easy to see that things weren't good. The
sides were actually bulged out and although three of
them were putting out a strong 8V, one was at 4V and the two others were
at 6V - they all need to be at least 7V and within a half volt of each other. They also need to put out at least 42V overall - these would have been maybe 38V at best. I had thought I had measured 48V when I had them ganged together,
but either my meter was off or my eyes are.. these are bad batteries for sure.
I checked around the Internet for price, but you don't want to pay shipping
on these things, so I needed someplace close by. Turned out that
someone I know from some political activity in the town is a dealer for
the Trojan T-875's I needed. I called him, and he was $20 cheaper than
the best Internet price I could find so I asked him to get me six.. it
came to a bit over $800.00 with tax, but that is what it is.
While waiting for those I ordered new cables and a battery lifting strap
from Buggies Unlimited - another
$22.00 but why put in new batteries without new cables and the lifting
strap would save my fingers from being crushed putting them back in.
Everything came yesterday, but it was raining so I waited until
this morning before putting them in. That strap definitely made the difference. The batteries are still
heavy, but you can position them easily and just drop them in gently.
Within a half hour I had everything in place, cinched down, connected and
ready. I put the key in, turned it on, released the brake and..
Success! The beast lives again.
What's this got to do with Linux or Unix or Mac? Nuttin.
If you need help with a golf cart, I suggest asking at Buggies Unlimited. Nice people, very helpful.
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2008-05-01 Anthony Lawrence