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 working.
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 course. Aaargh!
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.
Got something to add? Send me email.
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