November 2018 November 2018 - Page 12

no room for boom E xplosions cause terrifying screams and threaten employee safety. Understand- ing batteries is a quick route to improving safety and maximizing the effectiveness of your course’s vehicles. A few years ago a beverage cart driver walked into my shop. It was the first indication of trou- ble because a driver walking means something is broken. I asked her what she needed, and she yelled: “My bev cart is broken down on No. 6 cart path. The battery exploded. I couldn’t hear any- thing for about 45 minutes, but I am OK now.” On that beverage cart model, the battery is un- der the driver’s seat, and the explosion’s force was directed out of the cart’s open bottom. She didn’t realize she was shouting, so she wasn’t really OK. I found a trail of plastic shrapnel, lead battery plates, a streak of liquid and the beverage cart where it had rolled to a stop. I collected the pieces for recycling and towed the cart to the shop, leaving a streak of battery acid for the approaching rain to wash off the cart path. Back in the shop, I learned the new-style, sol- id-state voltage regulator these beverage carts were outfitted with had failed in the “max- charging” mode and probably caused the ex- plosion by overcharging the battery. I replaced the voltage regulator with the OEM replacement part. A few days later, another beverage cart battery exploded for the same reason. Since all the voltage regulators on the beverage carts were identical and the same age, I was concerned the rest would fail. To avoid more explosions, I replaced the new-style, solid-state voltage regulators on all six beverage carts with an older proven design that fails safe in the “no charging” mode. There were no more battery explosions after making the change. 12 WWW.GOLFCAROPTIONS.COM How do you avoid explosive situations around your course and shop? Understanding the dif- ferences between battery types is a good place to start. Disposable primary cells Look around during the work day and you’ll discover you are surrounded by an amazing variety of batteries. They are essential to everyday activities such as opening garage doors with a wire- less remote, unlocking car doors with a key fob or using a metal detector to find keys in the snow. The batteries in all these things are inexpensive throwaways that pro- duce a small amount of power. They work for a while, and when they quit, you toss them into the recycling and re- place them with a fresh one. Built-in re- chargeable batteries Electronic devices such as smart- phones, tablet comput- ers and other elec-