Author Topic: Edison Batteries: Should I pick these up?  (Read 1344 times)

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Offline Wrydog

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Edison Batteries: Should I pick these up?
« on: April 13, 2019, 07:33:58 am »
I've got an estate sale in my area this weekend that has literal tons of old electronic computing and communications + much more. I spotted these batteries and was wondering if they are able to be refurbished? Any idea how old they are?
 

Online nctnico

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Re: Edison Batteries: Should I pick these up?
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2019, 10:08:03 am »
I wouldn't touch it. Probably scrap which can be expensive to get rid off.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline helius

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Re: Edison Batteries: Should I pick these up?
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2019, 10:27:26 am »
The Nickel-Iron battery is a piece of history, for sure. They are known for being "very tolerant to abuse", but I think it's still optimistic to expect cells from 50 years ago or more to be recoverable. Finding information on operation procedures is going to be a hunt through library materials.
It looks like each cell is crimped or soldered shut, with only a capped fill tube for exchanging the electrolyte. If you have an angled borescope you could take a look into one of those tubes and see how rusty they are inside. Another thing to look out for is corroded posts where the plates extend upwards to the terminals.

Probably scrap which can be expensive to get rid off.
I don't think there are any hazardous/REACH materials in an Edison cell, aside from possibly leaded solder.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2019, 10:29:51 am by helius »
 
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Online Gyro

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Re: Edison Batteries: Should I pick these up?
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2019, 10:39:54 am »
They look in remarkably good condition, externally anyway. As helius says, they're very tolerant of abuse, and unlike NiCds, didn't suffer from dendrite growth.

They're NiFe so no toxic Cadmium to worry about, with a benign electrolyte too. They probably have significant scrap value.

It would be a shame to see them go to scrap without at least trying to resurrect them. There are enough cells to select good from bad. NiFe were used in the orignal electric traction vehicles early in the last century!


P.S. Relevant pages from my Caxtons 'The Modern Electrical Engineer' from 1927 attached.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2019, 11:14:14 am by Gyro »
Chris

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Offline MagicSmoker

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Re: Edison Batteries: Should I pick these up?
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2019, 11:33:25 am »
Nickel-Iron cells are pretty much indestructible; I'd snag 'em.

 
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Offline jmelson

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Re: Edison Batteries: Should I pick these up?
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2019, 04:00:44 am »
Oh my GOD!  These things are over 100 years old, to have the Edison label.  Might be the battery pack from a Baker Electric car.
Might check with Jay Leno to see if it matches the ones in his Baker.

Jon
 
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Offline floobydust

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Re: Edison Batteries: Should I pick these up?
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2019, 05:17:48 am »
Edison batteries are certainly a valuable collectible, worth picking up. Those look good cosmetically. Rare 30 sold for over $7,000. There was also an electric "beach car" train that used them.
Jay Leno has an original Edison battery pack but his 1909 Baker Electric uses 6V deep cycle lead-acid batteries.

 

Offline bsdphk

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Re: Edison Batteries: Should I pick these up?
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2019, 05:27:45 am »
In 2011 there were a presentation title "Thomas Edison had it right" by Peter Demar at BattCon where he picked up similar old batteries and after following Edisons manual, they were still up to spec.

 

Offline Psi

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Re: Edison Batteries: Should I pick these up?
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2019, 05:30:43 am »
Depending on what they want for them yes, probably should pick them up for their antique/historic value.

Could clean one up nicely and put on ebay as an antique. See what you get.
Greek letter 'Psi' (not Pounds per Square Inch)
 

Offline duak

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Re: Edison Batteries: Should I pick these up?
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2019, 12:03:48 am »
If all else fails, they should have a fair bit of nickel in them which should be worth something.  I checked in to some 90/10 cupronickel alloy the other day - hoo boy!  But of course, I was buying, not selling.

I believe the electrolyte is Sodium Hydroxide (lye) so take care.
 

Offline Tac Eht Xilef

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Re: Edison Batteries: Should I pick these up?
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2019, 11:29:51 am »
Oh my GOD!  These things are over 100 years old, to have the Edison label.

Nah - 87 at most. They're marked 'Thomas A. Edison Inc', which dates them to 1932 or later. Prior to that they would've been labelled 'Edison Storage Battery Co.'
 


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