Installing Flow-Rite battery watering on a Polaris Ranger EV

Definitely a narrow-audience scratchpad post.  We love our electric Polaris Ranger EV utility vehicle here at Prairie Haven.  But putting water in the batteries is not a lot of fun.  Messy, tedious, slow, etc.  So today’s project was to put a battery watering system in.

UPDATE UPDATE: ONE YEAR LATER

Everything is fine and we still heartily endorse this gizmo.  Battery watering now happens once a month.

Winter tip (and correction):  We do water the batteries in the winter after all.  I use the EV to plow snow which is pretty tough on the batteries and makes them use more water than in the summer.  It works fine in winter, but here’s the tip — don’t do this when the EV has been below freezing for a while.  Sometimes the couplers freeze.  It’s easier just to wait for a few days of above-freezing temps in the garage than it is to coax the couplers into doing their thing when they’re frozen.

We did forget to charge the batteries before we watered them once.  THAT was a pain the neck because we had to go back to the “old way” of watering to siphon off the water at the top of the batteries.  Never again!  We’ve added this handy reminder-sign to the business end of the filler hose so we’ll never forget again.

UPDATE: one month later and the results are in

Wow.  This is a complete success.  We just watered the batteries for the first time and several things stand out.  First, the batteries required dramatically less water — only a few ounces on each bank of four batteries.  Second, the batteries didn’t require any cleaning because there was no spillage at all — unlike before where the battery tops were always covered with battery acid and needed extensive work before starting to do the watering.  Third, as a result the job only took 5 minutes instead of the 3 hours we used to spend.  Pry these out of our cold dead hands.  Now, back to the original post…

Project start: 3pm

Standing on the driver’s side.  There’s the diagram of the finished system (see below), an example of the gizmo that’s going to go into the batteries, the battery compartment and the really-useful ratchet box wrench for loosening the battery hold downs.

Bag of watering gizmos

The kit came disassembled, which I really liked because we only needed to loosen the battery hold downs, not take them off.  We could thread the hoses under the hold downs and wires before hooking them to the watering gizmos.

First couple watering gizmos

We picked the easiest ones to learn on (the hardest ones are at the back – you owners already know this).  Having the hold downs loose was helpful for wiggling the gizmos in, but the breakthrough came when we started twisting the lockdown handles of the battery caps a bit.  The little handles are what really collide with the hold downs, twisting them out of the way made a big difference.

Cutting and installing the tubing was easy — we mostly used the measurements on the diagram, especially the 8-inch lengths.  Some of the longer runs (10-14 inches) had to be custom measured because the diagram didn’t match the layout of our batteries.  We’d just stick one end of the tube on, hold it close to its destination and then snip it to fit.  We wound up with about a foot of tubing left over, but we were prepared to steal some from the water hook-up hoses if we ran short.

It goes a lot faster with two people splitting the tasks

Here’s Marcie dropping gizmos into the batteries.  It’s way more than twice as fast when two people can each be concentrating on half the job at hand.  Otherwise there’s lots of changing position/tools.

All done: 5pm

This is the way the finished product looked.  This is the first side, just to keep things straight.  The whole project took a couple hours and we could do it much faster now that we’ve done it once and learned some tricks.

Layout diagram

I know, the copyright notice is pretty intimidating — but hey, this diagram’s on their web site for all to see.  Here’s the link to their site:

https://flow-rite.com/sites/all/files/file/pdf-pro-fill/layouts/POLARIS-96V.PDF

The part number for this rig is BG-U96V-1G

You also need the little squeeze-bottle filler that drops into a gallon of distilled water.

Results:  The next morning

We watered the batteries (and cleaned them) this morning, remembering to charge the batteries before filling them.  What used to be an “all morning project” was a short job that fit in before Marcie headed off for her real all-morning project.

Here’s an action shot — showing off my battery-watering pants.  They’re more like a battery-watering apron these days.  I think they can now be retired.

We splurged and spent a few minutes cleaning the batteries so they’d look spiffy for this final photo.  Compressed air to spray off the debris, liberal dose of battery cleaner, rinsed them off with the hose and another round of compressed air to dry things off.

We were wondering if we’d be able to tell when to quit pumping water and accidentally overfill the batteries.  No worries there — the little squeeze bulb just quits, we could both feel the really abrupt transition to “no more room” as we went to full-batteries.  Those little floating shut off valves work great.

Today’s watering took about a gallon of water (pretty normal) and 15 minutes (pretty nifty!).

The EV

Here’s a picture of the compleat EV — purple collecting bags, wide/smooth tires and a watering system.

Winter Tips:

I talked to the folks who sold us the kit about what to do in winter.  My main concern was that trapped water would freeze and rupture the tubing.  They told me that the water finds its way into the batteries as the water level drops enough to open those valves back up.  My plan is not to water the batteries in winter, just to play it safe.

Fiber to the farm

Hooray!  Our local phone company, good old Nelson Telephone Cooperative, is plowing fiber into our house at the farm over the next few weeks!  You haven’t lived until you’ve seen me, an aging 60 year old geek, doing cartwheels in anticipation.  So here’s a post to document the process as it unfolds.

It started with this hint — marking up Highway 88 to show where the fiber leaves the right of way and heads over the wetland on its way to the house (no, that white building isn’t the house…).

Dale Goss of Nelson Telephone and Bob Travis of Finley Engineering came by this morning and took a look at the path the fiber will take from the road across the wetland.  We were a little worried, ’cause when they plowed in the phone line they had a pretty rough time getting across the sedge meadow that’s right behind them.  But this time we’re plotted a course that will bypass that stuff — all smiles.  Thanks guys!

Cones in a high-traffic zone

 

I gave the guy marking out the electric-wires a hard time about putting his cones out — he’s the only vehicle that’s been down our driveway THIS WEEK.  🙂

 

The plow is here!

 

The plow is coming!  The plow is coming!  This gizmo turned up at our neighbor Emmit’s place, just up the road.  I’m so excited I did my first-ever McPlank to celebrate.

 

 

Here’s a video of the Day of the Plough. It compresses a 10-hour day into 4 minutes. The lads did great — they avoided all the places we were worried about only got a little bit stuck in the mud. Way to go!

Two for one — a farm project and a geek project

This is a post to test a geek thing — trying out the Wordbooker plugin to connect my blog to Facebook.  This gizmo should be great for posting to Facebook from my blog, pulling Facebook comments into the blog and blog comments into Facebook.

Here are pictures of a farm project to test out the geek project.  We’ve got one planted prairie where the dang aspen and birch have been invading like crazy.  So, it’s time to mow those rascals down and see if we can get things under control.  We probably should have done this a couple years ago ’cause the stuff is getting pretty crazy-big.

Here are a couple of photos that show the comparison between before and after mowing…

And here’s a photo of the ride back down the hill…

New blog front-page photo

I take lots of pictures, and every once in a while I get a lucky break.  This shot resulted from some great clouds and evening sun coming together while I was sitting on the couch at the farm.  I ran outside, took this photo and 2 minutes later the sun went away.  You can click on it to get the full-sized version.

Spring! Today’s the day…

Yesterday it was still winter here at the farm.  Today, Spring came with a vengeance.  Here’s a series of pictures from yesterday’s Morning Walk…

Here’s a picture of the end of our driveway where it meets the road.  Pretty impressive mist, no?

Well, that mist has been here all week.  Here’s the story, as told by one of our weather stations — practically a week straight of 100% humidity as the snow melted.

As you can see, today’s the day the weather finally broke.  Here are some comparison shots.  This one is from the point above the house, looking down on Marcie’s planting project this winter.  Note the snow.

Here’s another view of the same field.  Also yesterday…

And here it is today.  Yay!  Snow all gone.

This is what the wetland looked like yesterday…

And here it is today..

Marcie was working on marking some stuff in the woods.  See that tiny orange dot right in the middle of the picture?  That’s Marcie…

And here’s the big payoff.  The Crocuses are in bloom!

There’s even a ground hog out, trying to build a house under our porch.  Spring is here.