Help me get a 93' Club Car working...
December 14, 2007 8:00 AM   Subscribe

My dumbass friend bought a well-used golf cart. Without a charger. or working batteries. Help us get it running.

One of my college-age friends is notoriously bad with money, always making crazy impulse purchases - never thinking about total cost of ownership.

Anyway, he bought a 93' club car, a 36 volt V-Glide. (it matches the wiring diagram at )

According to the previous owner the cart "was working", but the batteries were dead and there is no charger.

From what I've read online, leaving lead acid batteries fully discharged for an extended period of time is a very bad thing.
To further ensure that the batteries were dead, my friends pulled them out, charged the 6-volt batteries one by one with a 12-volt car battery charger, and then re-installed them without paying any attention to the positive and negative markings on the batteries.
Not only that, but they didn't even manage to hook them up in series.

At this point, I stepped in and got everything properly installed again. We can crawl forward a few feet or hear the reverse buzzer.

My friend wants to, and probably will, replace the batteries and buy a lift kit (!?) for the cart. Since he already has a fairly large car battery charger, he's convinced that he doesnt need to go out and spend a few hundred dollars on a 36-volt charger - he will just find some way to hook the 12-volt charger up to the charge plug on the golf cart.

So I guess my question is, is there some magical cheap way to charge the batteries in series that won't damage them?
If not, help me convince my friend that this is going to ruin his batteries.

Also, charger recommendations would be appreciated.
It would have to be relatively cheap, but also bear in mind that my friend will probably never do any maintenance on the batteries - so something that can be left plugged in all the time may be in order. Perhaps something with a built-in float charger? Would just using a 36v float charger work if he didnt discharge the batteries too far?
posted by itheearl to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You could try to jury rig this, but yeah, a 36v float charger should keep things working as long as it's not too far gone.
posted by electroboy at 8:15 AM on December 14, 2007

Club Car is, I believe, based out of Augusta, GA. If you're near them, call and see what it would cost to get the batteries and other parts replaced.
posted by ijoyner at 10:29 AM on December 14, 2007

Club Car is indeed from Augusta (and just a few miles from my house) as is its competitor, EZ-Go. I have a 36 volt EZ-GO and have dealt with some of these issues. First of all, he needs a real golf cart charger. New they cost about $400 but I just bought a used one for $250. It is much more robust than any 12V charger for home use that I have seen. The amount of current flowing through the system is pretty big; I had a loose connection on one of my batteries and it completely melted the terminal and the end of the battery cable, necessitating replacement of both. He might be able to rig a 12V charger to work but if he doesn't know the difference between series and parallel connections I think it is unlikely. I forget what I paid for new batteries, but it was a few hundred dollars or so as well. Electric golf carts don't require a lot of maintenance, but making sure the batteries are filled and the battery cables are tight is important, quick, and easy. Finally, there are a number of golf cart forums on the net that can guide you to more specific information.

If you are in a town of any size you should have a shop that sells new/used golf carts that can help you. I go to these guys and they are always incredibly helpful; you might have someone similar nearby.
posted by TedW at 11:16 AM on December 14, 2007

Also, I got a Powerwise charger which was a replacement for the OEM charger that came with my car; I don't know what Club Car uses.
posted by TedW at 11:21 AM on December 14, 2007

If not, help me convince my friend that this is going to ruin his batteries.

Or burn down his house.
posted by TedW at 11:22 AM on December 14, 2007

a) the batteries are probably dead; being discharged for so long they have likely sulphated.

b) don't charge them in parallel because you'll get uneven charge on them, so when the pack gets low you may damage some of them by over-discharging. They must be kept always in series so that they maintain the same level of charge across all cells.

c) if you're electronically inclined (your friend is clearly not, but it sounds like maybe you are), you can make a float charger yourself, just go buy a transformer of the right voltage (about 44V) and hook up a linear regulator to get you down to 41.4V. You only need maybe 1A; it will take forever to charge but will keep the batteries completely full and healthy if you leave it connected.

I have a couple of these home-made float chargers that are used to keep tractor batteries full; all that's inside each one is a 15V, 150mA transformer, bridge rectifier and filter caps, 7812 for the regulator and a green LED with 1.8V forward junction voltage under the ground pin of the regulator so that the output is 13.8V, which is what you want for a "12V" lead-acid battery. If you can understand that description, you can figure out the 36V/41.4V version; if not then I don't want to write a description that will get unsuspecting people hurt.

If you're feeling very tricky, there are dedicated charger-control ICs you can buy that will fast-charge then float a lead-acid battery but if you go that route you'll need a bigger transformer (perhaps 10A at 44V) and much more silicon to do the regulating. Easier and probably cheaper to just go get a second-hard golf cart charger.
posted by polyglot at 8:36 PM on December 14, 2007

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