Washington, D.C. Centre
the Spark

Battery Technology Update

by Dave Michel


Standard lead-acid batteries, familiar devices that have existed in basically unchanged form for many years, have their failings. They often leak, become acid-saturated over time, provide fumes to corrode other parts of your car, do not like to sit for long periods unattended, and do like to fail at the least opportune time, leaving you stranded. Unfortunately, science has not yet found the ultimate cure for the automotive storage battery problem, but we're working on it.

However, I am pleased to report that some of these problems may be solved by the use of a new battery which is becoming available to the motoring public. This is the OPTIMA battery which uses sealed lead coil/gel electrolyte technology to eliminate leaks and acid fumes. This battery is virtually indestructible by most methods (except atomic bombs) and carries a full six year warranty. As a bonus, the battery provides over 800 cold cranking amps of 12 volt DC power which is not affected by temperature (i.e., plus or minus 200 degrees Fahrenheit ) and is totally unaffected by severe vibration (e.g., NASA Space Shuttle launches and paint shakers). And because it is sealed, the battery can be installed almost anywhere and in any position, including upside down (a desired position in aerobatic aircraft). In addition, the battery will happily sit unattended for up to two years (a favorite ploy of boat owners and MG drivers) and still hold a charge. The only disadvantage which I've found is that the battery is only available in top or side post versions in the group 34 size (slightly smaller than a group 24 size) which will only fit late model (1977-1980) MGBs with the larger battery boxes. This size problem will require some creative relocation solutions should folks with earlier MGB's desire to use these units in their cars. But the battery is up to it!

The OPTIMA BATTERY has been readily available in the western U.S. for quite some time. However, east coast availability has been severely limited by the lack of a 'local' distributor. Such a distributor is now located in Chesapeake, VA, and can be reached at 1-800-333-8280. And, the price is comparable with conventional lead/acid batteries. Try it; you WILL like it!


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