12-Volt Batteries In Garden Tractors

What type of preparation is necessary for a sealed, so-called maintenance free 12-volt battery for garden tractors?
Seem to recall reading somewhere that it has to be charged first. Can you give me some more details as to amount of time, etc? My charger doesn't have the safety feature that prevents overcharging. Any other prep necessary?
Thanks, Mary
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Andy writes;
Ok, there is a lot to learn about batteries, extending their life, and charging... I am assuming you just want to get your lawn tractor to work, so I will really try to simplify this.....
1)When delivered , your lawn tractor battery is probably charged. 2) When you buy a new one, your battery is probably charged...
3) This is important !! Your normal useage of your lawn tractor will NOT keep the battery optimal. Most peope can expect to replace their battery every two years or so. Read the manual on your tractor...
4) If you want to make your battery last for 5 years or more, you have to pay attention to it. It is a lot of trouble. But this is how:
a) By a hydrometer for lead-acid batteries that measure the
specific gravity. Read the instructions and google websites using "lead acid specific gravity" which will give you a lot of hits on understanding the amount of charge in the battery.
b) Buy a charger that will charge the battery at a ONE amp rate and one of those 24 hour appliance timers. If you
use the timer and the charger for ONE HALF HOUR each day, and leave it permanently attached, you can leave it
permanently attached and your battey will stay "topped up" without sulfating.
c) Check your battery at least once a month, every cell. Write down the reading and the air temperature. If the reading says "fully charged at above 90% ", then you can disconnect the charging system in "b" for a month or so. When the state of charge falls below 90%, then hook it back up... This will change over the years.....
5) If this is more trouble than you wanted to go to, then go back to "3" and just replace the battery every 2 years. Thats what most people do........
Andy
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snipped-for-privacy@home.net says...

Try asking at misc.rural and alt.homepower
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Jack wrote:

As with automotive batteries, it is most definitely charged to some extent. Probably enough to use. For some reason manufactures tell mechanics to charge a new battery even if it tests charged. How long to charge it depends on your charger. My little charger would probably start charging at about 6 or 7 amps and go down to 2 or 3 amps, then it's charged. Yours may vary.
Most important!!!!! Always remove the negative cable first and install it last! This keeps your wrench on the positive side from completing a short circuit if it touches ground (most anything metal). A short like that can cause the battery to explode spewing sulfuric acid all over, like in your eyes!
Tony
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