Replace mower or just mower battery?

I bought a Craftsman rechargeable mower (Model 917.386401) in 1998. Recently it doesn't recharge very well, although it still cuts grass for about 10 minutes, at lower speed than before. I think it's time to replace the battery. The service center guy says it costs $150 plus about $30 shipping. That's still much cheaper than buying a new mower (about $400). One newsgroup message says the battery model may no longer be available and a replacement doesn't fit perfectly.
If I want to check the battery with a multimeter, how do I do that? The owner's manual doesn't say whether or how to check the acid level. Is it needed? Could other parts such as the electric motor be near their lifetime? Should I just buy a new mower? Thanks for any advice.
Yong Huang Email:yong321ATyahoo.com
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On 13 Aug 2005 09:35:58 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I just spent $140 for repair of my Black and Decker, replaced the battery and did some other stuff. Much cheaper than a new machine. considering what they did, $150 for just the battery seems high. Are there any indepencant repair shops near by to talk with?
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Did you call around for a better deal on a replacement battery?

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Another simple google search....
http://www.toolpartsdirect.com/cgi-bin/schematic.cgi/blackdecker/CM600_TYPE_2
I've had 10 or so over the last few years....batteries are pricey....100-120USD....$140 to have it installed is a good price!!!
On 13 Aug 2005 09:35:58 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods and poets. To plant a pine, one need only own a shovel. -- Aldo Leopold
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Yong, Regarding checking the battery, a 7 year old battery is probably in need of a replacement. You didn't mention how it was stored, or other details, but it would not completely be a surprise if it does need replaced. If it's not holding a charge, then checking it with a multimeter probably won't help much other than to verify that it is losing its power.
Searching on www.sears.com, I only get 3 "electic" mower choices and each of them are corded. It is possible that the expensive cost to replace the battery is because the product is no longer available.
If you'd like to follow up on the battery itself, one option would be to call a battery company rather than the service center. Have the specifications of the battery handy (including dimensions) and see what they can do.
Another option is that since Craftsman is a Sears brand, you could call the local store to see if they have any in stock or if you could order one to pick up.
I would have a hard time paying $180 for just the battery. If nothing else, if I absolutely had to have an electric mower, I would buy a corded mower with a long extension cord rather than pay that much for a battery on a mower that may have other problems in the near future.
Dave
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tom snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I agree that paying so much for a battery raises some flags. Searching for a better price is a good idea.
But after seven years, $180 for a new battery compares well to the cost of annually servicing a gas engine. Sure, a corded electric mower has even lower maintenance costs, but then you have to deal with that damn cord that's always in the way, or is getting caught on something.
Each kind of mower has it's own best application. I'd advise someone who needs to get a new mower to consider all the pros and cons as they relate to their specific situation. I'd never simply say that a corded mower is better than a cordless mower any more than I'd say a sedan is better than a coupe. It all depends on the specific situation.
And none of them have zero maintenance costs.
To the OP: From what I've been able to find out, the mower you have probably has a Tecumseh motor, so you may want to check with any authorized Tecumseh repair shops in your area, as well as specialized battery stores.
--
Warren H.

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Warren wrote:

Warren, Where did I say that a corded mower is always better?
Dave
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Not meaning to sound like a smart aleck, but if you have to replace the batteries so often and they are so expensive, why not just buy a gas mower? Seems to me that the maintenance costs are much lower.
I have an 11 year old cheapo MTD gas mower that has only had one spark plug and two air filters in all that time that was well used for the first ten years. Nowadays it sits allot becaue it is only used for touchups but still...
Waste batteries are bad for the environment too... so I am not thinking it's ecology. Why drag a cord around?
Kate
wrote: : > I bought a Craftsman rechargeable mower (Model 917.386401) in 1998. : > Recently it doesn't recharge very well, although it still cuts grass : > for about 10 minutes, at lower speed than before. I think it's time to : > replace the battery. The service center guy says it costs $150 plus : > about $30 shipping. That's still much cheaper than buying a new mower : > (about $400). One newsgroup message says the battery model may no : > longer be available and a replacement doesn't fit perfectly. : > : > If I want to check the battery with a multimeter, how do I do that? The : > owner's manual doesn't say whether or how to check the acid level. Is : > it needed? Could other parts such as the electric motor be near their : > lifetime? Should I just buy a new mower? Thanks for any advice. : > : > Yong Huang : > Email:yong321ATyahoo.com : : Yong, : Regarding checking the battery, a 7 year old battery is probably in : need of a replacement. You didn't mention how it was stored, or other : details, but it would not completely be a surprise if it does need : replaced. If it's not holding a charge, then checking it with a : multimeter probably won't help much other than to verify that it is : losing its power. : : Searching on www.sears.com, I only get 3 "electic" mower choices and : each of them are corded. It is possible that the expensive cost to : replace the battery is because the product is no longer available. : : If you'd like to follow up on the battery itself, one option would be : to call a battery company rather than the service center. Have the : specifications of the battery handy (including dimensions) and see what : they can do. : : Another option is that since Craftsman is a Sears brand, you could call : the local store to see if they have any in stock or if you could order : one to pick up. : : I would have a hard time paying $180 for just the battery. If nothing : else, if I absolutely had to have an electric mower, I would buy a : corded mower with a long extension cord rather than pay that much for a : battery on a mower that may have other problems in the near future. : : Dave :
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Electric mowers are quieter and produce less emissions than a gas mower. Electric power plants produce emissions too, but the emissions are centralized and can be managed more efficiently, athough in practice, I think many power plants just do the minimum required by law. I also don't think electric mowers require oil changes, oil filters, air filters, spark plugs, gas removal/stabilization procedures (when storing the mower) or the accompanying labor involved.

Did you not change the oil? What do you use for non-touchup work?

Yes waste batteries in a landfill are bad, which is why you should recycle them. They are heavy and the energy density of a lead-acid battery doesn't compare well with gasoline and yes power cords are a nuisance. If it were all good, you wouldn't need to choose.
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: : > Not meaning to sound like a smart aleck, but if you have to replace : > the batteries so often and they are so expensive, why not just buy a : > gas mower? Seems to me that the maintenance costs are much lower. : : Electric mowers are quieter and produce less emissions than a gas mower. : Electric power plants produce emissions too, but the emissions are : centralized and can be managed more efficiently, athough in practice, I : think many power plants just do the minimum required by law. I also : don't think electric mowers require oil changes, oil filters, air : filters, spark plugs, gas removal/stabilization procedures (when storing : the mower) or the accompanying labor involved. : : > I have an 11 year old cheapo MTD gas mower that has only had one : > spark plug and two air filters in all that time that was well used for : > the first ten years. : > Nowadays it sits allot becaue it is only used for touchups but : > still... : : Did you not change the oil?
Actually maybe a few times... the poor thing has been sadly neglected but keeps on going like a champ.
:What do you use for non-touchup work? The MTD was the primary mower when we lived out west, for 9+ years. These days I mow about 6 acres, three with my Husquvarna 22/48 lawn tractor and three with a bush hog attached to the tractor. The MTD is only used down by the pond in places where either of the other two might be unsafe to operate. I wish I had a bigger, zero turn mower. Maybe when the Husky wears out. Oh and I DO maintian the Husky. I baby it like I do my car.
How about you, what do you use?
: : > Waste batteries are bad for the environment too... so I am not : > thinking it's ecology. Why drag a cord around? : : Yes waste batteries in a landfill are bad, which is why you should : recycle them.
I even recycle my used AA batteries :) I'm a good girl.
They are heavy and the energy density of a lead-acid : battery doesn't compare well with gasoline and yes power cords are a : nuisance. If it were all good, you wouldn't need to choose.
Gotcha. I appreciate you treating my query as it was intended, a real desire for another view.
:
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Right now I am using a Scotts 2000-20 push reel mower. Powered by processed doughnut lard. I've had it for about a year or two and I'm pretty satisfied. Takes less time mow (although I do mow more often) and much less irksome to operate. It doesn't cut cylindrical grass very well, usually knocks it over instead of cutting it. I guess those are rye seed stalks. Usually hit them again at an angle, pull them out by hand, hit them with a weedwhacker later, or just leave them. With my old cheapo gas mower (which also still works) I would just back up and park over them for a few seconds to make sure they got cut. Anyway, I doubt a manual push reel mower is a very good choice for people with 6 acres to mow. ;-)
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: : > The MTD was the primary mower when we lived out west, for 9+ years. : > These days I mow about 6 acres, three with my Husquvarna 22/48 lawn : > tractor and three with a bush hog attached to the tractor. The MTD is : > only used down by the pond in places where either of the other two : > might be unsafe to operate. I wish I had a bigger, zero turn mower. : > Maybe when the Husky wears out. Oh and I DO maintian the Husky. I baby : > it like I do my car. : : > How about you, what do you use? : : Right now I am using a Scotts 2000-20 push reel mower. Powered by : processed doughnut lard.
Now THAT was great for a chuckle!
I've had it for about a year or two and I'm : pretty satisfied. Takes less time mow (although I do mow more often) and : much less irksome to operate. It doesn't cut cylindrical grass very well, : usually knocks it over instead of cutting it. I guess those are rye seed : stalks. Usually hit them again at an angle, pull them out by hand, hit : them with a weedwhacker later, or just leave them. With my old cheapo gas : mower (which also still works) I would just back up and park over them for : a few seconds to make sure they got cut. Anyway, I doubt a manual push : reel mower is a very good choice for people with 6 acres to mow. ;-)
I'm thinking you are right. Especially since hubs would be doing the pushing LOL
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On 13 Aug 2005 09:35:58 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I've seen a sign at Batteries Plus (a chain store--I don't know how far they reach) that they will rebuild a cordless drill battery. Perhaps this would be an option for you battery?
k
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wrote:

First figure out what kind of battery e.g. lead-acid, sealed lead-acid (SLA) you have and proceed from there. There is a good website for batteries, I think it is www.batteryuniversity.com or something like that. To me $130 for a battery is insane, but cheaper than a H-HW battery (hampster-hampster wheel) and better emissions I bet. Around here, you pay more if you don't bring the old battery (regular lead-acid) to trade-in. SLA and others should recycled at RBRC participating retailers.
I went to batteries plus to get a SLA for my trimmer, price was $20 more than same or similarly named website price, but I bought anyway. tempus est pecunia.
most cordless stuff will use NiCd, NiMH or lithium, not really cost effective for a large stuff like a mower, but i guess it's possible.
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Salty Thumb wrote:

Thank you, and all others that replied to my message. I found that Batteries Plus is right in town, Houston, TX. I took my batteries in and the guy tested them saying they're fully charged and were also good in load testing. I went ahead and bought new batteries anyway (and left old ones there). Came home and installed them. I finally finished cutting very tall grass!
Now the problem I find is that I can't recharge. I plugged the charger into the mower (with new batteries) and plugged in charger power cord. The charger light doesn't show either red or green. I doubt it's my charger because my old batteries were fully charged according to the guy. But I remember if the mower end is unplugged, the charger red light should light up. Now it doesn't. I'm going to bring the charger to the shop tomorrow and see if they can test it.
Yong Huang
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I need to make corrections to my yesterday's posting. Today I called Batteries Plus and talked to another guy. He pulled my old batteries out of his storage room and tested again. They were bad. He said yesterday his associate didn't do the load test right.
Another correction. I thought if the charger was unplugged from the mower but the other end is still on the wall outlet, the red light should come on. Now I think that's wrong. I got a cordless electric trimmer that still works. When I unplug the charger from the trimmer, neither red nor green light is on on the charger.
Since I got the trimmer and its charger working, I used that as a comparison. I measured voltage between the inside of the little hole of the charger plug (which goes to the trimmer), and the outside metal. It's 19.56 volt (even though the trimmer is 12 volt per the manual). If I measure voltage this way on the mower charger, it's 0. So I think my mower charger is bad. Unfortunately the trimmer charger can't plug into mower charging port; the latter is a little too big. Otherwise I would use the same charger to charge both. Anyway, I don't understand why my mower batteries and charger went bad at about the same time.
For those curious, I bought two Werker batteries for $86. I printed a 10% off coupon from their Web site.
Yong Huang
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote in wrote:

That makes more sense.

If you can find the manual for the mower, it should tell you what the lights mean. If the trimmer is also Craftsman brand from the same time period, I would guess it would be the same otherwise I would assume that when everything is plugged in, red means "stop, I'm charging" and green means "finished charging, ready to go". My cordless Toro trimmer ( ~4 years old) has zero lights and doesn't even have a seperate charging apparatus (it's built into the trimmer and plugs into a standard block transformer).

I guess your charger has a loose/broken connection inside the housing. Should be pretty simple electronics. Obviously don't fart with it while it's still plugged into the wall outlet. Charging voltage will be higher than battery voltage, that's nothing to get excited about.

Your battery was 7 years old and if I recall correctly, lead-acid batteries should be stored fully charged. If your charging system could not full charge your battery for non-use over last winter, that would contribute to the battery's premature failure.

That sounds like a more reasonable price.
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I want to thank everyone that answered my questions and post this last message about what I finally did. I replaced the two 12-volt Craftsman batteries with two from Batteries Plus. I bought a charger from Sears for > $50. It fully charged the batteries overnight (light turned green on charger). This evening I cut grass again and the mower is being charged again (light shown red). I love this cordless mower so much I don't regret paying about $150 in total to replace my batteries and charger. It's a shame Sears or Home Depot no longer sells cordless mowers.
Yong Huang
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