DIY cordless drill battery repair - cheap source for sub-C cells requested.

Hi Folks,
About 7 years ago I bought a cordless drill and have used it lots since. IIRC it cost about 70 - not a professional's standard but good for DIY.
Following a period of irregular use, about 18 months ago the battery began to not hold its charge for long and I discovered that there was a common problem with the charger/battery for that model. I bought a new battery pack for about 25 off eBay ( at the time I didn't know there was a charger problem too ).
Anyone guessed the brand yet?
Soon discovered there was a charger problem and replaced a blown power transistor in the charger though I became aware, soon after, that the replacement didn't resolve a problem with the charger not switching to trickle when the battery was fully charged thus overcharging if not watched.
The original set-up recharged the battery in about 1 hour ( one reason I chose it over cheaper models ). I know that is far quicker that the recommended charge time but with auto trickle switching thought OK.
Anyway, all was well, watched the time during recharging and all OK for 12 months or so. Until I was distracted during the recharging whilst practicing plastering ( not one of my skills ).
The first I became aware of a serious problem was as a result of my wife shouting for me regarding the smoke coming from the battery/charger last week.
The replacement battery plastic housing was overheated, swollen and distorted and the replacement 25 battery is knacked.
Jump ahead 1 week. I need a cordless drill for the renovation I'm currently doing so began to look urgently for replacement.
Wife saw advert in newspaper - special offer, 2 selected power tools from Wickes for 29.99 includes cordless drill option, choice of 4 or 5 different tools.
I already have all of the other power tools on offer ( having bought a new sander [about 30 ] only about 3 weeks ago [sick as a pig]).
Anyway, as the charge rate, for the Wickes cordless drill, required 3-5 hours I decided to buy 2 of 15.6 volt cordless drills. I'd have a second battery to be charging whilst the first was in use.
The drill is OK for for DIY but lacking some of the options of my 7 yr old original.
Now a 15.6 volt cordless drill has 13 of 1.2 volt subC rechargeable cells in its battery pack.
My original drill was 12 volt and had 10.
Each of the new Wickes drills cost me 15 and each included 13 cells in the battery pack. So assuming the mechanical part of the drill is free the cells cost only (15/13) [ just over 1 ] each and they are making a profit even at that. Looking on the web I can't buy tabbed subC rechargeable cells for anywhere near that price. Unless I'm looking in the wrong place.
Have thought about repairing, by replacing cells, my original 10 cell cordless.
I could strip 10 new cells from one of my new Wickes drills and install them in the ( plastic undamaged ) original battery pack for my original cordless drill.
I could then make a PROPER charger to fit into the original charger case to prevent overcharging.
I'd prefer to buy 10 tabbed subC cells at something like a reasonable price which all the above would suggest was about 0.50 - 0.75 each.
Does anyone have a source for such.
TTFN - Colin
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i gave up buying cheap cordless drills this year, having gone through about 5 of them in as many years,
got a makita 18 volt li-ion set from screwfix for about 80 quid in one of their frequent sales.
charges in 15 minutes, lasts bloomin ages on a charge, and being a li-ion battery the self discharge rate is very low (i use li-po batteries with me model airplane, have left them sitting on the shelf for over a year, and they still show 95% charged)
i'm never farting about with ni-cads or mi-mh batteries again, they are old technology now, hence why they are so cheap i guess with all these chinkie knock offs, if you want tabbes sub C cells, try a radio controlled model shop, but they wont be as cheap as you want because people dont like the crappy chinkie cells the die without warning in their planes,
but to be honnest, once you have bought the cells, added the charger, farted about splitting open the old pack and soldering up the cells into the same configuration, getting the pack housing closed up again, you would be more than half way towards the cost of a makita li-ion drill at screw fix, if you haddnt bought the 2 drills from wickes, then you'd prolly have the dosh right now.
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I agree, having looked at this recently for my pro bosch tools, the best deal on replacemnet batteries/cells is just to buy a good quality cordless tool with what you want in the bundle. Recelling or buying cells just wasn't economic. The market place is set up to work in a certain way, and that is that cordless drill bundles work out cheaper than just buying a couple of batteries, or even the cost of the cells inside them. You can go against these trends, but you'll end up paying more for less.
If cell longevity and fast recharge is sufficiently important to you - then a buy a professional model tool with 15 minute charger, that is designed and built to have the cells cycled frequently. Lots of very competitive offers out there, and if you can afford it, as the previous poster says, Li-ion is very good.
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gazz wrote:

Couldn't agree more. BTDTGTTS. I've been running a couple of Makita's with ni cads for over three years now, in daily use, no hint of battery failure. When they do eventually go I'll buy Makita again but with li-ion.
The chargers with decent tools are already 'proper'. Good quality cells & proper chargers are part of what you pay for with better brands.
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On Mon, 6 Apr 2009 00:24:01 +0100

Don't bother with cheap drills. Buy a Makita (or Metabo, etc.. i.e. good) Li-On. You will thank God every few minutes that you did. Nicad and Nimh batteries are a waste of money - however cheap they are. R.
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Bollocks. Good quality Ni-Cads or NiMH are fine for cordless tools. They just have different characteristics to LiOn.
Poor quality cells of any type are a waste of money.
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On Mon, 06 Apr 2009 11:03:00 +0100

I thought that too - until I bought a Metabo Li-On drill 3 years ago. 14v works like 18v, always ready, no worries about putting it away discharged, charges in 15 minutes... The list goes on and on.
The more infrequently you use it, but assuming you need to do quite a bit when you do need it, the more sense it makes to have a Li-On drill.
I don't use any other cordless tools, so I can't say anything about them.
Poor quality in any tool is a waste of money - you learn that quite early on - the trick is avoiding them, and price/branding isn't what it used to be. I have an B&D 1/4" router that is over forty years old - still works fine - I wouldn't buy a B&D toilet roll today.
R.
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It's no great surprise that a Metabo with unobtainium batteries works better than a Happy Shopper with a hamster wheel inside.
A B&Q cheapie Li-ion that worked better than Metabo's offering with NiCds would be a clearer indication of the _technology's_ virtues.
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I'd expect a top of the pile make to be good regardless of the battery type. Ultra fast charging may be useful - but a better solution is two batteries which will recharge within a normal time for one being used up - and if this is 15 minutes you're probably not using the correct tool for the job. ;-)

I have a NiMh drill which seems to hold its charge quite well enough for my use. Which certainly isn't every day. Good Ni-Cads don't self discharge as fast as some think either.

B&D have always been a bit variable. A brand doesn't necessarily guarantee consistency of design or quality. Except perhaps at the top end.
What really matters with any cordless tool battery wise is that the battery retains its performance for a good time. And I'm pretty certain when LiIoN become common at the bottom end they'll have no better a service life than the others they replace. After all they want to shift new product after a while.
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Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

Granted they are all mains, but I have a B&D hammer drill, a B&D planer & a B&D 185mm circular saw. I've found them all to be excellent. Circular saw is a bit of a heavy lump, which is its only drawback.
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Yes - I've got several older B&D mains tools which are good - I've not felt the need to replace them which says something. Duds were their jigsaw where the support roller only lasts a few weeks, the electronic two speed control not much longer and a fairly expensive router where the fan disintegrated followed by the armature burning out. Spares are available but very expensive. Then of course there is the notorious Scorpion saw and their electric stapler.
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I don't think NiMh belongs in the same bracket as NiCd. I have a Makita with a pair of NiMh packs. The only problem I've noticed with the NiMh batteries is their self-discharge rate, which means that if you don't use them for a long time, there's not much juice left, but I find that if I pick the thing up, use it until the used battery is flat and put that on charge, it has charged up before the spare pack has run down. I've used this same pair of packs in a "bursty" pattern (periods of no use, then fairly heavy use) for seven years without any sign of trouble.
NiCd batteries are a different story, and NiMh -- which are easily damaged by bad charging -- with a poorly designed charger would be no good at all.
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TheOldFellow wrote:

I don't agree that NiCd or NiMh are necessarily a waste of money. You can have excellent service from wither if you start with decent ones. I have had 4.5 years use of the original 3 18V NiMh packs that came with my Makita combi and they are only just beginning to show a slight reduction in capacity - however they are still very good.
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Absolutely. To hear some people talk you'd think rechargeables started with LiIon.
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On Mon, 06 Apr 2009 16:53:13 +0100, John Rumm wrote:

Seconded. When I see a DeWalt or Makita Li-Ion drill at something over £250 a pop, then compare them with the sub-£20 18V I use, I just can't see that these "professional" units are 10 times better. For my use, they're not even twice as good (since both have 2 batteries).
OK, it might be Porsche vs. Ford, but most people are qute content with cheap/cheerful/gets-the-job-done.
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pete wrote:

My drill with three NiMh batteries was about 250 IIRC. I would say it is easily more than 10x better than the cheap tat versions. The whole package just works so much better.

No objection to cheap'n'cheerful, its the gets the job done bit that is in question. Good battery drills not only make the job much easier, they will also do a much wide range of jobs in the first place.
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wrote:

There's a world of difference between a cheapo drill and a decent one in performance - and mainly down to the better batteries. Good make batteries give much more low end torque and make the tool more useful for screwdriving, etc. I re-celled a PPro 18v with decent cells and it improved it enormously. But it doesn't feel as nice to use as my Makita.

'Ford' drivers often are because they ain't ever driven a 'Porsche'. ;-)
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Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

Agreed. My (several) Makita drills/drivers/impact drivers feel like they are almost part of your hand, the ergonomics are superb, speed control is excellent and, as you say, low end torque is brill.
Speed control is so good you can use a Mak on plastic ceiling roses without cracking them for example.
I'd rate a 12v Mak against a 14.4v or even 18v cheapie any day.
Didn't have that opinion until I started using stuff six days a week on sometimes demanding jobs.
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I find this hard to understand. Even cheap cells will supply more than enough current for the motor to run at its maximum. I do know that cheap cells may not last as long but I seriously doubt if you could make a PPro run better by just swapping the cells unless the original cells were already faulty.
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On Tue, 7 Apr 2009 08:45:23 +0100, dennis@home wrote:

One thing you need to remember is that the professionals on this NG have a different set of values from "us" amateurs - who maybe do a little woodworking or suchlike from time to time. For a start, anything they buy is classed as a business expense. So they claim back the VAT _and_ buy things using pre-taxed income (and without N.I. either) That automatically means that they have to earn far less - usually less than half as much to buy a tool than the rest of us. Also, they value reliability and ruggedness more than we (well, I) do. If one of my tools breaks down, I just go and do something else with my spare time. For a pro, if a tool breaks - that's lost income. (Same with havig to wait for batteries to charge).
So while it's nice to be able to pick their brains and get advice of how to do jobs, we must remember that their opinions about what is value for money are based on a different set of requirements than amateurs have.
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