Lipo batteries for battery conversions?

paul delany

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Hi folks can anyone give me any reason why lipo batteries may not be suitable for bachmann shay batteries conversions any advice welcome

Paul
 

Madman

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Are you converting from track to battery power ? If so, I can't see any reason why Li-Po batteries or Li-On batteries would perform any differently than any other ordinary battery. But there may be someone here, smarter than I who might shed more light on the subject.
 

dunnyrail

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No reason whatsoever except that there are more safety options that need to be followed, in particular the right sort of charger. But Phil will chip in with more advice I am sure.
 

PhilP

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You called? :blush:

All I can think (against) is the so-called safety issues?? :think:

Does the Shay use the loco chassis as the ground connection? - I *could possibly* see this as a potential (no pun) problem.. - Lithium-based batteries are capable of supplying massive amounts of current, and a fault, coupled with some dubious joints down the chassis might cause some serious damage??? :wondering:

But I would have thought the wide-range of battery-package shapes and sizes, and needing less cells, would be an advantage?

PhilP.
 

spoz

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They have certainly been used in Climax (see the battery forum) where their greater energy density compared to NiMH means that a smaller size can be used. There are some potential safety issues but these will be avoided if a proper charger is used and you ensure that there is no possibility of a circuit being created through the track. If there is no inbuilt switch to alternate battery or track (and I don’t think there was on the Shay) then the track pick ups need to be isolated (physically disconnected at one or both ends for preference) - but that is true of all battery conversions.
 

GAP

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paul delany

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GAP

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Hi thankyou for the reply ,I'm going to try a 3 call 13.8 I think it is ,its small and compact
3 cells is only 11.1V.
4 cells is 14.8V; if I was you I would go for the higher voltage and the biggest capacity you can get hold of.
The 3 Truck Shay has 3 motors so they all need to be fed a decent current to operate the loco for a long time.
The voltage really takes a back on this one; 14.4V is more than enough to power it at a realistic speed plus drive the sound card lights etc.
 

paul delany

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3 cells is only 11.1V.
4 cells is 14.8V; if I was you I would go for the higher voltage and the biggest capacity you can get hold of.
The 3 Truck Shay has 3 motors so they all need to be fed a decent current to operate the loco for a long time.
The voltage really takes a back on this one; 14.4V is more than enough to power it at a realistic speed plus drive the sound card lights etc.
Hi there thankyou for the advice and I will opt for the higher voltage what do you model your self???
 

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As a user of LiPos in model aircraft and more recently my trams, there's a few things to be aware of:

Charger: You normally charge each cell up individually using a balance charger, so the charge cable for a 3S battery will have 4 cables. You can build a charger into the loco so that it just needs an unregulated supply, but you should not attempt to top up charge while running - IE: use track power as the charging source.

LiPos should not be run flat, as the battery chemistry will not recover. Electronic speed controllers for LiPos will have a safety cutout for when the voltage drops below the critical voltage per cell, or you can get voltmeters with alarms to build into the loco to warn you when its time to re-charge.

LiPos present a greater fire risk than ordinary batteries and are most at risk during charging and when at full charge. Consider where you are going to charge up the loco and how you will store it. A LiPo fire WILL destroy a loco if left unchecked and could well start additional fires close by. I use an old ammo case to keep and charge my batteries where they are removable and have an old slate mat that my tram stands on out in the shed when it is charging. That way if the worst was to happen the damage is contained. If you use LiPos designed for model aircraft, these are the most risky, as they have very high power density and are less stable. LiPos for radio control cars and more general applications have lower energy density and are much safer in this respect. They also generally have better protection against puncture.

If a battery gets "Spicy Pillow" disease - becomes puffed up, dispose of it safely and do not continue to use it. The next stage will be a burst pack and potential fire. I fully discharge my old LiPos then put them in the battery recycling bin at the local tip.

I doubt you will get close to the maximum discharge current in a loco, so Smoke Savers - fuses to the rest of us, will protect your batteries and wiring from a short circuit.

Li-Pos do not like to be left fully charged. They can develop cell rot, so it's best to leave them at about 60% or so. Daft that it may seem, fully recharge them before a running session, not afterwards to increase their life expectancy.

I hope this helps!
 

dunnyrail

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Li-Pos do not like to be left fully charged. They can develop cell rot, so it's best to leave them at about 60% or so. Daft that it may seem, fully recharge them before a running session, not afterwards to increase their life expectancy.

I hope this helps!
Hm interesting, the 2 LiPo’s (fully charged) that I have are in an ammunition case and have been for the last 8-12 months that I decided that I did not like the warnings about LiPo and decided to replace with NiMh. So they will likely be trashed now and probably an issue to get rid of safely. Yes I have seen the YT vids of exploding bins being emptied in bin trucks with irresponsibly disposed LiPo’s.
 

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Hm interesting, the 2 LiPo’s (fully charged) that I have are in an ammunition case and have been for the last 8-12 months that I decided that I did not like the warnings about LiPo and decided to replace with NiMh. So they will likely be trashed now and probably an issue to get rid of safely. Yes I have seen the YT vids of exploding bins being emptied in bin trucks with irresponsibly disposed LiPo’s.
Just put a 330 Ohm resistor or old motor across the terminals and run them till flat. You can this dispose of at a batter recycling point. Many supermarkets have these as well as household tips.
 

PhilP

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Hm interesting, the 2 LiPo’s (fully charged) that I have are in an ammunition case and have been for the last 8-12 months that I decided that I did not like the warnings about LiPo and decided to replace with NiMh. So they will likely be trashed now and probably an issue to get rid of safely. Yes I have seen the YT vids of exploding bins being emptied in bin trucks with irresponsibly disposed LiPo’s.
John,
They will probably be fine..

Your dilemma now, is what to do with them?

You could pass them on, to someone who will use them..
Or, you could dispose of them?

If you choose the former option, you can not really do this, until we come out of lockdown. - You are not supposed to send through the mail on their own.

If you decide to dispose of them, then you need to discharge them, and then find a responsible way to move them on.
To discharge them, I would use any-old car bulb that I had.. Though preferably not a headlamp bulb.
I would use a 21 watt if I had one. I would also only have it connected whilst I was in the room. - if doing it inside. I would also have it on an old concrete slab. - bulb will run HOT.

Or connect it up outside and leave it.

PhilP
 

JimmyB

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John,
They will probably be fine..

Your dilemma now, is what to do with them?

You could pass them on, to someone who will use them..
Or, you could dispose of them?

If you choose the former option, you can not really do this, until we come out of lockdown. - You are not supposed to send through the mail on their own.

If you decide to dispose of them, then you need to discharge them, and then find a responsible way to move them on.
To discharge them, I would use any-old car bulb that I had.. Though preferably not a headlamp bulb.
I would use a 21 watt if I had one. I would also only have it connected whilst I was in the room. - if doing it inside. I would also have it on an old concrete slab. - bulb will run HOT.

Or connect it up outside and leave it.

PhilP
Jon if you still have the G T Power charger, it has a dedicated programme for the discharge of batteries, as well as a storage mode.
 

GAP

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Hi there thankyou for the advice and I will opt for the higher voltage what do you model your self???
My railway is freelance running anything from small LGB locos through to the Shay and a Bachmann 2-8-0 consolidation (Connie).
A few of my locos have been "bashed" to represent Australian type Sugar Cane locos.
I also have a small HO layout in my shed for use on hot days and at night.

Blog links;
G About the Railway
HO About the Railway
 

dunnyrail

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Jon if you still have the G T Power charger, it has a dedicated programme for the discharge of batteries, as well as a storage mode.
Thanks Jimmy. I do have a fancy LiPo charger but never got round to reading how to use it. Other issue is that I carefully cut off the connectors to reuse on the loco’s that I had had the LiPo’s on with cutting the wire very close to the Battery. I ought to be able to sort them with new plugs - very carefully! Thus it is ine of those round to it jobs. Other much more interesting projects under action just now.
 

dunnyrail

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I just had a mail from Hobby King as I have recently bought some NiMh Batteries from them, for my money the notes below relate to Lipo Batteries but I though it worthwhile to post them for all‘s consumption as the notes come from a big supplier of LiPo’s. Whilst I would imagine many of the Don’ts apply to fast charging and extreme use with Cars and Planes they are interesting none the less. Meanwhile my 2 LiPo’s are still living in my old WW2 Ammunition case. It was the (my) Underlined Don't that has always worried me.

“So we just want to make sure that you are up-to-date on your knowledge of how to use batteries in a safe manner.

Here is a little reminder of the dos and don'ts when using batteries.
DosDon'ts
  • Always charge/store batteries in a non-conductive, fireproof container or bag, outside and away from combustible material.
  • Always use a compatible balanced mode charger, specifically designed for the chemistry of battery you are using.
  • Always set the charger for proper cell count and/or voltage listed on batteries’ labels.
  • Always set the charger to the amp charge rate as listed on battery labels.
  • Never alter, puncture or impact batteries or related components.
  • Never allow the terminals of the battery to make contact with conductive objects, such as metal.
  • Never store loose batteries together, the battery terminals may contact one another causing a short circuit.
  • Never expose Batteries to extreme temperatures or direct sunlight. The temperature range must be between 40-120° F (4-49° C).
  • Never charge batteries that are hot to the touch (above 100°F)
  • Never charge Batteries inside of the model.
 

JimmyB

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I just had a mail from Hobby King as I have recently bought some NiMh Batteries from them, for my money the notes below relate to Lipo Batteries but I though it worthwhile to post them for all‘s consumption as the notes come from a big supplier of LiPo’s. Whilst I would imagine many of the Don’ts apply to fast charging and extreme use with Cars and Planes they are interesting none the less. Meanwhile my 2 LiPo’s are still living in my old WW2 Ammunition case. It was the (my) Underlined Don't that has always worried me.

“So we just want to make sure that you are up-to-date on your knowledge of how to use batteries in a safe manner.

Here is a little reminder of the dos and don'ts when using batteries.
DosDon'ts
  • Always charge/store batteries in a non-conductive, fireproof container or bag, outside and away from combustible material.
  • Always use a compatible balanced mode charger, specifically designed for the chemistry of battery you are using.
  • Always set the charger for proper cell count and/or voltage listed on batteries’ labels.
  • Always set the charger to the amp charge rate as listed on battery labels.
  • Never alter, puncture or impact batteries or related components.
  • Never allow the terminals of the battery to make contact with conductive objects, such as metal.
  • Never store loose batteries together, the battery terminals may contact one another causing a short circuit.
  • Never expose Batteries to extreme temperatures or direct sunlight. The temperature range must be between 40-120° F (4-49° C).
  • Never charge batteries that are hot to the touch (above 100°F)
  • Never charge Batteries inside of the model.
A very valid point, but with slow discharge and charge (compared to aircraft boys) I risk in model charging, but never leave it unattended.
 

PhilP

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Theoretically, you should never leave ANY battery technology charging unattended..
However, I guess we all do? - Even if it is 'only' our mobile phone (which most - likely has a Lithium battery in it!).

PhilP.
 

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Lipos used in model aircraft tend to have thinner internal construction, as this allows for much higher discharge rates. Compare this to a mobile phone or laptop battery and the model R/C batteries are much less stable.

If you are using model r/c batteries in a railway model - even with quite low discharge, all the same safety information applies. I personally use lower discharge rate lipos designed for robotics and toys, as these are safer to charge in the model. I use a 5V usb charger for my 7.4V packs, as this has a very low charge rate - about 1 hour for a full charge.

To maintain good storage, charge batteries to only about 75% of full capacity and only fully recharge prior to a running session. This stops cell rot.

"Spicy Pillows" (You can safely google this!) are when a Lipo starts to expand due to failure of the cell structure. When they go like this, they can be quite dangerous, so need disposing of at a local tip or battery disposal point at a supermarket. You must first FULLY discharge the battery - I use a 12V 5W light bulb and immerse it in salt water for a about a week to neutralise the battery chemistry somewhat. Don't just dispose of a dead battery in the dustbin, as they can start fires. If this happens in the bin lorry, it can be quite exciting to watch, but on the whole is a bad thing...