The Magical Battery Tour... coming to take you away. Last Friday, the Douglas Battery Manufacturing Company graciously allowed myself and the Raleigh crew to tour their Winston-Salem manufacturing plant.

The tour started at an appropriate place, the beginning. Anyway, the first stop was at the plate creation process. Molten lead is poured and cast into plates by a relentless machine. The plates are air cooled and taken to be filled with paste.

Once the paste is in, each plate is lovingly wrapped, top and bottom, to remove the possibility of it ever touching another plate and causing a short. The plates are placed into a jar and connected together. After that, the posts are attached.

When the cover is put on, a leak test needs to be performed. A helium tank is connected to the empty hole that the jar cap will eventually occupy. A sensitive helium sniffer will be used to detect if there is any leakage around the jar or post seals. If a leak is detected an alarm sounds, notifying the overseer on duty of a problem.

The next stage is the filling process. Each jar is hooked up to a vacuum which sucks all the air out. Electrolyte then floods into the jar, and is aborbed by the glass mats covering each plate. The jars are then taken to the forming area where they are kept at a constant temperature by immersion in water. A slight differece in temperature will cause the plates to form differently, making the voltages vary wildly in the end product. A constant flow of chilled water keeps every batch within the required tolerances.

After the plates have been formed, the final step is a discharge-recharge cycle to test the jars for performance. Afterwards, the jars are cleaned up and shipped out.

I'd like to thank DL for putting up with us for three hours, and giving us an excellent tour and presentation of the Douglas facilities. The swag was appreciated too.

This article was updated on April 24, 2006