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Molten Lead, Minor Smokeshow - B61 Question

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I'm hoping our resident experts can help a relatively new guy like myself get to the bottom of this. My B61, END673T, was converted to a 12v negative ground system some time ago. I got it with a 1100 cca@32 battery which has worked fine for three years. I tried to start her the other day, the starter not spinning quite fast enough to start the engine and the battery seeming to get weaker with each try of 5 cranks/revolutions followed by a 30 second wait. I figured the battery had reached the end of it's life but

Like a complete idiot

I didn't meter the battery. I bought a replacement at NAPA instead, 1035 cca@32 was the closest I could find. When I cranked the engine this time, it was still slow, got progressively slower with each attempt and then I smelled smoke. The negative battery terminal had turned to molten lead and the battery casing had partially melted.

As an idiot afterthought

I decided to meter the original 'dying' battery and found a cheerful 12.59 volts. I should have stopped there. After reconnecting it and cranking, the same thing occured. It was the positive battery terminal that liquified this time, the stainless attaching bolt falling on the battery casing and doing the China Syndrome thing into the battery acid where it died with a sulfurous hiss.

Any ideas? I had the cables connected to the correct terminals. Would a short in the starter winding cause this?

Thank you!

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I have had similar happen with weak batteries I think the low batteries draw too much amperage and melt terminals you should be OK if you have all good ones and make sure connections are tight and clean

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