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Hawker Energy Products Odyssey Battery PC1700 - A New Top Gun In Town?

Posted in Product Reviews on August 1, 2002
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Photographers: Hawker Energy
We picked the model PC 1700 Odyssey, with its 1700 cranking amps, for our flatfender Jeep project. While its length, at 13.02 inches, is slightly longer than most standard batteries, it's a bit shorter and narrower than others.

When it comes to batteries, most serious four-wheelers want something sturdier than the usual automotive wet-cell battery. There are three types of heavy-duty batteries that get the attention of those who wish to use them in extreme off-highway duty. The first and most popular choice seems to be those that use a spiral-cell design, sometimes referred to as an orbital design. No matter what it's called, its premise is that the battery's plates and separators are wound into tight cylinders, with the acid held in thick, absorbent mats. These cells are then configured within the case like a six-pack of beverage. Unlike standard battery designs that have separators and plates stacked vertically with free acid between them, the spiral-cell design seems to resist damage due to vibration especially well. And the sealed design limits accidental acid leakage, so these batteries can be mounted on their sides.

The second group of batteries are what's referred to as gel cells. They combine standard battery construction with a special agent that gels the electrolyte. The gel between the plates prevents plate contact and minimizes damage from vibration. Special valving allows the gases to recombine internally. Though this design greatly improves battery life and makes the battery more able to withstand shock and vibration, batteries built like this tend to have diminished tolerance for high discharge rates.

The third type, used by the military for several years, involves a design technology called Absorbent Glass Mat. This is where the plates are stacked vertically and made of a high-density, high-purity lead. Between the plates are glass-mat fibers that absorb and hold the acid in place as well as insulate between the plates. The combination of mats and plates are actually compressed within the confines of the case. A specially designed one-way valve allows the gases to recombine with the acid, making these totally sealed batteries that can be mounted in any position.

Note three features of the battery post: First, it's made of brass. Second, the area intended for the battery cable clamp is knurled for positive contact. And third, the center is drilled and tapped for a 3/8-inch bolt as an accessory mount.

Hawker Energy has for numerous years been building such batteries for the military and has recently gone through a $9 million expansion so it now can offer this military-spec battery to the public. Labeled under the name Odyssey Dry Cell, it's classified as both a high-pulse-rate discharge (for engine cranking) and a 100-percent depth deep-discharge battery. What this breaks down to is that you're getting two batteries in one, and don't think that you're going to get shortchanged on either end. Take a look at the cranking discharge rate in table 1 of Hawker's three most popular batteries. Note that just one of these batteries has the power to fire even the largest of performance motors. Not only that, but it's rated at 400 100-percent discharges, or 500 at 80 percent. Life expectancy? Try 3 to 10 years.

The Odyssey battery has several unique construction properties that the others don't have, and this includes what Hawker refers to as an exclusive over-the-cell-wall partition inter-cell connector system. The intercell connectors, which are epoxied in place, have more than 10 times the cross-sectional area as traditional through-the-wall connectors. This design not only maintains a positive contact between cells, but it also offers nearly zero resistance. Because the plates are compressed when installed in the case, a steel band not only holds this pressure but offers great protection to the polycarbonate case. The battery posts, instead of being made from lead, are made from corrosion-resistant brass. At first glance these appear to be of standard design; however, the area that the clamp goes over is knurled for a positive connection and the top is elevated slightly and threaded down the center to accept a 31/48-inch bolt. This way one can use a standard battery clamp for the starter motor and bolt any accessories such as a winch to the top of the post.

The Odyssey battery is ideal for a new project of mine, an extended-wheelbase flatfender in which the only place to mount a battery is behind the seat. I don't have to worry about spillage problems or corrosive fumes. I get both a deep-cycle battery for heavy winching and high-cranking-amp battery for starting my new 400hp motor.

One addition I made to the installation, due to the difficulty of ready access to the battery location, was a shut-off switch from Flaming River Industries. This switch comes in several versions; actually the switch is the same, the company just offers different ways to turn it off and on. It even has a remote lever set up so you can put the switch in a hard-to-reach location and use a control rod. The style I chose uses a removable key, which then works as a theft deterrent. This isn't your average wimpy switch, it's rated at 250 amps of continuous service and 2,500 amps for surges. Not only that, it's waterproof and vibration resistant.

With my new battery system, starting and winching power is taken care of with the dependability and the necessary amps to do both jobs.

Table 1
Battery Pulse discharge in amps to 7.2 volts
5 sec 10 sec 20 sec
PC 925 925 870 765
PC 1200 1200 1090 {{{900}}}
PC 1700 1700 1540 1355


Hawker Energy
Warrensburg, MO 64093

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