Versapak Rejuvenated!

When I first got my house ten years ago, I started buying some Black and Decker Versapak tools because I was needing several cordless tools and it seemed smart to have them all use the same battery. I wound up with a dustbuster, screwdriver, drill, and snakelight. Eventually the NiCad batteries stopped taking a charge and, although B&D had stopped selling Versapak tools, I was able to get two more batteries from Target. That was 2004, but one of the batteries went kaput pretty quickly and had stopped taking a charge at all. Since the dustbuster and drill both need two batteries, I needed something better than these memory-prone NiCad batteries. B&D makes “gold” versions of the batteries that are really NiMH batteries, so I ordered two of those last night. NiMH batteries don’t have memory effect, but I worry that my charger won’t work properly with NiMH (my conclusion was that it would work, but it might take twice as long to charge the batteries).

Versapak zapping

Today I searched eBay for “Versapak” and found a guy who was selling information for $12.95 on how to rejuvenate Versapak batteries. I’m no dummy, if there is that kind of knowledge available, it is free somewhere on the internet. I did find a site where you would get a transformer and a big resistor and could zap a battery back to life. That seemed complicated.

Then I searched more and learned about chemical “whiskers” that develop in NiCad batteries and cause them to stop charging (or, really, to stop giving off a charge). Searching further about whiskers, I found this page on Instructables. Though the guy uses a welder, basically he is just applying a large DC current to the battery which burns the whiskers out and restores the battery to normal. All he did was touch the ends to the battery. It gives off sparks and the battery is revived.

I don’t have a welder, but I do have a car battery which has a lot of amperage. I put on some gloves and got my jumper cables. The + end of the Versapak battery is inside a hole on one end of the battery and the outside of the battery is negative. I found a bolt that would fit in the + hole and held the bolt in the jaws of the jumper cables. Then I put the – jumper clamp around the battery itself. Wearing gloves to keep myself from getting shocked, I stuck the bolt in the hole and got a few small sparks. I did it again for just a second or so. Is that all there was to it?

Yes. I took the battery back inside and hooked it up to my volt meter. Before the battery was giving off 0.01 mV. Now it was up to 4 V, just like the fully charged good one. I stuck it in my screwdriver. Power!

Amazing. However, the power didn’t really last long. I am recharging the battery in its charger to see if I can get something closer to a full charge.

10 thoughts on “Versapak Rejuvenated!

  1. I like the warning:

    WARNING:

    * If you get killed by a poisonous explosion it means you did something wrong.

    * Electrocution is a real possibility also.

    * Ask your parents how to not electrocute yourself with a welder.

    Not sure the 3rd applies in your case.

  2. I was maybe a little overly enthusiastic. Though the battery will take more of a charge now than when it was dead, it still isn’t practical for use. I got my new batteries that I ordered before the experiment and they work fine anyway.

  3. We have two Dustbusters that use Versapak’s. One set quit holding a charge, so I bought a new pair for $24 at Sears. Really expensive, I thought, but I wasn’t sure what else to do. The new ones work great. How much did you spend for yours?

  4. I think I paid $10 each for my NiCad replacements in 2004 at Target. The “gold” ones are NiMH and usually run about $20. But I found them for $13.90 at realdealtools.com plus $6 shipping (I got them in a couple of days). So they were $17 each, but hopefully will never go dead. Plus they are supposed to last 60% longer on a charge.

  5. How about just zapping it with a stun gun device.

    250,000 volts should do the same thing.

    I may try that after i get my new batteries. My old one still hold a charge for about 5 minutes.

  6. I think you want amps more than volts (and needs to be DC). The welder is only 30 volts, but has a lot of amps. You probably want more volts than whatever you are charging and he is using 30 volts to charge 14.4 volt battery packs. So 12 volts to charge a 3.6 volt Versapak seems more than adequate (though it didn’t really work).

  7. I used my car battery charger and it revitalized one Versapak that had always been stored in a charger and used solely for my cordless drill. The other two Versapaks, always kept in the dustbuster, couldn’t be saved. All three batteries are at least 5 years old.

  8. Hello..

    Thank you for sharing such a nice information for this Versapak. I would like to buy this tool in soon time. I will surely bookmark it for future use. Good Work! Keep it!

    Thanks for posting.

  9. i have thrown out Versapak batteries over the years, as those dead batteries fried the twin cell chargers! at least 3 in last 3 years – till i found the VP160 4 cell charger on ebay.

    back to the batteries, i now have a pile of 9 dead batteries – as i have about 8 differnt power tools from torches, hand screwdrivers, circulat say , jig saw, drills, amd snake light. (the leaf blower was apathetic and threw it out.)

    Thanks for this info – and yes saw the great info on the welder but dont have a welder so will try the car battery.

    Irfaan from South Africa in Saudi Arabia (very expensive to ship batteries here. Saco dont keep gold ones….

  10. I’ve read these so called methods of employing the use of a welder or battery charger to rejuvinate dead NiCad batteries for various cordless tools. I’ve been a professional, formally educated welder for almost 30 years of my life, and I can tell you without question that this is a foolish thing to do under any circumstances. The conditions from one welder to another, and one battery to another vary greatly, and the average person does not have the knowledge necessary to discern the differences in those conditions. If you’re that intent on keeping a cordless tool, break down and spend the money for the replacement batteries that are required to power it. Otherwise, treat yourself to a newer, upgraded version of that tool. It’s more fun to visit your local tool dealer than it is the local hospital. It’s also easier to explain to your wife why you’d rather spend the money on that new tool as opposed to a physician’s emergency room bill! Don’t be foolish, it’s just not worth it.

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