Versapak Rejuvenated!

Before you go further, I have to say that while I was able to get some capacity from the batteries this way, it did not make the dead Versapak batteries usable for any real work and I wound up finding some NiMH replacements.

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) (eventually I started using a hobby charger to charge the NiMH replacements).

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.

16 thoughts on “Versapak Rejuvenated!

  1. I like the 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 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.

    • All VP batteries discontinued pwr sells replacements but talked to them and they cant find what the length is which is important also. Versa pak tools are light weight but still get job done. When you have 3 or 4 tools it’s easy expensive to replace them a d not everyone can afford to. I will not try either of the aforementioned methods but I did find on Facebook someone that’s replacing that battery by cutting it open and uses a lithium ion battery in the casing I may try that since I have a few of them left but you’re right it is dangerous to do the aforementioned things and I thank you for letting people know that. Not everyone has common sense thank you again

  11. Bruce, come on. Live a little. I’m an electrician, retired, and we’re just talking 12 VDC. The welder may be a little too much but it’s not likely to kill you. If you’re going to what they call ‘desulfate’ these batteries, it may take several times, like 15 or more, of ‘zapping’, that’s a technical term ya know, to rid yourself of the ‘whiskers’. Shouldn’t hurt you with safety equipment in use, and you might just get a working battery back.

    • Check out Rambo Batteries, they are not ac powered, but use a bandolier for shotgun shells with batteries inserted and attached to an empty battery pack via wire coil which can still be inserted in the tool.
      I will probably order this in the not too distant future.

  12. I don’t know if this thread is still alive, but here goes….

    Loved my Versapak VP 750 screwdriver (circa 1998) and looked for B&D batteries everywhere with no luck.

    Then I found this company that makes them. I ordered two, and they work even better than the originals. I’m so happy to have my Awesome vintage Versapak tools working again!

  13. I’m reminded of when Sears shut down it’s catalog business 2yrs before the internet .. the VersaPak system was awsome, the right premise for what we needed in the 90’s, today and tomorrow. Just think how awsome a lithium cell VeraPak system would be for tools and more!

    I do remember when the tools were being heavily discounted as B&D was stopping the line of tools .. the system was so successful that everybody had what they needed and the tools held up/worked well. Imagine that poor sales cause your products worked well!

    B&D came out with a line of lithium powered tools that were way to expensive and I’m sure most VersaPak customers saw that their tools worked fine. So, the lithium line is mostly forgotton.

    B&D should revive the VersaPak format using lithium cells and concentrate not on tools, but the growing trend of cordless power .. for mobile and other remote applications .. at the heart of most lithium power paks are lithium cells very similar to VersaPak

    It’s sad to see a good idea/format not continue to be a part of our lives

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