Handyman’s Corner: Dead Battery (RIP)

As you settle down in front of the fire with a glass of very good “medicine,” you gaze fondly at your newly acquired Photofantsiamatic. You jump up when you realize the battery it uses is no longer made.

Rushing to the workshop door, you tear off your shirt revealing a grease stained, oil splattered tee shirt emblazoned with Super Fixer. A few pieces of plastic tubing, a couple of assorted springs, a bit of Superglue™ and voila, a workable battery! As strange as this sounds, the photos show proof it can and has been done.

To accomplish this, imagine the unimaginable. A glass of good “medicine” helps the thought process, or at least dulls the pain of failure.

A Yashica Electro 35 (1966) used an E164 5.6 volt mercury battery that is no longer manufactured. Using a 6 volt battery will have some effect on the exposure meter, but the wide latitude of today’s film should more than compensate for this.

An A544 is a current 6 volt battery. It fits easily into a piece of 3/8” OD plastic tube, 1 5/8” long, after the tubing is slit lengthwise. A couple of spare spring battery contacts soldered to copper washers for spacing and contacts complete the product.

An Olympus 35 EC2 (1966) used a pair of EPX640 1.4 volt mercury batteries. Again, no longer produced. In this case, a common A76 battery is used. Slipped inside a piece of plastic tubing, negative contact made with a spring and washer allows for business as usual.

No plastic tubing? You can roll thin cardboard, construction paper, poster board, heatshrink tubing, etc. for the outside. This was done by maufacturers as the photos show.

For springs, use your imagination. Old clocks, flashlights, cameras. Perhaps a trip to the local hardware store.

In some cases, it may be easier to solder a couple of batteries together to insure good contact and correct spacing. A warning — use a very minimum amount of heat!

Proper cleaning and fluxing are required, as is wearing protective eyewear. Too much heat can cause a battery to rupture, sometimes violently. Not a pretty sight.

Finally, have fun with this.