Archive for December 28th, 2014

Improved Pilot InstaBoost Jumpstarter Clamps

The Sienna now spends all its time sitting outdoors in an apartment parking lot and gets even less driving (hence, battery-charging) time than we used to give it. Fortunately, Santa being my kind of guy, our Larval Engineer received a Pilot InstaBoost jumpstarter, which is basically a 10 A·h / 40 W·h lithium battery with husky plug & socket connectors, a pair of 10 AWG wires, and big alligator clamps. The package claims a 400 A peak discharge rate, but the tiny inscription on the back of the case reports 200 A; either of those seems mmmm somewhat optimistic to me.

The customer reviews suggest that the plastic battery clamp handles feature a crappy hinge joint which disintegrates under moderate stress on a cold winter night, firing the spring into the nearest snowbank and rendering the clamp completely useless. The joint consists of a plastic post on each side of the inner handle that protrudes into a hole in the outer handle:

Battery Clamp - original joint

Battery Clamp – original joint

I assigned her some Mandatory Quality Shop Time to improve the joint. She found some brass tubing that fit the existing hole and cut two pieces to length:

Battery Clamp - cutting brass tube

Battery Clamp – cutting brass tube

A 1 inch stainless screw was just barely long enough (that’s Loctite Red in the nut), but the end result certainly looks durable enough:

Battery Clamp - improved joint

Battery Clamp – improved joint

It’s along the same lines as the improvement I applied to my old Park Tool MTB-7 Rescue Tool.

Apart from that, the clamps look pretty good. There’s even a husky braid between the two jaw pads, ensuring at least one reasonably low resistance joint to the battery post:

Battery Clamp - jaw strap

Battery Clamp – jaw strap

With a bit of luck, we’ll never know how well it works as a jumpstarter. She can use the USB port to keep her phone charged, which may provide enough motivation to keep the thing topped up and ready for use…

[Update: two days after this post went live, someone found it by searching for:

how to repair clamps pilot instaboost 400

You have been warned!]

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