I'll be honest, despite having thinned out my collection by well over 50% recently, a lot of my cars spend most of their lives on the shelf.
One of the ways I convince myself that's OK is by having 10 or 12 ready to run at a moment's notice - theoretically all I have to do is pop a charged drive battery in and off I go, any time the whim takes me ... assuming I don't have chores to do, the weather's fine, no family commitments, no pets needing attention, limited hobby time not better employed doing something else, etc etc ...
The upshot of all that is that I also have a number of transmitters sitting around gathering dust ... and perhaps the depth of said dust probably should have been a clue that they're not getting used quite as much as I convince myself they are.
I thought I had a cunning plan for making sure AA batteries never leaked in any of my transmitters - hang a tag over the antenna indicating battery status on each TX after I'm done playing with it: green for plenty of life left, yellow for probably a few runs left in them with decent power output ... and no red because that's the point at which they go for recycling, exhausted or low alkaline batteries being more likely to leak.
I hadn't thought about age also being another big factor in alkaline battery leakage - as soon as they reach their best before date the risk goes up, and though I'd been periodically checking how much charge they had left by turning the transmitter on, I hadn't been looking at the dates - well, they're always so far in the future aren't they? October 2014 and January 2015 seemed so far away back when I installed them back in summer 2010... now it's August 2015 (at least it was when I wrote this) and the cells are well past their use by date - and one of them has leaked.
It's always past tense, isn't it? It's always leaked - you never catch the little buggers actually leaking, just the white crystalline residue from them having leaked - along with rust, or green/blue powdery oxidisation, depending on what your battery contacts are made of.
I'm probably fortunate that only one out of 32 cells (2 x 4-cell 2.4ghz transmitters + 3 x 8-cell 27mhz) had failed, minimising cleanup.
Note: yes I know there's only 29 batteries in the photo - that's 29 + 1 leaking, and +2 that escaped and rolled under the desk.
Of course, luck also seems to play a part in whether your batteries will leak or not. I guess brand is another, Duracell and the like being less likely to leak than similar products from The Hu Flung Poo Battery Company - or at least their marketing makes me believe that.
I'm under no illusion that I can control every aspect - but I'm now going to include in my periodic checks looking at the age of the batteries, and be a bit more honest with myself about the likelihood of actually needing quite so many cars in a ready to go state, and not keep quite so many transmitters full of batteries.
Written by TB member Jonny Retro