I found these small corroded canisters on top of a mountain in Nevada,

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They were about 3 inches long and some had a metal post inside that has green corrosion on them. I think they are trash from when the nearby survey marker was put in 1944.

What are they?

  • You might need to limit the area to smaller then "a mountain in Nevada". Nevada has a history of extraterrestrial visitors, nuclear testing, and clandestine military sites. – James Jenkins Sep 11 at 14:10
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    @JamesJenkins I don't think the location matters very much, they were next to a survey marker along with some wood and trying not to give the exact location away – Charlie Brumbaugh Sep 11 at 14:38
  • Are they connected together by that rusty strap, or is it just laying there? – James Jenkins Sep 11 at 17:02
  • @JamesJenkins I think they would have been – Charlie Brumbaugh Sep 11 at 17:09
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    Science requires sacrifices. – RoboKaren Sep 12 at 14:33

A quick note that if you ever hike in areas where you might wander into any place that may have been a bombing range, please familiarize yourself with the concept of unexploded ordinance: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unexploded_ordnance

That’s probably a battery. Some have a metal post and shell that might outlast other components after a few years / decades in the elements.

You can check dimensions against this list of standard battery sizes: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_battery_sizes

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This cross section from http://iamtechnical.com/alkaline-cell shows the right materials for those colors of corrosion and the right general configuration. The shape of the steel(?) can in this picture isn’t a perfect match (what you found has no pronounced button) but that may not have been a feature of every battery.

Can’t say w certainty but that’s my guess.

Additional note (thanks James Jenkins) that the color of the corroded can may indicate an electroplating / other plating on steel, but could also mean a completely different metal. Similarly the amount of copper in “brass” ranges from sixty-something to ninety-something and this will affect corrosion color

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    Thoughts: The outer case could be zinc which corrodes grey. Zinc is fairly soft, and has been used in batteries for over 100 years. Various rectangular packs of round cells used paper outer coverings (rotted away) and spot-welded steel links (the rusty strap). Here's a modern equivalent to one type that's been around since 1901 – Chris H Sep 14 at 8:28

I think the answer by mmcc is mostly correct. They are probably parts of an old electrical device battery. But the round case is not steel. Steel (ferrous metals) rust (oxidize) like the narrow strap with a rusty brown color. Non-ferrous metals oxidize in different ways. The green inside is a typical oxidation color of copper.

The canister is some type of non-ferrous alloy, I have some guesses at what it might be, but they are just guesses. If there are (or were) 6 canisters connected together it would be for a 12 volt battery. Though 6 volt was more popular around 1944.

I Googled around for a battery museum that might have images of popular batteries from 1944, but those searches did not go well, leading mostly to artillery battery.

I am guessing that someone is going to come along and be able to say, what kind of battery it was and what specific use it served, but it might be a while. I look forward to reading their answer.

  • good observation. I agree—can’t be bare steel, may not even be plated steel. Just edited answer. – mmcc Sep 13 at 15:18

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