transformer voltage/ battery charger


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hi, i have a transformer from a psu/battery charger unit. the lm396 reg has failed so i thought i would use as a unregulated unit. it puts out 17V ac or 15Vdc via bridge rectifier [open circuit]. when i connect battery the volts climbed to 16.5V. i tried 4 diodes in series and still got 15V before disconnecting. why is this so ?. i thought these things suffered from voltage drop under load .this is how all the cheap chargers worked, is'nt it. thanks