Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Battery Day

Today I decided to clean and water the two six volt batteries in the motorhome. We had a problem in Mexico when corrosion actually isolated the cable going from the batteries to the generator starter relay. It was a strange problem in that it allowed current to pass through the connection at rest but as soon as I tried to start the generator, I lost conductivity between the ring tip cable connector and the battery. It was a very strange condition and one that I never saw before. The Onan mechanic in Puebla sanded the terminal and got everything working but I had to go over all the connections.

I took everything apart and sanded all the contact points until I saw shinny copper. At this point I should have applied battery grease (Vaseline would have worked but I had nothing) and put everything back together. I will have to take it apart again when I get some grease.

If you do this yourself, and you should do it at least once a year, take care to not mix up the wires. Do one terminal (pos or neg) at a time and keep track of your wires. There are many of them, in my case five on each terminal. Having one or two wires left over at the end of the job and having no idea if they belong on the pos or neg is no fun and is not easy to sort out. I use a zip tie through all the rings to keep them together.

Oh yes, wear clothes that already have holes in them from last time. I did not remember to do this and I now have six outfits reserved for battery work!

Well, my day's work is done! Now to sit back and wait for the BC Lions vs. Toronto football game at 4:30.


8 comments:

  1. I have an easier setup as there is only one lead on each terminal. A positive jumper goes to a fuse and all my positive leaders are on the other side of the fuse. A negative jumper goes to a shunt and all the negative leads are on the other side of the shunt. The other positive and negative terminals connect the two 6V batteries to make one 12V. So when I clean my battery terminals, I only have four leads to disconnect. To further simplify things, I have red tape on all my positive leads and yellow on all the negatives.

    I've noticed that since the last time I did the job when I was on a beach (salty air is baaaaad) and coated all my terminals with a thick layer of dialectric goop, I have had no corrosion at all.

    Finally, a watering system like the Pro-Fill makes checking water levels and adding some if necessary so easy that I do it once a month instead of once a season.

    I've never burned holes in my clothes from working on the batteries. :)

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    1. That is a nice setup. I would like to have a buss system to simplify things but simply do not have the space in my battery compartment. The holes in my clothes are mostly from battery acid splashes and the spray produced from cleaning terminals with baking soda and a toothbrush.

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  2. I seem to recall ending up with some mysterious holes in blue jeans after moving a couple batteries. (idiot) Gave them character I suppose.
    The batteries in the motorhome that we once had were under the step inside the door. Stupid place. Any and all work involved being bent over. Bad enough when I was in my twenties, almost impossible past middle age. If there's ever another RV in our future, you can bet I'll be looking closely at just where the batteries have been placed. Don't need that grief.

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    1. That is exactly where my batteries are as well. Under the stairs. All work must be done while on your knees.

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  3. Thanks to you, Sal and Kevin, I am now a better maintenance man on my batteries. Can't wait to get home and see what the solar has been up to. Before leaving, they were working beautifully, thanks to proper care.

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  4. Our batteries are in a slide out compartment, but I do have to remove the first one to access the second one. So twice a year and top up the water and clean the terminals, keeps them working well.

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  5. It is like magic how the holes appear (usually after washing). I have dedicated a number of prior good jeans to the work clothes bin from battery maintenance.

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    1. It does not matter how quickly you toss the clothes into the washer after splashing them, the damage has been done!

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