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Old 07-07-2012, 07:40 PM   #29
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All - here is my thoughts on how to prevent this from happening. Please note, I am doing this from memory since I don't have the coach here to take a picture and refresh my memory.

Take all the flat bar hold downs lose. Clean them real good with a baking soda and water solution to remove all the corrosion from them. Scrap/sand them off till smooth and then repaint with rustoleum spray paint - (http://rustoleum.com/cbgresourcecenter.asp?sn=pro) - (your color choice here, yellow, white, black makes no difference). Once they are dry, take one to the auto parts store, and using it, find the diameter of heater hose which will go over the bar with the least amount of slop. Buy enough heater hose to cover each bar completely end to end. Now take a drill and drill out the hose where the existing holes for the studs go through. Install the bars with one flat washer on top and then the nut (I would double nut this assembly or use nylock type nuts). The end result should be a hold down system which is insulated from the cables and posts which are electrically hot.

Additionally, when I helped build substations (read high voltage in the 500 KV range) we installed transformers and underneath all of them we used some very dense rubber matting. I would get some of this matting in the 1/4-3/8" range and put in each corner of the battery compartment, especially the left rear corner, and the corner on the right side behind the starting batteries. Another piece of it on the left side of the compartment from the outside to the center of the coach at least ½ - 3/4:” above the battery height. The kind I’m thinking about is resistant to oil, grease, and acid so it again would last a long time.

I am going from memory, so a picture of what I'm trying to describe would be more helpful, but hopefully someone gets the idea.

As an alternative solution, you could do the above cleaning process and then using liquid electrical tape, paint that on each of the bars, and do this several times, and this also would work. Or you could take shrink tubing and shrink tube this over the bars, but it's brittle and would flake off over time I think, as this area has some vibration because of the batteries weight and road bumps. You could also use that type of wire protector (corrugated looking stuff) we find all over the engine compartment of new cars, but it has a cut seam in it, which might allow the bar to protrude out of it. The heater hose is designed to be tough and take abuse and heat, so it would be years before it was damaged. You might have to change the studs to a longer one so the assembly works better. If someone experiments with this solution, please post pictures of the finished product.

Currently my batteries are not held down with anything, other than the short lengths of battery cable and their own weight. I want to do the above once we get the coach someplace I can work on it. Had the driver who caused my accident hit me on that side of the coach, it would have gone up in flames.
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Old 07-07-2012, 11:28 PM   #30
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When we purchased our 2003 36 FDDS from the original dealer last July, what immediately caused me concern was the condition (spelled: confused disarray) of the battery compartment and the need for improvement. Then I started spending some time in the evenings reading the horror stories in this forum about my disaster waiting to happen. And this condition was after the dealer installed all new batteries before we took possession.
I then:
1. Cleaned out the rats nest of wires (some hot) which turned out to be 10 feet of coiled wire and hardware from the no-longer-working Roadmaster Brakemaster laying on top of the batteries (replaced with wonderful Invisibrake).
2. Replaced the old rusted hold down bars with new thickley painted ones.
3. Replaced all the rusted/missing threaded hold-down posts with new stainless steel threaded rods, washers and nuts. Half the posts were missing anyway.
4. Purchased a large mat of 1/4 inch thick rubber matting. Cut three (3) pieces. Two (2) were cut large enough to give me an extra 3/8 inch wide "buffer" around the complete edge of the hold-down bar. The third rubber strip was narrower on one side of the hold-down post holes to compensate for the fact that my house batteries were 1/4 inch lower in height then the chassis batteries next to them. This leveled out the hold-down bar and gave me even pressure on all the battery cases.
5. I bent upwards as much as safely possible all the battery cables.
6. And just for good measure, I went to Ace Hardware and purchased enough 3/8 inch diameter vinyl caps to put on top of all the exposed hold-down posts - just in case a cable finds it's way on top.
7. And everything is still ship-shape every week when I inspect it.

Bruce
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Old 07-09-2012, 12:46 PM   #31
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Old 07-09-2012, 02:34 PM   #32
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I understand, we worked hard for what we have and hate to see it go "up in smoke". Had I known all the issues I would have when we purchased we would have walked away. In talking to hundreds of owners of MH's, everyone reported the 1st year as troublesome, some more than others. There is not now or ever going to be a perfectly built MH or even RV. The manufacturer count on the dealer to fix it after it's made, and the dealer only has so much profit in the thing when he sells it, so he can only devote so much labor to get it right once it's sold. If the RVIA was worth a hoot, they would mandate a final inspection by qualified personnel on every RV made. Then when that started to happen, the quality of those units would go up, hence the ownership experience would be better, and the word would get out, people would then upgrade more often or more units would be sold. The Japanese kick Detroit’s but in the 80-90's because their quality was hand over fist better. Now it's about even, the RV industry needs to learn something from that.
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Old 07-09-2012, 03:05 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Rv'er View Post
If the RVIA was worth a hoot, they would mandate a final inspection by qualified personnel on every RV made. Then when that started to happen, the quality of those units would go up, hence the ownership experience would be better, and the word would get out, people would then upgrade more often or more units would be sold. The Japanese kick Detroit’s but in the 80-90's because their quality was hand over fist better. Now it's about even, the RV industry needs to learn something from that.
And when you think about it, a master tech could do one heck of an final inspection in say, four hours. At a fully loaded cost to the factory of say $300. That's a lot of money but as you point out it would go a long way toward improving the purchasing experience.

While improving final inspections would be a big leap forward, that's not really how the Japanese kicked Detroit's butt. They evolved to the next level which is building quality in to the product by instituting total quality management and process control. Although inspections are a big step forward, IMO it's instilling the pride and quality mindset in everyone who touches that coach along the line that will really make a difference.

Rick
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Old 07-09-2012, 03:23 PM   #34
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Rick, you are correct, it should start in the design phase, and go throughout the manfacturing process.
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Old 07-09-2012, 04:40 PM   #35
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Monty,

Glad you picked up on my heater hose solution. It's cheap, tough, and highly heat resistant. Worked very well in our coach.

One other suggestion I've mentioned on previous posts is to use household ammonia and water rather than baking soda to clean battery compartments, hold down straps, etc. Does a very good job and you don't have to deal with the residue from baking soda.

Learned that trick from the owner of Lifeline batteries. He told me that he used ammonia to clean his battery shop all the time instead of soda. I used it once to clean the battery compartment when we replaced our batteries with the Lifeline AGMs three years or so ago, and it stayed in very good condition afterward.
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Old 07-11-2012, 03:17 PM   #36
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UPDATE:

Insurance company is covering everything less 10% 'depreciation' on the house batteries. The shop is replacing everything in the battery compartment, repainting the compartment and devising a new hold down strategy to prevent any re-occurrence.

The shop's estimate is about $4K, but I'll have new chassis and house batteries, cables, etc. And the new batteries (house) will still be Lifeline AGM.

It's looking like we got darned lucky with the damage and repairs!
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