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Old 08-17-2010, 07:57 AM   #1
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Batteries connections

I am very unhappy how the previous owner hooked up the batteries, they are installed first so it is all but impossible to check the cells to insure they are filled and or to test the battery acid, but also he has used the marine post to installed mutable wires, and I will be honest with you all that I am all but afraid to touch them thinking that I will create a problem with not wiring it back correctly. According to what I have seen in other the original battery were installed so that they are lined us side to side instead of end to end.

Also the entire battery box and or tray is no longer there instead all they are now sitting on is a piece of plywood.

Understood I can disconnect each one and label them to insure they will go back on the same way, but I was also hoping that they is a product that will allow me to join many wires into a single connection to make it easier to remove and reinstall. Then again doing so will not allow me to test each end to verify that they have a solid connection.

I would prefer to have a clean organized connection so I am open to all suggestion and feed back,.

On the marine battery they must be no less than 6 separate wired connected to a single marine post, and there must be a better way.

Also he has the battery connected in a series, with a jumper cable connecting both battery so that when it is plugged in both batteries are charge at the same time, so I also need to know if theses battery need to be separate so that the chassis battery is only connected to the chassis, and the house battery is only connected to the house.
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Old 08-17-2010, 08:21 AM   #2
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Mich, not being there makes it difficult to explain what to do.
This link 12v side of life, if you haven't seen it before maybe a start.
If you identify the battery cables for the basic installation of positive battery cable & negative battery cable as you see in battery set up on link. You may have more or less batteries than pictured but identify these cables using tags or even paint red & white so you know which they are.
You will have cables positive to Gen, converter and ground wires that maybe multiple on same post. You will have ground cables to frame of chassis and GEN.
Once you get these all identified you can chase the ones that are bunched together that your concerned about.
What kind of coach are we dealing with?
Pay attention to words of caution when working around batteries and should cut off battery switch to batteries.
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Old 08-17-2010, 08:57 AM   #3
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12 volt side of life

Yes I am familiar with the 12 volt side of life, I have it as a reference guide for my vintage travel trailers, so I guess I should go back to it for review to see if it can guide me with the battery clean up task. By the way I am referring to my 83 Fleetwood Pace Arrow.
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Old 08-17-2010, 09:20 AM   #4
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I agree with labeling each lead as you romove it, also if possible, take a few photos of the batteries/leads before you remove them. That way, you have a base reference to look at if there's any confusion when re attaching them.

I would not connect all of the leads to one connector for the reason you stated, in the future you may want to remove individual leads when troubleshooting any problem you might have.

I worked for 30 years in the telecommunications industry and here is a product we used in our power rooms Sanchem NOOXID electrical grease & electrically conductive grease dielectric grease and contact lubricants. We used it on battery buss connections and never had a corrosion problem. I use it now on my 8 batteries and wouldn't be without it. Before you apply it make sure all surfaces are clean and bright, replace connectors if needed.

Good luck.
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Old 08-17-2010, 10:22 AM   #5
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Also he has the battery connected in a series, with a jumper cable connecting both battery so that when it is plugged in both batteries are charge at the same time, so I also need to know if theses battery need to be separate so that the chassis battery is only connected to the chassis, and the house battery is only connected to the house.[/QUOTE]


It almost sounds by your description as if this rig has 2 6 volt batteries wired in series, rather then 2 12 volt batteries wired in parallel. That is not a bad thing, just different then what you are used to. Do the batteries have 3 caps each to fill with water or 6? If 3 they are 6 volt batteries wired in series. If 6, 12 volt batteries wired in parallel. Actually 2 6 volt batteries wired in series gives you slightly more amp hours then 2 volt batteries wired in parallel but thats another story.

With regard to too many connections at the battery terminals. Why don't you meter things out so you know what connections give power to what circuits. I actually like separate connections... it makes working on problems much easier. Good luck and keep us posted.
-Paul R. Haller-

Have you checked the system with a volt meter?
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Old 08-17-2010, 10:38 AM   #6
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It sounds like you inherited a system from one who drank the cool aid on the battery myths so prevalent on these forums and elsewhere.

First, you should not need to remove the battery caps for anything other than to check electrolyte level once in a while. With modern batteries and proper equipment in a typical RV usage profile, you can use safer and more convenient means to obtain battery status with a reasonable accuracy.

Second, you should minimize the connections at the battery so only the interconnections for serial or parallel, the optional temperature probe, and the bank power take offs touch the battery terminals. Set up a fuse block adjacent to the battery box for all else.

Paul has a good idea to take pictures. Putting labels on the wires and creating a schematic should also help. If it is confusing for you, it really should be simplified and cleaned up. Take the time and care to do that now and you can avoid mistakes later. Get any power take-offs off the battery and out to a separate fuse block as a first step.

Your battery bank should act and function like a single battery. Series or parallel is internal to the bank and makes no difference from an outside the battery box perspective. Sometimes, folks will take, for example, a 24v bank and make a 12v tap on it, but that is not a good idea. Treat the bank as one battery and charge, discharge, and maintain it just like it is one battery.
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Old 08-17-2010, 10:43 AM   #7
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Terminal strip or binding post

What you need os a terminal strip to have seperate connections or a binding post to have all on one, personal choice.

A trip to a well stocked supply house, not consumer place like radio shack or auto-zone, but commercial supply, check yellow pages.

From the wire sizes you can guess the loads by wire, but better to disconnect the wires and test them to see what they power, a volt meter with a 10 amp range helps here.

You need a wire large enough to carry all of the loads of the battery and if you only want a single cable then the capacity of the alternator due to charging currents.

THere are bars with pairs of screws, think source and load, these work ok but require a lot of connectors and the crimp connectors are not cheap and will fail if not done with a good quality tool. there are others that have solder lugs on one side and screws on the other, these work well here as a large wire can be soldered across multiple terminals to create a power buss, multiple groups allow constant 12 volt and switched 12 volt busses.
Locate the buss bar far away from the battery as the acid will still attack it if it is nearby, find a place easy to get to that the existing wires still reach and have fun.

Tha battery box may have been eaten away over time and replaced with the plywood, the plywood is suitable for this if properly pained to protect it.

Get all of the batteries out of th bay and see what you have, it may be trash or good and dirty, from this point consider the batteries that you have or are going to use and create a battery bay to properly mount them, the local battery house can provide much of any special hardware needed.
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Old 08-17-2010, 04:25 PM   #8
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More questions & a lot to absorb.

First thank for all of the feedback. I will take all into consideration.

I do have 2 / 12 volt battery and not running a 6 volt system. I have considered removing all of the wires going to the batteries and instead connect them with a wire strip. I am in the landscape/irrigation field and work with 24 volt system all the time and that is the same way I install irrigation controller, each station wire being connected to a wire strip, and if this strip can handle 24 volt DC it should easily handle 12 volt DC, but I have some concerns on the size of the wire that I will have to use to bring the wires that are all now connected independently, to that battery post.

I hate not knowing what each wire goes, and will have to test each and discovered what each powers, and in doing that I will most likely color code each wire for my reference, being right now all wires are white.


Now I also thought that the battery must always be check to insure that each cell has enough water and to test the acid, none of this can be done now because I can not reach them due to th position of the batteries. Isn't that considered to be battery maintenance?

I also plan to install a power disconnect on each battery so that I can insure that the motor-home is only powered when I want it to, but have also saw battery isolator at the auto part store that say that are their purpose. Should I install one of these instead? If I were to install a isolator would it not create a problem being both battery are wired together?

I also considered installing a separate fuse panel to again isolate these wires and fuse each one, but I am now assume that they are already fused somewhere, which I will have to confirm.

At the same time I will have to investigate everything that is now running to the firewall to the rear of where the batteries are, there is a small fuse block and other things that I have no idea what they are. Wires everywhere and many no longer connected.

Now I assume that the battery on the right is my house battery being almost everything is connected to that battery, and it is a Marine battery and the battery to the left is the engine battery.

If that is indeed correct, can anyone tell me what all should be connected to each battery, again this is a vintage 83 Pace Arrow.

On the firewall there is a device that looks like a battery isolator, but I am only basing it on the appearance.

I have not yet gotten into what is under the hood, being I have begun refreshing the interior. I was not overly concerned about these things,
being I know that the engine and transmission are both new with less than 7K miles on them and I am really surprised that this area looks as if it was a Mickey mouse. Real amateur night. I restore vintage travel trailers as a hobby and even my wiring is better that that, at least I fused everything and everything I do is dedicated , fused and color coded, and I am a amateur.

I was also wondering if I should replace both batteries with deep cell batteries, what are your feedback on swapping them out?

Being I have already pulled the floor out of the motor-home and need to replace it before I install new sheet flooring and carpet, I have time to ponder my next move in regard to the battery, but I know that I will not be able to tolerate the current conditions, and that most likely be where I start once I move to that section of the motor-home.

On a almost related matter, I know that the air horn and the fog lights have been disconcerted, the owner told me there were, is there any reason to reconnect either of these things, being both are still not connected? Also I know that the windshield washer is not working also, but I have no way to tell where it was and what connected powered it, and I may have to reinstall one if I decide that it is needed. The previous owner told me that he never used any of these items, and it is getting to a point I can not
believe anything he has told me.

Needless to say I have my work cut out for myself, but I do have a year before I use it for a planned family reunion in Texas next summer. I of course am open to all opinions as well as feed back.

Thanks Mike aka kartvines
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Old 08-17-2010, 10:15 PM   #9
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I think you are making this far too complex. You should have at most a 2-3 large battery cables (main power and charger and maybe genset) to connect to the positive post of one battery, and usually one chassis ground on the negative. Any smaller gauge wires can go to a terminal strip, which should be fed with wire of suitable gauge. Connect the additional batteries with short battery cables and you are good to go.

Your chassis battery should be segregated from the house battery with an isolator. Should be one of those in their already. If not, adding one is a good idea.
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Old 08-18-2010, 08:54 AM   #10
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Now I also thought that the battery must always be check to insure that each cell has enough water and to test the acid, none of this can be done now because I can not reach them due to th position of the batteries. Isn't that considered to be battery maintenance?

Yes, you don't want the battery's to run dry. You have a couple of solutions to accomplish this. One is to use AGM or Gel battery's, they're sealed and you don't have to add water or check the SG. They're more expensive than wet cells but other than properly charging them theres no other maintenance. Two, you can add an automatic watering system to your system, here is one example of a system a friend uses and she's very happy with it Pro-Fill 6 Volt Battery Maintenance/Watering System by Flow-Rite - RV Power Supply. There are other manufacturers just Google RV battery filling systems.

I was also wondering if I should replace both batteries with deep cell batteries, what are your feedback on swapping them out?

You don't need nor want a deep cycle battery for your starting battery, just the house battery.
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:53 AM   #11
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Correct batteries for their use

The house battery can be deep cycle, vrla or agm, any of these will work fine and will have their own advantages, all are current limited as they are designed for small loads over extended time, the size of the plates and the interconnecting structures limit the amount of current that they produce.

For starting battery you need a lot of current for short periods, thus called a starting battery.

Purchase you batteries from a source that has the background to describe all of the different choices and get the ones best suited for your application.

If you wish to run on inverter or battery for long periods of time and you want the batteries in a better spot then I suggest VRLA type batteries, these are designed for telecom use, Interstate MQ1800 is one example. These do not like extreme heat, but they are safe for indoor use, you could locate these under the bed and at 70 amp hours each a few of them could run your lighting for quite awhile.

This leaves more room in front for a larger starting battery, install a group 27 size and you should be good to go.

Only the starting and running circuits are connected here.

For your wire size for your buss bar, biggest wire possible is better...within reason...

You should be able to pickup a large sealed in-line fuse holder that is water tight, it will not be cheap but worth the investment.

This will be crimp on and get one for a #10 wire, along with a few 30 amp fuses, make sure the fuses are 12 rated and NOT sand filled, you want clear glass. do NOT use SFE or other standard auto fuses, the correct one will be about 5/16 to 3/8 diameter and about an inch long, these are designed for constant higher current loads and will not get hot and melt out the solder.

The fuse holder goes real clost to the battery to protect from short circuits, then the wire is fanned out across your terminal strip, best to use solder and create lugs, you have worked with the strips before, so make it neat as usual, just insure each terminal has a good connection.

Bring connections from the keyed power as well as the starting battery to the same strip, helps if you need to vheck the voltages or add an accessory to have a handy spot.

There are terminal strips that have built in fuse holders, these are great as it makes connecting and troubleshooting a lot easier, find one with a cover or locate it where is will not get water splashed.
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