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An Original NewMar NewAire

Posted 07-29-2019 at 10:25 AM by TomAndPeg
Updated 07-30-2020 at 09:02 AM by TomAndPeg (Cleanup)

RV Projects: Battery Bay Blues -- 7/29/2019

We recently had trouble starting the NewAire; turns out one of the pair of Interstate cranking batteries had a weak cell. A closer look showed that both batteries were 9 years old and in dire need of replacement.

So we shopped around and found a great deal on a couple group 31 commercial cranking batteries (1,000 CCA each) with a 2 year warranty at Blain's Farm and Fleet. Love that place.

But when I pulled the old cranking batteries out of the sliding bay drawer, I didn't like what I saw: some serious corrosion.

To determine just how bad things really were, I pulled out the six golf cart house batteries as well. (That's a total of almost 500 pounds of power.)

No doubt it was time for a full battery bay rehab! So I grabbed my high speed grinder, slapped on a sanding disk, and went to work.

This is what the big drawer looked like after about 30 minutes of cautious grinding. Fortunately, most of the corrosion was restricted to a thick layer of original powder coating, so not much metal was lost.

I must be prescient, because a couple of years ago I invested in a gallon of the world's best rust preventative paint: POR-15. I also purchased a gallon of their Metal Prep, a rust converter that you apply directly over rusty metal (keep it wet for 20 minutes, then hose off and dry).

Metal Prep leaves a phosphate coating that is the perfect base layer for rust inhibiting black sealer. When I was finished with the Metal Prep, the drawer looked like this:

I did not grind any rust from the inner floor panel behind and below the drawer. If you look at the picture above, you can partially see that panel; it was lightly yet uniformly oxidized, so I just soaked it in Metal Prep to convert the surface rust and prepare it for painting.

Speaking of which, after letting everything sit overnight, I brushed two moderate coats of POR-15 black over the entire battery bay, inside and out.

Here are some cautions about using POR-15 paint. This stuff is tough to work with:
  • Wear disposable gloves and old work clothes - POR-15 paint will not come off your skin or clothing.
  • Use a separate disposable paint container - not the original paint can; any paint left in the rim of the original can will permanently seal it closed, and the costly paint inside will never again see the light of day (unless you cut the can open).
  • Plan on trashing your paint brush(es).
After the POR-15 base had setup for 24 hours, I applied two coats of Rust-oleum's best exterior grade black gloss enamel to the drawer assembly itself. Note that POR-15 is very sensitive to UV light, and I didn't want to chance any potential deterioration in my base coat over time. However, I did not overcoat the inner floor panel. I suspect it will not see much daylight going forward.

When the big day came, I got my eldest son to help me reload the 2 year old house batteries and my new cranking batteries; it was a tight squeeze. Then I re-cabled everything.

Speaking of cables, I also replaced the electrical tape on the ends on each battery cable with Heavy Duty Heat Shrink Tubing. The pictures below show the before and after of a typical cable end:

Finally, I used CRC Battery Terminal Protector to coat all the cable connections. You can tell the anti-corrosive is on there because it turns the connector surfaces red.

And that's it - mission accomplished. No more battery bay blues.

I should be in good shape for another decade or so, or until I need to replace those house batteries. Ugh.

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