As readers of this blog know, we had continual problems with charging our batteries on our June cruise due to a few worn-out batteries in our house bank. It goes without saying that we should have replaced the 5-year-old batteries before we left Anacortes, but we thought we’d be able to get by a little longer before we shelled out our cash. Batteries are one of the major expenses on a powerboat. At any rate, Jim recently made a trip to Anacortes to buy new batteries and replace the bad ones.
We had thought about replacing only the three batteries that tested bad, but additional research led us to conclude that we would be better off replacing all six of the house batteries. Even though three of the batteries tested okay, they were 5 years old too!
Jim ordered six new Dyno GC2 6-volt deep discharge batteries from Fisheries Supply in Seattle and asked to have them placed in will-call so that he could pick them up on his way from Bend to Anacortes.
The new batteries had to be hauled down to our boat from our car in the marina parking lot. It’s a long walk, which can be difficult when the tide is low because the ramp from the parking lot to the dock can be really steep. Jim checked the tide predictions and waited to move the batteries to our boat when the tide was high and there was a fairly level ramp.
Many thanks to friend Bob from down the dock for his help in getting the batteries from the car to the dock and onto the boat. These puppies weigh 70 pounds apiece! Also thanks to Mel at Specialty Automotive in Bend for the loan of a battery-carrying strap, which was a big help in loading the batteries in Seattle.
To prepare for the new batteries, the first step was to clean out 11 years of accumulated junk at the forward end of the engine room. And then the inverter/charger had to be temporarily removed to get it out of the way.
In order to get the six old batteries out of the engine room, Jim had to wrestle them up to the floor of the main cabin. Then he took them off the boat and stored them on the dock while he put in the new batteries. Finally, they had to be hauled back to the car for recycling. Fortunately we discovered that Les Schwab in Anacortes will recycle batteries, so he didn’t have to drive far to dispose of them.
Moving the new batteries to the engine room from the main cabin was much easier…gravity helped a lot! The 6-volt batteries are grouped into pairs so they can be wired to make 12 volts, and each pair of batteries is stored in its own box. We use Hydrocaps on our batteries. They function to re-convert battery gases into liquid that is returned to the battery, reducing the frequency that water must be added to the batteries.
As part of the project, the original battery charger that came with the boat had to be removed to make way for a new battery distribution system. We had left this charger in place, but it was never used because we added an inverter/charger to use for charging. We’ll keep the original charger on board for backup.
After the new batteries were in place, Jim worked on revising the battery wiring to change the existing spoke pattern distribution system to a daisy chain configuration. We are making this change because the spoke configuration had resulted in one pair of the house batteries discharging disproportionally and boiling off the electrolyte of those two batteries. The daisy chain fashion should result in the six batteries discharging more evenly. Note that the daisy chain configuration has the positive cable out of one end of the daisy chain and the negative cable out of the other end.
The photo below shows the new positive distribution system. It has two new bus bars. The big bus bar at the top of the frame is where the big loads (DC panel and Webasto heater) meet the big sources (engine alternator, batteries and charger). The small bus at the lower left is for accessories (heater fans and echo chargers). At the time Jim was working on this project, he ran short of big red cables and had to temporarily wire the system using two black cables that he had on hand. Next time we’re on the boat, he will replace the black cables with the proper red cables.
Finally, Jim tied down the new wiring and labeled the big cables to tidy up the engine room. So glad to be done with this project!