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Old 01-18-2018, 01:06 PM   #1
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Need some suggestions re Battery Box in '06 Interstate

Well, the battery in our "new to us" 2006 Interstate (center bath, rear lounge) bit the dust. Some of this is a "been there, done that" experience. We also have a 1979 AS trailer that had an old Univolt converter/charger that would murder batteries. It was eventually replaced with a Progressive Dynamics 3-stage unit (and a new set of batts) that improved things greatly.

Even though I had experienced the problem and found a solution before, it still was a major pain sorting through all the information out there to determine a solution path this time. Of course, I had to eliminate many, many complex and expensive options, and parse it down to a workable solution for me. Bottom line: I need a new battery, and new charging system to be able to use my T1N to go to a nearby campground, have heat and amenities for the night, and be able to get up in the morning to go fishing. Keepin' it simple. I have a Progressive Dynamics PD4655 converter upgrade (w/ optional remote pendant) and a LifeLine AGM battery GPL-27T on order from BestConverter.com (Thanks, Randy!).

So, the battery box (located behind the roadside rear wheel in this model) was in somewhat bad shape. I pulled it out and sent it off for sandblasting and powder coat. The box was loose, and the wet cell group 27 battery had not been secured, so things were a bit beat up. Also, there was no cover for the battery access point, so weather and dirt off the rear wheel had obviously entered the trailer. The first picture shows the location of the battery. The next is a closer view showing the fine craftsmanship used in this installation. Notice, there is no cover. It seems likely there was one at once, but I have no idea what it looked like. Finally, the third picture shows a closeup of the edge of the plywood exposed, and damaged by exposure to the elements. InterBlog has commented on this stupid shortcut used by AS installers on several occasions. What you can see is the flooring, then the plywood. Not too visible is the metal floor pan at the bottom.

Here is my plan. Please feel free to comment or offer suggestions for each step.
1) Paint the exposed edges with something. Should I just use House Paint, perhaps Oil Based? I could get some in that AS Grey. Or would bed liner paint be better. What else?
2) Reinstall Box. Will replace bolts with Stainless Steel, as the ones that came out were a little rusty. Will use fender washers to spread the load across more of the surface. Do you think I need to put something more substantial to spread the load? I've been eyeing strips of metal, thinking about using that. (It involves painting more stuff).
3) Install new battery. a) Will need to get some sort of battery tie down thing. Will go to Tractor Supply to try and source something. b) Terminals: Currently the negative side is a battery post clamp type. The positive sides (there are 2) are ring terminals that can either be secured over a battery bolt with a wing nut (as often seen in marine battery installations), or secured with a bolt terminal. Are there advantages/disadvantages? All three installations seem to work, but having a mix is not as aesthetic (maybe that's just me).
4) Fashion some sort of cover. There was nothing there when we got it. I cut a piece of luan plywood to fit over it. That would be a simple fix, but I better get it painted... Any other ideas?
OK, a long post. Looking forward to comments and ideas. Thanks!

Oh, I thought I'd leave you with a quote from a friend of mine who's in the solar energy business:
"Batteries don't just die, they are murdered."
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Old 01-18-2018, 01:29 PM   #2
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Insert some wood glue and use two aluminum (or steel) flat strips to sandwich everything well and let the glue do its thing... paint exposed wood with some enamel paint (not house paint) so it last more...you just want to seal it to avoid having it come apart again...

Others will chime in, but looks like you got pretty much everything covered with your approach.
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Old 01-18-2018, 03:56 PM   #3
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Yeah, well, I may have commented several times on AS's unwise practice of leaving exposed plywood edges, but I've never set my blinky eyeballs on a case such as yours before. Holy frijoles. Other old-timer T1N owners with batteries in the rear - does yours also look like that?! I would check them if I were you. And reinforce the area if common sense so dictates (as it does here).

Most of the time, I use Sherwin Williams enamel oil-based paint because I usually have it around from other projects. It's very good at encapsulating and waterproofing but it's expensive - 26 bucks per quart (not gallon) in my area. I normally accumulate a few small projects so I can consume most of a new can at once because it doesn't have a good shelf life.
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Old 01-18-2018, 08:13 PM   #4
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My 2006 is a rear sleeper, and the batter is under the passenger seat.
But when I installed a larger battery, I used an old inner tube to line the battery platform. Then used a strap to keep it all snug.
Perhaps some rubber around the battery to cushion it and keep it from moving?

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Old 01-20-2018, 09:18 AM   #5
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Some good suggestions, thanks all!

I've been spending my time, while we were experiencing sub-freezing weather, mulling over the prospect of how to get glue to seep into horizontal layers between the plywood plys. At first I was clueless, but of course this topic has been at least touched upon on the internet. The basic plan that is evolving is:

1) Attempt some sort of clean up of the exposed edges. Perhaps sanding, perhaps some light application of some cleaner like 409 or something. I don't really think I'll be able to make it look much better, but glue should stick better to clean stuff, right?

2) Probe the plys to see if I can get a putty knife or something between them. If so, perhaps I can open a bit of a gap between plys and get the glue to slide down the knife into the gaps. Or, perhaps I can use a syringe with a big bore needle to "inject" glue into the gaps. I have some of this sort of stuff from other projects, just not sure if "glue" has a consistency that would allow this. We'll just have to see.

3) Which brings us to the glue question. What kind would be best? I've seen Tightbond mentioned quite a bit on the web. Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue is waterproof for Exterior/Interior use. I'll have to see if it is available locally, and while I'm at it peruse the glue aisle of the local big box hardware store. I know Gorilla Glue is a popular glue, but my experience with it includes a problem with "squeeze out" (where excess glue is pressed out of the gap upon clamping). That is very difficult to clean up. Also, the glue seems to do a lot of bubbling, like it expands and squeezes itself out of gaps, I my thinking is to avoid that.

I've thought about epoxy, I have some left over from a boat building project. However, it's messy and doesn't have an easy clean-up option. Plus, with cooler temperatures it can take a while to set-up. OTOH, it's fluid enough that it does work with a syringe and needle for injecting into gaps. I'll keep that option open.

4) Clamping. I think I'll use a board on top. The bottom layer of the exposed edge is metal (at least I assume it is, better bring a magnet to check it) covered with undercoating should be rigid enough without reinforcement. I'll wrap the board with Saran Wrap to keep it from sticking if I get some glue above the flooring. I'll use several C-clamps on each edge. If I go with Tightbond, it's "water clean up" until it sets, so I should be able to deal with squeeze out with a damp rag.

5) I'll get some enamel oil-based paint for finishing the edges. Thanks for the heads up on what to use there.

The powder-coated battery box came out great! It's 49 now, with a high of 55 projected. Seems like that weather should work for getting started.
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Old 01-20-2018, 10:08 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duckdave View Post
....
It's 49 now, with a high of 55 projected. Seems like that weather should work for getting started.
This is exactly the kind of wild weather swing that makes me VERY nervous. In short order, we (in Houston) transitioned from 20 to 30 degrees back to 70 degrees with full subtropical humidity resuming in our area.

When this happens, moisture condenses on EVERYTHING, including electrical components. There's just no getting around it. And then because of the high humidity, even after equipment is brought up to temperature equilibrium with the air, the condensation tends to persist because conditions work against evaporation.

Be careful working around electrical systems in any conditions resembling what I just described.
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Old 01-20-2018, 12:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InterBlog View Post
Be careful working around electrical systems in any conditions resembling what I just described.
It will be a few days until the converter/charger and new battery come in. I'll just be doing carpentry, painting and battery box reinstall for a while anyway.
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Old 01-20-2018, 04:33 PM   #8
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Once I got my nose in closer to the battery box job I found things might not be as bad as they seemed at first.

First off, what appears in the picture to be severe delimitation of the plywood is not actually what's going on. The floor construction here is made up of layers. At the bottom is a metal pan, similar to what you see in the back of a pickup truck, kind of corrugated to give the pan some strength. Above that is a layer that looks kind of like roofing tar paper, a mat maybe 1/8" thick that I assume serves to cut down on noise and maybe give the floor a bit of insulation (?). Then, the plywood. Note, the plywood here is only 1/4" ply, but I suppose, since it's completely supported below by the metal pan it's strong enough. Finally, the top layer is the vinyl flooring.

So what with the pan having high and low areas, and the rest of the materials being relatively flat, there is naturally some gaps there. And between the mat and the plywood, the mat being flexible and following the contour of the metal pan, while the plywood is pretty flat. Finally, the vinyl, which in this case has worked it way free of the underlayment.

And I found a significant contributing factor to all this damage! I had forgotten, but the rear mud flap on this side is not in place. The PO included it in a box of miscellaneous stuff, and I haven't gotten around to reinstalling it yet (involves taking off the rear wheel to gain access to area to re-rivet or whatever seems appropriate to reattach). Without the rear guard, significantly more water and road crap would be thrown directly onto the battery box. Fixing this will be a new priority, and will help prevent future damage here.

So, to Plan B:
1) continue to sand the exposed edges to achieve a better edge, and to help clean for later painting.
2) get some vinyl flooring glue and re-attach the flooring in this area.
3) fill in some of the gaps with something... Bondo, perhaps? Something paintable, waterproof, quick, etc. This should give me a nice surface to paint before I reinstall the battery box.

Onward!
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Old 01-21-2018, 07:26 AM   #9
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IIRC, the mud flaps on ours are connected with hex-headed screws... and the more I think about it, the more I suspect that they might have been the self-drilling kind with the integrated neoprene washers.

It should be possible to re-install the missing flap without removing the wheel, I would think. But it might involve inserting yourself beneath the chassis. If that's the case, you might want to consider ramping (here is one example of a method).
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Old 01-21-2018, 07:31 AM   #10
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P.S. just for laughs...

Targeted advertising works so efficiently on this forum that the moment I pressed "submit", the referenced item was already showing in the ad tile to the right of the thread. The algorithms don't need any time at all to assemble the correct product references. Here's a screengrab of my view of that comment above, with the aforesaid hex head adjacent to the text. Complete with price.


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Old 01-21-2018, 08:15 AM   #11
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Yup. And its still irritating and intrusive as ever. If I want something, Ill search for it myself. Those ads either get tuned out totally, or laughed at because they are so far out of context....
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Old 01-21-2018, 09:54 AM   #12
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Thanks for the tip on the screws. I have some of those "in stock", so will bring some to the AS Warehouse to see if they will work. IIRC, I tried to fit the fender guard/mud flap in place right after we got the T1N and there was not sufficient clearance... but maybe I was thinking I would need different tools. I'll check it out.

We'll see what ads this generates.
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Old 01-24-2018, 08:40 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InterBlog View Post
IIRC, the mud flaps on ours are connected with hex-headed screws... and the more I think about it, the more I suspect that they might have been the self-drilling kind with the integrated neoprene washers.

It should be possible to re-install the missing flap without removing the wheel, I would think. But it might involve inserting yourself beneath the chassis. If that's the case, you might want to consider ramping (here is one example of a method).
My mudflap was held on with two allen-headed screws, two rivets and a slide-on spring thing that holds between the sheet metal and the plastic flap. I had to remove the wheel to gain access.

If you have not removed a wheel from a T1N, you are in for a treat. I had to use a 3 foot cheater bar to remove wheel lug bolts. Yes, I said bolts, it does not have nuts. That means when you go to replace the wheel, there is nothing to "hang" the wheel on and assist with lining things up. And that wheel is heavy. Finally, recommended torque is 170 ft lbs. That also requires a cheater bar on the torque wrench.

They make (and sell) an alignment tool to assist in getting the wheel re-mounted. It is simply a long stud you put into the wheel hub to hang the wheel on while you line things up.

Having that mudflap in place will seriously go a long way toward protecting the battery box.
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Old 01-24-2018, 12:49 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duckdave View Post
...
If you have not removed a wheel from a T1N, you are in for a treat. ....
Ever notice how different people have different tolerances for different jobs? Generally my tolerance level is pretty high. I'll pull apart pieces of the T1N and be perfectly happy if I get sprayed with oil or wastewater or whatever. But I have a THING against wheels. Maybe someday I will get over it. Until that time, I'll watch OTHER people removing our wheels.

And yes, I could tell by the struggle that it's not an easy job. Plus, given that I had to have two tires stripped and re-valved in The Middle Of Absolute Nowhere, two of our nice wheels are all scuffed to pieces now (but I didn't blame the servicer because he otherwise did such a great job under demanding conditions).

Someone Else working on our two front wheels, with my general attitude reflected below it:

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