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Old 06-13-2013, 05:53 AM   #1
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Battery Compartment Seperation

I have a chronic problem with the street side battery compartment popping rivets and seperating from the skin of the Airstream. I'm not positive how the battery compartment is made, but I see a black plastic box inside and cast aluminum frame outside that is riveted to the skin. There is a 1x2 wood block under the black plastic box supporting the rear box to the floor. It appears Airstream supports the battery box between this wood block and the exterior cast aluminum frame riveted to the skin.

I only use one battery, and it is a big honker. Mayibe it weighs 50 pounds. I can envision this battery bouncing around in the plastic box as I travel.

Has anyone else had problems like this? I am planning on rigging a wood support for the entire length of the battery box to the floor so there is no stress on the cast aluminum frame riveted to the skin. I'll shim it tight.

Your experience and advice welcome

David
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Old 06-13-2013, 07:19 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by dbj216 View Post
I have a chronic problem with the street side battery compartment popping rivets and seperating from the skin of the Airstream. I'm not positive how the battery compartment is made, but I see a black plastic box inside and cast aluminum frame outside that is riveted to the skin. There is a 1x2 wood block under the black plastic box supporting the rear box to the floor. It appears Airstream supports the battery box between this wood block and the exterior cast aluminum frame riveted to the skin.

I only use one battery, and it is a big honker. Mayibe it weighs 50 pounds. I can envision this battery bouncing around in the plastic box as I travel.

Has anyone else had problems like this? I am planning on rigging a wood support for the entire length of the battery box to the floor so there is no stress on the cast aluminum frame riveted to the skin. I'll shim it tight.

Your experience and advice welcome

David
As you roll down the road and hit bumps, dips, and other surface irregularities, the trailer frame flexes, and so does the skin of the trailer. If the box is supported too rigidly, it will not move with the skin, and you'll still pop rivets. So, my recommendation would be to use wooden supports as you're planning, but insert a rubber strip between the wood and the battery box, instead of shims. You'll still be supporting the weight of the battery on the wood, while still allowing for flexural movement in transit.

Also, if the battery is not held down in the box with a strap to keep the battery from moving, then strapping the battery down so it can't bounce in the box will probably be more effective than even the wood supports.
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Old 06-13-2013, 10:41 AM   #3
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Thanks for the suggestion. You are right, if I make it too "tight", then the flex forces will find another place to relieve themselves. Kinda like my Beagle! I already have a crack in the skin radiating from the battery box door casting. I need a battery "mattres" to cushion the blows of a bumpy highway.

I don't have, or see a battery tie down strap in the black plastic box. My battery only has about an inch of vertical movement. But that is still quite a bit of hammering on bumpy highways. I will also look for ways to secure the battery. The inside of the black plastic battery box is exposed to the elements. A strap hole in it will allow water into the trailer when pulling in the rain.

David
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Old 06-13-2013, 11:28 AM   #4
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Thanks for the suggestion. You are right, if I make it too "tight", then the flex forces will find another place to relieve themselves. Kinda like my Beagle! I already have a crack in the skin radiating from the battery box door casting. I need a battery "mattres" to cushion the blows of a bumpy highway.

I don't have, or see a battery tie down strap in the black plastic box. My battery only has about an inch of vertical movement. But that is still quite a bit of hammering on bumpy highways. I will also look for ways to secure the battery. The inside of the black plastic battery box is exposed to the elements. A strap hole in it will allow water into the trailer when pulling in the rain.

David
David.

Fatigue cracks at the front battery boxes are caused by too much tow vehicle and/or too heavy torsion bars.

Unbalanced running gear can also add to the issue.

Andy
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Old 06-14-2013, 06:57 AM   #5
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I took a look at the battery box under the couch. It appears it is "flange mounted" to the front skin of the trailer. And then there is a block of wood supporting the battery box at the rear. The battery box "floats" as I can wiggle it side to side and up and down. I would suggest this design puts a lot of stress on the front skin.

I wish the battery box was strapped to the floor of the Airstream and not allowed to move around. Then the compartment door flange would only have to support itself. I did block the battery box so it can't move side to side like a wagging Beagle tail. And I added a little support under the battery box so it isn't totally supported on the front skin. At least this support will take some of the hammering from a bouncing battery. I will see if this takes some of the forces off the front skin.

Andy, I do pull with a one ton single rear wheel, and until this spring, a Reese hitch. Our Airstream has always been pulled with a one ton van and the Reese. The stress crack has been there for the last ten years at least. I can see where letting everything "float" along on the coupler so low forces were transfered from the tow vehicle to the Airstream would reduce stresses on the trailer. I have stress cracks in the ABS plastic front and rear end caps inside the trailer. And I have some droop of overhead cabinets due to the bouncing. If I pulled my trailer with a sedan, I can see the trailer getting less forces. When we "porpoise" bounce on those not flat concrete highways, I know my Airstream is taking a beating, and the battery might be bouncing in its box. However, I am glad I had my one ton truck and Propride hitch in those 40 mph cross winds in eastern Colorado this spring. Man, that was dangerous. The winds were so strong they unfurled my street side awning and billowed it up like a sail! I thought I was going to blow over! Nightmare.

Now I will see if the added support to the battery box will keep me from fracturing rivets and seperation around my battery box door flange.

David
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Old 06-14-2013, 09:10 AM   #6
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I took a look at the battery box under the couch. It appears it is "flange mounted" to the front skin of the trailer. And then there is a block of wood supporting the battery box at the rear. The battery box "floats" as I can wiggle it side to side and up and down. I would suggest this design puts a lot of stress on the front skin.

I wish the battery box was strapped to the floor of the Airstream and not allowed to move around. Then the compartment door flange would only have to support itself. I did block the battery box so it can't move side to side like a wagging Beagle tail. And I added a little support under the battery box so it isn't totally supported on the front skin. At least this support will take some of the hammering from a bouncing battery. I will see if this takes some of the forces off the front skin.

Andy, I do pull with a one ton single rear wheel, and until this spring, a Reese hitch. Our Airstream has always been pulled with a one ton van and the Reese. The stress crack has been there for the last ten years at least. I can see where letting everything "float" along on the coupler so low forces were transfered from the tow vehicle to the Airstream would reduce stresses on the trailer. I have stress cracks in the ABS plastic front and rear end caps inside the trailer. And I have some droop of overhead cabinets due to the bouncing. If I pulled my trailer with a sedan, I can see the trailer getting less forces. When we "porpoise" bounce on those not flat concrete highways, I know my Airstream is taking a beating, and the battery might be bouncing in its box. However, I am glad I had my one ton truck and Propride hitch in those 40 mph cross winds in eastern Colorado this spring. Man, that was dangerous. The winds were so strong they unfurled my street side awning and billowed it up like a sail! I thought I was going to blow over! Nightmare.

Now I will see if the added support to the battery box will keep me from fracturing rivets and seperation around my battery box door flange.

David
As a suggestion, you might want to check out the axles. If the rubber rods are bad, that will add to the issue very quickly.

27 years is a very long time for torsion axles.

The Dura-Torque Axle

Andy
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Old 07-18-2013, 06:30 AM   #7
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We returned from a 2400 mile trip and all my rivets around the battery compartment door have held since I added the wood block to hold the battery box from wiggling side to side. The battery box has a molded trough on its bottom surface. I just cut a wood block that fits tightly in the trough and screwed the block to the floor. Now the battery box can't wiggle from side to side. It can still jump up and down while going over big bumps. I added a second block of wood underneath the battery box to help support it.

I think the side to side wiggle is what was causing some of my battery compartment door rivets to break.

Daivd
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Old 07-18-2013, 06:49 AM   #8
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We returned from a 2400 mile trip and all my rivets around the battery compartment door have held since I added the wood block to hold the battery box from wiggling side to side. The battery box has a molded trough on its bottom surface. I just cut a wood block that fits tightly in the trough and screwed the block to the floor. Now the battery box can't wiggle from side to side. It can still jump up and down while going over big bumps. I added a second block of wood underneath the battery box to help support it.

I think the side to side wiggle is what was causing some of my battery compartment door rivets to break.

Daivd
The usual cause for that issue is excessive rated hitch bars, or a heavy duty tow vehicle.

Also another cause is lack of proper running gear balance.

Anhdy
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Old 09-21-2013, 01:27 PM   #9
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We just returned from a 5600 mile journey to the Oregon coast. I did not have any broken rivets in my battery compartment frame to body.

If someone else is having this problem, I feel the fix is blocking the plastic battery box to the floor so it can not wiggle side to side.

Maybe the factory intended to block it, but my trailer was missed some how.

David
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Old 09-21-2013, 04:11 PM   #10
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Once again the urban legend of too stiff of a tow vehicle is debunked.
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