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Old 04-14-2015, 11:23 AM   #1
2 Rivet Member
 
1976 27' Overlander
Delta , British Columbia
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 50
Deep Cell 6Volt Batteries in 1976 Overlander

Hello fellow Airstreamers,

I am new to the Airstream, but have had campers previously. I am keen to install 2 x 6 volt (golf cart) deep cycle batteries as we do quite a bit of off-grid (boon-docking) camping. The original battery box on my unit measures 13" long x 8" wide x 9.4" tall. It is not sufficient for any kind of a larger capacity 12 volt or 6 volt batteries.

I have looked at various mounting options and keep coming up short. The tongue will be the most obvious location, but I don't have room between the propane tanks and the actual wall. Additionally the trailer umbilical chord and the hitch torsion bars all converge in this area.

Bring in my only viable solution, on the driver side there is an appropriate sized hatch immediately behind the wheel wells and in front of the hot water tank. The hatch is sufficiently large to accommodate the batteries but it leads directly into the mid trailer closet and thus directly into a passenger area.

Has anyone done this upgrade with similar problems? Can I drill a hole either sideways or down through the floor to externally vent the batteries? Second has anyone tried routing the battery leads along the underside of the trailer.

I appreciate any help that people can offer.

Thank you

Kristien
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Old 04-14-2015, 01:24 PM   #2
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1986 25' Sovereign
Allegan , Michigan
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 85
I have not installed the system you describe; but I do have some observations based on the upgrade I did to my unit.

First, the easiest way to "increase" your battery capacity is to reduce your load. We changed over to LED interior lights - and removed some storage compartment lights so they could not be left on. Also, make sure that your refrigerator "anti-sweat" switch is turned off; it takes ALOT of electricity. (DAMHIKT).

Second you should consider upgrading to a "three stage"(?) smart charger - or whatever they are called. The older designs - Univolt - are much heavier and can cook your battery. I opted for a smaller charger - max 35 amps? - because batteries last longer if they are not rapidly charged - or so I have been told.

Third, you will want the batteries, charger and fuse panel close proximity; it makes wiring and trouble shooting easier. My current unit has two battery boxes up front with the charger under the sofa; I just had to add an extra battery and upgrade the charger as the wiring was already there. Batteries are heavy and you will need to service them.

Finally, there are lots of choices regarding battery types - you can search and find all sorts of opinions. I went with two standard size (24/27?) 12 volt deep cycle marine batteries. They are readily available almost any where - not so sure about finding a golf cart battery on a weekend in a small town. I also set them up with a "4 way switch" so I can isolate each battery - or charge them together. It makes checking them simple - when I get down to about 12 volts I switch to the other one and plan my trip so I can get to shore power in about 3/4 days. It works for us.

Check the archives and see what everyone else has to say.

Good luck,

Whit Nash
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Old 04-14-2015, 01:38 PM   #3
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1974 Argosy 20
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Kooskia , Idaho
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 4,591
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seabloom View Post


Bring in my only viable solution, on the driver side there is an appropriate sized hatch immediately behind the wheel wells and in front of the hot water tank. The hatch is sufficiently large to accommodate the batteries but it leads directly into the mid trailer closet and thus directly into a passenger area.

Has anyone done this upgrade with similar problems? Can I drill a hole either sideways or down through the floor to externally vent the batteries? Second has anyone tried routing the battery leads along the underside of the trailer.


Kristien
I would look at building some custom battery boxes in the front inside, as you have now, but larger to accommodate the larger (taller) 6 volt batteries. That is remove the original battery box inside and put a larger one in the same place, using the vented battery door as your venting system. Replacement access would be from the inside, under the couch I assume is there.

Or, you could use 6 volt AGM batteries inside, with no venting needed at all. The cost of the battery would be higher, but it would be much simpler and little to no cost for the wiring and so on, so total cost might not be too bad.

I don;t think the rear location is a good one, it puts weight behind the axels and requires a long battery cable run, not good.

As mentioned in another post, if you have incandescent lights still, they need to be replaced with LED's to reduce your load a lot.
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