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Old 01-27-2015, 08:52 PM   #1
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Where to position heavy batteries?

I'm in the process of renovating our '79 Excella 500 (31') and am wondering if I've designed the interior to have too much heavy stuff in the rear. My fear is that I'll design and build this beautiful camper only to have it sway all over the place when I'm going down the road because too much structural weight is beyond the rear axels. Specifically, I'm wondering if I should relocate the batteries and inverter (about 450lbs!) more toward the front of the camper. Here's a diagram of the way I have things laid out (not actually built yet, and this picture isn't my camper, just the same model):

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I tried a couple different placements of the batteries and inverter, such as (and these are pictures of my actual renovation):

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#1. Under and behind where the oven and stove top will be. Great position because it puts 450 lbs closer to the front, but not crazy about putting all the electronic so close to a heat source like an oven.
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#2. Where a closet will be. Good position because it's 450lbs over the axles, so no bias toward the front or back, but not crazy about losing all the drawer space.
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#3. Inverter (blue) is under where the oven will be, and batteries are nearby where a closet will be. Good position because it distributes the weight over the axels with no bias front or back, but not thrilled with the inverter being under an oven (heat) and losing the drawer space where the batteries sit.
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#4. These 2 pictures are the same position, 1st is a view from the front looking back, and the 2nd is from the back looking forward. Batteries and inverter occupy and otherwise unoccupied space (no losing any storage with this position) but worried about putting 450lbs toward the rear of the camper, even if it is just right behind the axel (see diagram above).
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If you were me, where would you place the batteries and inverter? Would you be OK with the #4 option (logistically perfect location, but adds weight behind rear axels) given the weight of everything else forward of the axels?
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Old 01-27-2015, 08:59 PM   #2
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I would 'split' the load starboard/port.... and definitely ahead of the front axle to maintain 'balance'...but if you are 'stuck' on one side I would choose the Street side.
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Old 01-27-2015, 09:04 PM   #3
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trekker aren't those Duracell's a flooded battery which will outgas potentially dangerous stuff when being charged? Safer with AGM's.

From the web.
Why is there a risk of an explosion?

When batteries are being recharged, they generate hydrogen gas that is explosive in certain concentrations in air (explosive limits are 4.1 to 72 percent hydrogen in air). The ventilation system can exchange an adequate amount of fresh air for the number of batteries being charged. This is essential to prevent an explosion. Also, no flame, burning cigarette, or other source of ignition should be permitted in the area.
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Old 01-27-2015, 09:05 PM   #4
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I think with your last photo you have the most logical location for the batteries,however with inverters that i have experience with if my memory serves me the instructions all said not to have the inverter in with the batteries as the batt fumes are corrosive and potentially explosive if some fault in the inverter was to create a spark.
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Old 01-27-2015, 10:32 PM   #5
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What you want is the total trailer to be in balance and we have no way of knowing what else you are putting in and where it will be. If the batteries are at the axle location you have a net neutral for them but if they are behind the axel and you have something else in front of the axle (say a refrigerator) they may well counterbalance out just fine. Now a huge weight at the back balanced by a huge weight at the front is not good for the frame, but think of you total design as one unit, not each piece as individual items.
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Old 01-27-2015, 10:50 PM   #6
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AS idroba states.. your 'heavy' stuff should be nearer axles.. and lighten as you move toward bow/hitch.

Minimize weight AFT of the axles.
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Old 01-28-2015, 12:11 AM   #7
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How long do you plan to boondock? Most think a week or so and find shore power within a couple days and others REALLY need the batteries.
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Old 01-28-2015, 02:35 AM   #8
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Very nicely done with diagram, pics and text!

Athwart the axles and slightly forward to help TW. It really is a lot of concentrated weight for a TT.

I, too, would be in favor of fewer batteries in this as per use and as caution.

FWIW, I've learned I can load a 52' x 102" flatbed with [11] 4,400-lb pallets of bagged material where -- with most of the weight over the axles front and rear -- the single line of three down the center causes steering change if off by three inches.

Your problem to solve is worse.
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Old 01-28-2015, 06:42 AM   #9
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Having worked in an industry that uses the typical deep cycle batteries that most of us have in our AS I would never put them in an enclosed area, especially near an appliance that uses and electronic start or has an open flame. When batteries are charging or are over charged or heat up they emit Hydrogen Sulfide, which given the right circumstances can be a serious fire hazard, also tough to put out. I've seen entire golf car storage facility burned to the ground in a short period of time due to one bad battery exploding out of 240 in the golf cars. The fire marshal pinpointed the exact cause and location of the offending battery.

I might instead configure something on the tongue or rear as a new battery compartment.
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Old 01-28-2015, 08:07 AM   #10
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Thank you everyone for your replies! Here are my responses:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ghaynes755 View Post
trekker aren't those Duracell's a flooded battery which will outgas potentially dangerous stuff when being charged? Safer with AGM's.
Yes, they are flooded. Don't worry, once installed, I'll vent them externally.

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldiesel View Post
...if my memory serves me the instructions all said not to have the inverter in with the batteries as the batt fumes are corrosive and potentially explosive if some fault in the inverter was to create a spark.
You're right. When I actually build the battery box, the batteries will vent to the outside and the inverter will be in a separate, but nearby, compartment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 68 Overlander View Post
How long do you plan to boondock? Most think a week or so and find shore power within a couple days and others REALLY need the batteries.
I planned the electrical setup for about a week of boondocking before needing to go plugin somewhere. We'll have a generator to supplement, and solar in "stage 2" of renovations about 2 years from now. I'll be both living and working from our AS when we go full time in 2016, so I want to make sure we don't have to cut the fun short because Daddy needs to charge his laptop.

------------------------------------------------------

I guess what I really have here is a physic balance and weight problem to solve; should have paid better attention in school!
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Old 01-28-2015, 08:59 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trekerboy View Post
I guess what I really have here is a physic balance and weight problem to solve; should have paid better attention in school!
Downloaded some physics software from the App Store and created a little simulation with proper weights, lengths and positions on the trailer (see attached video). All the little boxes represent the items noted in this diagram:



Looks like the trailer still falls forwards (see attached video). Next step is to ensure 10-15% of the total trailer weight is on the tongue. Haven't figured out how to calculate that yet.
Attached Files
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Old 01-28-2015, 09:25 AM   #12
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Treker, Did you do a shell off for the floor replacement?
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Old 01-28-2015, 09:29 AM   #13
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I set mine opposite the fresh water tank. the idea being that when I left for a trip, the fresh water tank and the batteries both are right over the axles. My gray tanks are right below these. Everything is pretty much between the 2 axles. Since I removed all the heavy stuff from behind the axles, (the original battery and converter) then that left the remaining weight from stove, propane tanks, and other items up front. When we drive, I put suitcases and duffel bags on the floor in front of the goucho. That keeps them from sliding or falling off of anything if we have a sudden stop, and we still have a path to the toilet in back. That also helps increase the tongue weight a little.

Just the way I did it.
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Old 01-28-2015, 09:35 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragonfly100 View Post
Treker, Did you do a shell off for the floor replacement?

Fortunately I did NOT need to take the shell off the replace the floors.
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