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Old 09-11-2018, 05:33 PM   #1
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1991 35' Airstream 350
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Battery Drawer rebuild 350 1991 350LE

Following a catastrophic loss of the original battery drawer, I'm faced with building a replacement. The chap that is constructing the new box seems up to the task particularly as it appears that the front curved alloy is salvageable.
A couple of questions to Members who may have tackled a similar project:
1. the original drawer slides were puny and not up to carrying 300 lbs so I will upgrade. All available heavy duty replacements are "side or horizontally bolted" whereas the original slides were "right-angled" and bolted vertically to the frame. Unless I can locate right-angle mounted slides, I guess we will have to fabricate steel mounting brackets to mount the new slides. Any comment on slides and mounting arrangements would be appreciated.
2. Correctly, I was not impressed with the original drawer locks which may also be hard to find. Have any Members found another way to secure the closed drawer?
3. The Airstream manual shows the coach battery connecting circuit to be routed through a solenoid bolted to the back of the drawer but I cannot ascertain from the remaining wiring if the solenoid was indeed located there along with its connecting wiring up to the dash mounted switch. Similarly, the 80 amp circuit breaker wiring does not suggest that the breaker was ever located on the drawer. Is it possible that these two components and their associated wiring are "downstream" from both the coach and engine battery wiring and not, as depicted in the manual, part of the drawer?
All comments, suggestions, and corrections gratefully accepted. Thanks
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Old 09-11-2018, 08:06 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chriscraw View Post

3. The Airstream manual shows the coach battery connecting circuit to be routed through a solenoid bolted to the back of the drawer but I cannot ascertain from the remaining wiring if the solenoid was indeed located there along with its connecting wiring up to the dash mounted switch. Similarly, the 80 amp circuit breaker wiring does not suggest that the breaker was ever located on the drawer. Is it possible that these two components and their associated wiring are "downstream" from both the coach and engine battery wiring and not, as depicted in the manual, part of the drawer?

All comments, suggestions, and corrections gratefully accepted. Thanks
My 84 has the solenoid on the back of the drawer but no switch in the glove box or elsewhere to connect the batteries. Not sure why you would need the solenoid if you have the switch, both do the same thing.
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Old 09-12-2018, 07:04 AM   #3
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3. The Airstream manual shows the coach battery connecting circuit to be routed through a solenoid bolted to the back of the drawer but I cannot ascertain from the remaining wiring if the solenoid was indeed located there along with its connecting wiring up to the dash mounted switch. Similarly, the 80 amp circuit breaker wiring does not suggest that the breaker was ever located on the drawer. Is it possible that these two components and their associated wiring are "downstream" from both the coach and engine battery wiring and not, as depicted in the manual, part of the drawer?
All comments, suggestions, and corrections gratefully accepted. Thanks[/QUOTE]

Not sure if this is any help and this may not be your exact set up, but from memory, this is the set up on my 1991 250.

There is a Cole Hersee switch on the inside of the rear of the battery tray which enables me to isolate the coach batteries. There is also a seperate solenoid or circuit (thermal?) breaker there on the back of the battery tray which that circuit runs through.

Both coach and starter batteries run through a solenoid which enables the batteries to be co-joined from the switch under the dash. I have replaced my stock version with a 200A Sure Power unit which seems to work well.

From there, I think the starter battery connects to the heavy duty connector block on the frame rail, which feeds the starter, steps and levellers etc. It must also go on to the isolator. The braided flat cord connects to the frame rail and is grounded on the rear of the battery tray. I think the 12v coach side either runs direct to the 12V distribution board or to the Isolator and on to the 12V distribution board. Shoot me down in frames if I am wrong!

I can send you some pictures if you like, but the coach battery isolating switch and the breaker or other solenoid are definitely both on the rear of the battery tray. The isolating switch is obviously switched from inside the tray.

Should I worry about my battery tray? You've certainly got me worried! How on earth did that happen?

all best Nick
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Old 09-12-2018, 07:11 AM   #4
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I've just dug out my wiring diagrams (attached) which shows the 12v kill switch and an 80amp thermal breaker inline before it hits the solenoid.
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Old 09-13-2018, 10:20 AM   #5
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1991 35' Airstream 350
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Nick..thanks so much for your reply and attached wiring diagram. I'm back in Austin and although your 250 diagram looks similar, I need to compare it to the diagram in my manual which is with the Airstream in New Mexico. I also note for example that the coach battery isolator switch on my 350LE is located under the sink inside the coach. I also seem to remember that, although the solenoid function is the same, my manual has a separate description for the battery 12V supply for the 350 and 250 models. I will return to the Airstream at the end of October (to winterize) and will compare your description more closely with my diagram. Thanks for the layout description which helps. to allay your fears, I suspect that the battery drawer came loose simply because the remaining lock was not properly secured. As I mentioned, when I bought the 350, it was missing the rearmost battery drawer lock. For the past 3 years, I had become complacent and relied on the remaining frontmost lock. Extracting the 350 from its mountain hideaway was rough and I think the shaking and banging from the badly rutted road managed to rotate the remaining catch lever to the point where it allowed the draw to slide open. so to put your mind at rest, as long as both drawer catches are operational and properly locked, all should be well.
On the A/c compressor I will reply to your PM. Thanks and Cheers..Chris
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Old 09-15-2018, 05:15 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boom Sounds View Post
I've just dug out my wiring diagrams (attached) which shows the 12v kill switch and an 80amp thermal breaker inline before it hits the solenoid.
My description was incorrect. It hits the solenoid, then the thermal breaker, then the kill switch, then on to the 12v distribution board. On my 250, they are all mounted on the rear of the battery tray.
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Old 09-16-2018, 10:57 AM   #7
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Correction noted

Nick..thanks for your correction. This now aligns with my understanding of the original "after-battery" connections. As the vehicle is about to be winterized, I'll wait until the replacement battery box is built before rebuilding the circuit. This will be in April/May next year.
did you see my PM re your compressor question?
Cheers
chris
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Old 09-16-2018, 12:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chriscraw View Post
Nick..thanks for your correction. This now aligns with my understanding of the original "after-battery" connections. As the vehicle is about to be winterized, I'll wait until the replacement battery box is built before rebuilding the circuit. This will be in April/May next year.

did you see my PM re your compressor question?

Cheers

chris


Yes thanks, I need to work out whether mine has ever been changed over. I think it is the stock set up with original refrigerant. Im loathed to spend loads on fixing the entire system as my priority is LPG conversion. Thanks!
Nick
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Old 05-26-2019, 05:30 PM   #9
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Almost there!

Just got back from a weeks R&R on the 350LE. While there in New Mexico, I fitted the rebuilt battery box which was recovered from the smashed item (see below). Also managed to rewire the batteries into the 12V system. Unfortunately, the inverter was toast. As i am never concerned with creating 120VAC from 12VDC, I'll replace this with a converter. Much cheaper.
Also located the engine/house battery solenoid switch inside the box (not behind)
Still trying to locate the battery connection to the engine isolator which seems to have magically disappeared?
Finally to avoid a repetition of another catastrophe, I'm not going to refit the original Airstream box locks but will go for something more substantial with positive locking capabilities.
Thanks to all for connection and replacement advice. Mille Grazzie.
Apologies for the upside down pic but...!
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Old 07-21-2019, 09:25 AM   #10
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Hi - I think my feed to the engine isolator was via a four block heavy duty thermal breaker mounted on the frame rail just behind the battery tray. I can check this weekend and send pictures if helpful. We will be away camping...
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Old 07-21-2019, 01:49 PM   #11
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What slides did you end up using for the drawer?
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Old 07-29-2019, 08:29 AM   #12
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1991 35' Airstream 350
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Draw slide replacement

I used the following slide which I purchased from Amazon
TCH Hardware 22 Heavy Duty 250 lb Drawer Slides - 2-1/4" x 3/4" Wide Steel Full Extension Over Travel

Construction was serious but the real limit is the need for heavily countersunk bolts and screws necessary to attach the inside rail to the box. The slide space between the inner slide and the outer cage is very tight. This required excessive "counter-sinking" of "cheese head bolts". As only 3 holes are provided, I'm concerned that the reduced thickness of the inner slide caused by countersinking make requires additional holes to be drilled in the inner slide to provide sufficient hold given the weight of the battery loaded box?.

These slides come as "U" shape whereas the original slide was an inverted "L" making the fitting a challenge and requiring considerable modification to the original chassis connection.
I'll finish battery box work later in August and will post additional photos then.
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Old 07-29-2019, 08:33 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boom Sounds View Post
Hi - I think my feed to the engine isolator was via a four block heavy duty thermal breaker mounted on the frame rail just behind the battery tray. I can check this weekend and send pictures if helpful. We will be away camping...
I can't see the notorious "four block heavy duty" thermal breaker located on the frame rail behind the battery tray as it may have ended up on the road with the rest of the bok. A photo would be great as this is the "missing link" between the engine isolator and the battery supply. Many thanks
hope you enjoyed camping in those record temps we read about?
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Old 08-07-2019, 01:55 PM   #14
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Sorry Chris, I realised I never got back to you on this. Currently ensconced on Lake Annecy and will try and take pictures tomorrow.

best
Nick
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Old 08-08-2019, 09:46 AM   #15
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Nick..thanks for getting back to me. I'm heading back to the Airstream on August 19 so anytime by then for some guidance as to the location of the "infamous" "4 block heavy duty breaker" will be great as currently, any connection to the isolator is missing. when I started up the engine, I noticed that the voltmeter was "dead" and thought that it was because the alternator had failed. I've since had the alternator checked and it is 100% so this would seem to point to the missing isolator connection through to the battery.
chris
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Old 08-09-2019, 05:01 AM   #16
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Hi Chris,

Greetings from a sunny Lake Annecy, highly recommended should the French let us back in after Brexit.

Apologies for the tardy reply, but finally, I can reveal some details about the back of my battery tray and that elusive heavy duty junction block.

The 200A SurePower Battery Seperator, which replaced my stock solenoid sits on the back of the battery tray. It is mounted next to a kill switch for the interior 12 volt board. The actual kill switch is situated inside the battery tray.

There are connections to the heavy duty connection block which is mounted on the frame rail directly behind the battery tray. It is all stock stuff and not messed around with. Pictures are attached. You will notice that some of the connnections directly below the heavy duty block have those thermal breakers attached. I think that is for the feed to the 12v fuse panel.

From memory, the ones on the heavy duty block go to the solenoid, generator and starter, but possibly also the chevy fuse panel, isolator and alternator. If you have a look at the diagram i have attached, you will see the Airstream wiring set-up. There are others, probably yourself included, who are better at interpreting this stuff than me.......

I hope this is all clear, but do let me know if you need any more information or pictures.

Good luck

Nick

PS You inspired me to getting my battery tray all re-welded, which was a worthwhile job and one less major catastrophe to face on the road.
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Old 08-09-2019, 05:04 AM   #17
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I'm not sure how many other owners are in receipt of those Airstream wiring diagrams, but we should probably start a post up so that people can add them for their coach and year.
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Old 08-11-2019, 05:28 PM   #18
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Rewiring the box

Nick...so much to thank you for in so little time as I'm about to head up to New Mexico and finish the battery box recovery project. This trip, I'm indeed fortunate to have a visit from Peter Hausman who will be at Taos, not far from me. He's very kindly offered to take time out from his vacation to "double-check" the project.
Interestingly, he also had suggested the Surepower battery separator as an option to replacing the solenoid but as I already have the solenoid, we'll stay with that. I'll be rebuilding the 4 ga connection from the isolator back to the solenoid. Thanks for the diagram and pics which will be most helpful. They look very like how mine used to look before the demolition including the connection block. I've written to Boris to ensure that he considers your holiday needs as he approaches these final Brexit negotiations.
More from New Mexico as hopefully, all goes well. Thanks again Nick..much appreciated.
I'll also scan my circuit stuff for your collection.
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Old 11-04-2019, 12:21 PM   #19
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A little update from Chris and his Yankee Clipper adventure.
I did indeed take time off from my vacation in Taos, NM and visited Chris down in Dixon, just a few miles down the Rio Grande Gorge. A fantastic drive at any time of the day, but I especially enjoyed it in the very early morning hours. It was like living a life in Taos and going to work. Very special.
I already had contemplated on the various issues Chris described to me the night before, the worse being an instant short of a 20 amp fuse and the amp meter not working.

Upon arrival, armed with my trusted volt meter I went straight to the isolator in the front and tested the posts with all batteries connected. There was no power on the bottom post. I tested the post for a short and indeed it was shorted. I disconnected all three leeds and tested ea one individually. Once I found the culprit, a #4 black wire, I went to the battery compartment and found it to be connected to the Negative terminal. A logic step to do for someone trying to rebuilt a mess of wires hanging down underneath.
Chris returned last week to take the 350 back to Austin, via Tuscon with some of his buddies. So far the journay has been without major glitches I want to share some of the pictures he posted on his facebook account.
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