Sunday, June 3, 2007

Down to the wire

We are still at Infinity Coach.

After a lot of noodling and reworking my battery-bay drawings, we figured a way to cram the Trojans in (by rotating six of the eight batteries 90 degrees). New brackets had to be made, and several cables as well. Of course, we were half way into the bracket project when a message in this thread on the Bus Conversion bulletin board alerted me to a direct drop-in replacement for the batteries we just removed. And, at $230 apiece, they would also have been a bargain.

That being said, I am just as glad that we bit the bullet and did the modifications now. For one thing, the Trojans are likely a more robust product than the Xantrex/Toyo/Whatever batteries made by some indeterminate Asian company. For another, those batteries are a weird size with weirder terminal placement. The Trojans are a "standard" 8D with "standard" terminal placement (though I use the quotation marks because there isn't really a well-defined standard, and every brand has slightly different dimensions and terminals). Which means that replacements the next time around should be plug-and-play. Lastly, this arrangement gives us 10% more capacity.

In any case, after living for two days and nights with no house batteries installed at all, they finally got all the new batteries in, secured, and hooked up by Friday afternoon, and we powered all the house systems back up, including fully reprogramming the SW4024 inverter and Link-10 battery monitor from scratch. I also completed the transition of the PathMaker battery combiner from an active, intelligent (ha!) component, to a dumb mounting bracket for a bridging solenoid that is now operated by a three-position switch: manual-on, off, and automatic based strictly on main-engine alternator output. Monday they should finish up the dress panels, which will have to be remade due to the new batteries protruding another 2-3 inches into the tunnel.

One of the things that we discovered, as we delved into the one battery with the warped case, is that the battery temperature sensor had never actually been connected to the inverter/charger. So the charger did not have the opportunity to adjust the current accordingly. The sensor had very carefully been adhered to a battery on the driver side, and the cable routed and carefully secured in the cross-tunnel wiring bundle, and the excess coiled up behind the inverter -- but not plugged in. Oops. We've moved the sensor to the warmest position in the bank (closest to the inverter), which involved extricating the wiring from the cross-bay bundle, and we'll make sure it gets hooked up this time (another dress panel needs to come off to get at the connection on the inverter).

So far, the new batteries are performing as expected. We left Odyssey unplugged since pulling out of the shop yesterday until this evening around 9pm, running through a normal full day of usage. That brought them down by 225AH, enough for the Link-10 to consider it a "cycle" and for the SW4024 to want to do a full three-stage charge. I turned the shore power on and the charger has been running through its paces for the last three hours, which should equalize the bank a bit. I'll be carefully monitoring performance for the first several cycles, and next week's five consecutive nights of dry camping will be a good test. As always, I will report my findings here -- a number of readers have asked several questions about the batteries.

Speaking of readers, today we drove up (in the car graciously lent to us by Bob and Shirley) to Woodinville to have dinner with long-time regular readers (and Louise's distant cousin), Howard and J.

Tomorrow, we will visit with Kirkland friends Pat and Carol, and Monday should see the bulk of the maintenance work completed here at Infinity. With a little luck, we will have everything wrapped up by Tuesday afternoon, leaving Wednesday morning only for packing up the bikes and other sundry items.

Before closing tonight I should note that the Xantrex batteries we took out are free to a good home. I've listed them on the bus boards here and here -- please read the listing if you are interested in them.

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