Saturday, July 30, 2011

Moving South

caution penguins

We are at the James Island County Park, just across the Ashley River from Charleston, South Carolina (map), and within the city limits. It was just a seven mile scooter ride to the Harbour Club downtown for dinner last night.

This is a very nice park, but expensive, at $42 per night plus tax, bringing our total for two nights to more than $96. That said, it was better than anything we could do in Myrtle Beach once the state park booted us out. I'm sorry that we were not able to get another night or two there, but it was certainly not worth $60-$75 that the commercial parks wanted, even if some of them featured a "lazy river" pool.

Huntington Beach was also sold out, and prices are sky high this time of year all the way to Pawley's Island. Before we left the state park we called down here to see if things were a bit better, knowing we also had a club in town. I think we could have saved a few more bucks at one of the commercial parks here, but we almost always prefer a public campground.

The sites here at least have a bit of separation, although on short notice we had to take one that adjoins the site next to it, intended for parties needing more than one site. I think I've counted around a dozen people in the fiver next to us, including at least five adults, two toddlers, and children up through their teens -- I guess they are really leveraging the $48 per night investment. They've been fine neighbors, though.

In addition to the campground, this park also has a mini water park called the "Splash Zone," with a couple of slides, a lazy river, and some other splashy stuff. It's an additional charge, discounted to $9 for campers, or $7 after 3pm. I was hoping to partake this afternoon, but a thunderstorm rolled in just as we were donning our suits. Too bad, as I was hoping to cool off after another hot day in the tunnel working on the batteries.

Of course, the new terminal adapters I bought had to have just a slightly larger diameter post than the ones on the batteries, and I could not simply install them. One of the cables had enough length to pull the end into the tunnel, where I could work on it with a round file until it fit the new terminal. The cables on the other connection were all very tight, and there was no way to enlarge them without taking way more of the bay apart than I wanted to.

Fortunately, after hunting around in my miscellaneous parts kit, I found an old terminal adapter with the proper size stud, and used that instead. That was only half the battle, though, as it was very difficult to find an orientation of the post adapter where I could get all three cables onto the two studs without conflict. I ended up having to rearrange three of the battery jumpers, and I installed the adapter no fewer than three times in three different orientations before I found a position that would work. Both the adapter and the terminal post looked a bit mangled when I was done, as they are both lead, which is quite soft.

I also had some trouble getting the dress panels in place, and after studying it for a while, I discovered that the batteries were not snugged all the way into the compartment. Several more cranks of the wrench on the lower retaining bar got them in far enough for the trim to go back on. Now that all the battery connections were finished, I also reconnected the Vanner equalizer and the solar charge controller, both of which have been disconnected since the start of the project.

With the power shut down and the batteries off, I also took the opportunity to remove the battery switch, open it back up, and switch in the better parts from my original switch. Those consisted of the keyed hub and the outer case, including the lever retention spring. I think this replacement switch now ought to give us many more years of service, although I need to replace the plain nuts, now holding the case together, with Nylocks.

New stud, left is much shorter than the old one, right. Much longer item in the background is actually the tie-down.

In the course of finishing up the battery project, I came across the older battery stud that had pulled out of battery number 6. There is even still a bit of lead on it, where it oozed into the opening on the ring terminal. I set the old stud down on one of the battery posts next to the new one -- it's actually quite a bit longer. Not only do three terminals no longer fit on these new studs, I also noticed that with just two on a stud, the end of the stud is flush with the top of the nut; ideally, one would like at least one thread proud of the nut for a proper connection.

We took only two nights at this park, to get us past the heavy demand of the weekend. Now that we know what it's like along the coast in high season, I made a reservation for three nights at Edisto Beach, the next state park south of here. They had a 37' site in the beachfront campground available starting tomorrow, and I'm certain we will fit. At $27 per night it is a relative bargain, and it will give us power for the air conditioning while we relax a bit and watch what Investigation Area 91 in the Atlantic is going to do.

Photo by Adam Foster | Codefor, used under a Creative Commons license. No, we aren't going that far south.


  1. Do you wear gloves while working with those lead terminals and stud adapters?

  2. @Lance: No. If I worked with lead battery terminals on a daily basis, as one might if they were a mechanic or battery installer, then I might wear gloves during some of the work.

    This is elemental, metallic lead (Pb), which is not absorbed through the skin, unlike some lead compounds. This sort of lead can be harmful if you grind or file it, generating dust, or melt it, generating vapor (remember when children routinely melted lead to make toy soldiers? OK, neither do I, but my parents certainly do). Just working on these with normal hand tools such as wrenches, the only necessary precaution is to wash your hands, as I do, after working with it so that you don't transfer it to your mouth with food.

  3. I remember visiting Edisto Beach when I lived in South Carolina, but don't remember the campsites. Looking forward to hearing how it is.


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