Sunday, April 10, 2011

New Batteries!

The time had finally come to replace the dead and dying batteries in the MV Independence.  The MV Independence has 3 8D batteries.  One that is used primarily for starting, and two that are used for the house, but can be used for starting too.  The dread is getting these behemoth batteries out of the engine room.  The MV Independence does not have a "stand up" engine room, rather like a lot of boats a "kneeling" engine room.

First step is that prior to removing the wires attached to each battery I made sure that I had them adequately labeled which wire went to which battery.  I know my current configuration is a mess and not satisfactory, but I will clean it up.  It's been this way for 20+ years and the wiring will get organized.

Next was removing each battery from the engine room.  The MV Independence is configured that the engine hatch that provides access to the engine room is almost directly over the batteries.  Generally when you stand in the engine room before dropping down and kneeling in, you are doing this on top of the battery box.  So to get the batteries out requires some thought on where are you going to stand.  The engine room hatch is approximately 30" square.  The batteries are seated deep in a battery box and the distance from the base of the battery box to the main deck is just over four feet.  Consider that each battery weighs over 130 lbs!  After considerable discussion we decided this, one would stand in the engine room and get that initial lift to where a second person kneeling on the main deck could grab the other handle and together lift the battery out of the engine room.  This ended up working pretty good.  We also decided that we would remove each battery - one at a time - from the boat to the dock cart.  Each step - from deck to doorway, doorway to gunnel, gunnel to finger pier, finger pier to dock cart was carefully scripted and done.  This procedure was repeated two more times successfully.  Finally all the batteries were out of the MV Independence.

I carefully scripted the timing of the removal of the batteries with the tide.  What? Yes, you don't want to end up pushing almost 400 lbs. of batteries up a steep ramp from the dock to the land.  Especially in Olympia where you might have a 14' low tide.  I timed our removal for high tide and moving the batteries from the dock to shore was easy.  However, by the time we would replace the batteries the tide was going to be low, so we would have to deal with a steep ramp but going down is easier than up.

I decided to purchase the new batteries at Pacific Power Batteries in Everett.  Yes, this is a long drive from Olympia to Everett, but the savings in the purchase price would more than make up for the gas.  Pacific Power Batteries uses Exide batteries which are good quality batteries.  Additionally, they have excellent customer service and know a lot about batteries.  I purchased a starting battery and two deep cycle batteries, again all 8D sized batteries. The guys at Pacific Power Batteries were amazed that I had gotten eight years out of Sears Die Hard batteries.  Sears Die Hard batteries don't have a good battery reputation.  If you need batteries I would highly recommend Pacific Power Batteries.

After the drive up and back, along with a stop in Seattle for lunch - dim sum.  It was now time to do the reverse - put the batteries in the boat.  First of all the tide was low, it was a 0' tide and the ramp from shore to dock was steep.  We had four people help, two pushing against the cart, and two holding the cart back as we slowly went down the steep ramp.  I could just imagine the cart flying down the ramp and off the end of the dock and 400 lbs of batteries into the bay.  Fortunately this was not the case.  Again, we did everything in step-wise fashion from dock cart to engine room.  It was much easier installing the batteries than removing them.  I simply made some battery connections but didn't do all the connections since I promised I was going to do it right this time.  That's coming next.  For now I was happy enough to know that the job was complete and hopefully would not need to be done again for at least five years.

What's next?  Time for a haul-out.

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