This was our 2013 Jayco Flight Swift 198 RD


Friday 11 December 2015

Follow-up of Benno’s Battery Stuff

Having narrowed down the wish list for how to improve our 12 Volt electrical household of the RV, I went to Leamington’s Canadian Tire, a box store chain in Canada, a toy store for the man and a Canadian icon. They had a sale going and I happily pushed a shopping cart, heavy loaded to our RAM 1500 truck. What was in the shopping cart?
1 MotoMaster 80 amp AGM deep cycle group 24 battery
2 MotoMaster 105 amp each AGM deep cycles group 31 batteries
1 MotoMaster Eliminator 1000 W pure sine wave inverter
2 battery boxes with cover and tie down hardware to fit Group 31 batteries
MotoMaster is a Canadian Tire brand. The AGM batteries are a quality product and are made for Canadian Tire by Exide Technologies in the United States.

With all these goodies loaded into the truck I rushed home, eager to get the tools out and to get started to install everything.  First, I removed the wet cell Group 24 battery, which we got with the trailer and gave it to Jim Warren, my neighbor for his outboard. Jim is a fishing fanatic who used to own a big commercial fishing trawler on Lake Erie and later on dove under the ice in Northern Canada to earn his bacon as a commercial diver.  In return Jim gave me his old clunker battery so that I could return it to Canadian Tire’s “Battery Core Exchange” program for a credit.  Jim Warren was happy and I was too.

The new group 24 AGM Battery fit the Jayco supplied battery box perfectly, but the original cable to the converter, which is mounted underneath the galley stove, was not up to snuff. It was a gauge #8 SAE automotive wire with crimped on “el cheapo” battery lugs. The gauge #8 wire was on the very low end of the permissible size for the current of the converter’s built-in 55amp 3-stage battery charger. A gauge #6 wire in AWG instead of a SAE wire is a better choice, can handle the produced amps better, has less voltage drop, finer strands and circa 7 % more circular mil area vice versa a SAE #6 wire.
SAE stands for Society of Automotive Engineers – AWG stands for American Wire Gauge.

By choosing a marine wire, the fine copper strands are tinned to resist corrosion which results from salt spray, while driving on plowed winter roads or near the oceans. Marine wire is the way to go for RVers, when facing a job of running new wires along a frame or tongue. As for the on the wire end crimped lugs, I prefer the marine lugs. These lugs are seamless closed up toward the mounting hole and are tin-plated. Most standard automotive or industrial type lugs are not seamless and open toward the mounting hole.

seamless lug on the right

These openings will let salty moisture or water into the wire core, which will start corrosion and you will experience a loss of conductivity. While we are at this, I like to mention that after you have crimped a wire to the lug, you should cover the mating point of the wires’ plastic insulation meeting the crimped end of the lug with a sleeve of adhesive lined heat shrink tubing to waterproof it.

I removed the manufacturers’ battery wiring and the next thing was to cut a few length of #6 AWG Marine wire to make up new cables. From our boating days I still had a stash of Ancor Marine wire in different gauges and colors of red, black and yellow, plus a pile of marine lugs. Three different kinds of crimpers including the heavy duty one for lugs I had still in my possession from my professional days before I retired as a self-employed technician specialized in bookbinding and printing equipment. Because of this profession, I possess a good knowledge in electronic, electro mechanic, hydraulic, pneumatic and machine shop related work. This helped me tremendously in building two boats with all the high tech instrumentation, wiring, steering, engine, etc.

lug crimper, heat gun, box cutter

I needed to cut a small pile of red (positive) and black/yellow (negative) #6 AWG wires for the battery on the tongue to a point in the trailer’s storage compartment and from there to the converter under the stove, plus a few jumper wires for the 2 new to be installed group 31 AGM batteries. On top of the 2 battery boxes I will piggyback the new inverter, so I needed to cut a couple of short lengths in black/yellow and red #6 AWG for that too. The new inverter needed also a cut off switch, so a couple more wires in red I cut as well. After all the lengths were cut in black/yellow and red, I crimped the tin plated lugs to the wires after removing ½ inch of plastic insulation with a box knife. For a neat finish, I covered the wire and lugs mating area with adhesive line heat shrink tubing.
We now call these wires with heat shrink covered lugs a cable.

 West Marine, a “Top Notch” marine store chain, has all the Ancor marine wires; lugs and heat shrink in stock and supplies a courtesy heavy-duty crimper for in store use for their clients. They don’t charge any money for using the crimper. Go and check it out.

By using a DeWalt power drill, I drilled a few half-inch holes thru the storage compartment’s floor and marked them by sticking a few #14 solid electrical wire cutoffs through, which I had left over from my house wiring adventures. They will act as a fishing wire to pull the battery cable through. This job of crawling under the trailer and feeding the red cable I dedicated to my lovely wife Marlene, while I was sitting in the storage compartment to pull. Haha!! It worked out fine, she almost got a spider in her hair. The heavy #6 battery cable later got secured with cable clamps and wire ties. A black/yellow negative cable got bolted to the frame running from the tongue to the battery minus post. The same applied to the group 31 AGMs batteries in the storage compartment, plus we fitted another red positive cable from the storage compartment to the converter along the trailers’ frame plus a black/yellow negative cable from the converter to the trailers’ frame, all done in Ancor Marine #6 AWG wire. It sounds like a lot of wires, but really it isn’t!

Info: The black wire in house wiring is the hot wire in the 120 VAC applications, as you know. Touching a black 12 VDC negative wire is not life threatening, but it is life threatening when touching a black 120 VAC of the house wire. For this reason the Marine Industry is trying to change the black color of the negative 12 VDC wire to the yellow colour for the reason of preventing life threatening mistakes. This can happen while testing or trouble shooting live wire circuits. I bet the RV Industry will follow!

The actual installation was a breeze. Work progressed quickly. The batteries with the battery boxes I put in position; installed the jumper cable, negative-to-negative and positive-to-positive. (The technician would call it parallel, not in series) Fitted the tie down straps for the battery boxes with the supplied hardware and mounted the 1000 W pure sine wave inverter on the top of the battery box covers with removable stainless machine screws and nuts. A pigtail cut off with the fitted plug of a 120 Volt extension cord was run from the inverter to a new 120 Volt outlet on the galley counter, secured it with cable clamps and connected it. A supplied inverter control panel I mounted in a location on the wall, which separates the storage compartment from the trailers’ interior and connected it with the supplied cable to the inverter. A simple plug in affair.

This is it; everything is in place, 3 AGM batteries and a new 1000W pure sine wave inverter with one outlet at the galley counter and an associated control panel close by.
Now we have a lot more amps at our disposal, which comes handy to power the inverter when there is nothing to plug in for the RV power cord while at a stopover on the highway or boondocking in the sticks!!

Future write ups are in the works with thoughts about using a mounted digital 12 volt meter gauge as an indicator to find out how much juice is still in the battery bank. Plus, the installation of a Wifi booster with router to beef up weak incoming wifi signal for your internet, is coming up soon.

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