Battery Replacement Saga

Friday July 2nd 2021

Last nights forecast for today called for rain and thunderstorms all day. This morning the forecast had pushed the rain until later in the day. It was supposed to be more or less dry until around 5PM. The day was partly to fully cloudy, humid with a high temperature in the low to mid eighties.

Clouds over the lake this morning.

I decided to take advantage of the weather reprieve to replace my RV home’s house batteries. Yesterday, while I was in Talahassee, I bought four new 6 volt golf cart batteries. They are the same exact size, shape and capacity as the ones they are replacing. Over the last few weeks I’ve tried to find someone to do the job for me, but the few techs that would do the job couldn’t do it on my schedule. The task looked to be fairly straight forward and one that I wouldn’t think twice about if the RV was sitting in my backyard before I hit the road full time.

I got everything ready for the job by assembling the tools I needed from various storage areas around my RV home. I also took pictures of the wires along with a diagram of all the cables and connections. All of the power to the motorhome and batteries was turned off. As I took each cable off I labeled it with a code on masking tape. That turned out to be the easy part. I couldn’t get the batteries out of the compartment.

Old batteries before I began.

The batteries are located under the steps in the entrance way to my RV home. The step unscrews to access the batteries, but the opening is not big enough for the batteries to come out. I had to figure out how to take the step apart. There were six screws that held a metal rim onto the step box. Five of the screws came out without issue. The last screw was under the riser for the next step. To get to it I investigated more disassembly of the steps, but ended up cutting the offending screw off. I suspect the finish carpentry on the steps during manufacturing came after the battery install.

Getting the cables off took a half an hour. Figuring out the magic to get the compartment lid off took another hour and a half. Mother nature started to get in the act as I manhandled the sixty plus pound batteries out of the step well. A light rain started to fall. Luckily I had put the awning out before I killed the power. I was working in a dry area.

The real rain began as I finished loading the new batteries into place. It got dark and rained very hard. There was water everywhere. The runoff from the RV roof and the awning was a steady flow. Puddles formed all around my site and the drainage culvert about one hundred feet in front of my RV home was overflowing. This is the same campground I got evacuated from last September for flooding from Hurricane Sally. Several very negative thoughts passed through my brain.

Empty battery box.

Eventually the rain let up enough that I could continue my task. My main criteria was being able to avoid standing in a puddle. Water and electricity have a way of generating unwanted consequences. With a headlamp on my head to provide light and my wiring diagram in hand I started to put the cables back on. I had to stop a couple of times to let another intense period of rain pass through. I got everything rewired. After a double check I powered things back up and found success.

With weather and darkness closing in I put the step box back together enough to allow safe access to the door. In the morning I’ll finish putting things back the way they were before I started ripping things apart. I also have to take the old batteries back to the store to get my “core” deposit back.

Water rushing through the culvert in front RV home.

I figured the task would take two hours at best and four hours as a worst case time. It was seven hours from start to where I am now. Deciding to cut the screw and actually cutting it took the most unplanned time. Waiting out the rain also added time to the mix. I’m going to sleep soundly tonight. I’m very tired.

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