Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Check Your Battery Box

The Country Coach Owner’s Forum has had a couple of entries describing serious rust problems in the steel framework that supports the battery tray. The fiberglass tray contains the 8D starter battery and the two 8D house batteries. At least two owners reported that their trays literally dropped to the ground as a result of rust corrosion.

I have replaced the starter battery and changed over to four 6-volt deep-cycle batteries but, in thirteen years of ownership, I have never had all of the batteries out of the tray at the same time. So the battery tray has never been removed and the framework inspected.

On occasion, I have viewed the underside of the framework; even tapped it with a hammer but, other than a rust-colored appearance, it appeared to be in decent condition.

Recently, I noticed heavy rust stains on the concrete pad below the battery bay. The bottom of the framework appeared solid. Hammer tapping did not reveal any weakness.

I decided that it was time to pull all the batteries, lift the battery tray and, if nothing else, sandblast and paint the framework. I took my motorhome to Orange Coast Auto Body/RV in Fountain Valley, CA. Two hours after I dropped it off I received a call: “Come take a look at the rust damage.”

The corrosion was extensive. I doubt if the framework would have supported the batteries for another trip. Interestingly, the damage was most severe in places that were in contact with the tray. I am in the habit of hosing off the batteries when I wash the motorhome. Moisture also gets splashed up by the rear tires located in front of the open-floored battery compartment. Could the cause be moisture making its way between the framework and the tray and then not drying out? The areas of the framework exposed to view (and dry air) had little, if any, corrosion.

Anyway, the remnants of the old frame were cut away, a new framework fabricated and welded into place. All of the surrounding framework was reinforced, sandblasted and everything coated with corrosion resistant paint. I feel confident the battery compartment framework will last another 14 years.

The battery tray and a piece of 2x4 are on the pavement under the rusted framework.

Better than new framework.

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