Reader Croft essentially adopted me on the battery issue with my coach. He realised from my blog entries that I was facing eminent battery failure and took me under his wing to see a replacement project brought to a successful conclusion. Thank you so much, Croft!
As it turns out, he was right. My battery was the original one that came with the coach and had more than surpassed the average lifetime for a battery (seven year lifespan vs. twelve year old coach, hmm)... Also, it had probably not been maintained by the POs, and I discovered tonight that the cells were bone dry. Yup, this was definitely not a project I could postpone.
The first thing he advised me to do was replace my standard 12V battery with two 6V golf cart-type batteries to get more usage time between charges. I found some that he said would be satisfactory at Canadian Tire. Then I came to the issue of installation. Canadian Tire quoted me 400$ to install them and an RV place 300$. Croft seethed at that! So, he gave me two lists. One detailed the steps that I needed to take to replace the battery myself and the second gave me all the components I needed, including the Canadian Tire inventory number for some of them. Can I say thank you too many times in one post?
Once I knew what to do, I had to get permission to do it at this campground and I had to find myself a helper who could lift 136lbs, the weight of just one of my new batteries!
I had to ask for permission because there are a lot of rules here, one of which is that you are not allowed to work on your coach. I spoke to the manager and said "May I change my coach battery here?" She said that that was fine as it's neither a messy nor noisy job. I then asked her if she could recommend a strong guy to help me. She volunteered her husband!
Today, I went to town (Calgary) to get all the parts I needed, including some lumber to reinforce the compartment floor. I was lucky to find what I needed in the scrap bin, so my costs for wood were negligible, and I scored some 3/4 plywood for the floor!
I'd called Canadian Tire ahead of time to make sure they had two of the batteries in stock and to put them aside for me. They did have some and they were on sale now! I saved 20$ per battery. When I arrived, all the items I'd asked about were waiting for me as were a few other things the clerk had assumed I'd need (he was right) and someone made himself available to bring the batteries to the car. WOW. Canadian Tires out west sure aren't like the one in Gatineau! My shopping list there included the batteries, a voltmeter (on sale from 40$ reduced to 10$!), a battery watering thingy that looks like a turkey baster, a 9V battery for the voltmeter, and a gallon of special battery water (same price as I'd seen for the same quantity of distilled water at Walmart, so I figured I might as well go with battery-specific water).
I got home mid-afternoon and set to work cutting the wood for the floor and corresponding back and forth some more with Croft working out other little details and questions that came up. Let me say that it was so nice to work on my home like that. I sure missed being a homeowner in respect to doing fun projects!
My helper arrived at 6 as promised. Getting the old battery out of the coach was tougher than I'd expected. It was in a tote... that was bolted to the coach floor. It took about a half hour for him to get the tote out of there, put in the plywood, and put in the two new batteries. He kept on needing tools and laughed each time I pulled out what he needed. And some people said I was an idiot to bring all my tools (save the miter saw)!
He accepted only a thank you for all his effort. Some people are just so nice.
It didn't take me long to hook up the batteries as per Croft's specifications, test them with my shiny new voltmeter, and hook them up to the charger which informed me that the batteries were already fully charged. I then installed some 2x4's to keep the batteries from moving, opened a beer, and set to work putting all the stuff that I'd taken out back into my coach. That was the longest part of the process!
Total cost of the project, including the beer, but not including the hardware bits I had at home: 270$.
Here's a picture of the final result. The way I cut those 2x4s leaves me with a little compartment in front of the batteries that is just the right size for my container of water, the voltmeter case, the battery baster, and a couple of rags. Croft says that everything looks good, so I'm having a beer now and calling it a day!
"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."