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Old 04-03-2014, 05:28 PM   #1
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Nuther battery box

This is not a novel or breakthrough post by any means, but I did want to share just how big of a battery box will fit under a van. My recently acquired 95 had the batteries under the dinette, and I need to free up all the interior storage I can get! Plus I just don't like batteries indoors.
I like the idea of having the option to run 3 coach batteries if I ever want to, or perhaps 3 golf cart batteries, so I maximized the space available on the curb side (right) frame rail. About the most you can get is 37 inches long. If you have 4x4 with at least a 4" lift you can make a box a full 12" high, so you can fit three of about the biggest 'regular' batteries you can find (12" long and up to 12" high including your posts and cables and just a little wiggle room on the top of them).

So, here's a 37" long box



Here it is with two 1100CCA truck batteries, exactly 12" long by about 10" high. I don't know anything about these batteries really, such as reserve capacity. They are used from a cheap recycled battery place near my house. If you read cheap, that was all that was important to me so I could get this van functional when I bought it. So far, they are incredibly strong. With my Truckfridge running (no solar), they will only drop .2 or .3 volts overnight, but it's not summer yet.



I have some extra room right now so I am trying to fit more dirty things under the van. Lynx levelers qualify perfectly, if they can easily be stored and removed after I hang the box.



Luckily, my SMB floor plan had the battery wires run to almost this same spot above the floor already, so all I had to do was pull them back through the holes in the floor and rebolt the ground cable. I didn't have to modify any cables or buy any lug$. Score!



Sadly I cannot just roll this box under the van due to me building it a lot taller than my first attempt on my last van. No matter really, I just drove up on some 2x6 blocks I keep around for this purpose. Oh, it would roll under the van fine if not for my nerf bars.

Above is the box raised in to place. The permanent angle brackets on my frame make this one much easier to access for maintenance than my last box, which just bolted straight to the frame. I had to shimmy the batteries around to access the bolts before and batteries are really heavy, especially when you're lying on your back.



This box hangs about 1 inch above my nerf bars and about 2 inches above my transfer case so I should be ok on clearance.





Oh, I added some stout rubber bungees around the batteries to the van frame after I read about Geoff's recent adventure with a battery jumping out of it's rack and shorting out, causing an electrical fire. And almost all of my Lynx levelers are accessible. I can get 10 of the 12 in and out and that should be enough, except I have to lay on the ground to get to them.

Hope this helps someone!

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Old 04-03-2014, 10:52 PM   #2
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Re: Nuther battery box

Nice! The angle iron frame mounts are a great idea.........now you've got me thinking.....I haven't figured out where I'm going to mount mine yet.
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Old 04-04-2014, 01:25 AM   #3
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Re: Nuther battery box

Great job on the battery rack!

Your rig has made great progress from the day you picked it up. Hopefully adjusting to the RB platform won't be too painful!
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Old 04-04-2014, 06:33 AM   #4
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Re: Nuther battery box

Nice looking installation---that's one stout frame to be sure!

About the concern for bouncing batteries---someone has to make a type of universal battery hold-down clamps, frames or such? I'd not leave this unattended at all, especially underneath and in such close proximity to so much bare metal near the terminals.

Bungee straps are fine for some uses, just not this one IMHO.

Nice work though--saying again!
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Old 04-04-2014, 08:46 AM   #5
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Re: Nuther battery box

Really nice work! Wish I had welding skills and equipment.

For those of you with batteries outside, do they do ok with the weather and road crud and all that? How do the terminals, battery cables, lugs, and the like hold up?

I have three batteries under my dinette (driver's side) that I would love to relocate underneath to get all that room back.
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Old 04-04-2014, 11:43 AM   #6
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Re: Nuther battery box

Nice work scotty!
I also like this place for the house-battery and donīt like them inside. As i have an diesel there was only place for one as the second starter battery is in front of it. Sorry i have no better pic in the moment. Here is one where the box is lowered down for service.
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Old 04-04-2014, 12:17 PM   #7
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Re: Nuther battery box

I thought I would add this from an earlier thread about sportsmobile battery mounting by John K.

Quote:
The zip ties are basically just there to secure the battery during installation. The battery mounts inside of an angle iron frame, with a sheet of 1/8" thick ABS plastic underneath it. The battery is secured two ways. There is an ABS cover that was designed to act as a spacer between the top of the battery and the bottom of the van floor to keep the battery from rising out of the angle iron frame once installed. There is also a small gap (about 1/4") between the angle iron frame and battery case sidewalls. This gap is filled with Sikaflex sealant which secures the battery to the frame. The Sikaflex sealant also prevents small pebbles from becoming lodged between the angle iron frame and battery case, which will wear a hole in the battery case.

If you don't have the ABS cover or Sikaflex sealant, you'll need something more than the zip ties to secure the battery (and to prevent small pebbles from causing major problems).

While I haven't seen a battery ever come out of the angle iron frame, I have seen the damage a couple little pebbles can cause!

John K.
http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/vie...ttery+zip+ties
Many of us found that our 4D AGM battery was being held down with zip ties through the rope handles. I think a lot of people used the universal webbing straps to hold them down.

86scotty, what size wires are you running to your battery, they look a little small.


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Old 04-04-2014, 01:37 PM   #8
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Re: Nuther battery box

Nice. I would think that you could easily incorporate a battery hold down like this:

http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/it ... arge/48924

Or am I missing something?

Also, is it standard to have batteries mounted on the passenger side? Mine are currently under the gaucho on the driver's side. I've got lots more weight on that side, and would like to move them underneath and on the passenger side. That'll mean a longer positive and negative cable run (I need to run the negative to a shunt for the Link 10 I run). I was thinking 2 gauge.

And BTW, how'd you get those bolts on the frame rail? Fish a nut in there from somewhere?

Nice job.

Rob
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Old 04-04-2014, 06:20 PM   #9
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Re: Nuther battery box

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scalf77
86scotty, what size wires are you running to your battery, they look a little small.


-greg
Hmmm, very interesting stuff, Greg. Thanks for sharing. I'm not too worried about the problem JWA mentioned with the possibility of the batteries bouncing, because they can't move very even if they did. There is no way for them to come out of the rack as they would hit the van floor above them first. I built it specifically this way, and the first box like this I built I used big pieces of rubber zip tied over the positive terminals so no arc could possibly occur. But, I hadn't thought of gravel, or anything else getting lodged in there and rubbing. On my first box I had the batteries inside plastic boxes so it wasn't a concern. I will think of something, though these bungees hold the batteries pretty tight to the frame but definitely something to keep an eye on.

As for the small size of the positive cables, they are the SMB originals, 8 guage. I don't have an inverter, only a converter, so they are plenty big enough to charge the batteries with. I am installing an inverter in the next few weeks, though, so I will be upping them to at least 4 guage or possibly 2. I don't plan to ever do severe duty with the inverter so 4 guage should be fine I hope.

Brian, batteries don't freeze so there's really no problem with having them outside. Think about all of the industrial equipment and tractors in the world with batteries sitting out in the weather all the time. They do fine. My granddad, a farmer, always kept the terminals on all of his equipment covered with vaseline, but anything greasy keeps the terminals corrosion free.
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Old 04-04-2014, 06:26 PM   #10
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Re: Nuther battery box

Quote:
Originally Posted by rob_gendreau
Also, is it standard to have batteries mounted on the passenger side? Mine are currently under the gaucho on the driver's side. I've got lots more weight on that side, and would like to move them underneath and on the passenger side. That'll mean a longer positive and negative cable run (I need to run the negative to a shunt for the Link 10 I run). I was thinking 2 gauge.

And BTW, how'd you get those bolts on the frame rail? Fish a nut in there from somewhere?

Nice job.

Rob
You can mount them anywhere you like, with a few considerations. Most van conversions I've seen have them mounted on the passenger side because there's an empty spot on the frame there. Also, Ford mounts them there and there are already holes in the frame there for the factory battery boxes, used on the diesels and probably cutaways too. The van frames are all pretty standard I think. Of the 3 vans I've had, most of the holes in the frame and body were all in the same places. I have also seen battery boxes behind the rear axle, but it seems to me they would be harder to access. The right side frame also makes sense on an SMB because the propane tanks are generally taking up most of the left hand side space. If you have electronics, such as a large inverter though, you have to make compromises since they benefit best from very short runs of large guage wire.

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