Re: Factory batteries
OK, so I have replaced the starter batteries in my rig. I went with the Odyssey batts as they have gotten good reviews by most and were a drop-in replacement.
For those that have had the pleasure of replacing these frame-mounted batteries already I commend you. I was saving up curse words all week in anticipation of this project and I may have have exceeded my quota. Its not that its terribly complex its just that you end up muscling around heavy stuff while laying on your back. Advil here I come.
As others have mentioned, a jack of some sort is certainly useful if not mandatory. While you can, in fact, remove one bolt from the battery boxes and conceivably slide the battery boxes off the other bolts and let them hang, its a pretty tricky operation especially when putting the new battery back up. I found it easier to use a combination of jack and sliding one side of the heavy box back on the mounting bolts.
Anyway, if anyone is preparing to tackle this job don't hesitate to shoot me a PM or email me and I can describe in detail the dos and don'ts. One tip - pressure wash the area a few days prior if its muddy/dusty.
One item to note is that while my starter batts were not totally shot, I did notice that for some time when I would turn on the glow plugs the voltage would drop in the 10-9 volt range and then when it cranked it would sometimes drop considerably lower.
With the new Odyssey batts installed I hit the glow plugs and it went from 12.2V to about 11.7V and stayed there through the whole starting process (and the van cranked noticably faster/forceful). So it looks like I made the right choice to replace.
Thanks to all that came before me as I read through every post to get tips and ideas about the project.