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Old 09-09-2013, 21:21   #1
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Connected battery bank - terminal covers, and adding water

My boat has a house bank of four L16 batteries (2S2P configuration) that are connected both with heavy battery cables and with a flow-rite tubing system for adding water. My questions are:

1.) What is the best way to cover the terminals on these batteries? I can't find any off-the-shelf product that will work nicely, at least without disconnecting the battery cables at every terminal (and even then, I think the water tubing setup might still get in the way). I also have a couple of 8D's as engine starters with similar cabling and tubing obstructions to covering the terminals with the rubber caps that slide over the end of cables.

2.) How do I know how much water to add?

The battery maintenance page here: Interstate Batteries FAQ :: How do I maintain my battery?

says to pry off the vent caps and peer inside -- but the way this bank is set up, with the cabling and tubing and wedged in underneath a shelf, that's not very practical.

Attaching a photo of the bank for illustration.
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Old 09-09-2013, 21:47   #2
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Re: Connected battery bank - terminal covers, and adding water

Does the information on the flow rite website help at all?
https://www.flow-rite.com/battery-wa...qwik-fill/faqs
https://www.flow-rite.com/files/file...re_english.pdf
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Old 09-09-2013, 23:09   #3
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Re: Connected battery bank - terminal covers, and adding water

First I have to ask. You have two 8D batteries to start the engine or is it engines? What on earth are you trying to crank with that much battery?

As to how much water, I know nothing about the Flow-rite system but every battery I have ever had that needed water you had to look into each cell and add water to cover the plates up to the bottom plastic tube. Even in one battery each cell would need a different amount of water so I don't see any way around inspecting.

Another option is to use the battery caps that reduce water loss.
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Old 10-09-2013, 00:53   #4
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Re: Connected battery bank - terminal covers, and adding water

Thanks pbiJim for the links -- looks like the valves built into the Flow-Rite caps automatically close when the water is at the right level... so just hand pump until I feel a lot of resistance, which is what I'd been doing... and add water on a regular/frequent schedule, since you can't see when it's getting low (but you can feel when it's full).

Any thoughts on battery terminal covers?

skipmac -- two 8D's to crank two engines (230 hp each); also the bow and stern thrusters, windlass, and probably the davit hoist as well. It appears that the 8D's are currently connected in parallel by a selector switch.
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Old 10-09-2013, 06:21   #5
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Re: Connected battery bank - terminal covers, and adding water

I'm going to guess that those things have little float valves in them to keep each cell at the correct fluid height. I'll be curious to hear how they hold up in a marine environment with average boat vibration while motoring. If you can, please post again here in a few months & let us know how they hold up. Please let us know if they overflow & cause acid to spill.

Thanks,
Jim
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Old 10-09-2013, 06:30   #6
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I have the Trojan watering system and suspect its an OEM equivalent

Float valves do indeed control and their is a sight tube that turns black when full

I just squeeze the ball (like an outboard) till firm and it works like champ

I can water 6 batteries in 3 minutes including getting out the bottle of distilled water

YMMV
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Old 10-09-2013, 07:48   #7
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Re: Connected battery bank - terminal covers, and adding water

Thinking outside the box here: why do you need terminal covers given the location of those batteries? The covers are to avoid shorts when/if your drop something on them. Doesn't look alike that'd ever happen where you have them. Good luck.
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Old 10-09-2013, 09:21   #8
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Re: Connected battery bank - terminal covers, and adding water

Why not spray them with the Boeshield that goes waxy when it dries?
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Old 10-09-2013, 10:04   #9
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Re: Connected battery bank - terminal covers, and adding water

Why not contruct a lid out of Delrin?

The top panel could have side panels attached w/ screws, or it could be shaped to fit onto existing mechanical features.
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Old 10-09-2013, 10:12   #10
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Re: Connected battery bank - terminal covers, and adding water

I think Ann Kate has the right idea.
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Old 12-09-2013, 00:37   #11
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Re: Connected battery bank - terminal covers, and adding water

Scott -- Flow-rite looks similar to Trojan, but not identical like an OEM'd part. The Millenium EVO product has similar white/black fill level indicators, but looks like I have the slightly less fancy Pro-Fill that doesn't, so it's just squeeze until firm.

Stu -- good question. I've contemplated the same thing. The main reason is that the surveyor when I bought the boat listed covering the battery terminals as one of the things to fix, so the insurance company wants all the things he listed fixed. He was a good surveyor overall, but it's covering a ton of stuff in a short time frame and he clearly reuses a template with lots of stock ABYC boxes to check -- e.g. he also recommended a radar reflector and backup tiller (it's a 42' flybridge powerboat, not a sailboat, which it seems those are recommended for). So some things I have just provided an explanation as to why something doesn't need to be fixed. E.g., tell them to consider the shelf over the top to be the cover for the terminals?

Wingless -- I've thought about the DIY route as well, but don't have access to a shop right now, nor do I want to make too big a project out of it (designing, measuring, cutting, adjusting a custom lid).

Ann / Redcoat -- I think they might already be sprayed with some Boeshield (red anti-corrosion stuff?), and it couldn't hurt -- but it's also supposed to be reapplied every 6 months, and while it's insulative rather than conductive, it's not an insulative cover like a rubber boot -- e.g. you can still clamp down a battery cable on a terminal that's been sprayed with Boeshield and it cuts through to make a good connection (I assume similar things with dropping a wrench on it accidentally).
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Old 12-09-2013, 02:51   #12
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Re: Connected battery bank - terminal covers, and adding water

if you don't want to make a lid / box that covers everything.

just buy the normal rubber battery post covers. like the blue sea ones. and cut a slit down the bottom so you can stick them over the wire. then tie strap around to keep it in place. no real need to take the wire off and slide it on.


edit: actually taking another look at the phote nothing will really cover those posts anways as they are so large. not just a stud sticking up. blue sea does make one big one for car battery posts, but even then I doubt you'll have total coverage on yours.
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