Thursday, 21 March 2013

Two Necklaces

We woke this morning to find an overcast and chilly day……… But no rain!  Seizing the moment we caught the bus to the Sainsbury’s supermarket at Calcot.  Jan went the whole way whilst I debussed at “Milehouse Cottages” so I could talk to ‘Bernie’ the ironmonger about my idea for a folding step at the cratch.  It was only a 10 minute conversation to explain the drawings and then I caught the next bus to Calcot where I joined Jan in the supermarket.  We have a routine.  Jan buys the essentials and whilst she’s not looking I throw the “luxuries” into the trolley!

We exited Sainsbury’s to see the Newbury bus waiting at the stop so we both scurried across the car park getting aboard just before the doors closed.  Nice timing……… for a change!

Back at Waiouru we dragged out the folding sack trolley from the back cabin and the two empty fuel containers from the engine compartment.  Then it was a trip down to the wharf where we purchased 50 litres of diesel for the Hurricane heater.  Whilst we needed some diesel for the heater it was more of a trial run to test whether we could transport diesel using the trolley.

The sack trolley worked but the 99p ratchet straps are a failure.  They are too flimsy so we’ll need to look for something more substantial.

However the Hurricane was very thankful for the drink and the 3V diesel pump is still working using the original batteries (to my surprise!).

The last part of the afternoon was spent fitting the domestic battery bank automatic watering system.  After looking at the four batteries I decided to configure the watering system so the batteries were fed in pairs with 6 cells to each pair.  This meant I needed to make two ‘necklaces’ of battery caps and connecting tubing.

Each necklace needed four short lengths of tubing and one long.  A blind cap is fitted to one end whilst the other end will connect to the Flow Meter.  I was concerned about being able to twist the caps onto the battery cell hole but discovered (to my relief) that the top section of the cap twists independently to the base.  The more difficult batteries are on the port side so they were fitted first.

There is very little clearance between the top of the batteries and the underside of the deck.  Moreover much of it is fitted with numerous cables and piping.  I’ve seriously scratched the backs of my hands and forearms fitting the necklace.  The starboard side was slightly easier.

However by this time the sulphuric acid in the electrolyte was making its way into the scratches which I found somewhat unpleasant.

The open ends to the necklaces meet in the middle of the battery bank and connect to the Flow Meter.

The Flow Meter has been mounted on the front face of the battery bank where we hope it will be easy to observe.  The small yellow beads are supposed to move when water is flowing into the batteries.

All the tubing has been secured where it’s relatively easy to inspect.  The header tank end terminates in the cockpit port locker.

Blue arrows point towards the tubing.

The tubing to the header tank hasn’t been cut to length.  My intention is to deliberately leave it long until I can establish whether locating the header tank in the locker will provide sufficient head to top-up the cells in the batteries.  If it does NOT provide sufficient pressure I will leave the tubing uncut.  This will enable the header tank to be removed from the locker and held in the air to increase the pressure. 

We have two outstanding tasks before the system can be commissioned.  First, Jan has to drink the half litre of cider in (what will be) the header tank.  I may have to help her…….  OK it’s an onerous task… but someone has to do it!  The second task is to modify the plastic container so the end of the watering system tube connects to it.

At the moment the batteries do not require any water and we have been using them for four months.  I’m therefore hoping we will only need to check the header tank and watering system quarterly.  time will tell!

LATER.   We tried drinking the remaining side…… Well I did as Jan point blank refused!  Unfortunately Jan had made the correct decision as the damned stuff tasted like sulphuric acid.  No matter how hard I tried, after two sips I couldn’t bring myself to drink the stuff so it went out the side hatch.  Apparently we now have fish floating upside down in the cut beside the boat! Smile


Paul (from Waterway Routes) said...

You say the 3V diesel pump is still working on the original batteries.

It looks like it should work as a siphon once you get it flowing and only need power for a few seconds.

With your ingenuity you should then be able to get the flow to turn the pump in reverse and recharge the batteries so you then up with more charge than you started with.

Halfie said...

Is there anything preventing electrolyte flowing "backwards" down the tubing? I would be worried about that, especially if a connection was to come apart. I see some of your system is below what might be the electrolyte level in the batteries. I wouldn't want the possibility of anything siphoning out.

Tom and Jan said...

Kia Ora Paul,
I must try switching off the pump and see if the system will siphon. Maybe I can make it solar powered :-)

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Halfie,
The cap has an integral float switch. If the electrolyte level drops, the float also drops which opens a valve to allow distilled water to enter the cell. When the float rises it cuts off the water and exposes a vent that will allow gases to escape.

Unknown said...

I am concerned that all your battery electrical connections appear to be 'dry' (without grease). In the second picture showing the batteries there appears to be 'fur' growing already at that connection, which is a consequence of not excluding the moisture laden air with a layer of grease.
The best grease, and the least expensive, is Petroleum Jelly, available from Chemists as it's used on small children to inhibit nappy rash. PJ is also sold, more expensively, under the trade name Vaseline.
PJ is electrically inert, adheres well to metal surfaces, but is soft enough to be squeezed out of the way as joints are tightened. Therefore the best practice is to wipe all joint faces, nuts and bolts with the grease before tightening up the joints, when the excess grease will be eased out, but all voids will be filled with the inert grease, this avoiding the electrolytic action which produces the corrosive 'fur'.
Clearly, with the installation complete, it is really bad news to be 'told' you have to take it all apart, so I will understand if you elect to 'wait and see'.
But I will be proved right.
As you have gone to great lengths to explain, the battery installation is the centre of your power system; it cost a lot of money; all I'm suggesting is spending a little more money, and a lot of time and effort. It will be worth it.

Tom and Jan said...

Yes... You are correct about the lack of grease on the terminals. I have also been watching the "fur" grow and know it has to be removed. This has been deferred as I want to "re-work" the main negative battery terminal. The engineer has too many cables terminating directly on it and I'm also thinking of fitting an A/h meter. The petroleum jelly is already in the locker waiting for a sunny day (actually it's been waiting some time!)
The good news (I hope) is there won't be any need to remove the battery caps when I clean and grease the terminals.