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Friday, April 29, 2016

Fitting my Numax cxv31 batteries. +fuel pump failed

Getting the batteries delivered was the easy part fitting them was going to be a long and messy job.
As you can see there`s not a lot of room and the batteries are sitting on the swim below the deck. There are three domestics at this end then the small white starter battery and one final domestic to the far left. They each weigh 25 kilos or 55lb. in proper English weight. The starter is 11 years old.

George and Mildred (pictured left) stood by to remind me of the most important thing about changing batteries on a narrowboat.

Yep! always remember to Duck your head.

The last time I changed the batteries I stood them on half inch thick sheets of wood because I read somewhere the cold metal was not kind to them. Now I believe this caused a lot of condensation and a lot of rust. I used the leverage end of a crowbar to scrape all the loose stuff away then followed with wire brushes in the drill.
Some of the swept up loose rust just using the crow bar.
The starter battery sits just on the right. To the left is the one remaining domestic battery that is keeping the fridge going. All the live cables are wrapped in rag and plastic bags.
The whole area has been coated with rust converter a chemical that reacts with the rust hopefully stopping it.
Batteries back in place still on the wood but this time there is an air gap between the wood and the cold metal of the swim. Next job was to remove the one remaining domestic give the rust the same treatment. Having completed everything rust wise all the old batteries were back in place to give the rust converter time to work and dry black. A few days later I took all the batteries out and gave everywhere another coat of the rust converter. This time the new batteries went in. Doing it this way means being without power for a shorter time.
Next job is to treat a few rust spots on the engine bay floor and give the whole engine bay a coat of paint. Also the wiring needs a bit of tidying with the connections moving to different end of battery bank. The solar panel connections could be better placed as well. I need a bus bar and a thick cable to do these jobs.

 I did the batteries in two locations. This one I chose because of using the genny for the wire brushing and not wanting to be noisy near other boats. My thoughts were surely no one will moor here so close to the bridge, empty towpath ahead of us, especially if they saw the genny. Wrong! during all the wire brushing I popped my head up to see a boat pulled in. He stayed about an hour or so but certainly caused a couple of problems when boats met in the bridge hole. Oh well I tried.

Sometimes timing works in our favour during our day to day lives be they on land or water.
The batteries have been in about two weeks so with the solar our stored power is at full capacity. Yesterday our engine decided it would start and perhaps tick over but would not run any faster. Sometimes it decided it would run at a fast tickover so Jaq could use the washing machine but then decide to cough and splutter after 30 minutes and die before the final rinse.

Well all sorts of thoughts start rushing through the brain cells from electrical problems perhaps in the ignition (unlikely on a diesel) to fuel bug. Always think the worst, blocked fuel lines, filters and injectors and work from there. Fuel bug was quickly eliminated as I had recently changed the engine based fuel filter and the water separator filter both contained clear fuel with no signs of bug. Air in fuel line was my next thought but the Vetus set up is self bleeding so this was unlikely.

 The Electric fuel pump has to be the  next port of call. All connections seemed ok but with the ignition on no sound or vibrations came from the pump, interesting. So remove the outlet pipe from the pump and with ignition on......nothing, fuel should have been flowing. That is the point you smile and shout silently "yes". The problem is still there but it feels good to identify it.

We now have to go back to 2012 and a similar thing happened on the Llangollen. An RCR (River Canal Rescue) engineer came out and discovered the check valve inside the pump had flipped over. The link HERE. Its the yellow centre sitting in a metal cup. So instead of changing the pump he fixed it, took him seconds to flip it back.
Move on 18 months and fuel pump problems on the Thames. This time RCR came out and I just let them change the pump albeit one that was in my opinion less efficient than the original but having to wait for one to be ordered was not possible at the time. I did however keep the original because I had a feeling I knew the problem. It took me seconds to fix after the engineer left.
In case any non boater is wondering why I didn`t just fix the pump myself instead of calling RCR the answer is tidal. We were soon to be entering the tidal part of the Thames on our way to Brentford and you do not want fuel pump problems on the trip.

So to the present and I have a pump that when I applied temporary power to hummed and sang out "i`m ready just fit me" so I did and all is well.
From the Vetus catalogue note the price. If you have this type remember there is a filter inside that needs changing regularly. Twist end cap off and filter and check valve are revealed.

The check valve that caused the problems. The Yellow ball and the metal it sits in turns on it`s side and just needs pushing back with say a tooth pick.
The replacement fitted by RCR. No internal filter and costs about £35 on internet.

The one I have just ordered from Amazon. £24 delivered click and collect to a location of my choosing further along our cruising route. Just can`t see £300+ difference to the Vetus one pictured higher up the page.                                                                         
Very Expensive To U  Stupid. The filter for the pump is £11 from Vetus or £4 from internet.


Mike Griffin said...

Ok, wait for the holes to start appearing in your clothes after fiddling about with batteries..........Have fun.


Les Biggs said...

Hi Mike hope you are well
The batteries are sealed but having so many times in the past ruined clothes I now have dedicated engine `ole clothes.

Dave Ward said...

I can't see clearly from your pictures, but I'm concerned the batteries sit high enough (on those wooden packing pieces) to prevent the steel retaining lips doing their job. I know you don't normally get a lot of boat movement when plodding along the canal system, but you mentioned tackling the tidal Thames. The very last thing you want in that situation is to have a battery come loose and cables being ripped off! Doesn't the BSS require positive restraint (holding down straps?) for batteries?

As for them being damaged by sitting on cold metal - virtually every car on the road has just such an arrangement! The only risk is subjecting them to sub-zero temperatures when fairly well discharged. Then the electrolyte can freeze and wreck the battery. Worth considering if you are spending the winter at a fixed mooring with no mains hook-up. Lastly, there are a number of posts and comments about connecting multiple batteries in such a way as to ensure they all do an even share of the work. As you have one of them well away from the others, that thought crossed my mind.

Les Biggs said...

Hi Dave
The batteries were pictured before the restraining straps were put back.
Difference with a car battery is they are not sitting on metal that has canal water on the other side. The metal gets mega cold in winter and the wood hopefully helps with insulation.
Yes my next job is to alter the wiring so that + and - take offs are at opposite ends of the battery bank.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs