Friday, June 1, 2012

132 lbs times 8

Uff da, Oy vey, Ay caramba, OMG. They weigh 132 lbs each. There are eight of them, all stacked in in a sturdy, but Machiavellian designed miniature prison located under the main salon. Accessible only via a small hatch, I can't imagine the pain level the original installer must have endured to install them. I can for sure tell you about my pain in removing them. I felt like I had entered one of these "World's Strongest Human" contests. You've seen these shows. Immense men pulling locomotives with their teeth, hoisting huge boulders onto pillars, and carrying cars around. 

Unfortunately for me, the day had arrived. It was planned in advance, it had to be done, and there was no rain or impending asteroid strike to stop the activity from occurring, all much to my chagrin. I had agreed to meet captain Ralph who was going to assist me with the removal of the inverter, batteries, and associated cables. The broken inverter had the AC cables removed already. So the first task was to get it disconnected from the batteries, haul, it out of its confined quarters, and summarily dump the beast on the dock. It goes well, and out it comes.

It's during the evisceration process I hear a rattling in the case. It gets tipped over, and out falls a small integrated circuit piece that had been ejected from one of the boards. I feel good about this because my diagnosis of "It's broke, and it ain't going to grow back!" was on the money, and it will make it easier for some tech, located somewhere to fix it. The demised component is now taped onto the top of the case.

Now it's time for the big ugly, getting the batteries freed, and off the boat. Step one is to remove about 50 pounds of wire that is as big around as your thumb, starting with the stuff that is attached to the batteries. I climb into the small hole that is in the center of the main salon. You can hunch down on your knees or you can just barely sit with your legs crossed, facing either port or starboard. All of the plumbing manifolds are in here along with the water pumps, a bunch of PDS modules, and filters. An over sized shower sump pump box is attached to the floor making your rotation impossible. For the next couple of hours it's quiet. I'm armed to the teeth with socket wrenches, wire cutters, volt meter, and my screw gun. One by one cables are released, and passed up to Ralph. Eventually it all gets detached along with the ginormous power blocks, 400 amp fuse holders, battery switches, and the shunt.

The dreaded moment has now arrived. The top bars that hold the batteries down are loosened. With some trepidation I horse the first battery out so it will tip  and slide downward, and it does so just barely under my control. One end is now precariously balanced on the edge of the shower sump box which is hardly designed for the load.

It's now at a forty five degree angle. SOB, what do I do with it now? I get onto my knees, and using the last of my remaining reserves I hunch over, pick up the low side, and sort of grabbing the top, I crudely ease it onto the top of the shower sump. I'm already worn out. After resting for a minute or two, I tip it up, grab the handles, and with Ralph helping it's hoisted up into the cabin. Ralph changes places with me, and he does the same sort of thing, with me helping him to hoist it out. Break time it is. After the effort we're both done, and it's time for lunch someplace where it's cool and dark.

When we get back to the boat, I stare at the batteries. This is the easy side, and it's killing us both. We need help. Ralph gets an epiphany, and dials a friend, and thirty minutes later Glenn arrives to save the day. Glenn is a smart, and amiable young man with biceps about three times larger than mine have ever been, and a back that is thirty years newer. You can see the hatch access is small, and the batteries are parked way out on the edges. Glenn is already soaked, and it's just the first one.

Glenn perseveres mightily, and one by one they are dragged out kicking and screaming into the daylight. It takes two hours to painfully extract the last six batteries, haul them out, and place them on the dock. Glenn is leaving on a trip, and he is handsomely paid in cash on the spot, in small unmarked bills shoved into a brown paper bag, along with our profuse thanks, and gratitude. Best of all Ralph and I are still alive, and will get to battle boats on another day.
I climb into the hole, and re-install removed pumps, and filters that were in the way and get the last of the battery tie down gadgetry off the boat. Power to the pumps is restored. small leaks are fixed, and the task is mostly done.

I had Glenn and Ralph proudly pose with the notable catch. Batteries are very hard to trap, and this was a back breaking safari. At this point, I think I will get the inverter repaired, and sell it locally with the batteries, and cables. Hurricane season has just started, and I suspect that someone would like to acquire at a reasonable price a battery back up system. At about 200 amp hours per battery, you would end up with about 1600 amp hours to use. This would certainly keep a fridge, TV, and some lights on for a few days, with no 24/7 whine of a generator. Terms will be freight on board, wherever the batteries are, and I'm not going to deliver. No, no no! Not a chance, but you maybe could hire Glenn. 
I still have to get the batteries off the seawall, and there are some minor chores to finish on the electrical system, but it's nearly done. Lots of storage is now available in the compartment, and the starboard battery frames will do a good job of keeping boxes in place.

I'm delighted it's a rain event today, it will give my wracked body a day of rest before I start again on some other hapless boat repair task. Uff da! They promised me glamour. 

A final note: The removed gear was all of high quality. The problem was with the the poor design implementation, and lack of documentation. The batteries are Northstar NSB M12-210 AGM's. These are bodacious units, and pound for pound I don't think you can buy a more powerful, and compact battery. They also have a unique feature that allows the batteries to be individually vented via tubing to the outside world, making them more suitable for vessel interior installations.

1 comment:

  1. Bill-
    Do you still have the NSB210FTs available? Contact me at cjohnson AT jtbmarine DOT com

    Thanks-great story as always!!


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