Woody (SeattleRRC) asked if I would do a write-up on my battery box improvements.
This project has been in the works for a while now. My battery box had become quite a mess with successive installs of accessories. It started with a CB radio hastily wired with the wrong size of ring terminals, then continued on with the iPod charger install, the 2-meter radio install, the GPS, the stereo amp...
The wiring was hideous and I had no idea what I was doing. To "organize" things, I started wrapping bundles of wires together with electrical tape. No wonder there was so much motor noise on the 2-meter radio...
It got to the point where I didn't know what any of the wiring was anymore. It was a total mess and an electrical fire waiting to happen:
The first step in this project was to remove all of the old crap. I took out almost two pounds of crap wiring:
Once that was done, I was left with a very dirty battery box. A trim screw, some seat foam, dirt from at least three states, a receipt for lunch...
I vacuumed everything out and wiped it down with a soapy rag and dried it. Next, I measured my battery and cut out a foam core template. I drew lines across the template where I wanted the retaining brackets to sit:
(ignore those red lines from the old stereo amp install...ugh)
The design for my bracket was not original at all. I stole the idea outright from Jack Quinlan and his D110
I'm not sure what Jack used for his bracket but I think it was zinc-plated steel with alumnium bar stock. For mine, I used type 316 stainless steel hardware with aluminum bar stock. I prefer the type 316 stainless because I think it looks a lot better. It's only a little more expensive.
With the exception of the aluminum bar stock (which came from Lowe's), all of my hardware was sourced from McMaster.
For the fuse box and MAXI fuse, I used button-head hex socket cap screws. It's a pain in the ass to measure all of these different things and calculate and order the right screws so I just bought an assortment of stainless steel button heads instead. I use them in a lot of projects:
The actual bracket design is loosely based on what Jack did. I'm not sure that it's the same but it works nonetheless. I cut the aluminum bar to lay on top of the battery and hold it down. I drilled 8mm holes on each end for the M8 fasteners. For the fasteners, I constructed the following:
...from top to bottom (and most everything is type 316 stainless)...
M8 nyloc nut, 1.25mm pitch (94205A260)
M8 24mm OD fender washer (95211A180)
M8 threaded rod, 1.25mm pitch (94185A160)
M8 coupling nut, 1.25mm pitch (93590A220) (sold individualy; don't forget to order four of them)
M8 hex nut, 1.25mm pitch (91828A410)
M8 16mm OD washer (90965A190)
M8 24mm OD fender washer (same as before)
M8 30mm hex head cap screw (93635A326) (note: I can't remember if I used the 30mm or 25mm. I ordered both. 25mm is part #93635A322)
Here is the assembled hardware, ready for the install:
I got really anal-retentive and took some very fine grit sandpaper and brushed the aluminum bar.
Once I had the template in the box, worked out the locations for the drilled holes, two on the inboard side and two on the outboard side. The inboard side holes actually sit up on the "hump" You need to allow plenty of room for the coupling nuts to clear the sides of the battery.
I marked the locations with a marker and used a center punch to make an indention. I drilled the holes, starting with a small bit and then a larger 8mm bit.
To mount the battery, install the outboard posts in without the nylocs on top. Put the battery in next and then put the inboard posts in. Tighten up the non-locking nuts on the bottom of the posts to hold the posts securely to the box floor. Lay the bar across the battery, put on the washers and then tighten the nylocs down to secure the battery.
Next, I installed the Blue Sea Systems
fuse box and MAXI fuse. You can buy these at West Marine or online at defender.com. I can't remember what size hardware I used to install these boxes but the packaging for the fuses tells you what to use. M4, I think. I used the hex head button cap screws. Again, I arranged everything, marked the locations of the drill holes, punched, and drilled. You'll need some stainless M4 washers and nyloc hex nuts for these, too.
Once the fuse boxes were mounted, I needed to make some battery cables to hook everything together. It's really easy to make your own battery cables. Don't buy the shitty cables from Autozone. Make your own!
I used Ancor marine-grade battery cable from defender.com. It's expensive but your truck is worth it. For the winch cables, I used 2 AWG cable; for the fuse box, 4 AWG. You will also need some terminal lugs. They come in two sizes. For the positive leads on my battery, I needed the 3/8" hole. For the negative, the 5/16" hole. Buy some extras just in case.
The best way to make your own cables is to solder them. It's way better than crimping and it's not hard at all. I learned by watching this video:
I didn't use their little solder capsules. I just wound up some solder and stuck it in the lug:
Using my torch, I melted the solder inside the lug:
When the solder is melted, carefully and quickly insert the stripped end of the cable into the molten solder puddle inside the lug:
Allow it to cool and then slip a piece of heat shrink over the connection to keep things sealed up:
Briefly hit it with the torch again and you'll have a perfect battery terminal.
For the accessories, the positive lead goes from the battery, to the MAXI fuse, to the fuse block. Winch obviously goes directly to the battery.
I run a Superwinch Husky 10 in a Mantec bumper. The Superwinch comes with battery cables that are too short and you end up doing a really ugly cable run to make them work. I tossed them aside and made my own leads out of Ancor 2AWG and gave myself enough cable to hide them way back in the wheel wells. I ran them in heater hose (Pendy's idea, I think) and I used stainless steel clamps with high-temp silicone cushions and more stainless hardware to secure them to the wheel well.
The final result:
I've since replaced the grommets in the holes on the side of the box. In the future, I plan to replace the primary leads with more home-built Ancor leads.