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Ferret - Battery location modification.
Due to having neck and back problems I very soon tired of the terrible battery installation in my Ferret. Particularly erksome is the location of the right hand battery under the air cleaner. You have to either charge that battery still in the vehicle (not a good idea) or remove the air cleaner, (not easy) probably spilling oil in the process. So I got jack of the whole thing and decided to make life easier. The other part of the original installation that worried me was having to lift live batteries over my head to pass them up and out through the turret - BAD! Of course, the correct way is to drop off the escape hatches and do it safely, but then I can't get them back on by myself.
On studying the installation I soon realised that the huge military batteries are there for one real purpose - to run military valve radios, especially when the engine is switched off, so they need to be big and have lots of capacity. But who runs military radios in civilian life? Even if you did, you probably wouldn't be doing so very much. So why have huge expensive and heavy batteries?
So I took a punt and bought 2 small batteries that suit a small 4 cylinder car and that from their measurements would both fit into the left hand battery container.
The Ferret battery cables have these rather unique end fittings, finger like with 2 holes where you can bolt one to another. It was an easy matter to remove the right hand side cables and re-rig them for the 2 batteries in the left box.
I needed to replace the terminal clamps as the ones that came with the vehicle were corroded to scrap. I vaguely remembered seeing clamps that had a similar bolt pattern to the finger connectors on the Ferret cables, they came with a U type cable clamp which bolted to the top of the clamp, which went into my scrap pile. Although not quite the same spacing, there is enough slop in the holes that they can be made to fit without any filing. (See picture below)
So after locating some of these, I could remove the extra lengths of cable and use the clamps where the cables used to join together.
I used this system for quite some time but was still unhappy about lifting the batteries in and out over my head.
So, the next step was to shift the batteries to some place easier to access, realistically this is outside of the crew compartment. Either in the engine bay or in one of the paniers (bins). I thought the engine bay was both too cramped and too hot for batteries so that only left the paniers. The left rear one is the smallest and most awkward shaped so I decided to use that. Also it has the advantage of being closest to the point where the battery cables terminate.
To use the panier did however require a hole through the armour and the inner skin of the panier, this will doubtless upset the purists no end. As far as I am concerned it was justified, repairable and unobtrusive. It also gets over the safety concerns with the batteries inside the crew compartment and is much easier on my neck and back.
If you look at the picture below you will see that I have installed a steel plate in the upper half of the panier. It rests on some pieces of aluminium angle, one of which I squashed to the correct angle for the panier. These were "pop rivetted" to the panier using large rivets. The steel plate is held in place with "tech screws" so that it can be quickly removed if anything falls beneath it. It is mounted at a height to give 1 1/2" of clear space above the battery terminals when the cables are in place on the batteries.
The threaded rod for the hold down clamp screws into nuts welded to the underside of the plate. Then another nut is used on the top side to lock the rod at the correct height. An appropriately shaped retainer was made to anchor to the 2 threaded rods with a foot each side, to clamp down each battery across its top face.
Look closely at the terminal clamp and you can see it is almost a perfect match to the finger connector on the Ferret battery cable. All I had to do was make up some washers so that the bolts holding the clamp to the cable coonector didn't foul the recesses in the connector.
I had to make a short cable for the series connection between the 2 batteries.
In texta on the inside of the panier lid you can see the orientation of the batteries and polarity.
I drilled the hole through the armour using a "Vermont American" titanium (yellow coloured) drill bit 1/4" diameter and just did a circle. I used nothing more than an old 7.2 volt Makita rechargable battery drill set on low speed. Use a normal drill and you will ruin the bit, they go too fast. Drilling slowly with the titanium bit was effortless. I then broke away the remaining metal in the hole and filed (yes, a normal file!) the hole smooth. The panier was put back in place and marked for where the hole would line up, removed and drilled. All faces were then heavily filed and smoothed to remove any possible edge that could cut through the insulation of the cables and cause a fire. I then used an electrical conduit flexible connector as an anti-chaffing bush for the hole.
Download the big pics by clicking on the small pics...
The location of the hole means that it is not readily visible from inside the vehicle and is invisible from outside.
Servicing of the batteries is now a simple and safe procedure, just open the left rear panier!
For the purists:
A) The location of the batteries is immaterial, this vehicle is in private hands and they do not need to be under armour. It doesn't have to be battle worthy.
B) All original cables have been preserved and the installation can be easily converted back to original with the exception of the cable hole, this would have to be welded up.
C) This installation is far less dangerous for the person who has to service the vehicle - me! Than the original one.
WARNING - This mod must be done skillfully and in such a way that there is no risk of short circuit and subsequent battery explosion or fire in the vehicle. The responsibility is yours.
Should you figure out a better mod or improvements to this one, please let me know.
If you found this article usefull and especially if you apply it to your vehicle, I would appreciate an email so that I know I am not wasting my time writing articles such as this..
From Ross in the USA, who has independantly of me, also discovered the same terminal clamps:
In my ferret I have standard "post" style batteries. The battery cables are attached to them by using standard, after-market clamps. These clamps have the cable side bolts and "horse shoe" which grip the cable, but the top portion (horse shoe) was removed and the cable, which on my ferret is a long "finger" with holes through it, was then screwed to the cable clamp in lieu of the top portion which would normally go over the cable. (I hope this makes sense.) There was no need to cut the cables or do any (apparent) major alterations as it seems the holes in the battery cable were the same spacing as the holes in the clamp. This was already done when I purchased my ferret so I don't know how much of the "original" equipment was altered. One of the clamps has a partition and large knob so that by loosening the knob you can separate the partition and thus disconnect your battery. There was only one of these disconnects installed and it was on the left-side, negative battery terminal. Since my ferret has a 24v to 12v converter installed which has its own ground I had to switch the disconnect to the positive terminal or the converter would drain the battery. These devices are readily available and really inexpensive in the U.S.
Anyway, if your ferret has the same type of battery cable connections as mine does, you shouldn't have to cut the cable although the disconnect with the key sounds like a far better system than the one installed in my ferret.
My thanks to Ross.
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