Making space to change the battery
Q Our boat’s previous owner added a second leisure battery, put both leisure batteries in the original two-battery compartment, and made a new box for the starter battery alongside.
Unfortunately, he seems to have fitted the box with the battery already in it, and glued it to the counter – in such a position that the fuel filter is immediately above, leaving insufficient vertical clearance to lift the battery out and put in a new one (which we intend to ask our marina to do). Even if they take the fuel filter off, there might still be insufficient clearance; also they will have to bleed the fuel system after refitting the filter.
Before I replace the box completely, what is the regulation requirement for battery containment in narrowboats?
ROGER AND PAM MCLELLAN
A TONY REPLIES… I am sure there is a description in the Boat Safety Scheme guide, boatsafetyscheme.org/boatexamination/private-boats/ and follow the link by the little pictogram towards the bottom of the page. Guidance is that the batteries must have less than 10mm movement in either horizontal direction and must be contained against vertical movement.
If they are in a box or recess that reaches at least halfway up the battery, that is deemed to comply with the latter requirement. If you take a saw and carefully cut the side/end out of the battery box so it is only half way up the battery, does that help?
My own engine battery sits on a wooden platform with 18mm beading all around the base to stop horizontal movement. The back has a full height upstand to which is hinged a lid, again with beading plus some rubber hose on the underside. I use a simple nylon cord plus a cleat to hold the lid tightly on top of the battery. That way you could undo the cord and all but slide the battery out.
Talk to the marina because it will be far easier (and probably cost only a little extra) to cut the box about with the battery out of the way.
I would also comment that providing the start battery is well charged, many modern engines are self-bleeding.