Battery Compartment Upgrade
A project that often gets overlooked on an older boat is the battery compartment.   Cruisers and DIY'ers certainly
enhance and maintain their house and starting battery systems, but few delve deeper unless absolutely necessary.  
While we were upgrading our battery bank system it became apparent that ours warranted some attention prior to
our moving aboard full-time.

The first thing we did was remove all the old batteries.  You can see from the middle shot below that the
compartment itself was pretty trashed from the sulfuric acid fumes.   We decided to gut the original compartment
and rebuild it as a separate, vented battery box.
Battery Compartment with old bank
Battery Compartment emptied out
Battery Compartment tear-out
The next step was to measure and cut floor supports, end-caps and sides for the compartment, then glass them in
with mat and resin.   For us it was a 2-person job as someone needed to cut the fiberglass mat and wet it out, while the
other person layed it into the compartment, and rolled-out any air bubbles.  Ed had cut access holes in the end-cap
pieces for the outside vent hose, the battery wiring and the conduit piping which will lead out of the box and into the
engine compartment.

We decided to align the batteries sideways rather than longways, with dri-dek squares under and between the
batteries, and between the batteries and the box sides.  This allows airflow and takes up any additional wiggle room as
well.
Battery Compartment showing
floor supports and end-cap pieces.
The view  looking aft.
The forward portion of the box
showing the conduit and the
wiring holes.
The box fully glassed-in.
The box after the house bank deep-cycles
are in and hooked up, but still waiting for
the starting battery to go in the last slot.
All batteries should be secured in such a way that if the boat was knocked down or broached, the batteries wouldn't
become flying missiles below decks.  Not only would this be bad for people, duh!, but could also mean holes bashed
in the boat or the flattening of other items.  In our case we chose not to trust webbing straps which could deteriorate
over time, but to build-in security by means of a locking system.

The side of the inner box has a lip overhang going along it's length.  By reorienting the batteries sideways we found
they would fit just right in the box under the lip.  We cut a battery-sized access slot in this lip at the "front" of the
inner box which you can see in the shot on the right.  This allowed us to set each battery in and slide it aft,
effectively "locking" it in. We used dri-dek under and around the batteries to help with ventilation and heat
dissipation while also removing any extra wiggle room.   Additionally, the inner box lid also fits under the lip and is
then screwed down on the opposite side.  Finally, the original outer box lid is screwed down.  While this makes it a
little more tiresome when checking battery water levels it gives us a great sense of security knowing the batteries are
not going anywhere even in dire conditions.