Dual LPG tank & 6v battery upgrade with puck lock - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-13-2020, 01:36 PM   #1
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Dual LPG tank & 6v battery upgrade with puck lock

Our Hymer came with a single 20lb LPG tank and 12 volt ~100Ah AGM battery. The battery was worthless from the start. And knowing I’d want to add capacity later, I didn’t even bother asking the dealer (1400 miles away…) to replace it.

After a lot of reading, soul searching and thinking ahead about adding solar, I went with two Crown CR-260 batteries in a Moeller Marine battery box and a second 20lb LPG tank. And since I’d be fabricating mounts for both, I went all-in to secure everything with a single lock.

LPG: I toyed with more space-efficient upgrades using a single 30 or 40 pound tank. But the simplicity and ubiquity of two 20lb tanks won me over. Plus I already had them. 20lb tanks and mounts are cheap and readily available. While I do prefer to keep and refill my tanks instead of exchange them, it’s nice to have the option to do either in a pinch. The 20lb size makes that a lot easier. I drilled a few holes into a $22 tank rack and just bolted it to the mount that held the (awful) OEM holder. I

Batteries: The CR-260s are just under an inch taller than the ubiquitous 6v deep cycle golf cart batteries. Group size GC2H rather than GC2. The Moeller box fit’s either size, so I went with the GC2H to maximize capacity. I chose lead acid over lithium for a number of reasons, but primarily two: cost and reassurance. Lithium sounds great, but the extra initial cost didn’t make sense for me. Crown’s been in business for 80 years, makes a proven, durable product, and the extra tongue weight will not be a bad thing in our case.

Puck lock: My welding and fabrication skills are hobbyist-level at best. So this common lock project took MUCH longer than expected. But I had a goal to secure both tanks and both batteries with a single, protected puck lock. So I just kept at it until I figured it out. It’s not perfect, and it’s specific to my layout only. But I’m posting it in the spirit of inspiration. As many others have done here for me. (Thank you.)

I’ve learned a TON from this forum’s members and examples. I am truly grateful for all the sharing of info and photos. This forum has been a great resource for me. Thanks!










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Old 01-13-2020, 08:14 PM   #2
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Very nice; the "bracket" which secures the propane is a very unique approach, at least to me.

I expect if I wanted to obtain a free battery or propane I'd move along to the next trailer.

Do you think some reinforcement of the single frame member forward is in order? It is now loaded with what would seem to be significantly more weight.
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Old 01-13-2020, 09:06 PM   #3
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Do you think some reinforcement of the single frame member forward is in order? It is now loaded with what would seem to be significantly more weight.
Oh itís much worse than you think Ė Iíve also extended the tongue another 24 inches.

But thatís for another thread.
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Old 01-13-2020, 11:37 PM   #4
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Ah, in for a penny, in for a pound!
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Old 01-13-2020, 11:45 PM   #5
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Ah, in for a penny, in for a pound!

For that comment, you get Meghan and Harry.
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Old 01-14-2020, 08:25 AM   #6
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Thanks for posting this John. If your skills are hobbyist, how would you rate the guys at the Hymer NA factory who actually built the trailer?

When you put the dual LPG holder on, did you add any reinforcement to it? Did you have to modify the original mounting plate?

Was the mounting plate for the battery box custom or supplied through Moeller?

Your bracket looks great. Very secure. Hope you don't lose the key!

For us, I think our LPG solution is going to be carrying a spare under the passenger side bench. That space is the perfect size to hold a 20 lbs tank and a little padding to keep it in place. I think you are really onto something with the battery upgrade. Our 12v fridges are great at keeping food cold, but they do a number on batteries.
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Old 01-14-2020, 10:02 AM   #7
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Thanks for posting this John. If your skills are hobbyist, how would you rate the guys at the Hymer NA factory who actually built the trailer?
I hear you. But there’s a big difference between making money and being an OCD perfectionist, too. About two weeks into all this I mentioned to my wife that I’m beginning to understand why RVs are all built so poorly. It takes a LOT longer to do it really really right.

Quote:
When you put the dual LPG holder on, did you add any reinforcement to it? Did you have to modify the original mounting plate?
I did add an ⅛”x 1 bar across the top of the tongue from below the battery box frame to below the LPG holder. Not sure it was really necessary, but I was there so, why not?

Quote:
Was the mounting plate for the battery box custom or supplied through Moeller?
I made it. That’s the one thing that’s simple and generic enough that I’d consider making more of. If there’s interest with the Hymer group, I could probably knock out a small batch at a reasonable cost.

One disappointment about the Moeller box though was all the unused cable holes. Not sure if Moeller sells them undrilled, but that’s the way I’d prefer to get it if I could. One of my next jobs will be coming up with a way to close them up to keep all dust and road grime out.
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Old 01-14-2020, 11:32 AM   #8
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I hear you. But thereís a big difference between making money and being an OCD perfectionist, too.
Judging from the bankruptcy, Hymer accomplished neither!

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One disappointment about the Moeller box though was all the unused cable holes. Not sure if Moeller sells them undrilled, but thatís the way Iíd prefer to get it if I could. One of my next jobs will be coming up with a way to close them up to keep all dust and road grime out.
Have you considered plastic epoxy filler? First epoxy a thin piece of plastic as a "backing strip" across the holes, then fill in the holes until they are flush with the surface. Black is easy to color match. The holes look large. Maybe you could cut quarter-sized pieces of plastic to use as inserts and cut down on the amount of filler needed.
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Old 01-14-2020, 12:03 PM   #9
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Beautifully Done

You may have spent a bit of time on this project, but it shows how well you have developed your skills. Very professional. Nicely done.
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Old 01-14-2020, 12:34 PM   #10
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Lock for Casita Propane Tanks

Nice job!!

Since I store my Casita in an offsite storage location, I tweaked the ďspinnerĒ on the clamp for the propane tanks by drilling a hole thru it and the bracket below it so that I could use a padlock with a slightly longer than usual shank to lock down the tanks.

When I bought the padlock, I got a packet of two locks that have identical keys. I use the other lock to lock the safety chains together after I chris-cross them around/thru the trailer tongue.
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Old 01-14-2020, 02:01 PM   #11
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Mighty fine job you did there, thanks for the excellent photos. Where did you buy the Crowns? I am apparently in a dead zone for them marketing wise, their distributor rep never got back to me with a retailer. I suppose they are only interested in selling eight batteries to a golf cart owner and could not be bothered selling me two. I did actually offer to buy four if that helped.
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Old 01-14-2020, 05:37 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Justus C View Post
Have you considered plastic epoxy filler? First epoxy a thin piece of plastic as a "backing strip" across the holes, then fill in the holes until they are flush with the surface. Black is easy to color match. The holes look large. Maybe you could cut quarter-sized pieces of plastic to use as inserts and cut down on the amount of filler needed.
I went to two different plastic places nearby. Both told me that there was no glue that would stick to this kind of plastic (some kind of poly...) and that it could only be welded. "And welding it will look like crap."

The batteries are a very good fit. So I may be able to use some version of your plan, but held in place mechanically rather than bonded. It's low on the list, though. Time to move on to... SOLAR, baby!
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Old 01-14-2020, 05:49 PM   #13
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Where did you buy the Crowns?

"I am apparently in a dead zone for them marketing wise, their distributor rep never got back to me with a retailer.
Industrial Power Source in Santa Fe Springs.

I went thru the Crown webcontact form and never actually heard back from Crown Ė they just forwarded my info to IPS and they contacted me. So could be the local distributor dropped the ball? I'd reach out to Crown again.

Also, I wouldn't expect a "retailer." I live in SoCal (where you'd think there'd be one) and they sent me to an industrial supplier/distributor. No showroom or parts counter Ė just a concrete tiltup warehouse with a receptionist and a few offices. I was kinda hoping for a place I could snoop around... But they were helpful and super nice.
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Old 01-14-2020, 05:54 PM   #14
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Nice job!!

Since I store my Casita in an offsite storage location, I tweaked the “spinner” on the clamp for the propane tanks by drilling a hole thru it and the bracket below it so that I could use a padlock with a slightly longer than usual shank to lock down the tanks.

When I bought the padlock, I got a packet of two locks that have identical keys. I use the other lock to lock the safety chains together after I chris-cross them around/thru the trailer tongue.
That's a much straighter line between points... lol And likely just as effective. I just had a bug up my butt to use a puck lock. (And like you, got two keyed-alike so I could try and make a tongue lock using the same key...)
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Old 01-22-2020, 06:44 PM   #15
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As for the holes they are needed for ventilation of the box
( required by law in marine industry.) However you can.
Use a clamshell over them just look online at marine parts sites . They come in chrome and also in plastic . If you can only find white you can let them soak in RITZ DIE for a couple days and they should come out black as I’ve done this on some custom rigging on my boats. You did a great job !!
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Old 01-22-2020, 10:23 PM   #16
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As for the holes they are needed for ventilation of the box ( required by law in marine industry.) However you can.
Use a clamshell over them just look online at marine parts sites.
Thanks Ė I'll check that out. I was hoping to fill/seal the holes and run a tube down the back with a breather filter on it, instead. Kinda like the dirtbike guys do with their gas tanks only bigger. Mostly I just want to keep the dust out from dirt roads. Not really a problem with boats...
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Old 01-23-2020, 06:58 AM   #17
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A different camping style?

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Originally Posted by Civilguy View Post
Very nice; the "bracket" which secures the propane is a very unique approach, at least to me.

I expect if I wanted to obtain a free battery or propane I'd move along to the next trailer.

Do you think some reinforcement of the single frame member forward is in order? It is now loaded with what would seem to be significantly more weight.
I 2nd Civil Guy's compliment but my circumstances differed maybe? I see no discussion of tongue weights before and after the project and I'll relate my experience/ decisions. I'd guess you have added 80-100 lbs of tongue weight which may be OK, me not knowing the specs.

My trailer is the 2003 17' Casita SD, known for a very heavy tongue weight. I think mine was 375 to 400 lbs. gathered from other owners who actually performed axle weights. I tried the beam and bathroom scale method and came up with 380 lbs.

I had a dual bottle keeper on the tongue, the battery compartment is just aft the single axle. I have a gas barbecue at home plus a third bottle that I try to keep full all year. I built a plywood jig (upside down T) and screwed on a piece of Al angle to fit into the dual bottle holder, replacing one of the bottles. I find with our camping needs/ habits, this lasts us a long time. A bottle can easily be subbed for the jig. I do not camp in temps under 20F and rarely use the furnace. The frig, stove and water heater are very stingy with propane. I simply always leave with a full or near full bottle and I'm hardly ever gone for more than 8 or 9 days. YOUR ACTUAL MILEAGE MAY VARY.

The second mod I did was add a dual slot receiver hitch to the rear of the Casita. I bought a steel cargo tray and often carry a gear box that gives me 8-10 cu ft of storage. Sometimes I put that box in the bed of my Silverado and slide a bike rack into the slot instead. The bikes weigh roughly the same as the cargo box with gear.

I basically reduced the tongue weight by about 25-30 lbs. directly by removing one propane bottle and have never run short by leaving home with a full bottle. As was said, these are ubiquitous and easily exchanged out in the world in the rare case you need one. I also reduced the tongue weight by adding the steel (frame reinforcement), 2" receiver, cargo tray and cargo box with gear (or bikes). I think I added around 100-120 lbs to the rear and, considering the fulcrum point, indirectly reduced the tongue weight by an additional 45-55 lbs. A 300 lb tongue weight is appropriate for a trailer weighing 2200-2400 lbs, IMO.

There are lots of things to be considered and they were not necessarily considered by the manufacturer. Tongue weights for Casita trailers, for example, vary widely with some in excess of 17% (source: Casita owner's forums), whereas most advice (general trailering info) tells owners to shoot for 12% tongue weight. Most of Casita's 17SD storage is in front of the axle so loading also increases the tongue weight to some degree. I use sway control and believe that is even more important as tongue weight is reduced. I have never wanted a WDH for my full size pickup TV, considering the relatively light weight of the trailer. Everyone's situation is different, so consider all the angles and always make it a safe trip!
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Old 01-23-2020, 09:16 AM   #18
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I’m planning another trip to the local scales and will then dig up my “before” specs for comparison. If I recall correctly tongue weight percentage was in the 8-9% range. I wouldn’t have a problem with that if it handled okay, but it didn’t.

I confess I didn’t do any math or engineering for these mods, but a lifetime around race cars and fabrication have given me some confidence in my wild-ass-guessing. I’m envious of the Casita’s aft axle bias – which looks ideal to me. The Hymer’s axle placement is much further forward than a Casita. So the extra weight and longer tongue are my attempts to achieve what you already have.
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Old 01-23-2020, 09:47 AM   #19
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John,

That is a beautifully designed and built bracket system for the tanks and batteries!

I'd like to know more about your thinking and method for extending the tongue. Just from casual looking, and for stability, it seems the Hymer could really benefit from a longer tongue, and it should allow you to open the tailgate while connected. Pictures of that project would be nice too. Thanks for the post!
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Old 01-23-2020, 09:55 AM   #20
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I’m envious of the Casita’s aft axle bias – which looks ideal to me. The Hymer’s axle placement is much further forward than a Casita. So the extra weight and longer tongue are my attempts to achieve what you already have.
This is exactly what I noticed and wondered about. I've been waiting for some Hymer owners to comment on stability.

The percentage of tongue weight to overall weight is of little concern to me, as it doesn't tell the whole story. Mine, for instance is only about 7%, but very stable. As you know, when you lengthen the tongue, the percentage goes down, but the stability goes up. I think you are on the right track with a longer tongue, and the addition of more weight on the tongue is much better than adding the weight somewhere else.
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