January 24, 2023
Catch up on the series:
Part 1: Bass Boat Breakdown
Part 2: Bass Boat Interior Repairs
Part 3: Minn Kota Raptor Install
Welcome to Part 4 of Outdated to Updated, I’ll walk you through my process of repowering the main power plant of the rig by installing X2 Batteries, and some of the important lessons I learned along the way. One of the tools I’d highly suggest for this step, and upcoming steps is a 10-ton Hydraulic Wire Battery Cable Lug/Terminal Crimper. I’ll give credit where credit is due, my buddy and regular In-Fisherman contributor Ross Robertson turned me onto this idea, and it’s made this entire project much easier. Get one. They’re not expensive at all.
This is the old battery that powered most of the boat accessories and the previous electronics. It was way underpowered, and it a huge mess. This looks intimidating—and it made me grumpy, but just start figuring it out one wire at a time.
The goal was to replace the three lead-acid batteries that made up the 36-volt system to run the Minn Kota Ultrex with three 12-volt X2 lithium batteries. That would reduce a tremendous amount of weight, but also a battery reconfiguration would allow for more room. I also planned to replace the main crank battery with one or two 31-series X2 AGM batteries. The AGMs are heavy, but one instead of four was a vast improvement. I ended up only placing one of the AGMs in the rig.
As I went through all the cables attached to the old battery, I thoroughly labeled them so I knew exactly what went where. A roll of white electrical tape and a black Sharpie made this job easy. This portion of the process was intimidating, but at the end of it, I realized it wasn’t that bad at all. You’ll be glad you did it.
I’ll admit, this photo still makes it look clustered, but I also know how much more organized this is. The connections are clearly labeled and the number of connections was greatly minimized. I am not connecting any of my electronics to this battery, more on that later. In the meantime, notice the buss bar in the top right? I installed that a while ago and elected to keep it in play. I hooked up lights and livewell to it. A slight bit of rust showed up over the last two years, so I’ll keep that in mind if either the lights or livewell start acting up.
The existing master power switch got pretty rusty, and I later found out that was because it was cheap, and it was cheap. So I upgraded to a Blue Sea 6006 single circuit switch . It’s heavy duty, and again Ross Robertson said it’s the best one to use. I believe him, he’s a boat-rigging wizard. I put the tape measure here so you can see the overall footprint.
Here’s another look at the switch before it gets fully installed.
Here’s a look at the old switch (back right) next to the new one. It’s certainly a better switch in feel alone.
It's much easier to find without looking, it's sturdy and fits snuggly right where it needs to be. This was a solid upgrade.
The 10-ton Hydraulic Wire Battery Cable Lug/Terminal Crimper was a game-changer for this project It’s worth every penny. You’ll need this tool to adequately place lugs on the end of heavy wires like the 4- and 6-gauge. You just can’t attach lugs to wires that big by hand—I tried. This tool is worth it.
This kit of wire lugs and matching heat-shrink tubes cost less than $25, the second one less than $15. Cheap and useful even after this project is done.
Make sure you put the heat shrink on before you attach the lug, or you may have wasted a good lug. The heat shrink is a critical component to fully waterproofing this system. It’s quick and easy.
A heat gun is a lifesaver and evenly heats the tubing without burning your fingers. Another inexpensive tool you’ll use over and over again, available at Home Depot, or the like.
Here’s the finished product. Almost looks professional. Now we’re ready to finish the jumper wires for the 36-volt system for the trolling motor.
Here are the finished wires. You can often buy them at a hardware or auto parts store, but the overall cost is cheaper to make them yourself. Plus, it’s more satisfying.
Here is the compartment that will house two of three trolling motor batteries. I tried every configuration possible, but I could only fit two batteries in here. The boat was originally built to hold a 24-volt trolling motor, so this is what I had to work with. This is also why I needed to custom bulid battery jumper cables so they’d reach specific distances.
Here are two of the three X2 Lithium batteries installed.
Here’s the third battery position. As mentioned in a previous installment, this compartment was originally meant for spare prop storage. I had to split this space with the third trolling motor battery and the two Minn Kota Raptor hydraulic pumps.
Here is the view of all three X2 lithium batteries installed. Very clean.
While installing the batteries, it was paramount to make the most of that available space and with corelating projects, I worked on placing the Raptor hoses. They need to be coiled up and tied together to fit neatly in the battery compartment. It got tight, but it worked.
This is a unique set-up for my boat. As I’ve said several times, space is extremely limited in the power-plant area, so I pulled a trick taught to me by my buddy Gerald Swindle and attached the 4-bank Minn Kota Precision charger under the rear hatch. It’s worth mentioning that my charger is an earlier generation that happens to be a different configuration than the new ones, and it fits perfectly in my boat. If I were to upgrade the charger, I’d likely have to find a different spot for it. Right now, it’s perfect. Oh, and this charger is indeed built to charge and maintain lithium batteries. Also note the different colors of electrical tape. I used that method to match up charger ends, and so if the charger is indicating a bad battery or one of them not taking a charge, I know exactly which one it is. The colored tape helps the troubleshooting process, and improves organization tremendously.