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Old 02-16-2012, 01:43 AM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 13
Year: 1996
Chassis: E350
Engine: 7.3l Powerstroke Diesel
Dual batteries, or not?


I'm trying to figure out some things about the batteries in my '96 e350 7.3l powersrtoke ride bus conversion...there's a mouthful. For those who've delt with these vehicles: the manufacturar is Thor, the brand is Eldorado.

Due to a combination of bad circumstances, mental stress, and general incompetence, when my van wouldn't start and I couldn't jump it, I concluded my bats were underspec'd for cold weather, and rushed off to fix the problem with two new batteries; walmart everstart maxx's with 850CCA.

After more research, it looks like I have one to take back now. It seems my van has one regular looking battery -- BCI size 65 -- and one long, narrow battery -- BCI size 50. Both are only about two years old. It seem the smaller battery, which is on the front passenger side, is an auxillary battery. As far as I can tell, powestrokes should have two batteries with at least 750 CCA each; instead the main battery is 675 CCA, and the small battery only 600 CCA. For the larger battery I found the evertstart as a replacement, but for the smaller I can't find a higher CCA version. Initially I just thought the dissimilar batteries were a result of human error on the part of the previous owner; only later did I find I was incorrect. My questions are:

1. Can a powerstroke van be started with just one battery, or is the term 'auxillary battery' a bit of a misnomer in respect to whether or not it's used to help start the vehicle?

2. Can I get a BCI size 50 battery with more than 600 CCA, and if I can, do I need to?

3. There is a device between the two batteries that seems to be a simple heavy duty circuit breaker/relay. My guess is that this is for the wheelchair lift that came built in to the van, to keep it from overloading the battery if wheelchair lift stalls, jams, or overloads the system. As I am in the process of removing the lift anyway, I'm wondering if anyone who might have one of these vechiles can atest to whether I need this circuit breaker for any other purpose?


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Old 02-16-2012, 11:31 AM   #2
Bus Crazy
roach711's Avatar
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Farmington Hills, Mi (Detroit area)
Posts: 1,968
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Eldorado Aerotech 24'
Chassis: Ford E-450 Cutaway Bus
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 19
Re: Dual batteries, or not?

I have a 2000 Eldorado with the 7.3l powerstroke and two 31D size batteries. Mine came with both batteries in the passenger side slide-out battery box with the wheelchair lift positive cable connected directly to one of the batteries and no fusing at all.

You might be able to get away with just one battery in a pinch but that big powerstroke needs two batteries to heat up the glow plugs and for some extra capacity in cold weather. The conventional wisdom is to replace both batteries together to avoid having one weak battery drag down the newer one so you're better off keeping both of your new batteries. Just one less thing to worry about.
The Roach Motel
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Old 02-18-2012, 03:16 AM   #3
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Oregon/Philippines
Posts: 1,660
Re: Dual batteries, or not?

You don't have to have two batteries. one 8d is fine. Its better to have two, but not totally necessary. In cold climates a plug in battery warmer in line with the engine block heater is a good idea.
In the wrecking yard, i have started and moved many coach and transit busses with detroit engines with only one good car high crank amp battery. You just cant crank them long with a gp 24 car battery. Group 31's are fine, but they dont have the large reserve capacity of the big truck batteries. I use the group 31's in my cars, etc when there is enough room for me to modify the battery tray and make it fit. also do this cause i buy them wholsale and they cost no more than a gp 24 al walmart.
Jesus Christ... Conversion in progress.
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