Thursday, December 13, 2012

Blast from Bob

Bob gives me an update.  He is doing some interesting work with the car and taking it to the next level:
 I started to talk about the charger issue.  I had contacted the Zivan rep and got a cold shoulder from them.  I designed my own charger and got it working after a few blown transistors.  My goal was 135 volts max and 10 amps max and the charger achieved both of those goals.  The packaging was rather crude because I used a discarded chassis from some unknown piece of electronic gear.  It was so bulky that I was unable to close the hood while charging. Right after I got that thing working well, I stumbled upon the forum called diyelectriccar.  Under the heading about charging, I found other people unable to get Zivan to properly convert their chargers to lithium.  One person actually went to the extent of designing a bug to replace the existing processor.  He was willing to sell copies of this bug so I bought one.  He even included a sample program which he had used for his car.  I don't know much about programming, but since all I had to do was change a few lines of code to match my battery pack, I got the Zivan working for lithium! I put my design aside and just chalked it up to experience.  Another little problem I solved involved the lack of a reliable parking brake.  Using the chocks has been unhandy.  I lost one when I drove off without it.  The solution is a brake club.  Rather than describe it, I'll send a picture.  The club goes between the pedal and the base of the seat.  It goes over center and latches.  Another latch situation came up.  The 12v battery went down to the extent it wouldn't operate the relay to energize the main solenoid.  This is a situation which could leave you stranded.  This relay also connects the DC-DC converter from the main battery to the little one.  The emergency fix for this is to drill a small hole in the the side of the DC relay, turn on the key, and insert a toothpick into the hole against the relay armature and push.  The relay will hold because the small battery is being charged by the big battery.

I hope to get down there and film a ride sometime.  It would be quite a different ride, I think.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bob's ups and downs...

Latest update:
I've been waiting for warmer weather for top off cruising and it has finally arrived. My next door neighbor and I went to see the B-17 at the airport. Silver cruises nicely at 65 on the freeway in 4th gear. No need for 5th. Coming home on the expressway and poof! All the lights went out. Another tow truck ride home. I told the driver the car was an experimental model. At home, the fix was easy. Another spade lug broke off. It needed a replacement so the tow truck was not a waste. These 12v problems could happen to a car with any kind of engine.

I'm working on a charger design so I will have something here when I send the Zivan in to get "profiled". I found very little on chargers to copy so I am starting from scratch with parts from Digikey. I'll let you know how this works out.

In the meantime I really like the way the car drives and handles. If I ever get the urge for more power and range, I have plenty of room for more batteries.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bob Going Lithium

Bob sent me an update on his progress converting the car to lithium batteries (sorry it took so long to post it, Bob):

I found a pair of rear trunk torsion bars on ebay. To install them, I needed to split the rear battery box and remove the rear half. Because I had the batteries out, I decided it was time to get lithium. I decided that 40 cells would have nearly the same voltage as the 20 lead batteries. I ordered from Calib in Pomona and after a little wait, they were delivered from their stock. They were in three boxes on a pallet, and the UPS driver moved them with his manual fork lift right to the rear of Silver II. Back to the torsion bars. Installation requires two tools; a pry bar and a close-fitting pipe. The hinge is first removed and the pry bar is used to bend the spring to the rear under the corner of the engine cover. The pipe then holds the end of the spring with an assist of block of wood leaning against the underside of the corner of the engine cover. The hinge can be easily reinstalled. This is a one man job with the right tools. It is nice to be able to open and close the rear trunk without a broomstick. The saddle bag boxes are no longer needed so I have a full trunk to use.
I will include a few pictures of the lithium installation. Calib sent me the wrong hardware so I can't complete the wiring. One picture shows how I used the copper strap, modified, to terminate each box.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bob Update: Number 3

I redid the charging configuration on paper and I'm about to test it. It relies on the aux contacts on the charger itself. The charger is Italian and the translation is not clear. I'm hoping that aux 2 closes as the trickle phase begins. That phase is not desired for lithium and I want to us aux 2 to stop the charging. Do any of your contacts know about this? I found a recessed male plug on ebay and I'll be using that.
The 914 tach would not work with an ordinary square wave coming from the tach board that I built. I think I told you that I modified the tach itself to get it to work. I was not satisfied with that, so I bought another on ebay and changed my driver until it did work. The design is such that the output looks a whole lot like the signal from a distributor. I don't know if all tachs need this, but I'm going to look into it.
I've been driving the car a little. My impression is that it does not feel like a Porsche. Every other one I've had felt light and nimble.

Could this be the lead sled I've heard about? As soon as I can verify the charger, I'll order lithium. I have a source that has a pretty good delivery schedule. The voltage for 40 lithium should be about the same as 20 lead.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bob Update: Number 2

I believe I have enough side issues corrected to do some driving. The turn signals work. The ignition key is installed. That took several days because it required modifying the column. The 914 has early versions and late versions, and they do not interchange. I bought a late column on ebay and the mounting holes don't match. The late switch and lock won't go in an early column without severe modification, which mine now has. The tach is working. I made an optical pickup and mounted it on the back face of the motor. there was only one hole available so I hope that is enough. I pre tested the output and got a perfect square wave going to the tach, but the tach still didn't work. I took the tach apart and modified it and now the tach works. I got lucky here because I had no schematic and was working blind. I wish I did have a schematic of a VDO tach. I'm not done with this because I want to make an adaptor which works without having to modify the tach itself. The next big hurdle before I order lithium is the charger. It has the wrong profile for lithium and I don't even like it for lead. My approach is current limit in initial phase, voltage limit, then stop when the current reduces to 10 percent of it's initial value. This for lead and lithium. This approach is even good for nicd and nimh although it is seldom used this way. Next, the low voltage schematic that was furnished with the kit is unreadable in it's present form, so I redrew it. I discovered what i think is an error and after I make some changes, I'll comment further.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bob Updates: Number 1

I'm dating this for when Bob sent the e-mails. He continues to update me about the car. This was the first one:
I thought I would bring you up to date on the electric car. First, the turn signals haven't worked since the car was painted because the painter crossed the wires on both front turn signal lamps. I bought a flasher relay from a Porsche parts distributor and it was not compatible with the 914. I opened it up and modified it and now the turn signals work. I took the speedometer apart and found where the odometer was slipping. I assembled the slipping part with loctite and it is working for now. If this repair doesn't hold, I will do something more extensive. The replacement key-lock assembly is correct, but not for this early car. I bought a steering lock assembly on ebay and put the lock with it and it works OK but will not fit the steering column. Now I have a later model steering column coming from ebay.
I found a switch under the dash with a broken handle. I replaced the switch and now the antenna goes up and down. I'm going to modify the radio so the antenna goes up when the radio is on.
I found the forward shaft of the Warp 9 is tapped 1/4-20 so I'll be able to mount a cam on the end of the shaft. There is a tapped hole 1 1/4 inches from the center to mount an optical pickup. I haven't built any hardware yet but I should be able to make this work. I noticed the kit instructions had you tie the tach wire to a terminal board for this use.
I have improved the engine bay lid somewhat but have not yet finished this. The kit instructions called for parts which I couldn't find in the box.

After I get the tach working, I'll start shopping for lithium batteries. I'll keep you posted.


Obviously, Bob is doing the things I was incapable of doing without a long learning curve, so I think the car is in good hands.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Under New Ownership...

Well, I feel like I've done what I set out to do and I felt like it was time to sell the car. Bob (above with his wife Mary as we dined at Coco's in Pismo Beach) is the new owner, a fellow alum of the University of Illinois, a retired engineer and general tinkerer. He plans, among other things, to put Lithium batteries in, which should improve performance significantly. Hopefully, he will keep me updated and I can occasionally add posts this site. Thanks to all those who have followed this blog over the past couple of years. I hope you have found it entertaining and helpful. I will probably take up some new crazy project soon and I'll probably have a blog for it. Until then, I will sign out. Best of luck to all of you electric car converters!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Vehicle is for sale!

I feel like I've done what I've set out to do in completing this project and I am putting it up for sale, so I can start some new crazy project. Here is the e-bay listing:

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Maximum Range

In this video I drive a 6 mile course repeatedly around town until I run out of charge. Not a particularly exciting video other than a little drama at the end, but I now know the range. For those who wish to dispense with the watching, it was just over 50 miles. I would say it gives a comfortable range of 20 miles to a destination and 20 miles back (for a 40 mile round trip) to be on the safe side. I was hoping for a little more, but that is quite functional and a reasonable range.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Maximum Speed of this Electric Car

I was surprised to get it going this fast:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My First Ride: Edna Valley

I still need to do a few things, but the car is running nice, I think.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Getting her road ready

I put the seats in and the hoods on today, then filled the tires as best I could with a bicycle tire pump. The electrician set up a dedicated plug with a higher amp threshold for the circuit breaker as a dedicated "fueling" station for the car, so it was charged up and looking sharp. I took her out for another test run, still in the neighborhood, and snuck it up near 40 mph (don't tell my neighbors) without it breaking a sweat. The front end is still bottoming out, even with extra air in the tires and I discovered the reason. I had thought that the Cal Poly guys who did some work on it had put in the new heavy duty front shocks that came with the kit, since I hadn't seen those around, but they were buried behind the hoods leaning against the wall. I'll try next weekend to put those in and I think the car will be highway ready. For now, I might try to take it to the gym a mile from my house tomorrow, but I don't want to overstress it without those shocks.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

On the road! (sort of)

I was out of town this week, but Jerry "The Car Doctor" (pictured to the left) was on the car all weekend and when I got back today, he had it off the jack stands. I turned her on and rode her around the block a few times. My initial impressions: The car ran pretty well, comparable to when it had a gas engine, although I was limited to about 30 - 35 mph in my neighborhood which I achieved easily in 3rd gear. I think it will go highway speeds quite easily when I put it to that test. At this point, I need to get both seats in and the two trunks and there are some minor finishing touches Jerry will do after Thanksgiving. The suspension is a little tight and the car bottomed out up front at the bottom of our street where it met the cross street. The front tires are a little flat, so pumping those will probably help with that and I'll see if I need stronger suspension there. It was getting dark and I don't have a camera yet, but hopefully I can get some good film of the ride soon. The other issue involves charging. The charger worked for awhile, but then tripped the garage electric circuit breaker, so I can't recharge it until I can get a 20 amp breaker put in there.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wheels are Turning!

We had a good-sized rainstorm this week, so I wasn't expecting Jerry to drop by. Imagine my surprise when he was waiting in the garage with a smile on his face. With the car still on jacks, he started it up and ran the wheels forward and backwards. It's only a matter of time before we'll have it on the road, now! A few finishing touches with the electrical system when Jerry is back in town and I'll put the seats and hoods back on and make a run.
Jerry had run into a few problems getting the controller to work and eventually called ElectroAutomotive. He actually spoke with Mike on the phone and Mike talked him through the wiring, so apparently the customer service of EA has improved. If anyone still checks out this blog, I hope to be on the road with the car in the next couple of weeks and will try to film the occasion (I don't have a movie camera at the moment, but this might be just the motivation I need to buy one).

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Could it happen?

As anyone who has been following this blog knows, it has been a bit dead in the water for some time now. So it's time for an update. Jerry the "Car Doctor", in a flurry of inspiration has made some serious ground on the car and hopefully it will be running in the next few days! I will keep you posted. He called me over the weekend and said, "Let's get the batteries and finish this." So the batteries arrived today and he loaded them in.
(I know the blog started out with easy instructions for the beginner and I apologize that I haven't had the time or talent to complete the job myself, but below are a few updated pictures).

This is the front with the charger folded up. Jerry plans to run the wire to the front behind a flip-up license plate to attach the charger.

This shows the charger folded down. The charger is very different than the one found in the EA instructions and was easier to install (according to Jerry)

And this is the rear loaded up with batteries. The suspension seems good. It's a little tight in the back with the replacement coils from EA. I can't wait to see how it runs. This blog now reminds me of an old comic strip someone had hanging up at their desk when I worked as a computer programmer. It showed a complicated flow-chart all leading to a step that said "A miracle happens" before getting to the finished program.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Doctor is in...

The "Car Doctor," that is. Jerry, a local auto mechanic took an interest in my electric car project and offered to put in some time on it. Jerry has worked on electric cars in the past, mostly industrial vehicles, so he has a good knowledge base. He has come here a couple of days and has made more progress than I could have in 10. I had almost sold the car off, but this breathes new life into it. I'll post pics, soon. Obviously, I won't be able to give as much detailed instruction, but I will be happy to field questions to Jerry and will leave a link for him.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year: Resolution

No takers on the car and I have a little more time these days (not much), so I'm going to give it another go. I looked things over today and put in a few grommets. There are some parts and tools that I can't find, but I will do as much as I can. It's a little difficult, because I've been away from it so long and I don't have much momentum or continuity, but I'm at least feeling a little motivation. Anyway, Happy New Year to all and hopefully I'll be back on here with posts of my progress. For the record, I'd like to thank the people who e-mailed me and encouraged me to get back in my garage and finish this puppy.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Anyone interested in Finishing this Project?

I am overwhelmed with a new business and don't have the time in the foreseeable future to work on this car. If you are interested in buying the car or if you have some expertise and would like to work on it for a fee, let me know.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Since I have not had time to work on the car myself and don't anticipate being able to anytime soon, I decided to try and enlist some help. A few engineering students from the local university have agreed to help finish the car. It is nice to have some new blood and enthusiasm for the project. These guys appear to be quite capable, and they work fast. I'll try and post up some pics as they come. I should note to anyone that has the new engine mount for the warp 9 with the dual shaft from ElectroAutomotive, the mount and the transmission adaptor did not line up properly, leaving the mount an eight of a turn from the bottom. It would appear that this problem was fixed on my end by the students noted above, by drilling a couple of extra holes in the mount. I'll notify EA so they can fix future mounts.
Anyway, I'll try to post pics as much as possible, but I will often not be around while these guys are working on it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sorry for the slackery...

I can't blame it on ElectroAutomotive. I have been sidetracked the past couple of months. My wife and I just acquired a yoga studio and it has taken up all of my time. I hope to get back at it in a couple of weeks.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Step 15: Attaching the Engine/Flywheel/Clutch to the Transmission

Description: Attaching the clutch disc and pressure plate to the flywheel/engine.

Tools Needed: Wrenches, the two old bolts that connected the gas engine and transmission, starter block-off (from kit), Chain?

Estimated Time: 1 - 3 hours.

Caveats: None.

Purpose of this step: This is the fully connected engine/flywheel/clutch/transmission, similar to what was pulled out of the car. This all goes in in one piece, then will be mounted where the old engine/tranny was mounted under the car (Next Step).

I had the engine/flywheel/clutch assembly on one furniture cart and the tranny on the other. The ridged opening hole in the clutch has to match up in height with the shaft in the transmission and as you can see in the picture, I was off by a couple of inches. Figured that if the engine sat on some 2 by 4's on the cart, it would just about make up the difference. Also take note of the hole on the right side of the transmission where the starter used to be. That will be covered by a "starter blockoff" from the kit, since an electric starter is unnecessary with an electric engine.

This was pretty close (balanced out with some cardboard under the tranny and I tried to slide the clutch spline onto the transmission shaft. I had a lot of problems getting this on. The shaft from the transmission would only go in part way. I spent a long time trying to get this on and finally took a break, at which point my neighbor happened to come by and told me some things about the Island of Malta, that intrigued me and I made a mental note about looking at it for a possible vacation destination in the future. Then I had some lunch. By that time, I was feeling pretty good, so I headed back out to try again. I also sprayed a little WD40 on the transmission shaft. Then I tried to connect the two again and:

Either that break reinvigorated my determination or the WD40 did the trick. I'll never know for sure. Anyway,there are 4 bolts for the attachment. The two top bolts are the ones used to hold the gas engine to the tranny and two new ones supplied in the kit. Note also the starter block-off attached and covering the hole where the starter used to sit. There really isn't much else to it. Now, the manual suggests that you first bolt on a chain to use to lift the transmission up onto its connections under the car, then take that off and rebolt. I am going to try to hook it up without doing that. I think that the two furniture carts should help me set everything up. I am still waiting for the mount that was supposedly sent out by ElectroAutomotive, so I'll let you know how it went without the chain once I get the chance to try and hook it up.

After finishing, I headed out to a ranch in beautiful Cayucos (the last of the surf towns 30 miles south of the Big Sur coast), to see Elizabeth Kucinich speak about her husband's run for president, impeachment and other subjects. She is an eloquent speaker (a Brit) and a beautiful woman. I hope her husband is successful with his current proposal in Congress.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Step 14: Attaching the Clutch (clutch disc and pressure plate) to the Flywheel

Description: Attaching the clutch disc and pressure plate to the flywheel/engine.

Tools Needed: Torque Wrench (13mm socket), Clutch pilot tool.

Estimated Time: 30 - 45 minutes.

Caveats: None to mention.

Purpose of this step: The clutch fits on the flywheel, which is already attached to the electric engine in the same way it was set up on the gas motor. This is the last step before hooking the engine/flywheel/clutch to the transmission.

This was actually fairly easy. The clutch pilot tool fits into the hub from the previous step to hold up the clutch disc until you have the pressure plate mounted to the flywheel.

The clutch disc is set with the hub facing out (I believe) as pictured here.

Next you put on the pressure plate. You use the same bolts (hopefully you saved them) to attach the pressure plate to the flywheel with the clutch disc between them. You might need to tighten the bolts a bit to get the pressure plate to pop over the dowels on the flywheel.

The bolts are tightened to 18 foot pounds. You need the flywheel lock on to effectively tighten them.

That's about it. Pull off the flywheel lock and take out the clutch pilot tool.

Next up is attaching the engine/flywheel/clutch assembly to the transmission. In preparation, they recommend taping over the "headbands" so that any particles from drilling will not get inside of the engine. I'll probably do the next step next weekend. Supposedly, my motor mount is going to be sent out next week, so I will hopefully have all of this installed under the car soon.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Step 13: Attaching the Hub and Flywheel

Description: Attaching the hub, bushing and flywheel to the electric engine.

Tools Needed: Allen ratchets, torque wrench, red loctite.

Estimated Time: 2-3 Hours (Once you have the parts).

Caveats: Could not do it as presented in EA manual, so I'll discuss what I had to do.

Purpose of this step: The flywheel attaches to the engine and will interface with the clutch as it did with the gas engine. The Serrated edge was only for the starter, so that is no longer necessary (Some people have had it lathed off to decrease overall flywheel weight and make the engine more efficient. I didn't bother).

As noted, the motor key was a bit too long, so I needed to hacksaw it down so it would be flush on the end of the motor shaft and not hanging over. This was imprecise on my part, but I don't think it needed to be perfect.
The motor key sits in the groove and I need to put the hub and bushing on over the motor key.

First, here is the hub. This baby is one of the reasons that ElectroAutomotive has a bit of a monopoly on the electric car conversion set up. You need a specially designed hub to mimic the old interface between the engine and transmission. It is different for every car and EA has a "library" full of different designs for different cars that Mike designs with a CAD and a digital camera.

This "bushing" fits inside the hub and then both fit around the engine shaft, then the flywheel attaches to that. Note the groove in the hub where the motor key fits.

The next part required me to stray from the EA instructions. They tell you to put the hub and bushing on just tight enough to allow it to slide on the motor shaft and temporarily place on the flywheel so you can set the proper length, then pull the flywheel back off and tighten the hub/bushing fully on the shaft, before putting the flywheel back on. At least in my case, this couldn't be done. The hub fits too snug in the flywheel and if I try to slide out the flywheel, the semiattached hub/bushing come right out with it (WD40 was no help). I thought this was going to be too much of an obstacle, but I believe I found a way around it. I figured out how far into the the hub the flywheel goes, then I added that distance (in my case it was .230 inches) to the 1.790" recommended. I tightened the hub/bushing loosely onto the shaft so that it could still slide and held the flywheel just flush with the hub (not inserted). Then I slid the the hub until the total distance was 1.790 + .230 = 2.020".
At that point, I tightened the hub/bushing all the way (this is an allen wrench procedure on five provided little bolts) so it wouldn't move on the shaft. For the record, tightening the hub pulls it back in from 1.790" to 1.769" according to EA. Then it's time to add the flywheel. But before that, I took the time for a little prayer to the flywheel gods.
As far as I can determine (and I'm willing to be corrected on this), it is good enough.
Of course, make sure when you put the flywheel on that the bolt holes line up with the ones on the hub. In order to get the flywheel all the way in, I had to screw all the flywheel bolts in tight, so I needed to use the flywheel lock. Again, this is different from the instructions, because I couldn't just slide the flywheel all the way in (also, don't forget the little washer plate that fits in the flywheel before you put on the bolts. Once I determined that the measurements were adequate (by my standards), I pulled each bolt out, one at a time, put red loctite on them and screwed them back in, then pulled the next bolt, etc.. The EA manual recommends tightenting the bolts to 80 foot pounds. I can't say that I was exact on that. I screwed them in about as tight as I could without rolling the engine off the crate. I think this is about as precise as an amateur like myself will be able to do this, so I hope it's good enough. Next up is the Clutch.

I posted a picture of my dog Whitman here in the past and my other dog, Finny got a little jealous, so here's Finny enjoying some girl talk:

Finny is a Westhighland White Terrier (Westie). We got him when we were living in Seattle (much to the dismay of his brother). Finny is the quintessential terrier, in that he is a pain in the ass. I love the little guy, though.

A little bit of progress...

After hacksawing the motor key down to size, I was able to attach the flywheel to the electric motor today. I was going to go for the clutch, too, but decided to end the day on a successful note. I'll have pics up when I get the clutch on there.
ElectroAutomotive actually e-mailed me back yesterday, saying that they are sending out a new motor mount adapted to the Warp9 dual shaft engine. They said they were sending it out next week (I wish they said they had already sent it, as a bird in the hand is far better than two in the bush with this project). They also claim that my battery boxes are coming in the next couple of weeks. I haven't gotten batteries yet and will hold off until the boxes arrive.

Monday, October 22, 2007

California's Latest Power Plant: My House!

Our solar panels are now up and running. So far we have generated more electricity than we use, indicated by our digital meter going backwards.* I think that trend will definitely continue, at least until I get the electric car running. For some particulars, we generated 19 Kilowatt Hours yesterday, with a peak of 2,906 watts. It's starts up with a few hundred watts at about 8 AM and by 10:30 or 11:00 it is over 2,000. It peaks at about 2 in the afternoon and starts to decline from there. It should do even better in the summer with the longer days.
Interestingly, the wildfires in California put a haze over us here on the Central Coast today, even though we are 200 miles away. You could actually smell smoke.
Because of that, we generated a smaller maximum of 2,457 watts today (Compared to the previously noted 2,906 from yesterday). So assuming that yesterday was a clear day, I can create my own haze index for the amount of sun blockage: 2,457/2,906 = .845, so that's about a 85% of what we maxed on a clear day. That's a 15% loss in efficiency, which is quite significant and that's 200 miles away from the source of the fire. It gives you an idea of how smog must effect L.A.
Anyway this is like a new toy for me and I'll update with more factoids as they come. Hopefully, that will be the worst of the fires, but I'm not optimistic, as it is still warm and dry and the Santa Ana winds are expected for the next few days.
I wish I had a better car update. I hack-sawed my motor key to the proper length and I will try to attach the clutch and transmission to the motor this weekend. I'm stuck after that until I can get a motor mount from EA, who are again not returning my e-mails.
*For the record, California doesn't reimburse you if you make more energy than you use anymore, so consider it a donation to the grid...

Monday, October 8, 2007

Solar Panels Up!

We have the solar panels installed! They still need to hook it up to the electric and it has to be approved by the power company before we can use it, but that should happen quite soon. I had a neighbor hinting that he was concerned about the possibility of "glare" from the panels. I figured this was just one of those concerns people bring up that turn into a big nothing and I think my assessment is correct, as I noticed no glare in the afternoon sun from the street above ours. They look quite nice, in my opinion, and when they are running I'll have more details about energy production, cost, etc.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Still Waiting...

I just ran into an old friend, Mark, who said that there was a talk in town today about electric vehicle conversions, which I missed. Turns out it was Mike and Shari from Electro Automotive. I'm happy to see that they are spreading the good word about electric cars, but it might be nice if they could focus on the orders that are already in rather than looking for more business. Uh-oh, I'm getting grumpy... On a lighter note, I took a weeklong sailing course with a friend of mine down in Santa Barabara last week and I'll post pics when I get them developed (I forgot my digital camera). Our solar panels should be up early next week and I'll have some pics of that, too. Now if I could only make some progress on my electric car, I'd be in business (grumpy again).

Monday, September 3, 2007

Step 12: Attaching Heavy-Duty Rear Shocks

Description: Replacing the old shock and strut springs with a heavy-duty variety.

Tools Needed: Strut Spring Compressor (If you're game - see caveat), Wratchet and torque wrenches. Two 10 inch plus adjustable wrenches. Rubber spacers (or homemade varieties). New heavy duty strut springs and shocks.

Estimated Time: 3 hours.

Caveats: Electro Automotive warns against doing the struts yourself, instructing you to bring them to someone with the right tools - skip past this part if you take their advice. I did it myself, so I'll go through how I did it, but accept no liability either. Also, make sure you jack the control arm up before removing the shock, as it is the only thing holding the control arm up.

Purpose of this step: Since the addition of the 20 lead acid batteries will add well over 1,000 pounds to the car, heavy duty shocks are needed to handle that extra weight. The same is true for the front shocks, which I will add later.

This is probably a good time to do this step, although the manual has it later on. It allows you more breathing room under the car. Here is a picture of the old shocks and strut springs still in the car:

The whole shock and strut unit can be removed in one piece. The first thing to do is jack up the car and remove the tire.
The reason for this is to give you access to the nut holding the spring in. You can then turn that nut while holding the bolt head on the other side. You need two good size adjustble wrenches (or the right size regular ones if you got 'em).
You can unscrew and remove the nut and washer, but do not remove the bolt UNTIL YOU'VE JACKED UP THE CONTROL ARM. Otherwise the control arm will just drop when the shock is not attached. I would also stray slightly from the instructions here and suggest loosening top bolt before removing the lower bolt if you are doing this by yourself, as you will need to remove the shock from below. The top screw is under the rubber bumper in the rear trunk:

Once you have the top screw and the bottom bolt out, you have the whole strut and shock in one piece.

You will then need some nuts, washers and rubber bushings from it for your new shocks, along with the top and bottom spring retainer. Here is where it gets a little tricky. You can't just remove them from the old shock, because the compressed strut spring would fly off, potentially causing serious harm to person or property. You can take it to an auto shop and let them pull off the parts needed and attach them to your new strut and shock and skip the next part, but I decided to give it a go.

I got a strut spring compressor from AutoZone. They sell for 40 bucks, but you can take one out for free with a deposit. I believe a coil spring compressor would also work.

This will compress the spring so you can safely remove the spring retainer and other needed parts (you need to compress both sides or the spring will bow). After removing the spring, you can loosen the compressor to remove it from the extended spring. I should note that the spring actually extended farther than the compressor, slightly, but I was able to remove it with a slight bit of manual compression on the spring.

Here you can see the difference between the old (black) strut spring and the new (cool blue) strut spring, which is shorter and has thicker coils.

They can be added to the new heavy duty shocks with the same compression technique and the screws and retainers from the old shocks. Because the shock is shorter, it didn't need much compression. (If I did it right) It should look something like this:

One problem is that the bottom two sides of the shock would seem to require rubber spacers before attaching them to the control arm. They were not supplied with the shocks, presumably because they assume you would use the ones from the old shocks, but those aren't compatible.

I ended up trolling the local auto parts stores. There is no standard rubber spacer. At Napa I found something I figured I could fashion into a spacer by cutting off the ends and carving it a bit to fit.

Here's what I came up with in the end. I think it works alright. I guess sometimes you have to improvise.
Finally, I put in the new strut, screwing the bottom bolt and nut and then the top nut (they give you a new top nut for some reason). Here it is in the car:

It is the same procedure on the other side. I should note that these are not adjusted with the precision needed. Once I get the car running, I will need to go to the shop and have them balance them precisely, although I should at least be able to drive on them to get to the shop.

Step 11: Mounting Spacer and Adaptor

Description: Attaching The spacer and the adaptor plate to the electric motor.

Tools Needed: Allen ratchets, torque wrench, red loctite.

Estimated Time: Open

Caveats: Got a rear shaft?

Purpose of this step: The electric engine needs to be attached to the engine in much the same way the old motor was. It sits in front of the transmission, on the old motor mount and the adaptor allows you to to attach it to the transmission. The spacer gives you the correct distance (the electric engine is a bit shorter in length) so that the transmission still sits in the same place it did before.

Above is the front of the engine and the spacer. The crate that the engine came in is different than the one for the ADC, so you have to use your imagination a bit when deciding how to move the engine around on the crate to work on it. You basically need to turn it upside down when doing this (which I assume will have a reason later). You then attach the spacer.

It fit snugly on the engine with some gentle tapping from my rubber mallet. You can then screw it in using the allen cap screws provided with the kit. Before you put them on, though, you put a little red loctite on them.
This is some kind of goop that keeps the screws in there tight. There is also a blue loctite (don't be fooled by the blue bottle - this is red), which is not as strong. I don't know when you'd use the blue.

The bolts are put in using a torque wrench to prevent overtightening. This is my first time using one and it was fun. I got one that you set in advance, so you can feel it slip when you get to the desired torque (in this case 35 ft. lbs.).

The next thing they ask you to do is put the motor key in the slot on the shaft.

This is a bit of a problem. The slot or groove on the shaft is curved in the back. I assume the ADC groove was a straight cut, so the motor key, which is a little piece of rectangular metal that comes with the kit, doesn't go all the way back into the curved groove and juts out a bit. I discovered later that this is a problem when attaching the hub, which needs to be flush on the shaft. I have e-mailed Electro Automotive about it (I'm not holding my breath for a reply). I'm considering just sawing off the excess, but if they have a better remedy, I'll wait.
*Note: I address the motor key issue in Step 13, when I attach the hub and flywheel.

Now it's time for the the adaptor plate to be attached. The EA instructions say to mount this with the "flat edges of the plate should be on bottom and to the left when viewed from the drive end of the motor." This tested all of my spatial coordination and I found myself still lacking. Eventually, I held the adaptor to the transmission and I think I was able to establish witch way it should fit on the engine by matching the adaptor plate to the transmission. This is attached using some flathead bolts and red loctite, with the same 35 lb torque.

I hope this is correct, but I suppose I'll find out eventually.

***This is where I was originally held up. I was going to have the flywheel and clutch attachment as part of this step, but you can see that at step 13 and 14. While waiting, I did the rear suspension in step 12, but you can hold off on that until after steps 13 and 14 if you want.