Sunday, July 29, 2007

Minor Delay...

I am putting in a few electrical parts and was shorted a part, so I will finish that step when I get the new part from ElectroAutomotive (or run off to Radio Shack if it takes too long). I was dreading this step, because there are a lot of little wires to hook up and other tedious tasks, but it is going okay, so far. I notice that the next step is to hook up the electric engine to the transmission. Wow, I wasn't expecting to be doing that for awhile. As soon as I get that done, I'll order the batteries, as it will free up some space in my garage.
I have a solar guy coming by this week to give me an estimate on putting up solar panels. I'm not sure that we can afford it at the moment, but this will give us an idea of the price, the number of panels and where they would be placed. I'll put up a post with all the details when the estimate comes in.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Oops - Forgot a step

Someone e-mailed me recently and mentioned removing the battery tray. I realized that I had forgotten to pull that out of there. I have added a step and fudged on when I did it (today), renumbering a couple of steps to put it in more logical place. You can go to that step (now step 5) here:

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Step 7: Installing the Potbox

Description: Mounting the potbox onto a mounting plate on the front of the engine compartment (Driver's Side).
Estimated Time: 2 hours.
Tools needed: drill, Rivnut tool, various wrenches, flat-head screwdriver.
Caveats: Your vehicle, like mine, may vary from that pictured in the instructions.
Purpose of This Part: The purpose of the potbox is to work as the go-between for the gas (accelerator) pedal and the controller. As noted in the controller installation, the controller controls the electrical amperage that is sent to the engine. The potbox signals how much more or less amperage the controller should put out. When you push on the gas pedal, it will pull the accelerator cable as it always did, but instead of telling the gas engine how much gas to burn for increased acceleration, it will pull on the potbox lever, causing the potbox to signal electrically to the controller how far the pedal is being pushed. The controller increases or decreases the amperage based on whether you push or let up on the pedal. In other words, when you step on the gas pedal, the car goes faster (just as always).

Stuff Needed:

When I looked over the work space, I knew there would be a bit of a problem, this time. This is simply not the same configuration as that shown in the instruction manual picture. There is less room and the ridge used as an edge for the template is in a different location, so the template could not be used.

Here is their picture. The black object (I think that's the brake cylinder) is much higher and closer to the center. This forced me to make a couple of modifications. First, since it is sitting lower, the drilled holes (top and bottom) don't go through to the passenger compartment and I needed to use rivnuts for all four mounts.

Secondly, I needed to drill two new holes in the mount in order to to get it to line up in a place where I could put rivnuts (due to the donut hole indentation on the sheet metal, right where the pre-drilled holes on the left would be placed for bolting).
I don't know whether this will be a problem, but I did get it mounted with the modifications mentioned. I might use a few different sized screws and remount it, but here is how it it mounted to date:

For comparison, here is the installed potbox in the manual.

You can see that it sits much higher. I notice, by the way, that they had a couple of unused holes drilled right where I did mine, so obviously, they had it set up in the past for that modification and lost that plotline at some point.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Step 6: Installing the Controller

Description: Mounting the Controller and shunt to mounting plate on the front of the engine compartment.
Estimated Time: 5 - 6 hours.
Tools needed: drill, hex wrench, hammer, Rivnut tool, various wrenches, wire cutter, wire stripper, heat gun, crimper, anti-corrosion compound, heatsink compound.
Caveats: Patience required.
Purpose of This Part: The controller controls how much electricity is put into the motor at any one time. The shunt measures this electrical output and will connect to a guage in the car so that you can always tell how much electrical amperage is being put out by the controller. This will, among other things, tell you when to switch gears if you have reached max output from the controller (presumably used in the same way a tachometer is used in a combustion engine).

It was nice to really get started on the installation. This part took a long time for a few reasons, but mostly because there was a bit of a learning curve for several things. I am sure I could do it again in less than half the time.
From this point forward, I am using the ElectroAutomotive instruction manual for the conversion and I won't just rehash that on here. I'll just stick to the highlights and anything I think needs more explanation.
My initial impression of the manual is that it is generally quite good and detailed. It could use a little elaboration in places, though. For example, they have you bolt the controller onto the mount, then they tell you to take it off, again. They could explain that you are just doing it temporarily to set the correct orientation for a particular wire. Anyway, if you just plod through the instructions, things make more sense while you are doing them, even if they seemed a bit confusing when I read them over beforehand.

Here is the place where the controller is installed. It is the front of the engine compartment, directly behind the passenger seat of the car. A mount is set out from the wall so that the controller can fit snugly. Note the little piece of metal ribbon right in the middle, there. I ended up chiseling that off.
ElectroAutomotive provides templates to tell you where to drill the holes for the controller mount. They suggest you use a center punch, but I just marked through it with a magic marker. I made back-up copies of these templates in case I screwed up. Once you have the holes marked, you drill through to the passenger side, using progressively larger drill bits.
This requires safety goggles, which I didn't have, so I ended up using my swim goggles. Okay, that's kind of dorky and they fogged up a lot, but they did provide a nice blue tint to the work environment.

The bottom drilled holes are not accessible from the passenger side, so you need to set in rivnuts to screw into the blind holes. What are rivnuts, you might ask? A rivnut has a small thread with a bit of soft metal above that. When you use a rivnut tool on it, it causes that soft metal to collapse on the other side of the sheet metal, preventing it from being pulled back out, while still keeping the screw threads. It basically allows you to screw something right into sheet metal or other spaces where you don't have access to the other side to put in a nut and washer.
Here is a pre and post rivnutted rivnut (post is on the right). These rivnuts are for one of the mounting standoffs, which is used to set the mount out to where the controller can be attached. Here it is attached to the wall, with the two rivnuts in the outer arm. The instruction manual doesn't make this clear, but you will need to drill the outer standoff holes bigger to fit the required rivnut.

You then install the left standoff using a similar method and eventually the mounting plate that the controller will be mounted on. This is a little out of order, because you first need to set up the wire that will run from the controller to the shunt. For that, you need to cut of piece of wire, strip the end, put on a lug filled with anticorrosion goop and crimp it to the wire. Then you use a heat gun and cover up the lug/wire attachment with some heat shrink tubing. Here is a photo collage of that procedure:

Finally, you put the controller on the controller mount (First you add some heatsink zinc to the back to protect it).

This is the completed project. The slanted piece above the controller is the shunt. The wire connects the top left negative terminal to the shunt. One thing I should point out is that the instructions just say to screw the mounting bolts in and they do screw in tight, but I added some locking nuts to the bottom bolts to make sure the bolt mounts are kept in place (I'd do the same for top, but they aren't very accessible). Also, the "high performance" 1231C controller (which I am using), has 5 bolt mounts rather than 4.

I even had time to do a little fishing. Here is the catch of the day. I finally got that fuel pump and filter out of there!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Puttin' Stuff In

I finally got the nuts and bolts I need to start putting electric vehicle parts into the car. I had run out of stuff to take out a long time ago (although I found the hiding place for that fuel pump today and will remove the little rascal shortly). I started putting in the controller today and I'm about halfway through. I should have that first task completed with pics sometime later this week. I'm not 100% sure what a controller does, but I will try to discuss the function of each thing I install to the best of my understanding.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Step 5: Removing the Battery Tray and Tray Stand

Description: Removing the battery tray and tray stand where the old 12 volt battery used to sit. There will still be one regular car battery (in addition to the 20 golf cart batteries to be installed), but it will be in a different place.
Tools Needed: Hammer and Screwdriver or chisel.
Estimated time: 5 to 10 minutes.
Caveats: See note below.

Note: I actually did this after putting on the controller and potbox, but it would be better to do it before, so you don't have to worry about getting your controller all dusty, so I let's pretend I did it here. This is at the point where you jack up the car and get it ready for installing parts. This makes it easier to get at the tray from inside the engine compartment.

Not much to this step. The tray is riveted in and you can just pount your screwdriver in to pull it from the engine compartment. I pulled off the tray first, then the stand. Quite easy. Here's some pics:

This is the battery tray. Like with most old Porsche 914's, this is the rustiest thing in the car.

I removed the tray first. Good riddance to that rust trap!

This gives good access to the tray stand for removal.

Here it is without the tray or tray stand. This needs to be done to make room for the battery containers.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Dashboard Repair

Like most old cars, the dash on my '71 Porsche 914 is quite cracked and faded. When I bought it, there was a "dash topper" on the dash, which is basically a synthetic looking cloth material that was velcro-ed on to cover up the cracks and didn't look much better than the old dashboard.
I bought a dash/vinyl repair kit for it and tried to cover up the cracks. They give you a miniature iron and some sort of goop to apply. Maybe this requires a skill that I don't possess, but it ended up looking worse after the "repair."
I thought about buying a new dash, but I don't know if they are even for sale. I looked for old dashboards on ebay and found a few, but they are old and usually have a crack or two of their own and they are bit expensive anyway. Then I found a company that makes dash shells for Porsche 914's (and probably a lot of other cars) and decided to try that.
Basically, it's a thin plastic/vinyl shell that fits over your regular dashboard. I tested it out and after some initial wiggling, it fit like a glove, so I put the included glue on the back of it (goes around the outer edge, about a half inch in from the edge) and fit it back on the dash.

You need to put something on it to hold the glue in place until it dries. I used some 4 X 4's and duct tape. The instructions recommended bungy cords, but I didn't have any.
Anyway, I think it looks alright. Here is the finished product.

Not quite perfect, but a big improvement, I'd say. The purists might scoff, but I'm turning the car into an electric vehicle, so I'm not a purist.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Step 4: Removing the Seats and Backing

Description: Removing the two seats and the vinyl backing and center cushion behind the seats.
Estimated Time: 30 minutes
Tools needed: One phillips head screwdriver
Caveats: None to mention

Okay, this was an easy one. No tool is even needed to to remove the seats. They come right off the rails. I started with the passenger seat. Just pull up on the loop that adjusts the seat forward and back. At first I couldn't get the seat all the way off. There is one little trick for which I consulted the 914 Club website. The Seat has a release for the rail nearest the door. If you pull the seat almost as far forward as you can (leaving maybe a half inch), you can feel the rail release on the seat preventing it from coming all the way off the front. Just reach in from the front and depress that rail release and the seat will come off.

This is a close-up of the rail release.

Here is the full bottom of the seat. Note the loop to adjust the seat on the front of one track and the rail release on the other track. The same technique can be used for the driver's side seat. In my case, it was a little sticky and I ended up using a pick ax handle as a lever to help me push it forward. I will take the advice on the 914 Club site and grease the rails before I put the seats back on (if I remember).

To remove the backing behind the seats (which is necessary for drilling on the controller and pot box, you simply unscrew the 4 bigger screws and 2 small ones in the center. They are all near the bottom. Up top it fits into a couple of connections, so once you have pulled out all the screws, pull down on it and this will almost remove it completely (it is all a single piece):

I say almost because the little latch for the engine compartment release prevents it from coming off completely. Rather than mess with that, I've decided to leave it as is. I'm pretty sure I can access that area by just pulling it back when needed and I'm running out of space in my garage for all this stuff.

Anyway, here is the car without the seats (ignore the sledgehammer).

I finished this quickly enough that I also decided to do a side project: a quick and dirty dashboard repair job. The glue is drying, but I'll post that up tomorrow. I am going to label my side projects not related to the EV conversion as "side project."