Thursday, February 26, 2009

Let it snow

It started to snow on the way over to Marcus' shop to weld in the front battery rack. And it kept snowing. By the time we were done there was 6 inches on the car. But the rack is in. Now to get another battery and a cable for it and we're at 72 volts. Hopefully it will melt off a little and there will be a chance to test it out with all 6 batteries soon.

Battery straps

I couldn't decide on battery straps between cables, metal straps bolted down, or just rope. My wife says "kayak straps" and she was right! Ace sells custom leathercraft tie-down straps premade in different lengths, which are rated to 200 lbs 3 times the weight of a battery. A perfect fit and cheap too!

Tough nut to crack

It shows just how bad a mechanic I really am. I couldn't even get the transmission filler plug out. It did take two guys to finally get it. So, I don't feel too bad. Thirty bucks later and a tranny full of fluid we can drive it. Top speed so far has been 40 MPH on a downhill. That's with only 5 of 6 batteries.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rear batteries

Four batteries in back all wired up. They all fit in the spare tire well. They each have separate chargers, Soneil 1206S, 3 stage, 3 amp and 12V.


The old gas hog had 276,262 miles on it.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Maiden Voyage

Today was big. We finished the remaining battery cables and hooked them up. With the car still on blocks, we tried the throttle and it looked good so we drove around the block! Wow, it works! Really quiet and pretty good acceleration, especially since there were 4 of us onboard. There are still a few things to finish, like a vacuum pump for the brakes, the front battery rack and another battery.

Radio - comedy of errors

This bad boy didn't have a radio when we hauled it back here, just a mess of wires. But not to worry, my father-in-law had an old one we could put in there. So, when I picked it up, it was old, ancient, history, passed on. I tried to get a plug at a local car audio place and they said "no way, we just threw out 40 radios yesterday". Five minutes later I'm dumpster divin' for a honda with a plug to match the wiring. Well, I found a radio but no plug. So, a few minutes on ebay and a $1 + $5 shipping (ironic) and a few days later I'm in business.

So, Zach and I hook up the power and ... "CODE" flashes on the radio. After trying a few random attempts, we give up. The next day, I call Honda with the serial number and they give me the code, which works. That's a pretty hot theft prevention program! Anyway, the code works and ... no sound. So I check the speakers and they aren't there. After a few calls, I'm laughing all the way to Walmart for a $20 pair of 5.25 speakers that are good enough to Rock!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Junction box and Controller mounted

The junction control box is mounted next to the controller and the low voltage is now wired. With a honda wiring diagram I found a "hot in on" 12v wire that the ignition key turns on. This was wired to the controller relay and the main contactor. And it works!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Controller mount

The controller is a Kelly KD72500, which is 72 volts and 500 amp max. The mount is a piece of $1 scrap aluminum found in the recycle bin when we took then engine parts in. I mounted it horizontal to leave room underneath for the accelerator and speedometer cables. Also, I think the vacumn pump will have to go under it too.

The kelly wiring diagram includes reverser contactors and backup beepers so it is more complex than I needed. Here is a diagram from a curtis controler that is pretty close to a minimal diagram.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Control box

This control box is a 10x10 metal junction box with a lid. It will mount nicely on the firewall next to the controller with the 4 orig. holes. Only 2 knockouts will be needed to fish the cables through. With the cold weather I've brought it inside to work on the wiring. The components are the main contactor, a 400 amp fuse, a 30amp automotive relay and a cool cutoff switch mounted through the top. Room was saved for a heater relay (solid state) and a shunt.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Stringing the cables

Even though it probably isn't needed I ran the cables, including 2 2/0 battery cables an an extension cord for the chargers, through this 1 1/2 inch black pvc pipe under the chassy where the exhaust pipe was. The pipe should protect the cables from dirt, rocks etc. It was cold out so a hair dryer help get the pipe to fit. It is strapped down with 2 hole straps and self drilling screws. All the parts for under $10 so a minor cost to protect the cable.

Auxiliary Battery

The donor didn't have a starter battery so I needed an battery or DC to DC converter to run the lights, radio, and supply power to the main contactor and controller relay. Since a DC to DC converter runs about $225 I opted for this 33 amp hr bat at $79.99. Adding up the basics, lights, radio, fan, misc. "on" circuits at about 200 - 300 watts. So, a 24 amp hr battery would have worked but this 33 amp hour AGM was the same price and only a little bigger. It fits nicely in to the width of the Group 51 original battery slot, but is a little shorter.

The aux. battery charger is a Black and Decker 2 amp float charger from HomeDepot for $18. I'm not 100% sure that a normal charger will work with AGM because the full charge voltage is over 14. A little more research might be needed in that. Also, a strap is needed because the original battery mount isn't short enough.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Battery Cables

Parts for the battery cables:
  • The Ace® Cable Cutter Plier is $15.49.
  • Rachem shrink tubing from amazon $9+shipping
  • Noalox anti-corrosion joint compound from homedepot $7
  • A hammer style crimper from ebay around $20
It worked better to pound the cables ends on the cement floor rather than the work bench. I used a propane torch to shrink the tubing.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Motor mount

As you can see, I left the existing motor mount in place and just added a vertical bar, with 2 additional bars you can't see, down to the motor. The bar and bolts where about $6. The mount is on a rubber shock absorber and pivots horizontally to the motor. Since the motor assembly is about a third the weight of the original motor it should be enough to support it on rough roads. It won't have a huge amount of torque support. So it will be important to keep an eye on the adapter plate motor mounts.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Task List

It is really nice to work on a project with no deadline. But just to keep track of the completion and pace of the project I created a task list. Sorry no gant charts for this one.

PREP (30 hours)
  • Tow or drive donor
  • Degrease engine compartment
  • Drain fluids (gas, radiator, transmission (optional))
  • Remove engine and non-reusable parts*
  • Remove gas tank and exhaust system
  • Misc: Tires, body work, electrical repairs, clean up the car, title and plates, tranny oil
  • Recycle parts, the aluminum and brass radiators are worth more than the raw iron
MOTOR MOUNT (50 hours)
  • Order Motor and/or kit
  • Adapter plate, cut and drill, counter bore holes *
  • Build Spacers, cut and drill *
  • Coupler drill, tap and cut *
  • New flywheel bearing
  • Build starter (hole) cover
  • Buy nuts, bolts, and washers
  • Grind motor bolts heads
  • Install the motor
  • Build motor mount to existing ICE mount
BATTERIES (est. 15 hours, 30 actual)
  • Buy batteries
  • Buy and wire chargers and connectors
  • Build cable ends
  • Pull cables
  • Build battery racks (cut and weld angle iron) *
  • Mount battery racks
  • Build battery boxes (acid proof for floodies) *
  • Strap batteries to racks
  • Wire together the high voltage
ELECTRICAL (10 hours)
  • Junction box assemble and wire *
  • Buy Aux. Battery
  • Buy Aux. charger
  • Potentiometer install and wire
  • Buy Controller Relay and wire
  • Mount and wire controller
  • Mount and wire junction box
MISCELLANEOUS (est. 10 hours)
  • Vacuum pump and switch install *
  • Build and mount vacuum chamber
  • Heater installation *
TOTAL (est. 115 hours, 130 actual)

  • * These items are the most complicated and may take more time.
  • Building the adapter plate and spacers was by far the most time consuming task. Buying these or having them machined would have saved me about 44 hours. I'll remember that for next time.
  • Choosing a donor with everything working and the engine already removed would save another 30 hours. This, however, would be pretty rare.
  • This schedule does not include design or research time, which has been a lot of hours on the internet.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Ron from Eco Auto sold me 5 Discover EV31A-A AGM 100 Amp Hr batteries. AGM are Absorbed Glass Mat, which are spill proof and sealed. This is a big plus because they won't leak acid or gas into the passenger area and won't require building an acid proof box. They are Group 31 which are only about an 3/4 of an inch longer than the Group 27 Walmart batteries I was originally planning on. Also these are 72 lbs. compared to the 62 lbs. I had planned on. So, an extra 60 lbs., which shouldn't effect performance too much. About like having a full tank of gas.

Check out the "real" electric cars at

Monday, February 2, 2009

Battery Racks

These racks are 1 1/2 x 1/8 angle iron, which was $24 for a 20 footer. I cut the pieces with a jigsaw with a bi-metal blade. Marcus showed me how and let me use his wire feed welder. I know I won't be charging for welding anytime soon. The welds aren't pretty but I think they will hold. I'll paint the racks to prevent rust and bolt them to the floor where the spare tire was. The smaller rack I'll weld to the frame in the front where the radiator used to be. I'll put an 1/8 inch piece of packing board on the bottom of the racks to help level them off, since the welds are high. Four bats in the back and 2 in the front. The next step is to pull the cables then put the batteries in.