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Friday, December 10

The Journal News writes about the Electric Vehicle.

We made it into the paper last week.  Thank you Journal News for a great article.  The more people know that it can be done with any vehicle the better.  There is a lot of amazing work being done at the grassroots level.  You can basically learn everything you need to know from Jack Rickards videos online at  He will be the first to admit that they are long and in depth.  His research on the available batteries and everything else to do with EVs is very informative.  I personally can't wait to convert my Lead Acid batteries to Thundersky LiFePo4.  I would lose 400 lbs of weight and have a range of 100 miles.  It just makes sense.  I can still use my Lead Acid pack to store energy and to quick charge the EV in about 20 minutes.  Now that would be interesting to do.

But for now I have to finish my kitchen.  All I can do at the moment is dream.

Thursday, November 18

3,740 EV miles

For an EV that has a range of 30 miles on Lead Acid batteries, I am managing to consistently to do over 50 miles a day, meeting all my needs.  I charge between uses and it feels good to drive a Zero Emissions Vehicle.

Time to review the process.

A lot of people are asking me what I would do differently if I was to do a conversion again.  So what I think I need to do is go over the problems that I ran into so that it might help those of you who are thinking of taking the bull by the horns and reducing your gas addiction significantly by starting your own conversion.  Over the next few weeks I shall list the things that went wrong and what I did to overcome the problems that presented themselves.  I will also make a list of parts and stuff that I had to buy to get the job done, so that the cost of the project becomes tangible.

But for now lets start at the beginning.
Choosing the car,  It has to be something that you are going to love driving, comfortable, aerodynamic and with great handling.  The body is going to need to be free from rust so that it lasts a long time.  I have fallen in love with my EV and can't stand the thought of it being off the road for any length of time.  It is such a different driving experience.  As an EV it has great acceleration and it holds the road on cornering like nothing else due to its lower center of gravity and extra weight and the way it is distributed.

Having a space to work on it is the key to success.  It needs to be inside out of the weather.  You are going to be pulling it to pieces and you will need to keep things organized and so a clean space is very important. Getting muddled and losing bits and pieces is frustrating and time consuming.

Research as much as you can, I found Jack Rickard and Gavin Shoebridge's YouTube movies a great place to start.  There is a ton of information available from those two people.  Jack approaches everything in a thorough and scientific way, so spend the time researching all you can.

The point at which you will find yourself stuck and alone, and feeling a little helpless, is when you want to get the motor married to the existing transmission.  There are some companies that will do it for you, but you have to send both parts to them and it can take 3 months.  That is really painful and I opted to go it alone.  It wasn't the adaptor plate that posed the problem so much as the coupling and where to get it and which one would work for my application.  No one could help me.  On Gav's site he used a Lovejoy coupling and so I called them up and asked which one they recommended.  They said they could not recommend one as it was being used in a vehicle, and that could have potential liability issues.  That got me a little frustrated.  So anyway I ended up having to just pick one and give it a try.  It turned out to be too small and shattered within the first 200 miles.  It was back to the drawing board and I called Lovejoy again and told them that one of their couplings had failed, and this time the rep did give me a recommendation.  Maybe he sensed that I wasn't going to go away.

I had to get the splined insert that had been welded into the smaller one machined and re welded into the larger coupling.  The larger coupling was made of sintered iron which you cannot weld onto.   I then had to order one side of the coupling made out of stainless steel.  It took over a week to arrive and then a few days at the machinist to get it worked on.   In the meantime I had to change the spacing between the motor and the transmission by adding more spacers ( 2 pieces of 1/2 inch aluminum),  which meant the bracket where the other end of the motor fixed to the chassis also had to be changed.

It has not been a problem since then.  It seems to be a really hardy coupling that can handle the tremendous amount of torque that an electric motor generates.

Sunday, November 14

Chevy Volt meets Grassroots EV at NYU-Poly

On Friday I was invited to make a presentation of the EV at an NYU-Poly workshop about 'Rebooting the Grid'.  One of my friends, Dhirendra Ashar, who is an electrical engineer. set up an invitation with Dr. Andres Fortino.  It was a full day event, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  The problem that was discussed was, what the Power Grid will look like in 30 years when all cars in the US are powered by electricity.  There were a lot of very interesting and smart people there, and we had a great time brainstorming this subject.

We also had an Engineer from GM who brought a Chevy Volt along for everyone to see.  Thanks to Jason Taylor for giving me a great walk through of the Volt.  It is a lovely vehicle.  It has a range of 40 miles on electric power, which as I have found with my EV, with a range of 30 miles, is plenty for all the local running around.  And if you need to go further than that, then the back up gas generator will get you to your destination where you can charge up the car again.  I think that it is going to be a great transitional vehicle for the consumer who is very nervous about running out of power.  Once people experience the joy of driving on clean electricity, they will become more confident with all electric vehicles.

Some of the main ideas that I loved the sound of were, that cars would be a way of storing energy and that they would share it with the Smart Grid.  The technology for this type of sharing is apparently there.  In other words say you had a range of 100 miles on a charge, and your commute to work, and other daily needs, was 60 miles.  You could program your car to let the grid use say 30 miles worth of you energy during the day while you are parked at work, leaving you a buffer of 10 miles.  Your car charges at night while you are sleeping and at a time that is off peak and there is an excess of power being produced by the power grid.

So what happens when you need to go further than 100 miles.  The most attractive idea was the battery swap stations where you drive up to what looks like a car wash and the battery is taken out and a fully charged one gets popped in its place.  This process would take about 5 mins, enough time to get a nice cup of tea, or coffee.

Here is a presentation of this idea by Shai Aggasi.

Monday, November 8

3,400 miles

Just went over 3,400 miles on clean electric power.

Last week my coolant pump quit.  I got a new one and if it turns out that the pump was faulty I will get reimbursed.  Thanks Ryan from EV Source for getting me the new one so quickly.

I was still able to use the EV but had to keep an eye on the controller temp,  if it started to go up to 150 deg F then I would have to slow down or stop to let it cool down, but it never came to that.

Thursday, November 4

An Award!

I received this award at the Harvest Festival.
Thanks to Chris Berlow from UMAC for instigating that.

Gretchin Dizer with me and the EV
Gretchin draws the numbers on the New York Lottery.

Sources for information and Parts

YouTube movies to be inspired by:-

Gav’s EV conversion 1

1 A Convenient Response to an Inconvenient Truth – EV

Converted 1975 VW Bug to electric power

Who Killed the Electric Car (Netflix)



Radio Shack, Ossining

Home Depot

Melrose Lumber, Ossining

Ortiz Welding, Hawthorn

FenBar, Hawthorn

Northeast Battery Corp., Hawthorn


Electric Conversion Made Easy, by Gavin Shoebridge (ebook)


Sunday, October 3

I have gone over 2000 miles with the EV. The longest distance traveled in one day was 77 miles and I could have gone further. The power steering is installed and works great. I have a switch which means I can save the power for range.

We had a huge rain storm and I had no problems with the EV in wet conditions.

Tuesday, August 17

1040 EV miles today. Getting prepared to install the power steering. I managed to get the correct relay for the heater, so I now have heat ready for the winter.

The motor compartment

Thursday, August 12

This is a heavy duty extension cable from Home Depot
I am running 220 volts through it.
The EV will take both 110v or 220v so any outlet works
The charger has an Amps knob on it so you can dial in the draw on the
line if sharing with other things on that circuit

It's a thing of beauty. I am loving the EV. The fact that I can just unplug her and jump in a drive off to run an errand or drop one of the kids off at Gymnastics or go to the duka (shop in Swahili). I get back home park and plug her back in. It's that simple. It has taken the strain off the Suburban and I feel free from the constant visits to the gas station. The Suburban is used for what it was intended now which is to transport a large load from one place to another. Don't get me wrong I love my suburban. It is a real tough workhorse. The EV just feels so right for all the other stuff, and let me tell you there is a lot of it. The 30 mile range is perfectly adiquate for my needs at the moment, and as I tell everyone who asks me I am just waiting a bit longer for the battery technology to change and then I will be in there. I could have put the Lithium Iron batteries in for an extra $7K. and got over a 100 miles on a charge. I just didn't need that at this point.

Friday, June 11

Today was a great day. I pushed the EV to it's limits. I had to get the empty weight of the vehicle to have the registration change officially to Electric. The closest weigh station was 15.5 miles away. The batteries have not been broken in totally so the range is still uncertain. I got all the way there with no hassles. The weight has increased by about 900 lbs. (Hefty batteries). I consulted my battery state of charge chart and it said that I had about 70% remaining. So I decided to give it a shot and try to make it home. Well I got to the 29 mile mark and she started to lose power, so I pulled into someone's driveway and waited for 15 mins to let the batteries recover. I had to get over a couple of hills to get to the nearest gas station. Waiting worked and I made it over the ridge and met the owner of the gas station in Pleasantville and asked him if would let me plug in for a bit to boost my batteries in order to get me home. Well Thank you Joe Fanelli, what a great guy. I spent about a half hour there showing off the car to interested parties, and then was on my way again and made it home.

The next hurdle was to get the last bit of information to the DMV. It did cause a bit of uncertainty among the supervisors and agents there. They did some checking with various higher authorities and finally gave me the green light and now my registration and title reflect the fact that the car in now a 100% electric car with Zero emissions. I am now officially totally street legal. Does that mean that I can apply for the Federal tax rebate, I wonder?

It's been a totally exciting day. Maybe I said that already.

Thursday, June 3

I have driven 200 EV miles and have had some bugs to sort out. None have been too serious and I was able to fix them quickly. One bug was more serious and took 24 hours to get the EV back on the road.

The car accelerates very well. It seems to be a lot smoother than with the old engine (I.C.E.)
I start out in 3rd gear and don't change until I reach 45 mph, then to 4th up to 55 mph, and finally 5th gear up to 70 mph. I haven't pushed it any further as the rpm dial is not yet working (the wiring is a little beyond me, so I am getting some help with that)

It is a total pleasure to drive. The music sounds great because the car is so quiet.

I am going to have to modify a few things to make it better.

It needs power steering in order for my wife to be able to park it. It is too heavy for her at slow speeds.
The controller is getting too hot so I have to make some changes to the cooling system. So the guys and are helping out with that.
The motor to transmission coupling was too small for this application, so I am changing it to a much sturdier one. This is taking a bit of time and it is killing me that the EV is off the road. I am having to exercise my patience.
The part came in today and is at the machinist having the splined part welded into it. So I hope the car will be back on the road next week. Then I shall be wearing my EV grin again.

Wednesday, May 12

Test Drive

Well it is time for the test drive

Backing the EV out for its first test drive

This is the Battery box in the trunk with the lid removed.
The box holds 8 batteries at 82 lbs each. The frame is
welded to the chassis

Bill Melnychuk, Thanks for giving me a hand with the batteries and getting
the EV hooked up. I was nervous about the 144 volts DC as it is more dangerous than AC.
Bill showed me that there is nothing to be afraid of if you do things right.
Basically don't include yourself in the circuit

Rear battery pack

Quick disconnect, this is used when I need to do any work on the components.
It takes the main drive pack out of the equation.

Installing the component platform.
I used some plywood, which is light weight, painted with POR 15

Nearly there, just a few more things to add.

The main Pack fuse on top of the DC to DC charger.

Welding the bracket to hold the potentiometer
which is attached to the existing throttle cable

The battery racks under the hood.
The motor is covered for protection.
Starting to work out how the 4 front batteries and all the components will
fit into the space available

I used a cardboard mockup of a battery in order to size the
battery racks during welding.
Thanks for the tip Gav.

Fixing the motor to the chassis.
The cloth is covering the motor for obvious reasons

This is the fan assembly welded from a tin can which houses
a brushless fan and will be fixed to the lid of the rear battery box
for venting while charging.

The trunk, spare wheel well.
installing the conduit for the main traction pack.
Bringing power from the rear to the front.

The transmission all cleaned up and connected to the motor

I rented an engine hoist to install the motor

In she goes

The rear battery box

Buying the batteries

Thursday, April 8

Moving the motor around is no easy task

I needed to do a little bit of extra grinding to allow for the transaxle
to fit in without rubbing on the adapter plate

Adapter plate fitted onto motor first

Motor and tranny joined together for test run.

I have been chasing around getting the welding wire and the lugs to connect the batteries. There is a recession so the price of copper is going up. At least that is what someone told me.

Great news is that I got the adaptor plate back from the machinist and it is fantastic! I bolted it all together and gave it a test run with a 12 volt battery. It all worked fine. The next thing is to put it into the EV.

side view of rust repair

I added sheet metal and treated with rust killer

Monday, March 29

I have cut away the bad rust patch on the rear wheel well

This is the other side and it is in good condition.
I have to match the other side to this. I will use sheet metal
and build up a base and then use bondo to get the details.
Soldering the wires for the new radio.

soldering wires

This is satisfying and quite easy to do.

This is the finished radio adaptor now ready for installation.
This is the transmission with the other half of the lovejoy coupler.
The spider is also shown (the white thing)

Sunday, March 28

I used some old pieces of aluminum as braces for the new ceramic heaters

the two are joined together

I have them all wired up with #12 wire which will handle the 144 volts system

installing the new core.

I made a sheet metal cover and routed the wires where
the old pipes used to run. It is now ready to be put back in the car.

This is quite a puzzle. I have to remember how it all goes back.

There is still some engine coolant left in the heater core.

This is the core box with all the baffles for directing the air
to the different areas of the cabin

The open heater core box