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Underbody braces, turbos and more!

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 10:31 am 
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The alternator on the wheels suggestion comes up pretty often.

The problem is the energy needed to run the alternator will always be more than the energy it generates, so you'll actually end up using more energy overall. The range with the alternator will be lower compared to leaving it off. Unfortunately, there's no free lunch.

---

First car show ...

Update: the car's not even finished, but it's already been to its first car show! :)

Last weekend was the EV Expo in Ottawa, and since I've gone to several meetings of the EV group that hosts the event, they invited us up to show the ForkenSwift.

I asked, "are you sure you want to be showing a junkyard Metro EV to the public?" Turns out the public seems to like the underdog, because at last year's show, the crowd's 2nd favourite electric vehicle (based on votes) was a $50 electric bicycle made from a Canadian Tire jump start battery pack and an electric drill driving the front wheel.

So instead of working on electro-mechanical stuff, I spent the first part of May cleaning up the paint & bodywork. And adding a racing stripe on the side of the car - partly to hide my rust repairs on the bottom of the doors, and partly because I think a racing stripe on a slow car is inherently funny.

We made a tow bar and dragged the car the 100km to Ottawa behind my buddy's '95 Nissan pickup.

Two pics of the car at the show in the following gallery (sorry - none show the stripe yet):

Image

http://www.twobikes.ottawa.on.ca/share/ ... /index.htm

We won "Honorable Mention" (= 4th place in public voting for their favourite car ;) )

---

<b>More free used batteries = increased range!</b>

An EV owner in Ottawa recently changed out his old battery pack, and he offered to donate his used batts to us: 22 6v floodies. He drives his Ford Ranger p/u daily, and its range on the old pack was down to "only" 20 km (from 50 on a fresh set), thus the pack change.

The good thing about these batts is they are much closer in condition to one another than the free ones we've received so far from the forklift company.

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http://www.austinev.org/evalbum/600.html

After the EV Expo, I installed 8 of "Sparky's" old batts in the ForkenSwift and charged them up over night.

The next day I feather-footed the car 22.5 km (!!) around the neighbourhood (seeing many people and streets multiple times), destroying our minimum range target of 15 km and the previous best distance of 5 km on a charge using the previous pack of used batteries.

And I didn't overly discharge the batts: the oddball lowest one was down approximately 50% from full.

Which means driven "normally" the car might go 15 km or more without having to use every efficiency technique in the book to stretch the range. Which is enough to do at least one daily errand run anywhere in town.

To put this "achievement" in perspective: I didn't exceed 40 km/h (25 mph), so the average trip speed was obviously below that. I probably only braked "significantly" 5 times in the total distance.

That said, this type of driving is actually "doable" where the car will be used. Quiet side streets. Small city. (I only had to signal/wave 4 cars past. )

---

Budget update ...

We sold an extra motor from the forklift this month. Bringing our net total spent on the project so far to only about $750.

---

Coming up ...

Next on the list is what was still on the list 2 months ago: fabricate the battery racks and get them off the floor. My brother and I bought a welder.

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 3:57 pm 
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It's looking sharp on the pics!

Good news about the battery's aswell :D


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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 9:37 pm 
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Thanks. I'll take a few pics of the spiffy paint work this weekend.

And yes, those "new" used batteries were a huge help. That was a giant piece of the puzzle that fell into place. Will save us a lot of hassle and/or money.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 7:26 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 10:31 pm 
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I saw this on ebay and started wondering if something had happened, but then i remembered yours was blue but with a red hatch, and that you don't live in Mass.

(read the description)
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Geo-METR ... dZViewItem

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 12:25 am 
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Dang I had no idea this thread was here!

Keep up the good work!

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 8:58 pm 
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Yeah, I've seen the eBay electric Metro too. We've spent about $200 less than the current bid :)

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 11:28 pm 
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http://www.electricvehiclesusa.com/prod ... vec-01.htm

http://www.e-volks.com/about.html2.html

Metro Kits

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 11:36 pm 
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Check out the video!

http://www.autobloggreen.com/2007/01/13 ... eer-budget

Edit.............Oops sorry....already posted.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 9:34 am 
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This weekend I rotated the motor 90 degrees to get the terminals out of the way of where one of the front battery racks is going to go (above the motor, mounted to the firewall).

Then I tried out a "new to us" 24v/10A automatic charger. Better than the 36v bulk forklift charger + 12v dumb charger we were using.

Right off the charger, I took the car for a spin around the block (hey - had to test the new motor orientation, right? ;)) and achieved a new milestone:

The ForkenSwift broke the speed limit! I saw 55 km/h indicated (about 58 actual from the oversize tires) in a 50 zone (30 mph). And there was still some pedal left!

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 9:49 pm 
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Working on battery racks lately. So it was noob welding day in ForkenSwiftland today! Fun, fun.

By the end of the afternoon some of the beads looked decent (to my non-expert eyes), but a lot of it was pretty bad too! Busted my first "weld" of the day with a single hammer blow. Tried harder after that ;). I'm not consistent - a crappy looking weld would follow a good one.

At least I managed to not burn myself.

I was working on the most complex rack - the one that will hold 2 batts above & somewhat aft of the motor. Was fabricating mounting tabs/brackets that will secure the rack at 3 points to the firewall; 1 point to the firewall-mounted engine/tranny mount; and 1 point to the "frame" rail.

I think it's reasonable to say one more afternoon should be enough to finish up both front racks, and then I can evict four batteries from the front passenger side floorboards.

The rear rack will probably take another afternoon to build & install - a simple box with mounts to the floor & possibly rear shock towers. Then throw in a contactor & a manual disconnect on a cable and swing by my mechanic's place to have him write the "it's an electric car" letter that the licence bureau says we need to make this all legal.

No predictions on when that will be, but I'm thinking it would be nice to be able to drive it around legitimately before the end of August at the latest.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 11:47 pm 
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Maybe some people aren't into this stuff, but you certainly have my attention.

I've been wanting to do a conversion for so long. I'm not sure when I'll actually get around to it though. I also want to get a welder.

So many projects...so little time. :-P

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2007 9:22 pm 
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Darrell wrote:
So many projects...so little time. :-P


I hear you. Someone offered me a free motor-less moped yesterday (what's that make it, a "ped"?). Would be a pretty easy job to electrify it, but I had to say no. Already too much on my plate.

---

Evicted 2 batteries from the passenger compartment tonight. 2 more will make the move up front where they belong tomorrow or Friday. Then the ForkenSwift will graduate from a 1 passenger to a 2 passenger car!

Image

Front batts actually rest on the lower rad support, which had a seam that I hammered flat.

Image

They'll be supported by a length of bed frame triple bolted to the car's "frame rail", with additional support to the top of the rad support.

Image

Finicky top double rack. Currently 4 bolts through the seam in the firewall (top), one through the trans/engine mount (lower center of car), one more through the firewall (lower r. side).

Image

There's 3/4 in. clearance between the motor to the rack (room for the drivetrain to move - which it doesn't really, since the motor doesn't vibrate, but just in case). With the hood closed, there's about 1.5 in. between the tip of the forward battery posts & the hood.

All the batts will have proper "tie downs" with threaded rod & angle iron across their "free" sides.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2007 10:23 pm 
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Do you think you should remove the rust first :? I wouldn't want the batteries to break through.

Plus...it seems the racks might be heavy. Does anybody make aluminum racks? I know aluminum welding is somewhat specialized and it needs special equipment. I've thought about that a lot for my project.

Right now I have an aircraft generator for a motor. It could work if I fixed it up a bit but it not efficient compared to other motors such as Advanced Dc. Ever since I picked up the sprint, my electric car project has been set asside. I have rebuilt the front end though. It has coilovers and everything has been painted before I put it back on. I recently put the front end back on the ground for the first time in three years. I wanted to roll the car and clean that side of the garage but I never got around to it. My car is a 1979 (first generation) honda civic. It's a bit heavier than geos but I love the curves of the old civic.

(not mine)

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2007 10:17 am 
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Darrell wrote:
Do you think you should remove the rust first :? I wouldn't want the batteries to break through.


You mean on the lower rad support crossmember? It looks worse in the pic than it really is. It's just cosmetic.

At some point, after all the batteries & electric/electronic components are installed under the hood, we'll take everything out to clean up & repaint the compartment, motor, potbox, trays, etc.

Agreed on the weight of the steel racks (the double top rack weighs about 20 lbs empty.) Aluminum would be best, but as you point out it's going to cost more for the material (bed frames are free :)) and it's harder to assemble.

The aircraft starter/generator like the one you probably have used to be fairly common in conversions before people started buying purpose-built DC motors.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 5:50 pm 
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Amazing EV.

I got to go for a ride it in....

Super quite and looks completely stock!

Great job!


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 8:57 pm 
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Haven't forgotten about this project... I'm just slow...

Spent a couple of hours tinkering today: worked on the rear batt rack.

Image
(click, zoom)

This will hold four batts. It's positioned as far forward as possible, to try to keep the suspension level. Until this afternoon, the batts were piled (actually wedged in place with pieces of wood & empty gallon paint cans) against the very back of the hatch area, and the rear of the car was sitting a little lower than the front. Hopefully moving them forward and losing the cantilever effect will fix that. The rack will have them nearly in line with the rear shocks.

I was thinking of placing 2 of the 4 batts down in the spare tire well, but decided I wanted to retain that space for the tire.

Unfortunately the rack will prevent getting the tire out the usual way, so I'm thinking I'll cut out a section of the bottom of the well, and hinge it to get the wheel out from under the back of the car if needed.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2007 8:53 pm 
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Got the rear rack done, secured, and full of batteries:

Image

Did a few other minor repairs that are on the list of things needing to be done before I bring the car by my mechanic to get his "it's an electric car" inspection letter.

This week will work on getting the batt cables shortened/routed/tidied up.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2007 12:11 pm 
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Project ForkenSwift update...

Show 'n' tell time... clicky zoomy

Image

Above: instead of buying cable lugs (quoted anywhere from $4-7 per lug), I came up with a way of making my own. So far, I've done over 20 by flattening the cable end, then fluxing/dipping it in a little (non-lead high conductivity) solder pot, then finishing them with a hammer, grinder, file & drill.

Shown is a flattened/soldered/flattened cable end vs OEM.

Image

Above: finished cable installed.

Image
Image

Before & after - cables trimmed & installed.

Image

Here's 20 feet of well used 2/0 fine strand copper welding cable we used to connect the rear 4 batts to the front 4.

Image

Why this was donated to us: insulation damage. The wire itself was OK though.

Image

Above Installed plastic conduit under the car to route the high voltage cables from the rear to the front. Better than lying on the floorboards inside the car, which is where they've been since April!!

This pic is looking rearward from the driver's side. This section of conduit is in the area where the gas tank used to be, and inserts into the forward area of the spare tire well.

Image

Before: since April, the golf cart controller has been strapped onto the transaxle, sandwiched between a dirty rag and a hunk of styrofoam (great heat dissipating properties, eh?)

Image

Scavenged this aluminum heat sink from a dead 12v cooler. This is one half of the Peltier unit. It's about 8 inches long.

Image

Image

The Cursit's new home, chosen because there's a bit of space around it to potentially accomodate controllers of different sizes, should we decide to upgrade to a juicier unit (Alltrax?), or try out the forklift's EV-1 unit.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2007 12:13 pm 
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I'm so going to get busted if I don't get it legal soon... :D

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I checked, and the car's got over 200 electric kms on it already. :o

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Last edited by geometro on Sat Oct 06, 2007 12:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2007 12:18 pm 
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Fact is, since the August update, I've done a bunch of other small tasks & details like installing a component platform over the transaxle to mount things like: shunt for the ammeter, 300A fuse, contactors (big relays) that dis/connect the battery to the controller when the ignition key is turned & the go pedal is pressed.

So (drumroll please...) since yesterday, the ForkenSwift is officially an EV!

Image

Above: before

Image

After!

It's still not legally driveable though - continuing to search out insurance options. So far, most companies I've called have turned me down flat when they hear it's an EV.

I could lie and just not tell them that it's modified (they all ask), but if I ever had to make a claim, I'd be in trouble.

Hopefully next week it'll all be sorted out, and I can be cruising around

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2007 5:14 pm 
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geometro wrote:
Fact is, since the August update, I've done a bunch of other small tasks & details like installing a component platform over the transaxle to mount things like: shunt for the ammeter, 300A fuse, contactors (big relays) that dis/connect the battery to the controller when the ignition key is turned & the go pedal is pressed.

So (drumroll please...) since yesterday, the ForkenSwift is officially an EV!


hahaha, little things like the 300A fuse, ammeter shunt, and isolation relays. :lol: stuff like that is always a stray screwdriver away from instant immolation. i think all that belongs outside (unlike the one i just saw on ebay which has the relays on the passenger side floor!)

i used to ride a yamaha atv to chase down the electric tugs in the warehouse when they caught on fire, do an emergency cut on the 4 gauge connecting cable, and hose them down with a co2 extinguisher. that brings up a point, use only halon, co2, or ppk (purple k) type extinguishers or you won't have anything salvageable if you have a fire.

keep your eyes open for surplus relays with mercury wetted contacts. they're much better about handling the high current dc arc without burning off the bifurcated points and make the scrs in the controller last way longer. the hg relays outlast the regular relays by about 10 times, too, especially in damp environments.

congrats on getting it on the road. that is just so cool!!!

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 6:43 am 
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I like what you did with the cable ends, it certainly looks cleaner than a soldered on lug. On a similar topic, there's a few companies that make kits that use a type of copper oxide thermite to weld large wires together (or to grounding rods or bus bars):

http://www.erico.com/products/CadweldPlus.asp
http://www.furse.com/weld/fweldov.htm

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 9:09 pm 
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Well I'll be... exothermic reactive cable welding kits. Learn something new every day!

t3 ragtop wrote:
hahaha, little things like the 300A fuse, ammeter shunt, and isolation relays.


And yet more "little stuff" ;) ... we also planned out (but haven't yet implemented) a mechanical emergency pack disconnect that uses the currently unused clutch pedal/cable and a beefy Anderson connector. Just in case of a fully-on controller failure. I figure the driver will probably react faster than the 300A fuse will melt. Plus, jumping on the clutch & brake at the same time is instinctive in a panic stop situation for anyone who's driven manual transmissions for a while.

That disconnect may come in useful if we also implement a contactor-based controller bypass. Turns out the 48v Curtis 225A golf cart controller, while a pleasure to use for ghosting around at low speeds, doesn't really have the cojones to accelerate the car at anything even close to a "brisk" rate. While I'm all about efficiency most of the time, sometimes you just gotta get the thing moving sooner rather than later.

BTW, good idea on the better contactors - though we don't have to worry about controller SCRs - the Curtis is SCR-free. It's all mosfets, if I'm not mistaken.

Aside from those mini-projects, I'm pretty much done with working on the EV for this year. I'm not even going to bother cleaning it up inside until next spring - and this Metro has the most hideously stained & dirty interior of any car I've ever owned. There are always improvements that can be made. But I've got other stuff that needs doing.

Not the least of which is tracking down liability insurance... waiting to hear back from a broker I talked to today that sounded like she was going to be able to deliver...

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 9:16 pm 
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t3 ragtop wrote:
stuff like that is always a stray screwdriver away from instant immolation. i think all that belongs outside (unlike the one i just saw on ebay which has the relays on the passenger side floor!)


I'd be lying if I said some of that stuff wasn't hanging around on the passenger floor (or seat) of the ForkenSwift at some point! But as of last week, it's all mounted on a component panel under the hood.

Now I just have to keep people from touching the stuff under the hood when I show it. :) Zorch!

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