Monday, January 28, 2013

Home Power and Electro Automotive

August 1, 2002 - I kid you not, 10 years to the day! I have it written on the door frame timeline of significant events I keep, like the way my grandmother marked my height during each summer visit. I have decided to spend the money ($4,725) and "go professional". I would buy an EV conversion kit from Electro Automotive out of California. Home Power magazine had taken the place of Mother Earth News in my library and research. I mailed them a check and they started sending me parts and pieces.

Controller, relay, fuse, shunt, gauges, cable lugs, clutch and motor mounting plates, etc.

 8 inch, 96 volt dc Advance motor mounted to 1980 Dodge Omni transmission

Three months later and another $1,120 for 16 new six volt deep cycle golf cart batteries and the EV conversion was coming right along. On board 96 volt battery charger can be seen in upper right of photo.

 A bit more work under the hood to place 4 batteries. Wire everything up and...

I drove my EV conversion project over for the first day of school!

Lets get technical - EV conversion Data

Six volt golf cart batteries (16 required)
250 Ah rated for 130 Min @75 Amp draw
Wired in series for a total of 96 volts dc
Wired with 50 feet of 00 welding cable
70 pounds each - 1120 pounds total battery weight
Recharging requires 10 - 12 hours
Expected life 3 - 5 years
Total battery cost $1,120

8" Advance D.C.
15" long
Weight 107 lbs
Voltage 96 - 120
Efficiency 89%
Continuous run at 91 v 178 a  5000 rpm  19 HP  14.4 KW
Peak HP  68
Brush life 80,000 miles
Cost $1,400

Cost $1,130

Russco SC 18-120
Input 120 vac at 15 amps
Output  80 - 170 VDC adjustable and 12.5 Amps adjustable
Cost $ 525

Operating cost 2.5 cents per mile (with grid power at .10  per kwh)
Top speed 50 - 60 miles
Range - 25-30 miles

TOTAL  EV  conversion cost  $4,725 in 2002

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Fast forward?

Aug 1987 - Thirteen years had passed. As they say, "time flies when you are having fun"/ I had read several more Mother Earth News articles and tried my hand at several "new" energy producing projects, methane gas, alcohol production, wind generation of electricity but now the energy crises was over! Life was good and also took over. But then my neighbor, Emmett came over to have some shoes repaired and said he was getting rid of his daughters 1980 Dodge Omni. I traded him a pair of half soles and new heels for it on the spot! Got the local salvage guy to haul away the 1960 "Beamer" (but kept the BMW emblem from the hood) thinking I might want to "class-up" the Omni when I converted it, "in the future".
June 1992 - The future was here! On one of my expeditions to the local "gold Mine" as I called it Bob's Salvage yard I spied an electric forklift. As my eyes bulged out of my head I made a beeline to it. All there, the motor and controls. I mean these were "real controls" no "chopper" needed. This had a massive plate of 5 relays, it was all there. In my mind this was going to be a "turn key" conversion! It was powered by a 36 vdc five horsepower motor. It was massive, 12 inches in diameter and over 16 inches long, a real beast! The controls were all nicely mounted on  a backing plate and weighted almost as much as the motor. Surely this would work and soon I would be driving an EV around town.

July 1992 - Being a high school teacher I had the summer off and it would not be wasted. My mechanic friend Jerry, suggested that I speed things along and do another "proof of concept" by just removing the head, pistons etc. of the Omni engine first. Then just bolt the forklift motor to the head and run a belt to a pulley on the crankshaft, walla! This was a great idea and he also knew of three 12 volt truck batteries, like new that had been returned to the NAPA store for some reason and I could have them. Bingo! I was back on track and had a mission to complete.

36 vdc 5 hp forklift motor bolted to Omni engine block with double belt pulley and belt to pulley on engine crankshaft.

To the left of the motor you can see the bank of relays and resistance screens for controlling the forklift motor. It fit into the engine compartment amazingly well.

Three 12 volt batteries wired in series for 36 volts riding in the trunk of the Omni. Looks like we are ready to go for a ride.

Aug 1, 1992 - With my trusty Simpson multi-meter in the front seat and a trunk of fully charged batteries I pushed down on the forklift control pedal on the floor and rolled out of my pole shed. My heart raced as I shifted into 1st gear and headed off to the high school parking lot. Around and around I  went. Five, ten, fifteen laps (3 laps was a mile) and the voltage was still pretty good. Even though the max speed on a level surface was 15 - 18 mph, not bad, but not practical either. However, I like Kramer, wondered, how many laps could I go on one charge? The count was 32 and then I headed for home (one block away) cruised into the pole shed and parked it.

I would need to do some more research... 

Mother Earth News

It was 1972 when an article in Mother Earth News on an EV built using an aircraft starter as the motor and with an automotive starter used as a "chopper" that got me interested. The "chopper" would pulse current draw to the aircraft starter on start up (today we now use a solid state electronic high frequency pulse width modulator to do this) and solve the problem of drawing mega amounts of current or laying rubber from a dead start!

April 1974 - Obtained a junked VW bug from a student of mine who's father had a junk yard near the school. He said I could have the floor pan and engine but he wanted the body back for parts. The father was also the county sheriff, a regular Andy Taylor of Mayberry. His wife also cooked the meals for the inmates, oh well enough, I digress.

May 1974 - No money to buy an aircraft starter but obtained a 24 volt electric golf cart from another student that his family had scrapped out. Traded him a gallon of Maple syrup I had made that year for it. Cut the body off the VW and removed the engine. Mounted the 24vdc electric motor from the golf cart directly to the output shaft of the VW transmission. Hooked up two 12v car batteries to the motor.

June 1974 - Last day of school year. Sitting on a chair from the cafeteria I closed the foot switch and backed out of the metals shop for my first EV trip. Went at a snails pace about 30 feet and then realized that I better head back or I would be pushing it back into the shop. Although I considered it a "success" I realized much more development work would be need to be done to build a a real EV. But proof of concept... sorta.

Oct 1974 - As luck would have it a local business person had a 1960 BMW he didn't want and I thought this would make a great "luxury" EV !  Drug it home. Blocked it up and made plans.

July 26, 1974 First child, Mindy, born. EV would would be delayed.
The Mother Earth News collection. I wonder where these will go when I go?

Monday, January 7, 2013

New year new project

The EV (Electric Vehicle) conversion or more accurately stated my re-conversion.

The white 1980 Dodge Omni on the right was my first "road worthy" EV project. Long story short, the uni-body frame of the Omni has rusted out to the point where the rear wheels were starting to rub on the wheel wells. It would only be a matter of time or pothole before one broke off and I would have been in a real fix then. So two years ago I parked it and began looking for a replacement vehicle that I could transplant the Omni EV components into. Along came the nice 2001 Dodge Caravan on the left for $200! I went to work removing the engine and all other non EV needed parts. Then I let it sit as I mulled over the considerable engineering task this was going to be.

So now in 2013 my odyssey begins. Over the next few months I will post the many trials and tribulations that will be encountered along the way as well as stories of lessons learned from my early days reading Mother Earth News and experiments with EV building in the 70's! Follow along and joy the ride.