Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Hi all. I’ve made quite a bit of progress on the truck since the last post (granted, that’s been quite a while), with the biggest accomplishment being the installation of the motor. Yes, that’s right, after all this time the motor is finally in. Want proof? Check out the pic:

Not bad, eh? It dropped right in, with only a minimal amount of shoehorning required. The design process of the adaptor plate and hub were the hardest parts. There is a fair amount of information about this on the internet, but most methods require a CAD system and "computer nerd" status. My method did involve some extra work, both on my part and on that of the machine shop, but it turned out pretty well in the end. Here’s how I did it:

I started by getting the hub made. The hub uses two setscrews, one over the key and the other 90 degrees to it, with lockscrews (a short setscrew installed behind the first setscrew, kind of like a locknut) and plenty of permanent (red) threadlocker. I’m really not concerned about the hub coming loose, and even if it does, I doubt it would damage anything; the clutch simply wouldn’t work properly.

The pilot bearing from the crankshaft was installed in the hub in the proper location, as measured relative to the mounting surface of the crank. I would recommend installing this bearing for two reasons: 1) It greatly simplifies the alignment and drilling process of the adaptor plate, and 2) It should provide some extra support for the tranny shaft. It is very important to make sure that the trans shaft is going to clear the motor shaft when inserted into the pilot bearing. This can be done by observing the wear pattern on the trans shaft to see how far it was inserted into the pilot bearing. There should be a very distinct mark where the pilot bearing was. Here’s a bad pic of what the hub looked like when I got it back from the shop:

The next part was the plate itself, and the spacers. I decided to go with individual spacers to keep costs down. Since I’m intending to install a very comprehensive splash shield system, I’m not very concerned about debris getting into the clutch. The plate was designed using a method suggested by Larry (a fellow Mazda converter) on the EV photo album. I started by tracing the outline of the bell housing on a piece of posterboard and marking the approximate location of the trans shaft. I then cut this out and transferred it to another piece of posterboard, this time simplifying the outline of the bell housing and adding about half an inch all of the way around to allow for inaccuracies in measuring the location of the trans shaft. I then gave this to the machine shop. They cut the plate out of half inch aluminum and transferred the motor bolt pattern (centered around the location of the trans shaft, as marked by me) onto it.

At the same time, they also made the eight spacers, each 1" in diameter, out of steel. I determined the length of these spacers by measuring the distance from the flywheel mounting surface to the bell housing mounting surface, subtracting the length of the coupling, and adding the thickness of the plate (note that this only works if the back of the coupling sits flush with the back of the plate). This should give a negative value, but its absolute value is the length of the spacers.
Here’s what the plate and spacers looked like at this point:

I then bolted the plate and spacers up to the motor, slid the coupling onto the motor shaft and stood the motor up on its endbell. I gently lowered the tranny down onto it. With a little fiddling, the trans shaft dropped right into the pilot bearing. Now, the trans shaft does have some play in it. I wanted to locate the tranny on the plate so that, when inserted into the pilot bearing, the trans shaft was at its center of movement. I did this by lifting the tranny up slightly (not enough to allow the trans shaft to come out of the pilot bearing) while my dad wiggled the tranny back and forth. When he found the center of movement, I simply let the tranny back down and marked all of the holes with transfer punches. I then removed the plate and drilled it. I also had to use a band saw and file to take a small chunk out of the plate where the clutch cylinder goes.

It was then time for the final assembly of the motor and tranny. With the motor still standing on its endbell, I bolted the flywheel to the coupling and then assembled the clutch on it, as shown below:

I then lowered the tranny down on to the motor and bolted them together. At this point, I had what I like to refer to as the "leaning tower of Mazda."

It was a simple matter to let the assembly down, hook it up to the hoist, and drop it into the truck. It is a lot easier to install the assembly with the stick removed. This is a simple procedure, and should yield no complications, as long as the opening where the stick was is covered up to keep dirt from getting inside. It also helps to have a friend work the hoist while you get in the engine compartment and guide the assembly down into the truck (carefully!).

Other developments to follow soon. I don’t have the time right now to write them up, and I doubt you have the time (or the attention span) to read it all in one installment! I know I wouldn’t... Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's been quite a while since I last posted. Whenever I remember, I never seem to have the time to type up a quick post. I've been pretty busy with my truck, along with school, work, and a host of other things. One of my other projects that's been receiving a lot of my attention lately is my wind generator. Since this falls into the realm of alternative energy, I might as well post a few pics and a description.

At right are pics of (from top to bottom) all six blades arranged around the hub, the 40 VDC Ametek tape drive motor, and the tip of one of the blades. The blades and hub were purchased off of eBay from Hydrogen Appliances. Their website is at www.hydrogenappliances.com. The blades appear to be carbon fiber reinforced polycarbonate. They're pretty nicely made, although I think the leading and trailing edges could have been finished a little bit better. They definitely seem to be plenty strong enough for the job. They also appear to have a very efficient shape. The sharp taper should provide a nearly elliptical span-lift distribution, while minimizing tip vortices. I'm expecting very good performance out of them.

The motor is an Ametek 40 VDC motor. These motors were used in early tape drives (!) and are now used as generators for wind turbines or traction motors in very small EVs, among other uses. Since I don't have much use for a small EV right now, I decided to put it to use in my wind genny. I'm thinking I might be able to get something along the lines of 75-100 watts out of it in a decent wind.

Right now I'm exploring different methods of constructing towers and pivots. I should have that figured out before long. I think I've got a good plan for a tower. I'm planning to use two 10' lengths of 2" electrical conduit with 1/8" galvanized steel guy wires. That'll give me a 20' tower. That's kind of short, comparatively speaking, but I think it'll be plenty adequate for a first try. Later on, I might set up a taller tower.

So, all I've got to do is come up with a pivot and I'm all set. It shouldn't be too long before this thing is up in the air spinning around.

I'll be posting some more about the truck before long. I haven't done a lot of work on it, but I have been doing some design work. I'll be putting that up here soon.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Adaptor Plate Design Considerations

Since the last post, I've decided to design the adaptor plate myself and have it machined locally by a friend. I've been busily working on a design for a while now. I've got the basic idea roughed out, and I'm currently working on turning it into something workable. Here's what I've done so far:

1) I traced the transmission bell housing outline and bolt holes onto a piece of high density cardboard. The next step is to cut this out using a scroll saw and bolt it up to the transmission to see if it will fit. Then, I'll find the approximate location of the shaft and cut an oversize hole for the hub. I will then have an adequate pattern for the profile plate.

The profile plate doesn't have to be perfect, thanks to the way I intend to mount the motor ring. I will drill the bolt holes to mount the motor ring a bit oversize. Then, when I install it, I can tweak its location until it lines up perfectly. I can then drill and pin it to lock it in place.

The motor ring also sets the spacing for the flywheel. This way, I can just cut the profile plate (which is larger than the motor ring, and more tedious to machine to thickness) out of a piece of 5/8" thick aluminum and not worry about thickness.

2) I did some design work on the hub. The most difficult part is actually determining the method of attachment to the shaft. I've considered several options. The two that I've spent the most thought on are the taperlock and the setscrew. At this point, it seems like the taperlock hub would be the best option. There doesn't seem to be a good way to keep a setscrew from loosening under these conditions.

The downside to the taperlock hub is that it's kind of hard to design. I don't know what the dimensions need to be for something like this. For instance, in order for the taperlock hub to work properly, the tapered bushing must be slightly larger than the recess that it fits into. I don't know how much larger it needs to be. I'm slowly getting it figured out. If anyone out there has any information regarding the taperlock hub, I encourage you to let me know through a comment here.

So, that's where I'm at for now. For those who aren't familiar with the taperlock design, I might detail it in another post. Right now, though, it's kind of late at night and I'm too tired to write it. Keep checking back for updates!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Adaptor Plate: A Necessary Evil

The adaptor plate is the piece that connects the motor to the transmission. It consists of three parts: the aluminum transmission profile plate, which is cut and drilled to bolt onto the transmission and replicate the original mounting surface of the engine; the steel hub, which attaches the motor output shaft to the flywheel; and the aluminum motor ring, which acts as a spacer between the motor and the transmission to keep the correct spacing for the clutch. Several small spacers between the motor and profile plate are sometimes used instead of the motor ring.

I now have to decide if I want to get the adaptor plate made at a local machine shop or if I want to get it made by a specialized company out in California. I was originally thinking that I would just get it made in CA. They have a library of patterns for various cars and motors, and at the time I thought they had a pattern for my truck on file. The catch: if they don't have a pattern for your vehicle, you have to ship your transmission out to CA and get it measured.

The problem arose when I realized that my truck didn't have the original engine and transmission in it. When I went to get a distributor cap and rotor for it (back in the day when it still had an engine), I just got one for an '88 B2200. I mean, duh, that's what kind of truck I have. When I came back with the cap, it didn't fit. That's when things started to get fun. It turns out that the original distributor cap was off of a 2.0 Mazda, not a 2.2. I then noticed a whole bunch of pinched off hoses and unplugged connectors. And then, as I was removing the transmission, I noticed that the crossmember had moved forward to accommodate a new transmission. I just assumed that it was out of a B2000, because of the distributor cap. The company out in CA had a pattern for this transmission, so I was golden. For a little while, anyway.

Fortunately, I got in touch with another EV guy who is in the process of converting a B2000, and he sent me a pic of the bell housing on his truck. Mine looks nothing like it. Oh well, back to the drawing board. I'm going to see if the auto parts store can run the numbers for the transmission so I can find out what it is.

Having actually seen the clutch assembly and how and what it bolts to, I'm now thinking that it wouldn't be prohibitively difficult to get the plate made locally. I'm going to see about coming up with a sketch and maybe a template to take down to the machine shop, along with the transmission, flywheel and clutch, and motor, to see what they charge for something like that. Wish me luck!

Next: Who knows? Could be anything from battery boxes to heater cores.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I've been very busy lately, working on various projects (including this one). With school starting and everything I haven't been able to find the time to update this page. Hopefully now that I have things under control I'll be able to update this more often. I guess I'll just start where I left off:

ICE Component Removal

This is easily the most tedious part of the project, for me at any rate. It's also the dirtiest. It's a good reminder of how much cleaner EVs are when compared to ICE-powered cars. The ICE car requires antifreeze, oil, and gasoline to run. An EV requires none of these. Not to mention, EVs require much less maintenance than gas cars. They don't require oil changes or oil filters, they don't need alternators, timing belts, distributor caps or rotors, and a slew of other things. All they need is to have the motor brushes replaced every 80,000 or so miles, and the batteries topped off every once in a while. The batteries in an EV also need to be replaced every 3-5 years. Even including these things, EV maintenance is much cleaner and affordable than ICE maintenance.

I started by draining all of the fluids. Luckily for me, this was a simple task because I had run the truck out of gas before conversion. I didn't drain the oil because the engine is probably just going to go in some other project anyway, and draining the oil would have been a waste of time. The one thing I wish I had drained, but didn't, was the transmission fluid. I remembered this right before it all started draining out as I pulled the tranny out. So, I ended up with an empty transmission and half a bag of cat litter all over the garage floor.

I then removed the radiator and any other pieces that could hinder the removal of the engine. That included the fan and clutch, ignition system, wiring harnesses, fuel, vacuum, and antifreeze hoses, air cleaner, etc. I then loosened all of the bolts holding the engine in, and set off to rent an engine hoist.

Engine removal was pretty straightforward. The engine pretty much just slid right out, after a little tinkering to get the transmission shaft disengaged. I then decided that it would be best to pull the transmission as well. It'll be a lot easier to bolt the motor up to the transmission if it is removed from the vehicle. Plus, I'll get a chance to degrease it and perhaps paint it. The only problem is this: the transmission is a very annoying object to remove, with lots of little connections cropping up everywhere, and that obnoxious shift lever sticking up in the middle of the truck. I ended up dropping the crossmember and lowering the rear of the transmission instead of removing the stick.

Once everything was out of the truck, I had a very greasy engine compartment to work with. Since the electric motor is very clean, and will not spew oil all over the place like the ICE did, it made sense to clean up the engine compartment before proceeding. So, I rented a pressurewasher and got to work. A couple of hours later, I was rewarded with a sparkling clean engine compartment. Well, almost. You can see what it looks like now in the photo at the top left of this page. Pretty empty, eh?

Next: The Adaptor Plate and Related Issues

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


After working for what seems like forever, I was finally able to acquire a motor. It arrived on August 24th.

Originally, I was planning to purchase a used Advanced D.C. 9" (FBI-4001) motor, but these cost easily over $1,000. New, they go for about $1,700. If I bought one, I wouldn't be able to buy anything else I needed. So I kept looking. Eventually, I came across a Kostov 72v 9" motor on eBay. I did a little research, and I discovered that Kostov also made a 144v version of the motor, which would be perfect for my project. I emailed the seller and asked if he had any 144v motors available. Luckily, he still had one 144v motor remaining, which he sold me. These motors retail for significantly less than the Advanced D.C. motors, leaving a little room in my bank account for the adaptor plate (the part that attaches the motor to the transmission). I'm pretty happy with my purchase.

Next: ICE Component Removal, Part 1 of 1,000,000 (or so it seems).

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Before Conversion...

To start off, here's a picture of my truck before conversion to electric power. It's a 1988 Mazda B2200. It's somewhat rusty, but not too bad. It's got a lot of miles on it, so the engine smokes pretty badly (especially on startup), but the rest of the truck seems to be in good mechanical shape. This is pretty much ideal for a conversion.

The idea is to convert the truck to 100% electric power, as a zero emissions vehicle (ZEV). This will be done by removing the dirty internal combustion engine (ICE) components and installing an electric motor, batteries, etc. in their places.

The truck should be able to cover most, if not all, of my daily traveling needs. I'm expecting to end up with a range of no less than 25 miles, probably at least 35. This is will be plenty for me. I'll be able to recharge it at night, when I'll rarely have to drive it, and it'll be ready to go in the morning.

So that's the plan. At this point, I've acquired a motor for the project and I've removed the engine and transmission. I'll cover this in future posts, when I have the time. Watch this space for more info!