Thursday, November 15, 2007

I've gotten quite a bit of work done on the Tercel lately. The adaptor plate is back from the shop, and I'm currently in the process of drilling it for the transmission. The picture above shows (sort of) the setup for marking the holes. The motor is stood up on end, the adaptor plate, hub, clutch and flywheel are assembled onto it, and then the transmission is placed on top. The transmission centers itself by means of the shaft in the clutch disk. The holes are then marked with transfer punches, and any other necessary mods are also marked. I have to make a cut out for the clutch slave cylinder, and also one for the CV axle. Packaging is kind of tight in this thing!

And of course, check out the cool paint job I've applied to the motor. Rattle cans rock! Due to the transverse layout of this car, the motor is going to be a lot more visible than in my truck, so I might as well make it look cool!

The picture below shows the adaptor plate as received from the machine shop. You can see the countersunk holes for the motor mounting bolts, and the hub. The hub contains a bronze bearing stock insert that replaces the pilot bearing in the engine and centers the flywheel. A pretty slick setup, if I do say so myself!

I've been working on my truck, too. I've been trying all sorts of aerodynamic mods, with varying degrees of success. The current mod consists of a bumper cover that lowers the bottom edge of the car, deflecting a lot of air that would otherwise pass underneath to the sides and upward. I think I may have picked up a couple mph with this mod.

Anyway, that's about all for now. Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The new motor is here! And man, is it awesome. It's a Kostov 10.5" motor. It should provide plenty of power for my 2000 lb. Tercel! The downside of having a bigger motor is, well, it's bigger. In all respects. It's longer than my 9", making it harder to fit into a transverse mount situation. It's also heavier. Shipping weight on this thing was 230 lbs. My 9" shipped UPS at 120 lbs.! That means the new motor had to be shipped by truck. As in, big truck. I have to admit, it was cool to have a semi back up the driveway to deliver this thing.
I don't think the motor really weighs that much- if I had to guess from lifting it, I would probably say about 180. Still a significant weight increase!
I made up a pattern for the adaptor plate yesterday and took it over to the machine shop. It should be done in a few days. It's definitely a lot easier this time around, now that I have one under my belt already. I'm currently working on the design for the hub. I'll probably be able to turn it in next week. So I should have the adaptor plate ready to go in a week or two.
I've also been doing some aerodynamic mods to my truck. For starters, I covered the grill (already blocked by batteries) with a lexan plate. Should smooth out airflow a little bit.
That's about all for now. I'll probably take some more pics later and post them, plus more info on the adaptor plate. Check back soon!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

New look, new attitude!

After dropping the front a few inches and giving my truck a flat-black spray can trim job, my truck has an all-new "police cruiser" look. And it's not just to look cool, either (well, I guess the paint was...). I managed to pick up an extra 3-4 mph in third gear since the drop. Not to mention, it really does look awesome...

To go along with the whole "cool" thing, my truck also doesn't squeak anymore. Having replaced the u-joints, my truck is much more fun to drive. Plus I don't have people saying "I don't like EVs because they squeak."

And this is all just in time for my truck to tick over the magic 1000 mile mark. That's right, I now have 1000 gas-free, quiet miles on this machine. I have about 500 on it since the motor rebuild, as well. So far, that's 40 gallons of gas I didn't have to buy!

Now that I'm becoming more and more comfortable with it, I'll be driving it much more often too. It has no problems whatsoever in the rain, and cold weather doesn't seem to be much of a problem either. So that 2000 mile mark is coming up pretty quick...

I am, however, going to have to work out some sort of a heater... These 40 degree mornings are starting to get to me. I'll probably install an electric heater of some sort... I'll make sure and post about it when I figure something out.

I've also been doing a bit of work on motor cooling. Here's a pic (albeit a cryptic one) of my electric radiator fan:

So far, this has been doing an excellent job of keeping the motor cool. I've got it wired to turn on whenever the ignition is on, so even when I'm sitting at a stop light the motor is cooling down. I think that's very important. The original fan, attached to the motor shaft, only turned as fast as the motor. That meant that when I needed it most (low rpm situations) the fan wasn't doing anything! This one works much better.

The Tercel is coming right along. I'm currently working on eliminating the unnecessary engine wiring, which accounts for the majority of the underhood wiring. Should be a lot neater when I'm done. Plus I'm going to find some cool color of electrical tape to wrap it with!

The motor is scheduled to arrive later this week, so I'll be able to start working on the adaptor plate. It should be very simple. This transmission doesn't use a pilot shaft, so I don't have to incorporate the pilot bearing in the hub. This does mean, however, that I have to be extra careful with alignment.

Anyway, that's all for now. Make sure to check back soon!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I think I can sum up this post in two words: NEW CAR! My 1992 Toyota Tercel has been warmly welcomed to the garage, and is undergoing the conversion process. This great little car weighs right around 2000 lbs.- perfect for electric conversion. It came with a 5-speed and a 1.5L EFI engine (now no longer). The car is shown below in its current (disassembled) state:

Engine, exhaust, gas tank, etc. have all been removed. At this point I'm thinking I'll run a 144v system with 12v batteries. I may upgrade later on to 156 or higher- we'll see. I want to get "zippy" performance out of this thing. I'm currently waiting for the motor to arrive. Should be an impressive motor. It's another Kostov, only a little bit bigger. It's a 10.5" dia motor, vs. the 9" Kostov in my truck. It should be able to handle the amps a little better, not to mention putting out a lot more power!

My truck is running awesome. I'm approaching 1000 EV miles. Currently the driveshaft is in the shop getting new u-joints... I finally decided it's time to get rid of that obnoxious squeaking that's been plaguing my truck ever since conversion.

I'm also playing around a little with the suspension. Turns out that it's really easy to adjust height with torsion bars! Just turn a couple bolts underneath, and you can raise and lower it to your heart's content. Fun! I've got the front lowered an inch or two right now- I'm going to remove the bumpstops today and drop it a little further. Fun to play with, albeit not very productive... Looks cool, anyhow. I'll post a pic when I'm happy with the height.

Well, that's all for now. Make sure to check back for updates. Also check my photobucket- username is greenflightev. I've got some more pics of the Tercel up there now.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

EVing at the Cruise!

Make sure to check out my photobucket:
Click on "Mazda EV." More pics of the Cruise, the truck, and the motor rebuild.

I took my EV to the Woodward Dream Cruise in August. Man, talk about weird! An electric vehicle cruising around at an event dedicated to engines, and it still managed to get attention! Who knows how many video cameras and cell phones I'm in. It's amazing. There is definitely interest in this technology, you can't deny that! I drove it for 7 hours at the dream cruise without a recharge, and I still had plenty of voltage left! In fact, the 12 volt accessory battery started running low, when there was plenty of juice left in the traction pack. It was awesome! The Cruise is great for this kind of car. Stick it in first gear and cruise all day! It draws a crowd wherever it goes, especially with my shiny new lettering:

Yeah, nothing garners the public eye quite like LIME GREEN signs on a red truck. The pic doesn't do them justice- they're quite eye-catching.

Anyway, while I'm at it here, I should probably mention a rather important incident: the motor blew up. Well, it didn't exactly blow up, but it went out with quite a bang. I had just pulled out of work when I heard a BANG and the tires started squealing. My first thought was a flat tire, since my truck's not exactly the lightest car on the planet. So I pulled over and got out, looked at everything, kicked all the tires, and found nothing wrong. So, like anyone who fails to use his head would do, I fired it back up. This time, it gets me up to about 25 and then does the same thing. And it wouldn't restart. So after an embarrassing half hour parked in a driveway with the hood up staring blankly at the motor, my dad showed up with a tow strap and pulled me home.

Turns out the insulation (class F- 311 degrees F, if I recall correctly) had melted off the field magnets, and one had shorted to the motor case. Actually, two, and in the worst possible locations- they caused the voltage to bypass almost all of the field coils and interpoles. I believe the insulation melted during the initial test phase, when I was having difficulty with the controller. I tried shifting earlier to get the truck up to speed. Turns out I was just heating up the motor. So- to all you new EV drivers out there- wind it out! I believe the vibration eventually caused the coils to contact the case. I guess that's what I get for buying a cheap motor.

After getting a quote of $1000 to rewind the motor, I decided I wasn't feeling so flush after all. I decided to try and rewind it myself. It's not too difficult- just takes time:

Hopefully in the future I'll be able to write up a detailed description of how this is done. The bottom line, though, is that it worked, and the motor runs great. Not to mention, it now has class H insulation- good through 356 degrees F. I also installed a 12v CPU cooling fan in the endbell to help with cooling- the original fan was near worthless.
I'm currently in the process of installing an electric radiator fan in its place. The motor still gets warm with the CPU fan. Should allow me to push a few more amps through the motor, and get more top speed. I'll try to add some pics to my photobucket later.
Speaking of fans, I now have one installed in my homemade bed cover to vent the batteries. This way I don't have to prop up the bed cover to allow hydrogen to escape. I also have a 12v charger hardwired in under the hood to charge my accessory battery- this thing just gets easier and easier!
Anyway, I have about 700 EV miles on my truck so far, and all I can say is- I LOVE IT! The cost of electricity is nearly negligible, and it is awesome as a commuter and errand-runner. Range has not presented any issues for me. I do notice that I tend to plan a little better, trying to get more things done on one trip, but hey- that's a good thing!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I took the truck out on the road today. It's AWESOME. The first few runs I had some difficulty getting up to speed (couldn't go over 30 or so) but after adding more travel to the throttle sensor it is about as quick as it was as an ICE car. I drove it about 18 miles today, and I've only noticed a decrease of a few volts in pack voltage. I didn't even start with fully charged batteries! I think I'll get pretty good range out of this thing.
So far, I've had it up to almost 50 mph, but I'm sure it'll do 55, no problem. It pulls less than 100 amps at 45, and that's with a somewhat marginal drivetrain (high rolling resistance due to a lightly dragging brake and a few other things). Might go even faster, don't know for sure. It all depends on how many amps you want to draw.
I've got a few issues that I still have to work out. I've got a lot of tweaking to do on the controller and charger (20 amp circuit breaker? I can trip it...), but the most important part is IT RUNS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh yeah, it also makes this great noise like a turbine whine...
I love this thing!!!!!!!!!! And now I'll have all summer to play with it!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Okay, just as a quick update, I have it working a lot better now. It turned out to be a problem with the way I had the throttle sensor mounted. Anyway, it seems to have plenty of power now. More details later.

Hey, it's alive! Well, sort of. Yesterday, after all this work, I finally got it to go up and down the driveway under its own power. It was pretty exciting. I do have some troubleshooting to do. My car, after all this effort, fails to go signifcantly faster than walking speed. Needless to say, there is a problem. My controller seems to be malfunctioning. At this point, I think I can fix it. The most likely problem that I can think of so far is corrosion on one of the internal connections in the controller. I'm going to open it up later and see what I can find out.

Obviously, since the car is running, I've made plenty of progress on it since the last post. I put the metal bed back on (stupid wood, who needs the stuff, worthless trees...) and I've dropped 1000 lbs. of batteries into it. You can see them in the pics at the top of the page. That's before the final connections were made, but all the interconnects were installed in the back.
I was actually quite surprised how well my 1/4 ton truck handled 1300 lbs. of extra weight. It doesn't sit significantly lower than it did before conversion. Hard to believe, I know, but it's true!
Anyway, I've got to go get that controller fixed. I'll post up some more pics later on (if I remember).

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Okay, a couple of updates here. I've made quite a bit of progress. The most noticeable progress is the wood bed that I've constructed.

The bed tilts to allow access to the batteries. The rear battery box, right behind the cab, will hold 16 batteries. The goal was to keep them as far forward as possible, for C.G. purposes. I still need to add some reinforcements to the battery box. I'm planning on putting two metal L-brackets on each corner, and a few along the bottom edges. There will also be angle iron running underneath on top of the mounts.

I've also built a component shelf over the motor, and a front battery box. The component shelf holds the controller, charger, boost transformer, and a lot of the little stuff, i.e., contactors, circuit breaker, and that sort of thing.

The controller is the blue box on the left side of the truck. It is a DC Power Systems Raptor 600 controller, bought used. It is rated for 600 amps and 156 volts, more than enough for my truck. This controller is not as widely used as the Curtis 1221 and 1231 models, but I believe that it just as adequate. The throttle sensor can be seen just to the right of the brake master cylinder, mounted to the firewall. This attaches directly to the gas pedal on the other side.

The charger is the gold box on the right side of the truck. It is a pretty common model, the K & W BC-20. It will be using a boost transformer to allow it to charge the 120v battery pack in my truck off of 115v. This should be pretty handy for "opportunity charging" at work, the store, or pretty much anywhere. I believe that this outweighs the benefits of a 220v charger. Although it can charge the batteries faster, there are fewer locations to plug it in.

There will also be four batteries mounted up front, in a rack in front of the shelf. This should help keep the front wheels on the ground.

Currently I am waiting to receive the contactors, gauges, inertia switch, and a few other things. Once they arrive, I'll be able to start work on the wiring.

I am also very close to getting the batteries. I should have them in the next week or two.