Monday, July 28, 2008

Motor Purchased

The motor has been purchased...
Advanced DC L91-4003
$929.00 + $66.95 Shipping = $995.95

I spent a good part of yesterday removing 30 years of oil and dirt from under the hood, but I'm still nowhere near done. Cleaning it out is going to be a bigger job than the conversion! I'll have some good before and after pictures when I'm done though.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Motor Design Considerations

Not too much progress on the car, but I've been talking with the guys and gals at to get a few design questions answered. By the way, if you want to convert a car and have a question go check out that site. The people there are great.

I've got the old engine on 2 different classified sites trying to find a new owner but still no interest. I had decided on a 120V system but not on the motor.

My goals...
Right now my wife and I don't -need- a second car. I ride my bike to work and she rides the bus to school. Once she is done with school we'll have to have the two cars though. For now I'd like an easy cruiser (using Lead Acid). It should be highway capable, but it will rarely if ever see it (Phoenix is a perfect grid with plenty of auxiliary roads to take). Its acceleration should keep up with regular traffic without destroying the motor/batteries/controller, but I don't need to win any races. Range is just a bonus as I don't 'need' this car. The further the range the more I'll do with it but everything is pretty close. A reliable 20 miles is minimum, and 30 is more than enough. In 2 years when I'm back in Texas I'll spring for Lithium Phosphates that can go for 40+ miles range.

Over the past week I searched through a bunch of EV supplier sites to find the best motor for me (and of course I made a huge excel spreadsheet with all the stats).

Here's the top few...

ADC FB1-4001A, 9.1",, $1550, 143 lbs, Double Shaft
25.2 HP @ 120V Continuous
27.5 HP @ 120V 1 Hour
43 HP @ 120V 5 Minute
85 HP @ 120V Peak
40 mph range: 30.4 miles

ADC 203-06-4001A, 8",, $1350, 106 lbs, Double Shaft
21.7 HP @ 120V Continuous
24 HP @ 120V 1 Hour
37 HP @ 120V 5 Minute
83 HP @ 120V Peak
40 mph range: 24.1 miles

ADC L91-4003, 6.7",, $929, 85 lbs, Double Shaft / Reversible
16 HP @ 120V Continuous
17.9 HP @ 120V 1 Hour
31 HP @ 120V 5 Minute
72 HP @ 120V Peak
40 mph range: 23.8 miles

ADC X91-4003, 6.7",, $949, 87 lbs, Double Shaft
16/10 HP ??

D&D ES-31B, 6.7",, $1154 ( may have it at $1085 though), Single Shaft
18 HP @ 96V

Obviously you get what you pay for. Bigger and more expensive gives you more efficient longer range. The ADC FB1-4001 seems to be a standard among EV conversions, but my car is substantially smaller than many EV conversions. The ADC 203-06-4001A gives better power than the ADC L91-4003 but not much better range. After debating about it for several days (researched for months), I've decided to go for the ADC L91-4003. It's 40% lighter and 40% cheaper than the FB4001A. Excluding the pretty mountains in the distance, Phoenix is completely flat so engine power isn't critical now even with Lead Acids. Texas has more hills which will either need more power or less weight. Fortunately Lithiums are substantially lighter so I should be okay.

The guys recommended that I thoroughly clean out and paint the engine bay. 2 reasons: protect from rust and make it extra beautiful when people look under the hood. Apparently when you have an electric vehicle everyone wants to check out the motor. :-)

I was originally going to keep the clutch, but after seeing how complex it would be to make an adapter for it, we decided to scratch it. (We being my machinist friend Matt who is helping me out a ton.) The car should run fine clutchless. Electric motors have full torque at 0 rpm, and they have minimal mass when changing gears (it just takes a couple seconds longer). The synchros will help smooth the shift without needing a clutch. The guys at diyelectric also warned me that the transmission in these cars is very poor, and I may want an after market Japanese unit. Depending on the performance of the L91-4003, I may just do all my driving in 2nd gear. If that's the case I can replace the transmission with a single-speed gearbox and use the motor's reversible capability. I probably won't reach highway speeds with the single gear though.

It looks like I'll need 3 items manufactured for the motor. A coupler from the transmission's shaft to the motor's shaft, an adaptor plate to cover the bell housing / attach the motor to the tranny, and a rear mount. For the rear mount, we'll probably build a metal cradle between the old engine's attachment points that has a curve in the middle matching the new motor's shape. Then add a tight strap over the top of the motor connected to the cradle. The adaptor plate will handle the torque and the cradle will help support the back of the motor. Also the guys at diyelectric recommended we keep the rubber engine mounts to help absorb bumps. Matt was checking it out with me, and he thinks it'll be a breeze. Sweet.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Video: Spitfire Running with ICE

Here's a short video of the Spitfire running before I took out the internal combustion engine (ICE).

I didn't realize how small the car was until I saw myself driving it! It sure is a sweet ride though!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Video: Removing the Engine

That engine was heavy!

The Engine is Out

Yesterday a couple friends came over to help work on the car. We first tried to fix the previous problems (as the car was still running). The bad lug nut turned out to be the knocking problem. After it was re-threaded and on the car the knocking went away. We bled the brakes and they are a bit better now. I guess this is just how non-power brakes feel. Reverse works - you just have to pull up and over to get it there. The dashboard has also been revarnished...

We spent most of the day pulling out the internal combustion engine, radiator, exhaust, fuel lines, and gas tank. I've never drank so much yet peed so little in my life, but it was a lot of fun.

Removing the gas tank...

Disconnecting engine parts...

Empty engine bay...

Won't be needing this anymore...

Or this...

The kitty wants a ride...

Now I just need to decide on a motor.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bought my donor!

After browsing through web pages and talking about the idea for about a year, I finally purchased my donor car for an electric vehicle conversion.

It is a 1978 Triumph Spitfire...

I bought the car for $1500, and it's actually in pretty good shape. It has the original interior, paint job, and convertible top.

The car does run, but it has a few problems:
1. There is a knocking coming from the front left wheel. I've jacked up the car and removed the wheel to try and figure out the problem. The only thing I noticed was that the thread on one of the four lug nuts was bad, and the wheel was only being held on by three. I don't know if that was causing the sound, but I have a friend that works in a machine shop that is going to re-thread the bolt for me (Checkers Auto Parts does not sell lug nuts that small.)
2. The brakes are terrible. The car stops, but it's slow. I was thinking I would have to buy an electric vacuum pump since I'm getting rid of the engine, but after some investigation (where does this hose go?) I found out that Spitfires don't have power brakes. Maybe non-power brakes are this bad? I've got the same machinist friend coming over to help me bleed the brakes next week to see if that helps.
3. I can't get it into reverse! I can get the reverse lights on, but the car still goes forward. A coworker came by and managed to do it though so I know it can be done!
4. I need to replace some of the rubber housings under the hood that are pretty worn out.
5. Re-varnish the dashboard (yeah, it's real wood).
6. The car has practical no rust, but I need to touch up a few spots where the paint has chipped away.
7. Needs new convertible top! (Not a huge priority though since it's sunshine 364 days out of the year in Phoenix.)
8. CD/Radio will turn on but no sound out of speakers. (Low priority, but I might as well list it.)
9. Pull out engine, carburetor, exhaust, radiator, and alternator. Install electric motor, controller, 10 batteries, and DC-DC converter. Easy!

The car is ridiculously easy to work on. The entire hood / side panels on the front rotate up when you're working on the car. No power steering / brakes / AC will mean the electric conversion will be even simpler. The gas tank is easily accessible (in the trunk), and I think 5 batteries will easily fit in its place. When all is said and done, the completed car should cost me about $10,000.

I told our dog Timber he can drive as soon as his feet can reach the pedals.