Thursday, August 18, 2011

Newest converted electric vehicle

Saturday, March 12, 2011

New Project

I'm starting a new project: Converting my John Deere L111 Riding Lawn Tractor to All-Electric, 100% battery power. Follow at:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Turning Sunlight into Road Miles

Last Saturday, I taught a class in building a solar array. After the class was over I thought, "Why not put that project to good use." Hence: Here is the 875 watt solar array re-charging the batteries in my electric VW. What more can you ask for ... Sunlight to Road miles!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Nice Driving Weather ... Finally!

Driving again: Beautiful 70+ weather today. It was a good day to take the "Electric Jet" to the barber shop so the driver could get a "spring trim."

Photo shows recharging on the helicopter landing pad. Whenever possible I open the hood for recharging so as to let the gasses escape. This prevents rust from forming in the battery compartment.

Sadly, due to the big John Deere tractor Upgrade project/business, I never got any of the planned winter-downtime improvements done. Hopefully, I'll get to them soon. ("Soon" being quite undefined.)

Adding to the prior items, I've acquired a LINK-10 ("E-Meter") that needs to be installed. This is a very handy gadget which will monitor and log all battery functions.

FIRST on the list is headlight re-wiring! I drove home last night with headlights about as powerful as a 1950 Schwinn bicycle! The problem is typical undersized VW wiring, plus bad grounds. When I get done, I think it will light up the road like a 747 on short final approach!

The original US Battery battery pack is doing better than expected. I figured I would have to replace the pack first thing this year, since this is the fourth year on the pack. So far, it's still chugging well after 25 miles, which will get me to Pullman, and back, still with a little reserve to run around in town a bit. (Down from the initial 50 mile range) I haven't actually "pushed it" to see what the actual range is, however I have definitely noticed that the range is increasing as I drive it this year.

I plan to add two more 6-volt batteries, using the Electro Automotive under the floor battery box. It looks very well designed, as is all their products.

Rob, another Cabbie Converter ( just installed a lithium-ion pack. I'm watching that carefully and might consider it, if the price is right. Other than being able to extend the vehicle range an amount farther than I usually drive and allow me to spin the wheels and beat most cars to the first stop-light, I really can get along with my faithful non-BMS lead-acid batteries. (Re: Smoking Tires - Pullman is a "Small Town" and too many people know me!)

Stay Tuned ...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Next "Electrifying" Project

How about an Electric, Solar Charged, "Off-Road Monster," Golf Cart?
Yeah ... I think so!

Step 1: Install a 6" Lift Kit and cool-looking wheels and tires.

The future:

  • New Paint Job
  • New upholstery that is appropriate for the new paint.
  • Headlights
  • Add a bunch of chrome
  • Convert from gas power to electric power
  • Install a solar module on top to keep the running batteries fully charged.
  • Oh yes ... Seat Belts!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Things Are Heating Up

Now that Winter is upon us, (-3F tonight) it's time to pull the Electric Jet out of service for winter maintenance. I basically have three projects: Add a heater; Improve headlights; Fix the door and window operation.

Heater: I have mocked up a possible heater setup ... and it seems to work well. Now I have to install in the car.

At first, I planned on installing an electric ceramic heater, as many have done, but decided against that because of potential safety issues. I think hot water will work better.

I bought a small hot water heater tank that is used in the winter as an engine block heater. (eBay) It has a 1000 watt 115vac heater element and will work on 96vdc, just fine. (Tank heaters are available up to 2000 watts.) I used a small 12 vdc hot water pump used in solar hot water systems to circulate the water. (El-Sid pump). Hooking all this in series with a new VW heater core, I proved that it will put out a good supply of hot air.

I will wire it in, in such a manner that I can run the heater on aux. home power for a time before departing, so as to pre-heat the car interior. When I'm ready to depart, I will switch it over to car power.

Before you ask: The whole heater system will require about 1,100 watts of power, when ON. Compare that to the 20,000 watts of power the car uses in normal cruise. This computes out to about an added 5% requirement, which in most cases will not affect power or range to any appreciable amount.

I think this will be a safe system, with minimal amount of controls required. If it starts to overheat, the hot water heater tank has a internal cut-off thermostat switch.

What could be easier?

Saturday, April 04, 2009

What Happens When You Short Out The Pack

Here is why I always wear gloves and eye protection!

Today, I was doing the spring battery maintenance, which consisted of topping off the water and tightening the battery terminal connections. For the tightning, I use a 1/2" box end wrench that is wrapped with electrical tape. The only exposed part is the box end.

Today, however, I needed an extra wrench and I just grabbed another, unwrapped wrench. Unfortunately, it slipped and shorted across the entire pack of batteries in the rear of the car. This was "only" eight of the sixteen in the car. When it crossed the terminals, it was like a Fourth of July display, with hot molten steel flying in all directions. I can't imagine what would happen if full pack had been shorted.

In the second picture, you can see chunks of molten steel and tracks across the battery tops where the hot metal rolled across.

Word to EV builders and owners: BE CAREFUL.