I finally finished all the cutting and welding on the battery rack. Now you can see the double deck layout around the motor. I just need to clean up some of the sharp edges and a couple bolt holes need to be hogged out a bit. After that I’ll give it a test fit in the car before breaking it down for paint.
Continued work on the battery racks. Here is the main rack. I modified the outside frame to match the requirements for the thundersky batteries and I raised it 3″ from the main support. I cut out two cross members to allow batteries to be loaded into the lower rack. Now I just need to weld up the bottom rack
Spent today working on designing and fabricating the battery racks. The new design will put 8 batteries on each side of the motor and 22 batteries above the motor. The racks are also now designed to allow for an 11″ motor to be installed. I could use a standard 11 or the interpolled 11. We’ll decide on that when the time comes but for now I wanted to fabricate the racks such that there is room to install the bigger motor. I’m using as much of the old rack as I can. The main frame is going to sit 3″ above the original to allow for the lower cells and the main frame is getting adjusted for the new cell size but the general layout will be similar. The lower racks will hang from the main rack. Below is a picture of the original rack from the engine compartment. I’ll take a picture of the new rack after it gets welded.
Ok. Spent some time getting dimensions and started cutting steel for the ac installation. Here is a quick overview of what I plan to do. I’ll get a better video once I start putting the parts into the car.
Settling back in after the honeymoon took longer than anticipated. Who knew it would take so long to open gifts and write thank-you notes. The generosity from everyone was overwhelming. Thank you all for everything.
Now on to the EV update. I had done a quick layout of the batteries once they arrived and I confirmed the dimensions, but I kept ignoring the height. I knew these were taller, but I also knew that I was using some thin interconnects and did not think the extra height would be a problem. I thought wrong. Once I started detailing the layout and included height, I found that I needed about an inch (perhaps 3/4″) more height. The rack is constrained between the motor and the engine lid, so there was not even an inch to spare.
Plan B is perhaps a better way to go. I’m building three separate enclosures in the engine compartment. One on each side of the motor and one smaller one on top of the motor and the other two enclosures. By moving the cells alongside the motor I’ll be lowering the center of gravity which should help handling. The top cells will now be laying on their side which also lowers the cg for them as well. The same problem existed in the front batter box, so I’m moving it from the old gas tank compartment to the front trunk. this will lower the rack a few inches and move the weight forward, both of which should help to balance the car and lower the cg.
Moving the battery box to the front compartment also means that I’ll have to redesign the layout of the air conditioning system. I was going to build a system similar to what renegade hybrids does for 914 v8 radiator systems. It is a good setup, but does take up the entire front trunk. My new system will be similar to the way the factory did the A/C by cutting a hole in the floor of the trunk. I’ll be building a floor to capture the air between and force it through the condenser.
Now that the design has been redone, its time to get fabricating. I think I’ll start with the A/C system since it is going to go below the battery racks, and that will also force me to finish installing the system in the cabin. Right now it is just hanging by a few screws.
Something I forgot to mention in the list of things I’m changing about the car is that I am also updating the charger in the car. The original setup had a Russco charger, and I upgraded that to a Zivan charger, but both were only about 1500 watt chargers. I’d like to be able to charge faster, so I’m going to be installing a 10kW charger based on the open source charger offered by Electric Motor Works. Electric Motor Werks
It has been an extremely busy year for me at work, and with my upcoming wedding, I’ve had little time to even think about the car let alone work on it. I knew when the batteries did not arrive as they were supposed to in September last year, I was going to have trouble working on the car. My slow period at work is from late september to about March, and when the batteries arrived after the new year, I knew I’d have trouble getting it done before I got busy. I also had a pool-house to build, and that project took priority over the Porsche last spring, so no progress on the Porsche. The pool-house is complete, I’m starting to slow down at work now, but nothing is going to happen until after the wedding and honeymoon, which we return from on Halloween. Hopefully I’ll have a productive November and December and have the car back on the road somewhere near New Years Eve. Look for postings to resume in November and I return to this project. It’s hard to believe the car has been down for so long. The other two times the batteries needed replacement, I think I let it sit for about 4-6 months and then the battery installation took only one day and it was back running. This years project is for more substantial as I’m upgrading nearly everything on the car, but still….Its been down since January 2010 and I pulled the batteries out in July 2010 when I ordered the Thundersky batteries. That means it will have been down 2 years once I get it going again.
Its been a while since I posted, and there is a reason. I’ve not made any progress on the project. Between Taxes, Work and wedding planning I’ve not had time to do anything. I hope to make some progress on this in the next couple of weekends, and I’ll post any new progress.
Today I removed the hood and the trunk lid in an effort to start modifying and removing the battery racks. The rear battery rack is going to be very easy to modify. It seems I’ll need to remove about a quarter inch all the way around and move one piece of angle iron about half an inch. Ill end up with only two rows batteries in the back battery rack. This makes for a very simple layout to interconnect the batteries and easy to strap them together. The front battery rack is a little more difficult. The front battery track is a single string of batteries; however, the body is a little bit in the way cause these batteries are a little bit wider than the original batteries that were in the gas tank compartment. The original battery box configuration required me to actually hammer back some of the body work in order to clear the battery box and space available. With this new wider battery I have to hammer back some more but I think that the sheet metal was creased a little bit, and will not actually be able to bend it any further. I think I will probably have to cut sheet metal in order to get them to fit and still have room for the steering brackets that are in that same area where the sheet metal work needs to be done. Besides this one sheet metal requirement the front battery rack modification is quite easy and I won’t have to remove anything and reinstalling just have to do somebody work around the area where the battery racks too narrow. I’ll make this clearer in future posts when I show what I’m planning to do.
Because I did not have the batteries in my possession, I never spent too much time trying to figure out the battery layout for the upgrade. I knew that most of the cells would fit into the large enclosure behind the seats where the original engine compartment was. The rest should fit in the front trunk or the gas tank area, or a combination of both. I really hoped that they would all fit into the gas tank area and that would leave the front trunk for the charger and the air conditioning equipment. I was not confident that this would happen and thought I’d have to put the charger and the ac equipment in the gas tank area where it is harder to access and then put the batteries in the front trunk. Worst case, I’d have batteries in both locations. As it turns out I got lucky. The batteries should fit nicely in just the motor compartment and the gas tank compartment. The layout is very easy with two rows in the motor compartment and one row in the gas tank. This should make the cabling very easy. Time to get some exacting measurements and start cutting the angle iron from the old lead acid rack and modify it to fit my new Thundersky’s.
Well, after a 6 month wait, my batteries finally arrived. Richard just ordered another set to be delivered from Winston Batteries’ (Thundersky’s) new Balqon facility in southern California. I bet he never ordered the batteries the first time and just ordered them when I started hassling him in December. I want to put out a big thanks to Dave Kois of Current EV Tech. I contacted him in December when I was not getting anywhere with my phone calls to Richard, and he confirmed that deliveries have been delayed from China, but that I should have received my batteries. Dave has shown why his reputation as a great customer service oriented EV supplier has endured. He is truly a great asset to the EV community. I would highly recommend his company for EV components. CurrentEVTech.com As far a Alliance Renewable Energy, well they did come through with the batteries at a great price, but customer service is lacking in a big way. Not once did they contact me regarding the delivery process of my batteries. Every time a date passed that was supposed to be my delivery date, I had to email and call their office. They never answered the phone, and emails had to be send daily for about a week before they were answered. Needless to say it did not easy my mind when they had several thousand of my dollars. Given the “robbery” of customer money in the battery orders from Washington state, I was a bit concerned I would ever receive my cells. California has much better consumer protections, and I knew that Richard really wants his EV motorcycle company to prosper, so I figured I’d get the batteries or my money back either way, but I was not looking forward to the fight if it came to it. I’m sorry to say that I cannot recommend Alliance Renewable Energy for battery purchase at this time. If they hire a customer support person to track orders and stay in contact with the customers, maybe that could change, but until that time, I’d say use Current EV Tech and pay a few dollars more and get great customer service. That is what I would do. Unfortunately Current EV Tech had not been formed when I started my order process with Alliance Renewable Energy.
I spent a few minutes today “playing” with the condenser to see where it fits best in the front trunk. Here are a few photos showing it propped up with a screwdriver near where I plan to install it. It will probably end up a little farther forward in the car, and it will also be swapped around so that the fittings are on the passenger side. Anyhow, this is the first real start to the project beyond pulling out all the batteries from the car. Now its time to start the real work.
Well, I’ve been trying for a week to get in touch with Richard at Alliance, and he finally emailed me this morning. He still does not have the batteries, but is now suggesting that he is trying to trade with someone to get my cells. I’m not sure what that means because if my cells are at the port or near the port, it should be much faster to get the shipment than to trade with somebody. His messages are always very short, and I have to email him every day for about a week before he answers me. At this point I would not suggest anybody use him for the purchase of batteries, and I’d be wary of purchasing a scooter or motorcycle. His company just does not have very good customer support.
Good News, Richard finally responded to my request for information. The message was short, but from the message I can only assume that the batteries are going to be released from customs soon (next week sometime if information from other messages from Richard hold true, and then I should be able to pick them up after delivery from the port in LA to the warehouse in SF, which should be about another week).
“I should have eta on your shipment tomorrow.”
If everything goes well, I should have the batteries in my hands by the end of the month. I can’t wait, because I need them to start fabricating the battery racks, and other interconnects.
Here is what I plan to change about the car:
First of all I’m upgrading the batteries from the 20 US125 lead acid batteries to a battery pack of 42 Thundersky 160Ah cells. That will take me from 120vdc to about 144vdc. Just the increase in voltage alone should help the car perform better. The controller is remaining and is capable of 550 amps. 550×120=66kw of power, and 550×144 is 79.2kw. That is a 20% increase in power, but it’s better than that because the Thundersky cells (TS) will hold their voltage better than the lead acid (LA) cells. It is also a change from 242 Ah of which really we can only pull about 100Ah from at the current draws we use in an EV to 160Ah from the TS battery pack. That makes for at least a 50-60% increase in range for the car. But it should be better than that because I did not even include the fact that I will have less current draw from the pack due to the higher pack voltage, and I’ll also have less current draw from the pack due to the fact that the car is going to lose somewhere between 800 and 1000 lbs during this conversion. (There will be about 823 lbs lost just in battery weight). (67lbsx20 = 1340 lbs – 12.3×42 = 516.6 lbs) I’ll be able to completely remove one of the battery racks, and possibly the two saddle racks, if I don’t want to keep them as storage bins. I’ll be modifying or replacing all the battery racks in an effort to get them to work better with the new batteries and to remove any unnecessary weight.
Second, I’m putting the car on a diet. I’m removing the steel hood and trunk and the steel bumpers and valences and I’ll be replacing them all with fiberglass parts. This should save about 70 lbs.
FRNT BUMPER STK 17.5 —> F/G FRNT BUMPER 3 = 14.5lbs
REAR BUMPER STK 17.5 —> F/G REAR BUMPER 4.5 = 13lbs
Front Stck Deck Lid 30.5 —> F/G Front Deck Lid 10 = 20.5lbs
Rear Stock Deck Lid 31 —> F/G Rear Deck Lid 10 = 21.bs
Total = 69 lbs. This does not even include any of the valences or rocker panels that are being replaced with fiberglass. I’m going to take detailed notes and document all the weight removal from the car. The other item I might do is to lighten the flywheel. I understand that for every pound you remove you remove a virtual 50-100 pounds of car weight in first gear. See this link. http://www.uucmotorwerks.com/flywheel/how_a_lightweight_flywheel_work…
Third, I’m installing a new radio. The old one was just awful and if I’m going to be spending any time in the car, I needed a better radio. The radio I bought can stream audio from my iPhone and has handsfree telephone capability. I also will be adding a small 8″ subwoofer to fill in the missing sound that the 4×6 speakers cannot possibly do.
Fourth, I’m installing air conditioning. The car is great in the spring and fall, but the summer heat is not fun. Its well over 100 during the summer and A/C is a must.
Fifth, I’m installing heated seats. Just like the A/C for summer, the car could feel better in the winter if my butt was warmer. Heating the seat is more energy efficient than trying to heat the cabin air. Right now the car has two 1500 watt heaters, and it does do a decent job of heating the air, but thats 3000 watts getting used to heat the air, and not making the car go forward. Heated seats are much less power for greater effect.
Sixth, I’m installing new headlights and driving lights. I had non functional driving lights in the original bumpers, and I am replacing them with real lights. I am also removing the rotating headlights and all the associated hardware and installing fixed lights into the pods on the fenders of the car. The new lights are much more modern looking and will provide more light with less vehicle weight.
Seventh, I’m installing a new fuse-panel. The original fuse-panel in the Porsche is not very good and uses old style fuses. The new panel uses modern fuses and will be much more reliable. I had problems with a couple of the old fuses not making good contact. I had to clean the fuse and reinstall to make the electrons flow.
Eighth, I’m going to go over the entire braking system to insure it is working properly. The parking brake has never worked very well. The handle is hard to pull and the cable seems to bind in the tubes. The parking brake does not always hold very tight. I think it is all in the adjustments, so I’m going to go through the adjustment of the parking brake very carefully. The right front wheel seems to drag more than the others. When the car is on jacks, the other three wheels spin fairly freely, but the right front seems to drag and only gets a short spin. I’m not sure if it is the springs that spread the pads, or if it is the piston that is hanging, but I’m going to go though the setup of the brakes for all wheels very closely to be sure that they can all spin freely. this will greatly reduce the power consumed to drive the car.
So there is the project in a nutshell. I have many of the parts already here, and I’m just waiting on some others to get started. Most of all I am waiting for the batteries to arrive. I ordered them in August, and I am still waiting. Last word I got from Richard at Alliance Renewable Energy was that they should be arriving to the port in the last week of December and will take a week or two to clear customs. I emailed him this morning to get an update, but I have not received a reply just yet. What started as a simple battery upgrade has evolved into a pretty big project.
As I am awaiting parts to begin my Porsche modifications, I decided that I should write a quick post explaining the starting point for this project. I started with a 1974 Porsche 914 Limited Edition Bumblebee, and I converted it to electric power in 1995. I used the ElectroAutomotive Voltsporshe kit as the main components for the conversion. The car was in bad condition when I purchased it, and it needed paint and repairs. I decided that I was not going to pay too much for paint and bodywork since I did not really know how the car would end up when I was done. I had not known anybody who had done this at the time, and my inspiration was working on a solar powered car during my time at Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo. I sanded primered and sanded some more on the car, but I did not really do any bodywork. I just used some rust inhibiter and worked to stop the damage from continuing and I then painted the car myself in the garage at home. I had to purchase an all new interior, and since the car had no motor or transmission, I had to purchase a transmission. The motor came in the EV kit. The EV kit came with an Advanced DC 9″ motor and a curtis motor controller. It came with a Russco battery charger, and battery racks for 20 US125 6vdc lead acid batteries. The car was driven like this from 1995 to 2005 when I purchased my second set of batteries. At this time I upgraded to a Zivan NG3 charger and installed some battery balancers to try and extend the life of the pack. So this is my starting point. Painted but not straight body with a nice fairly new interior and the remnants of the voltsporsche kit with a Zivan charger.
About a year or so after I got the car running, a reporter from the newspaper contacted me. A coworker of mine called the paper and they came out to do a story. About 9 months later the article showed up in the paper. The reporter had absolutely zero technical background and was not interested in anything technical about the car which was the complete opposite of my interest when building the car. I was not sure how well he would do writing an article about this car, but in the end I think it turned out ok. It’s definitely a human interest piece and not a technical piece.
Originally published Monday, October 11, 1999
By Christopher Lewis
Record Staff Writer
Rule No. 1 in the as-yet-unwritten guide to driving an electric-powered car: Watch out for pedestrians in parking lots.
If you think they’re oblivious now to cars backing out of parking spaces, just wait until they can’t hear you.
Pulling out of his driveway one afternoon, Michael Palmer of Stockton demonstrated how he’s spooked a few innocent bystanders. He turned the key in his 1974 Porsche 914 and … nothing but dead silence.
Instead of vroom-vrooming to life, the car sounded like it had a dead battery. Actually, the little bugger had 21 juiced-up batteries rarin’ to go.
Like a kid working on a school science project, Palmer, 31, kept his electrical creation a secret during three years of garage tinkering. Friends and co-workers were positively electrified last month when he unveiled the Porsche during his daily commute.
“They thought I was nuts,” Palmer said. “But the reaction so far has been all positive.”
He thought the revamped car might anger Porsche purists. But the 500-amp motor, which ran effortlessly at 250 amps (about 70 mph) during a quick test spin on the Crosstown Freeway, has almost as much muscle as the original 75-horsepower engine. All for about 4 cents a mile.
“If this was a company project, he’d have a bonus that would support you and me,” said co-worker Bob Reynolds of Franrica Food Tech in Stockton, where Palmer works as an automation engineer on food-processing equipment.
“I was totally amazed,” Reynolds said. “The only noise it made was the tires on the pavement.”
Palmer’s Porsche didn’t have an engine when he bought it, either. He paid less than $500 for the beat-up frame lounging in Brent Berkebile’s front yard in west Stockton, looking like junked leftovers from a teenage gang’s Saturday night strip show.
Palmer had her towed home and dressed her up. He painted the exterior black and yellow and installed a fiberglass convertible roof.
“(Brent) kept calling me up — ‘Do you want these engine parts?’ ” Palmer said, chuckling mischievously.
Berkebile, who works at Martini’s Auto-
motive, said Palmer showed up at his house unannounced last month.
“I was eating dinner and I didn’t hear anyone (drive) up,” Berkebile said. “I thought he was just going to put a fuel-injected, 2-liter Porsche (engine) in it. I looked underneath and I said, ‘Kind of quiet, isn’t it?’ ”
He was impressed with the car’s performance. “It has a lot of pickup,” Berkebile said.
Perhaps the biggest perk is the running list of headaches Palmer can do — actually does — without: no more tuneups, valve adjustments, oil changes, radiator leaks, busted fan belts … (insert your own “no more” here). Replacing the batteries every five to six years for a total of about $1,000 is still a bargain compared to regular car maintenance, he said.
And smog checks? Puh-leeze. That’s, like, so 20th century.
The state Department of Motor Vehicles was impressed — they gave Palmer’s ride a clean bill of health and new registration.
“They just flipped out,” he said.
Palmer may blow off smog checks, but his electric car has a few reality checks. The motor doesn’t have quite the same kick going up hills, in part because the batteries pack an extra 300 to 400 pounds.
The main roadblock is the limited range — the car can go a maximum of about 100 miles before recharging. A full recharge takes about eight to 10 hours. But Palmer carries an extension cord in the trunk so he can conveniently plug in to a standard 110-volt outlet wherever.
The car runs on 20 six-volt traction batteries more familiar on putting greens than roadways. Golf carts typically run on four to five such
batteries. A smaller battery powers the radio, headlights and blinkers.
Besides the speedometer, the only instruments Palmer relies on now are the palm-sized volt and amp meters.
Several local government agencies employ electric vehicles, but they’re struggling to dent the mass market because of the high cost. The cities of Lodi and Stockton, which are exploring grants to lease electric cars, might get a charge out of Palmer’s Porsche. He researched electric cars on the Internet and purchased $5,000 worth of parts from Bay Area and Arizona companies.
The Porsche isn’t Palmer’s first project. He worked on a solar-powered car while he was a student at California Polytechnic State University. And his mountain get-away is a 1968 Ford Bronco he restored after college with a digital dashboard and computer-controlled engine.
He’s got wheels for each of the four decades he’s lived in — the Bronco, the Porsche, a 1987 Toyota Corolla (possibly his next electric venture) and a 1991 Corvette.
But the Porsche is the jaw-dropper when Palmer rolls to a stop at intersections.
“People just turn their heads and look at me funny,” Palmer said. “They are curious. Most of them have never seen an electric car. They want to know all about it.”
Hello again. This is a test with a video post. I made this video a few months ago when I first ordered the new batteries from Thundersky. It shows the car after it was sitting in my garage for about 2 years waiting for a lithium battery upgrade. When the second set of lead acid batteries died, I said I was not going to put in another set of batteries unless it was lithium.