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Archive for March, 2009

I really have to kick this into gear if I want to have this running this summer (or faster).  I still have to:

  • Get the batteries in and mounted
  • Mount the other drive-related electrical equipment
  • Get the charging system including possible a new 120VAC circuit in the garage
  • Get the accessory electrical system working
  • Upgrade the rear suspension
  • Tune up stuff… check brakes, CV joints, tires, guages
  • Get the car registered and inspected

Whoof.  When I look at it like that, I really need to start knocking off an item a weekend.

Battery Rack Implementation Plan

Last week I searched Denver’s Craigslist for mobile welders… someone who could build racks for the batteries and install them in the Beetle.  I included some pictures I found on the web of other people’s battery racks as examples.  I got two responses and called back the one that sounded the most interested.

Before they came to visit to take a look this past weekend, I decided to draw up some detailed plans… well, as detailed as I could make them with my limited experience.  So I spent a lot of time in the garage with tape measure, level, square, and improvised materials trying to make sure my plan would work.

The amateur pencil plans

The amateur pencil plans

I decided that this was the layout that worked the best.  I could fit in all 15 huge 8V batteries, and it could be two separate racks that would both fit in the door (which is important, I realized late into the process).

So when the welder showed up, the plans made sense… sort of… but they don’t give much context as to how they are fitting into the car, so I took a picture and ‘shopped it up to show them how this should all work in the car.

Battery Rack Layout

Man, am I good at Photoshop

So I have high confidence that we are going to have this ready to install late this week or next weekend.

Heavy Weight

One thing that the welder pointed out though is that even with 1×1″ angle iron, and a minimal design… just the rack metal is going to be heavy.  I am starting to really worry about the weight of this whole deal.  I have yet to find another EV project online that is using 15x 8V batteries instead of 10x 12V batteries… so I’m already carrying an extra 325 lbs or so.  That’s not good in an 1800 lb car.

So, I sent an email to Wilderness EV (Evolks) asking if I can run my 120V system at less than 120V if I need to… and I don’t think it will be a problem.  But I may need to run at 72 or 96V just to get the thing to a shop to upgrade the suspension before it will support that extra weight… or maybe I’ll find that I can’t upgrade it that much.

And will the extra voltage from 96 to 120V make any difference if I’m adding the extra weight of 3 more batteries?  I’d like to test the performance at both.  Power-to-weight and all that stuff.

Accessory Battery

The other thing I did this weekend was buy the 12V accessory battery it installs under the old rear seat, so I wanted to make sure that it would fit into place under the battery racks and that I could get it wired up.  I got the correct 12V battery at Checker, and installed it in place without much drama.

Then I went to test the electrical system.  Booya!  The headlights turned on.  I had both headlights, and one of the two orange trim lights on the front.  Also, the interior light on the dashboard worked.

Unfortunately, I could not get the wipers, windshield sprayer, horn, turn signals, or brake lights to work.  Rats.

I’m pretty sure the brake lights are disconnected from when I took out the motor, but I’m not sure about the rest of it.  I’ll have to troubleshoot it one step at a time I guess.  At least that will give me something to do on weekends when I have a half hour to work.

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So the weather has been really nice recently, but I have not been able to make any progress on the car because I need battery racks, and I don’t weld.  Sigh.

I found two independant mobile welders on Denver Craigslist last night, and I sent them both emails about the project to see if they are interested and how much they think it would cost to build these things, but I haven’t heard anything back yet.  I’m really hoping to soon.

I really want to get this thing moving again, because this summer I think my excuse will be that it’s too damn hot.

If I can’t get any local independent welders interested in it, I may have to draw up specs and take it to a shop.

If anyone is reading this blog and has any advice on this next step, please let me know.

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