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De-Atomized · 22 May 06

Atom, side view

Back in January a surprise gift landed on our doorway: a homemade EV.

We’d just finished our new garage, had tons of free space, and suddenly another vehicle shows up to fill the space. Obviously we’d almost fractured some time-space garage continuum by having this clean spot. Or was it simply that not only does nature abhor a vacuum it also has a thing against clean garages?

That was Atom.

Atom is now being de-commisioned, broken into base components and scattered to the EV winds. What led to this decision? Well, a couple of weeks ago my wife asked what I was going to do with Atom (in her very best I’m not complaining about lack of space in the garage manner).

Oh, that’s easy, I’m going to…uh, replace the, uh, well maybe the, uh. Hmm…

After a few minutes thought I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do, or more importantly what there was to do. I hadn’t spent much time looking over Atom to know what it needed. So off to the garage with a few tools and a shop-light.


The first thing that became obvious was it wasn’t even close to being street legal.

See those rear bumpers? Not really. Those two rubber bumper things are bolted to the fiberglass shell…nothing else. And the shell, well let’s just say it had seen better days. There’s a few strips of plywood reinforcement here and there, but for the most part it’s sitting there holding on for dear life.

Atom: behind the seat, electronics

The batteries were dead. The wiring was cracked and frayed and in some cases just missing. The metal hadn’t been treated or painted much and was very rusted. No windshield, funky steering linkage, and the back drive train seems to be missing a vital component to keep the wheels aligned with the road.

I’ve got my hands full enough with Eve and she has a fully operational chassis. There’s no way I’ll have the time to redo this vehicle.

So I started pulling it apart.

Atom: main electronic parts

First thing was to free up the electronics: motor controller, a couple of contactors, current shunt, potbox (not shown), and a fuse. All valuable components and from what I’ve heard all in working condition.

The motor controller is a Curtis 36-48vdc. It would make a great controller for a NEV (neighborhood electric vehicle), electric motorcycle or scooter, maybe even a fancy electric lawn tractor. Most of the other components are matched to go with it.

The wiring has been recycled. Much of the insulation was cracked and I didn’t think it was worthwhile to try and recover any of it. Recycled.

Next up on the chopping block, the motor.

Atom: old motor

It’s a Baldor motor of unknown lineage: 72 volts, 98 amps, 3200 rpm, and 8 horse power (not sure what peak HP is). The most impressive spec is that it clocks in at 165lbs…fifteen pounds more than the 30hp motor in Eve. It’s a serious motor, surely made from the remnants of a neutron star.

First thing that came to mind when I saw the motor was Yugo Greg and his electric car. Greg’s first motor was a little underpowered to start with and then something happened which made things even worse.

So I sent him off an email to see if he was interested in a “free” motor. “Free” as in, “you are going to have to pay shipping for this monster!”

Sure thing, says Greg. I hack together a motor shipping crate from an old pallet and a week later Greg is lathing and milling and squeezing the motor into his Yugo (more details to come).

So the motor is being put to good use and now I need to find a good home for the other parts. I’m not sure what to do. Maybe I can find someone else with an EV project that’s stuck trying to find/afford a motor controller? Or maybe I should make an EV scooter in my, uh, spare time?

Ideas? Suggestions?

Atom: sliced & diced

As for the rest of Atom? I went after him with a saws-all last weekend and pulled off most of the back and front fiberglass and some wood battery box supports. The seats still have to come out (tricky!) before the middle section can be fully disassembled. Once that’s done I’ll start slicing up the remaining components and deciding which parts to keep or re-use in Eve.

The wheels and tires are surprisingly new and in good shape, probably something that would fit on someone’s trailer. If someone wants a master cylinder that doesn’t need a booster, here’s your chance. Anyone interested is welcome to drop me an email if there’s a part(s) that you’d like to put dibs on.

Comments 9
  1. — Greg Coleman    May 23, 2006 00:58 AM    #

    Jerry, I can’t thank you enough for the chance at the motor. It fit my Yuglet without any major adjusting. It got here on Monday, around noon and by Thursday noon, I took a test drive. I will have to add a battery or two but it will be a vast improvment over the 5hp that I started out with.
    I am looking for a 48/72 volt Alltrax controller, incase someone has a good one to sell.
    Thanks again Jerry.

  2. — jim hurst    May 23, 2006 20:24 PM    #

    Hi Jerry,
    I’d be interested in the controller, not that far to drive to get it :) we were thinking of trying something different than the series/para switching

  3. darin    May 23, 2006 22:34 PM    #

    I think if the EV Fairy left a 36/48v controller and potbox under my pillow, I’d be tempted to build a solar-electric adult tricycle.

    I have a .88hp @ 48V motor left over from the forklift disassembly (the power steering pump motor), and access to a free home made (therefore heavy) adult trike. The best part is the sizeable box on the back for holding batteries and mounting panels.

    I also found out recently that I have a source for free, used, small capacity 6, 12 & 24V batteries from a friend who services industrial alarm systems (and replaces the batteries on a schedule).

    If not an e-trike, my next choice would be a pusher trailer for bike or… Geo Metro. Or how about an e-5th wheel built into the back of said Metro! :D

    Of course, the question is WHEN i’d be building all these things…

  4. Jerry Halstead    May 24, 2006 16:18 PM    #

    Hi Jim & Darin,

    A couple of good candidates. Let’s see if there are any others over the next few weeks (I have a vacation coming up) before making a decision.

  5. — Charles Noll    Jun 03, 2006 22:59 PM    #

    What is the best source for a motor for an EV.
    I am waning yo convert a Porche 924 to electric.

  6. Jerry Halstead    Jun 04, 2006 11:18 AM    #

    Hi Charles,

    Check out the resources page (link in right side-bar). There’s links to a number of EV part suppliers.

  7. — John Westlund    Jun 09, 2006 06:54 AM    #

    Do you have a potbox available? I could certainly use one for my project, provided it can be used for at least a 72V system.

    Hope to have her on the road this summer. Looking for a Prestolite MTC motor. Little luck so far.

  8. Jerry Halstead    Jun 10, 2006 13:00 PM    #

    Hi John,

    I may, let me check with some of the other folks who expressed interest in the parts.

    So you are getting started on your EV? Got a website? If not feel free to send pics and a write up and I’ll post it here.

  9. michael    Mar 15, 2009 13:53 PM    #

    how to buill my own ev
    can i know more about it tq.