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Welcome to the Electric Car Weblog. In addition to links, news, and tips about electric cars and other forms of alternative transportation we are publishing an on-line diary of our current EV project. Started in August 2005 the chronicle follows the conversion of a gas powered Ford Probe into an Electric Car.

You will find articles organized by categories, along with recent comments, along the right hand column of the website. If you are just getting started with the idea of converting a gas car to electric be sure to check out Your First Electric Car

Welcome and enjoy!

Dash Free! · 2 November 05

Fuse block

A still life of fuse and wire, circa 1990 Ford Probe.

You must view it in full to appreciate the subtlety and depth of character bestowed within. There is a sublime sense of self that washes over the viewer. None of the trite vulgarities found in today’s modernistic attempts at expression.

Surely the artist has transcended his origins, his dauntless energy and ferocious curiosity propelling him beyond the bourgeois and downtrodden existence that so dramatically shaped his early years.

It also looks like he rides the clutch a bit…

Hello and welcome back to our show. Tonight we’ll be ripping the dash out of a defenseless car and maybe even saying a few swear words along the way.

First off let’s take care of a little housekeeping.

I was showing these pictures to my good friend Brian, the man with three first names, and when we got to the part where the dash was all ripped off he gave me this look and said:

“Why are you doing this?”

Now this is the guy who helped rebuild my old Mustang, ripped apart and put together his old Dodge van before driving it 2,000 miles, and regularly rode to work on a motorcycle in the snow and ice of South Dakota Winter back when we were in the Air Force.

So when he starts to wonder if I’m losing it I can only assume that everyone else came to that conclusion long ago.

First off: this is not necessarily the right way to build an electric car. It certainly isn’t the only way.

In fact I bet there’s tons of folks who don’t even peek under the dash when they make an EV. They buy a kit, pop out the old gas parts, put in the new parts, polish up the fenders and get about their lives.

And that’s ok. I just happen to like taking things apart and let me tell you…there’s a LOT to take apart!

Onboard computer

Speaking of which, here’s the elusive onboard computer I was mentioning. It even looks more like a computer than the last module. I think IC603 might be an EPROM. Along with the groovilicious AM/FM Cassette Radio deck, Premium Sound Amplifier Module, and the Sub-Woofer Amplifier module maybe I can make big bucks selling them on Ebay?

Do you realize that the shop manual has a section on troubleshooting, removal, and installation of the Ash Receptacle and Cigar Lighter?

This thing is thorough!

After reading a few sections last night I finally unhooked all of the cables from the various air ducts and popped out the climate control console. What a monster.

It could all be done with a few solenoids and probably is on some cars. The thing is that solenoids cost more money and require more wiring, fuses, and documentation. Whereas a solid steel wire through a sleeve is a little cumbersome to install but all in all does the job directly.

Removed Dash

Once the climate control thing was out I thought the center column would pop right out. No dice. Seems that there’s screws holding it from the inside. Reading through the whole dash removal section I came to realize that the center console and all of the dash is one, big steel, rubber, and plastic contraption to be removed wholesale.

To do that: remove side plastic covers, remove center instrument cluster and all steering wheel bracing, disconnect about a dozen nuts, remove various screws you missed the first time, wiggle, yank, curse, wiggle, slam, shout obscenities, remove another screw, unhook a couple wiring plugs, and viola, it is free!!

Did I mention this is a southern car? First clue was all of the sea shells I found. Second clue was the huge palmetto bug (Cockroach!) stuck in the heater coils. I tried to ease it out, thinking it would make a great picture, but the legs pulled right off.

Dash Free

Here it is folks, the naked truth about Eve!

I’ve taken the liberty to throw in a few arrows and text blocks to identify the major sections. If all goes well I’ll have the rest of this stuff out of here by the end of the night…along with that crispy palmetto bug.

The plan (yes, there is a plan) is to get the heating system out and cleaned up. There are two small “radiators” in the air flow path of this duct work. The first one right after the squirrel cage fan is for A/C, you can tell because there’s a small hose leading out from the plastic case to drain away condensation.

The next block is bigger and is for heat and is usually called the heater core. After that there’s this fascinating bit of flap works that redirects the air through any of three paths: defrost, vent, and foot level.

After that is yanked out I’ll probably start whittling away at the wiring. There’s a bunch of it that can go. Ditto with the thick rubber firewall insulation. Since we no longer have a noisy, hot engine and exhaust system all of these sound deadening panels and insulators aren’t really needed. I suppose you could make the argument that they help keep the heat in during the winter, but considering all of the glass in a car that is of little use.

Comments 14
  1. Greg Gullatt    Nov 02, 2005 19:30 PM    #
    I,ve got a few ‘swear’ words that I can loan you if you run out of the most ‘common’ ones. I have the appreciation of simple and working on the 6 cylinder ‘66 Mustang wen’t without a hitch today. I didn’t here a bad word out of myself or my partner today.
    Good luck with the Probe dash and wirind and all that I have to say is it’s a good thing that you have a ‘roadmap’ for that thing !
  2. — Michael    Nov 03, 2005 01:33 AM    #
    I really have to wonder whether it’s actually worth buying a whole car when most of it isn’t needed in the conversion. Perhaps i should be shopping for hosts at a wreckers yard and save myself some time. ;)
  3. Jerry Halstead    Nov 03, 2005 07:32 AM    #
    Greg, I’ll let you know when more creative words are needed!

    Michael, that’s true. If you can buy a car with all of the gas related components already removed that would be ideal. Wouldn’t it be cool if manufacturers offered up new “gliders” for sale?

    Failing that you could always check with the local high school shop class to see if they are interested in gutting the car for you.
  4. — Woody Becher    Nov 03, 2005 07:35 AM    #
    Your braver than I. I am used to working on older cars (no computers.) I am converting a ‘95 Nissan and was afraid of disconnecting anything that even looks like a computer, fearing it would control some electrical component that I still need. Does the engine control computer control anything else?
  5. Jerry Halstead    Nov 03, 2005 08:46 AM    #
    Hi Woody,

    Wait until you see the next batch of pictures!

    According to this Haynes schematic the computer doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of the system. Although I’ll need to verify with the schematic in the Ford shop manual.

    The only question mark, or curiosity, is why the Rear Window Defrost Switch goes to the engine control computer? Maybe it takes care of timeouts?

    No problem if there are a few exceptions. I’m confident that I’ll be able to outwit it in the end. ”:^)
  6. — Ryan    Nov 03, 2005 19:49 PM    #
    About how much would you guess the dash weighs as it is in that pic of it removed? Also, if you remove that big black HVAC box, how much does it weigh?

  7. Jerry Halstead    Nov 03, 2005 20:14 PM    #
    Good question Ryan. I removed a whole pile of things this week and have been wondering what the total weight has been, both for the permanent removals and the stuff going back. I plan to buy a scale and write up a list of items and weights in a future article.
  8. — Dan    Nov 03, 2005 21:57 PM    #
    My hat’s off to you Jerry. I Never tackled dismembering a car that completely but I progressively rebuilt an MGB years ago (a much simpler car). Still, it not only gave me a through education in auto machanics but it also taught me how to swear for ten minutes straight without repeating myself. That last part came in handy in the Army. ;)
  9. Jay    Nov 15, 2005 19:57 PM    #
    Jerry, you have almost completely cured me of any desire to convert a modern vehicle. I’ve got it so easy, starting with a car that has no electrical accessories and nary a semiconductor.
  10. Jerry Halstead    Nov 15, 2005 21:46 PM    #
    Jay, I blame the current mess I’m in almost entirely on you!

    It’s the first photo in your conversion with the car body hanging from the rafters and the chassis all stripped and cleaned on the ground. Some little “bug” lodged in my brain:

    Hey, I could strip everything from the car!
  11. — Eric    Jun 17, 2008 12:18 PM    #

    I’m probably late to comment, but here’s a though regarding the insulation. I have a 1990 Mazda 626, with a small hole in the floorpan at the front left. When I was driving at 100 km/h in -20C for hours on end, my left foot was constantly cold. However, for commuting, it was never a problem.

  12. george adjah    Oct 01, 2008 09:43 AM    #

    i went the copy of your all car wiring diagram cd

  13. — chilton    May 06, 2009 22:13 PM    #

    I was thinking about making a video on how to convert a car to electric. Like a step by step. But I don’t know much about converting. If you guys have an idea please email me at rickysleek@live.com

  14. — steve Vanlandingham    Aug 21, 2009 22:20 PM    #

    just bought a ’92 probe GL. You mentioned the motorized seat belts and not sure what to use for shoulder straps…how did you resolve that issue…thx – seve