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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!

Eve of Deconstruction · 14 September 05

I’ve always loved taking things apart. Putting things back together…well, if you insist.

But the real fun is in the disassembly. There’s nothing quite like cracking something open for the first time and discovering how it works, finding the clever engineering (or not-so clever), and marveling at all of the forces that must have gone into designing, manufacturing, assembling and bringing it together into one unit.

Circuit Closeup

Which is why tonight should be a blast. Tonight I pop the hood off of Eve, drain the oil and anti-freeze, siphon off the gas and start the meticulous task of removing everything that isn’t needed in an EV, which is really quite a lot.

Prep Work

Over the past week I’ve been taking care of the preparation.

Eve weighed in at the local dump’s scales (“what, you don’t have any trash in there?”) at 2700lbs…minus me and the dog…with a little over half a tank of gas. A little heavier than I was hoping for, but maybe there are things I can do to help lighten her up (plastic fenders & hood?).

I spent almost ten bucks at the local car wash spraying out all of the gunk from the undercarriage, engine compartment (which was pretty darn clean), and wheel wells. This conversion should be much cleaner than the last one.

And finally I found a local garage that could drain the old AC’s R12 without waiting a month for an appointment. That was the hardest part and took about five days to set up. One place didn’t want to mix R12 with their R134, another had an R12 machine but no one certified and didn’t want to risk getting caught. Finally found a garage next to the office which did the deed: $20.

Over the course of this operation I’ve learned a little more about Eve, the Ford Probe. First off what’s up with these motorized shoulder belts? My dog Zeke doesn’t know what the hell do to with them! All of the controls are on the dash. That is, there’s no steering column, the wheel is snugged up close to the dash. Odd.

Lots of nice meters…I like that in a car. Maybe there’s a way to re-purpose the gas, oil, and heat gauges to something more applicable in the EV?

The manual transmission linkage is looser than a derelict’s teeth. You can’t really tell if it is in or out of gear as it moves six inches in all directions all of the time. If I was really bold and creative I’d come up with a way to get rid of the tranny altogether. Essentially it needs to be in second gear all of the time. I could always rig up extra relays for an electrical reverse.

If there’s a way to rig a front wheel drive to work without a transmission drop me an email or leave a comment.

I’ll be sure to take pictures of tonight’s (which might stretch into a couple nights) carnage.

Remember: Resistance is Futile!

Resistance is Futile

Comments 12
  1. — Jacob    Oct 02, 2005 12:47 PM    #
    I have a 90 ford probe I would like to convert to EV. its an atomatic trany. My Q is why do most all conversins take out or in your case rerige the trany. insted of just leving it and just adding the new moter to it?
  2. — Denny    Nov 29, 2005 05:16 AM    #
    Seeing as how this is step 6 of 29 you have probably already passed the point where this matters…but why let that stop me? Jags and Corvettes have independent rear suspensions. Seems like it would be possible to rig up a Corvette rear differential in the front of your car (to handle the CV joints and such) and set the gearing to whatever you required. If that wasn’t enough you could always mate a 4×4 transfer case prior to the diff and set that gearing to what you need. More research would be necessary but it’s a thought.
  3. Jerry Halstead    Nov 29, 2005 07:18 AM    #
    Hi Denny,

    That is an interesting idea. I even found a pile of corvette rear differential photos over at Juliet’s site (warning: lots of big photos). She restored the rear suspension and drive train on her ‘70 corvette.

    Do you happen to know the weight of the differential? Looks pretty beefy. It looks like it might be as heavy as the current transmission, especially taking into account I’d have to fabricate a new mounting system, drive arm adaptors, and motor mount/adaptor.

    I’d consider something like this if it reduced the weight and complexity.
  4. — Denny    Dec 01, 2005 04:56 AM    #
    Looked around the internet for a few hours last night and could not find a weight anywhere…although the thought of mating a (generally) heavy 4×4 transfer case is probably NOT what you would want to do come to think of it. Did a little more research and found two companies so far that make 2 speed transaxles. One is B&J Engineering in San Diego. There were several references to it on different Dune Buggy boards from people who use them. In fact there is one here:
    for sale for $1000. Fortin makes a 2 speed transaxle as well. No weights or prices listed but I would expect it to cost a little considering the manufacturer. Anyway, just a thought. Transaxles would seem to be the way to reduce how many pieces/parts you have to stitch together if you really wanted something different than what is already on hand. Cheers! :)
  5. Jerry Halstead    Dec 01, 2005 18:50 PM    #
    Thanks for the link and ideas.

    Electro Auto sells a nice gearbox for EVs that goes with their AC drive system.

    Maybe it might work with a DC drive that has limited speed range requirements, maybe not. I sent an email inquiry and haven’t heard yet.
  6. — JohnG    Dec 04, 2005 15:22 PM    #

    The ThunderBirds used ALUMINUM 8.8” center sections and IRS. With a cogged belt and 3:1 reduction on the input side of one, you could easily run sans-trans. It would also get the motor lower in the chassis than is possible now allowing more batteries under the hood – where the weight is designed to go.
  7. Jerry Halstead    Dec 06, 2005 09:20 AM    #
    Thanks JohnG, you just blew my fragile little mind…

    Ok, IRS = independent rear suspension. Not quite sure about the other parts, that is, how to find them. But in the process of sniffing around the net so far I’ve found:

    OEM diffs
    MN12 IRS Traction Lok how-to

    So, lessee, pop out the old transmission and somehow install this T-bird diff w/belt drive? Keep the existing drive shafts or not? Without a picture I’m a little lost.
  8. — JohnG    Dec 28, 2005 17:38 PM    #

    You could re-use the factory driveshafts IF they fit the T-Bird center section. As an alternate, you could have the T-Bird inboard ends grafted onto the Probe half-shafts so the stockers can be re-used.

    Grainger sells “timed belt drive” parts. By using a 3:1 reduction INTO the T-Bird differential you generally get 55-65 MPH maximum road speed. The exact correct ratio for your car depends on the ratio of the differential, tire size, and peak motor speed (voltage).

    There is a calculator at http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Lab/8679/evcalc.html that I have used to verify that this “transmissionless” ide works, and VERY well.
  9. — Panther 37    Feb 15, 2006 18:45 PM    #
    If you’re having a problem with a loose shifter, look here: http://www.mx6.com/forums/showthread.php?t=95854
    It should just be a few worn out bushings.
  10. — joe    Jul 02, 2007 19:15 PM    #

    this may be a little late since the last reply was in 2006 but if you want to drop some weight and don’t mind spending some money try carbon fiber body parts. fyi I’m working on a 2001 suburban (still a gas burner) and to date it gets over 18 mpg not bad for such a big boat.

  11. — Alex Everett    Dec 23, 2007 00:23 AM    #

    About the T-Bird ind diff, Instead of grafting the Bird C.V. axles onto the Probe axles, Snatch out the entire rear clip (struts brakes hubs springs and all) and graft it under the rear of the probe freeing the entire engine compartment for battery installation. Offset wheels to accomodate width differance ?

  12. — C.T. Jones    Jun 18, 2008 19:02 PM    #

    This site is amazing! I love the calculator. I am preparing to convert a 2000 Escort and I will have to change the transmission. I don’t plan on installing a clutch and I was wandering if I could use the automatic shifter for 2nd to 3rd gears?