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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!

Quick Update · 5 January 06

Garage Construction

In case you thought I’d sailed off the edge of the world…

It was a horrible and hectic holiday: pretty much everything that could go wrong, did, and then some.

A few turned into learning opportunities.

When the well pump quit working I worked in the sub-freezing weather with the pump guy. We pulled the pipe and pump out of the 250 foot well, replaced the motor and wiring, and put it all back together again. Kind of interesting…in a cold, wet, rusty water sort of way.

After a small chimney fire I learned all about the convoluted contortions that the house builder put into our chimney. Why make the flue a straight shot when you can put two ninety degree bends just out of reach? I’m sure we’ll look back on those smokey, black-lung days with humor some day…

The good news is we finally got our garage built. It was one of those long term projects, dreams really, where we were always talking and designing but never seemed to get any closer to actually doing it. After over five years in the works the garage is done! Once we unload the old attached garage space (including getting Eve out) it gets turned into a family room.

Eve has been sitting in the garage, forlorn, stood up for every date and holiday party. No new batteries for Christmas, same scruffy paint job, her wires in disarray, and a perpetual chill. This new diet is hell…

The other day I wired the two ceramic heater cores together and duct taped a muffin fan to one end to test them out. Plugged the lot into an AC socket and sure enough, instant heat. The muffin fan is what came with the original heater and didn’t really seem capable of pushing large volumes of air through both heaters. At least I hope that is the reason the flow was low. Will have to try with Eve’s stock 12v fan before putting everything back together.

My near-term goals with Eve are:

  • Finish testing the heater and decide if I really want two heater cores
  • Re-install fans, heater, and duct systems
  • Do a little more thinking about metering and monitoring, decide if/when to do this and where it would go in the dash
  • Put the dash back together, with Emeter and other additions in place
  • Batteries:
    • What to buy
    • Where to put them
    • Do they need any kind of management/monitoring system?
  • Look into heavy duty replacement struts
  • Take care of brake work (front disc, back drum)

Unfortunately I haven’t uncovered any magical batteries in the last few months of research. Seems like every little advancement brings with it an out of proportion increase in price and at least one or more compromise. At the moment it’s a toss-up between plain ol’ deep cycle lead acid and AGM.

Oh, and I might be getting another EV! A brother of a friend got a work-in-progress electric car a few years ago and now he’s moving and doesn’t want to haul it along. I’ve looked it over a couple times in the past, but can’t remember what the heck it has for motor and controller. The car has a long, interesting history which I’ll write more about in the future.

Not sure what to do with it. If it’s a small motor maybe it’ll make a good electric mower or motorcycle?

I hope all of you folks had a safe and enjoyable holiday. Here’s to a great 2006.

Comments 9
  1. — Dan    Jan 05, 2006 23:02 PM    #
    photo caption: “OK, a little lower now…” :D

    I’m glad all went well in the end. I remember spending “a month” with the pump guy one snowy day last winter, except my dead pump was down 420’. :)
  2. — James May    Jan 06, 2006 08:29 AM    #
    battery monitoring-

    I’ve been driving my EV for a couple of weeks now and had a nasty battery failure. I think the terminal wasn’t connected tight enough on one of my batteries and went high resistance. Anyway, the upshot is that the terminal melted and dropped molten lead throuth the casing and onto the plates. A big bang while I was driving. I have since pulled most of the detritus out of the battery and sealed it with a fibreglass patch. Retapped the terminal stump and I am mobile again. The molten lead hadn’t managed to short the plates.

    I cant’ think of any type of monitoring which would be able to spot this failure, except maybe lots of ambient thermometers. it was quite destructive though.

    btw Today is my birthday, I’m 31!
  3. Jerry Halstead    Jan 06, 2006 10:45 AM    #
    Hey, happy birthday James!

    Whenever I worked on my batteries I would tighten them down, do a short drive, and then quickly check the temperature of each connection. After the first “real” drive I’d do the same thing and then after one or two drives I’d go back and re-check and re-tighten each connection.

    I haven’t tried them, but you can buy Infrared thermometers which measure the temperature without actually touching anything. Seems perfect for checking battery terminals.
  4. Jerry Halstead    Jan 06, 2006 11:27 AM    #
    Hi Dan,

    420’, that’s quite a haul. I was amazed at how much hose and wire was involved with the 250’ well. Our neighbor recently found high salt levels in their well and ended up having a new well drilled over 700 feet deep!

    I didn’t have the heart to ask how much that cost…
  5. — Greg Coleman    Jan 09, 2006 01:38 AM    #
    Well problems here also, but have a Jet pump and a shallow well. Needed only a new pressure switch.
    If that new electric project has an 8 hp or so motor, I would be interested in it. Not having much luck finding a bigger motor just yet. Am still driving garound town with the 5 hp but it is a little weak.
  6. — JohnG    Jan 15, 2006 11:50 AM    #

    There is a well-known custom spring manufacturer, I think it is www.coilsprings.com and I know a few people have had custom springs done and were very satisfied with the results. They are pretty inexpensive as well (cheaper than OE stock springs) at about $240/set of 4.
  7. — John Wagz    Sep 08, 2008 10:13 AM    #

    Just found your great site! Picking between a Contour or Probe 144V conversion but no updates to your site since 06, how r u doing?

  8. — James May    Sep 12, 2008 12:50 PM    #

    Hi, It’s Jerry’s site, not mine!

  9. — Robert Bryant    Sep 16, 2008 17:24 PM    #

    Folks: Put a switch to turn on one heater or two. That way you have more options for real cold weather.