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Still Crazy After All These Years · 8 June 08
First off, as a weak defense, most folks don’t plan to start a project and then have it delayed for a couple of years. But life comes at you in ways you can’t always control. You make the best of a bad situation, lemons to lemonade, etc…
All of that being said life is still crazy and yet I managed to get in a whole weekend of work on Eve.
My wife and our, now one year old, baby went away last weekend. It’s hard to believe that it was the very first weekend I’ve had all to myself in over a year. Not only is the house eerily quiet but when I pick up and put away a toy its stays that way. After procrastinating a little bit I opened up the garage door and took stock of Eve.
It’s amazing just how far I took her apart. Brutal, maybe even idiotic. Sure, it was interesting, informative, and fun at the time, but boy oh boy I can barely remember what or how things were left. And where are all of the screws? Wasn’t there a part that went here?
I spent one afternoon piecing together the dash and its electronics, bolting things down only to take them apart later when I found another part I’d forgotten. I’ll be perfectly honest and admit that there were a few moments when I considered that maybe buying a new donor car might be easier. There’s an instrument cluster that is 80% useless (oil pressure, heat: what’s that?) and a bunch of niceties (cigarette lighter, map light?) that aren’t going to make the cut. It’s a lot to sort out.
The next day, disheartened by the dash, I turned my focus on the back half of the car and restoring the plastic panels that form a thin veneer of cleanliness and order over rough sheetmetal and wiring. The panels, rescued from mice in the shed, had lost a little insulation but once in place Eve really started looking like a car again. Sure, turn around and look at the bare floor or crazy-quilt dash and that bubble was burst, but it was a start.
The third day of tinkering on Eve, sans-baby, focused on battery boxes. The week before, while looking forward to a baby free weekend, I’d seriously considered cutting into the sheet metal and starting to weld battery frames. What better way to move forward than some good old destruction and construction? (some will note that this is how I got into this mess, but I digress) After seeing John’s beautiful aluminum battery boxes I was very tempted to go that route, even sending out a few emails asking for advice. Luckily they all replied with, “Are you crazy?” (or something like that).
Why, yes, I am!
Don’t the seats look nice back in place? Kind of gives the project a glimmer of hope.
Ok, maybe I’m not that crazy. I pulled out the old battery boxes from our first EV and it looks like they will work nicely for the new batteries (still leaning towards Odyssey PC2150’s). So, the question becomes: how big of a hole should I cut in the trunk for the battery box? Measuring the space underneath and trying to eyeball where I’d be doing the welding for the frame, I got to wondering if it even needs to go that far. The batteries are only 9.5 inches high and, unless I really need trunk space, there’s no real reason to cut a hole in the trunk to sink the whole mess down a few inches. We’d only gain four or five inches of headroom, which really isn’t worth all of the metal work and cutting a whole in a perfectly good back end.
No, we’ll be making a frame for the battery box and NOT cutting into the trunk, just welding in supports and battery hold downs.
If you click to zoom in you’ll notice that the trunk photo was mocked up to show the approximate “frame” that needs to be welded and bolted to the frame. It also needs one or two cross-bars to support the middle. I picked up some angle iron the other day and will weld together the rear trunk frame first.
For the rear battery box on our Mazda not only did it have the angle iron frame, but we also welded steel bars to poke up the sides of the box for securing steel hold down rods. If you follow this link and scroll down to the third image you’ll see what I mean. That should work with Eve’s battery box too.
The front is more complicated. I have two boxes from the first EV (and one frame) and with a bit of imagination you could see some sort of contraption where they might work. But the main stickler is that the Ford Probe has huge motor mounts which are blocking the way for a nice, clean front battery box like I had in the Mazda (bottom photo). The mockup shows some possibilities, either making a single battery box (at an angle) or at least having the boxes sitting on the same frame. The good news is that the hood is curved enough that there’s a little wiggle room.
Notice in the photo on the left above that there’s a big hump sticking above the foam board mockup. I suspect it was part of the match-up to the gas engine, maybe integral for secure bolting between the transmission and engine or there was a part/shaft that went up through it. Here’s a question to any Probe aficionados or mechanics out there: can I cut it off? There’s a set of bolts a few inches below so it’s not like the motor mount would be less secure. Having the extra few inches make allow a battery box that goes all the way across, assuming I can figure out how to cut it off without destroying something. Just some idle thinking on a Sunday afternoon.