Saturday, June 12, 2010

Electrical Storm Is No More :(

Without ceremony, Electrical Storm was put to rest today. Electrical Storm was a great idea whose time has passed. The battery pack was given a final charge, then all life support cables and control equipment was removed. The batteries have been put on Craigslist and will hopefully go to good homes, although they will likely not remain together as a pack. The motor, controller, and all other electrical conversion components were also put on Craigslist as a lot. If a suitable home cannot be found, items will have to be separated and relocated individually. Although it is a sad day, you can see in the following picture that the 1971 Plymouth Duster is feeling a lot lighter while awaiting the return of the internal combustion engine.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Update March 2010 - The End?

Well, since my last blog post I have done absolutely nothing with the Electric Duster except for occasionally moving it around the driveway. The project got put on the back burner, and there it has remained, while my interests have changed. I am now considering ending the project all together. I have no room for it to just sit there and don't really have any desire to drive it regularly.

I would really like to sell it to someone who could benefit from what I have accomplished so far. But it would really need to go to someone who is mechanically and electrically able to work on it, if need be. I may try to put it on eBay or Craigslist in the near future just to see if anyone interested is out there. Even then, I don't think I could come close to recovering what I have spent on it.

It may be better for me to just put the 360 engine back in it and try to sell the batteries and EV components separately. Seems like decision time is getting close.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Update - June 5, 2009

Greetings to all!

Wow, my last post was almost two months ago. It's definitely time to check in and write an update.

No, I haven't given up on the Duster. After about 9 or 10 months of focusing on nothing but this project, life has sort of caught up with me. I have been pretty busy the past couple of months taking care of MANY other household and career necessities that I had been neglecting. There is never enough time or energy to do everything I want/need to.

Also, I finally had to halt everything car-related and clean out my shop from top to bottom. I have collected so many projects and parts over the past few years that it was becoming nearly impossible to accomplish anything. I was getting seriously frustrated whenever I worked on something because I could never find what I needed - tools, parts, room to work. So, I have sold off a lot of unnecessary stuff and re-organized my workspace so now I can THINK clearly again and actually FIND things.

The Duster is "streetable" but has not left the driveway in quite some time. I am about ready to resume where I left off, especially now that gas prices are creeping up again. My next step is to finish installing the various meters I need to monitor the performance. At that time, I can complete the "fix" on the battery terminals. Then I will be ready for some serious street testing.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

We're Number 1

I'm picking up my replacement battery on the way to work today, so the Duster will be back on the road again tomorrow. In the mean time...

I have a "Ride Page" over at Rob Einaudi, Editor-In Chief of CarDomain, likes my car and has written about it several times on his site. The latest article is HERE.

A while back I was looking at the CarDomain categories that my Duster might fit into. Just for the fun of it, I put it into the "Green Machine" category. Today I noticed that we are the "TOP RIDE" in that category. Hey, that's pretty cool!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Another Setback

Well, I certainly hate reporting the failures, but they are a part of the whole story of this conversion. Maybe the information will help someone else avoid some trouble. The first several mishaps were due to defective parts. The last two failures were totally my fault.

Yesterday during the test driving I smelled a slight burning smell. When I finished driving, I took a quick look around and checked the controller and contactor connections with my infrared thermometer. I didn't see anything out of the ordinary so I attributed the smell to just new parts "burning in". Today I was installing the new Link 10 meter and turned on the main contactor. I immediately heard a "snapping" noise in the trunk. I could also see the unmistakable blue flash of arcing, since there is no back seat in the car.

Upon opening the trunk, I found that one of the battery terminals had gotten so hot that it had melted the lead around the post. I assume this happened yesterday during my two miles of test driving. I am taking the blame for this because I have neglected to check the rear battery terminals for tightness in quite a while. After discovering this, I checked the other terminals on the rear battery pack and found a couple others that were somewhat loose. I believe this one just got too lose to handle all of the current. So I guess this means I'll have to replace the battery since the threads on the post got messed up as well. This is another lesson learned.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

On The Road Again

I welded and installed the motor coupling adapter today. Then I put the car all back together and did some more successful test driving. I'm still unwilling to stray too far from home until I am certain of its reliability, but I easily got her up to 40 mph in second gear.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Back From The Machine Shop

After the motor coupling failure, I designed an adaptor plate and had a local machine shop make it out of steel. Now I can weld the steel hub to the adaptor plate and bolt the whole assembly to the coupling using grade 8 bolts.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Update On Mechanical Failure

I was able to remove the back half of the motor coupling by removing the transmission. It was not too bad of a job and only took about an hour. I confirmed that the weld was indeed the culprit. I have come up with a couple of options which I will look into tomorrow.

Mechanical Failure - I'm Still Learning

In yet another plot twist, the EV Duster has suffered a mechanical failure. I was working on testing a throttle limitation circuit to keep the car from lurching so much in reverse. I was trying different resistor values and test driving the car forward then reverse in the driveway when something in the driveline snapped. Upon inspection I discovered that the weld holding the machined clutch disk center to the Lovejoy motor coupling broke.
Well it didn't actually break. It just separated from the Lovejoy coupling. I was quick to blame my amateur welding skills for this failure. However, I have discovered that the failure is much more than that.

Doing some investigation, I have learned that the coupling is made of "sintered' iron. After reading up on sintered iron and calling the Lovejoy factory, I have learned that sintered iron cannot be welded. I guess I was lucky that my weld held as long as it did - perhaps a tribute to my superior welding skills :).

So this is a "design" problem which I am going to have to re-think. The Lovejoy factory told me that a steel version of the coupling "may" be available but at about 5 times the cost. That is prohibitive at this point. Apparently the sintered coupling can be drilled and tapped, so maybe I can fabricate a splined clutch disk center that I can bolt to the coupling. I'll have to think about this a while.

Monday, March 16, 2009

One small step back

I decided to take a step backward today. When I originally installed the motor controller, I forgot to take into account the cooling fans that mount on top of it. I realized some months ago that the fans sat up too high for the hood to close, so I left them off. With all of the other issues I had to deal with, I put off deciding how to remedy this until today.

Today I moved the circuit breaker and controller over toward the middle of the car. In fact, I ended up repositioning just about everything on the control board. The end result is that I now have plenty of clearance for the fans and room for the control relays that I will be installing.