Sunday, November 28, 2010

The First Electric Part Installation

So I gathered up my courage and jumped into the first step of the installation instructions. 

I cut out the paper template for the motor controller mount and taped it into place.

I got to install my first rivnut.  It's a decent solution to install a blind nut when you can't get access to the back side of the panel.  Since I'm so paranoid about rust, I decided to paint each hole I drill with rust reformer paint.

I then bolted the standoff bracket into place.

Finally I temporarily bolted the motor controller plate with the current-sensing shunt into place.  I don't have the controller yet so I'll have to remove the plate, bolt on the controller and re-mount when it arrives.

Then I decided to move on to the Potbox mount.  I'm a little concerned about leaving the potbox out in the open, where it can get dirt, mud and water inside it, so I plan to make an alternative mounting scenario, placed in a plastic enclosure.  Lucky I thought of this, because my car doesn't match the instructions for mounting the potbox.  The manual shows quite a large "brake equalizer", but mine just has a simple T-junction for the hydraulic brake lines.  I'll have to do some investigation to find out if mine is a post-factory hack or just a different style than ElectroAuto is expecting.  That's the T-junction, right at the top of the paper mounting template, with the line from the master cylinder coming in from the south-east.  It just ain't gonna fit.

Then I decided to review the steps for installing the transmission and motor, and found about half of the needed hardware was not supplied in my parts pickup.  I left a voice mail for Shari and asked her to let me know what's going on with the rest of my order, because I've had no email or phone contact since my visit to them a couple of weeks ago.  We'll see...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Starting to Build It Back Up Again

Now that the body is back from the shop and I have the first load of electric conversion parts, I can get started on the main event - making an electric car!

Well, I immediately got sidetracked a bit.  When I got the body back from the shop I noticed a small number of points on the body that need to have the paint touched up.  I left the car on the trailer in case Rainbow wanted it back in their shop to do the work.  Now remember I live in an area that gets about 4-6" of rain per year, and it mostly comes between December and February.  Well guess what happened while I was down in LA working on the installation of a monitoring system for my company REC Solar?  It rained.  And the rain got into everything.  Most of the car was OK, but the floor of the passenger compartment wasn't primed and painted, it just had the original coating from the Porsche factory, which is 37 years old and not in the best shape.  It's amazing how quickly the rust stared forming!  I started working on scraping the coating back to clean metal and dry everything out.  When I'm sure it's dry, I'll treat it with the rust converter fluid.  When that's done its work, I'll spray on a new fresh, full new coating of the mystery stuff on the floor.  It seems to be a rubberized undercoating-type compound; I'll check out my options at the auto parts store tomorrow.

I removed the doors and front hood to make sure they don't get scratched during the conversion, and it also gives me greater access to the parts of the car I need to get to.

The pedal mounting area doesn't have a drain hole and the water pooled up nicely.  I had to remove the unit so I can get access to clean and de-rust the area.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Went to ElectroAuto and got Some of the Parts

After placing my order with ElectroAuto 22 weeks ago, I've had zero contact and I was getting worried.  They promised 6 - 8 weeks for the whole kit.  Did they order my parts yet?  What is ready for pick up?  Did they go bankrupt and my money is gone?  I knew going in that they were well known for delays in sending parts, but when I stopped getting replies I had to take some action.  Luckily I live about 2.5 hours away from their site, so on Saturday morning I prepped my pickup truck and drive up.

My luck continued to hold as both Mike and Shari were home.  They were sure surprised to see me and Mike said I should have called ahead first.  I explained that I had been calling and emailing for several weeks with no response, so I was here to take whatever parts were ready.  They both went to work around the shop and in a couple of storage bins to pull the parts together.  Mike was very helpful, helping me cross-check the parts and showed me how to use the rivnut tool.  He said at one point "We once had 7 people working here, now it's just the two of us and a drunk".  Hmmm.

After about 3 hours of searching, my truck was loaded up with:Warp 9 motor, transmission adapter plate and spacer, potbox, several mounting pieces, gauges, battery frames & holders (but not the Allthread rods), fans and vent piping, Noalox, grease, transmission fluid, bolts & nuts and some electrical connectors.

So that leaves me still waiting for: Curtis controller, contactor, DC/DC converter, circuit breaker, Zivan charger, Allthread rods, all suspension components, cable, battery lugs, battery interconnect straps, crimpers, engine loom, relays, high current terminal blocks, fuse block, battery box weatherstripping and hood pins.  Shari couldn't tell me if the big expensive parts had even been ordered, and only spoke to me and made eye contact once during my whole visit, saying she would check on the remaining parts.

Luckily I can get started and make good progress while waiting for the other parts.

An alternative exists for me to get the controller, contactor, circuit breaker, DC/DC converter, charger and 2/0 cable.  I met a man at the Alternative Car Show at Hearst Castle about a month ago, and he bought a kit from ElectroAuto about 3 years ago for a VW Bus but never did the conversion.  I've emailed Shari and asked if she hasn't ordered these parts, to return my money for them and I'll buy them from this guy.  We'll see if she responds...

So here are the pictures of the parts!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Picked up the Body

After 170 days, I picked up the car and brought it back to my house.   The targa top still has to be painted, but I can pick that up any time.  Tom and his crew came in on Saturday to help me load it up.  They did a lot of work in that extended period of time, but we had an agreement that they would work on it between insurance jobs, and charged me $10 / hour less than their standard rate since it's a project car.

I figured the best place to park it while I continue my restoration steps and wait for the electric parts to come in was right next to the solar array.

This is a big milestone in the project, and I'm glad Tom and the team at Rainbow did such a great job.