Sunday, September 18, 2011

Heading out to EVCCON

This is the last post until I get to the EVCCON - Electric Vehicle Conversion Convention.  This convention is being put on by Jack Rickard and Brian Noto, hosts of the EVTV car conversion shop and video series.  The speaker and vendor lineup is great.

Here is the blurb on the EVCCON web page.  I'll let Jack and Brian describe it themselves.  I've been registered for a few months now and am looking forward to getting on the plane on Wednesday.

I'll try to do a post each day with the highlights of the activities.

September 21-25, 2011 - Cape Girardeau Missouri

  • In April of 2011, in response to a few requests from our viewers, we announced a small gathering of EVTV viewers for the fall of 2011 done in "convention style" with industry speakers such as George Hamstra of Netgain Motors, Bill Ritchie of HPEVS, and a few others for three intense days of educational sessions. Priced at $595, we offered to discount that to $5.95 if you brought your LiFePo4 powered car.
  • By June 1, 2011, we had 75 registered attendees with 25 cars already signed up and attendees coming from as far away as Germany, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. Having previous experience in the trade show business, we're keenly aware that 90% of attendees commit to attend a convention in the final two weeks preceding an event. And so we are currently planning for a full blown convention at the Cape Girardeau Airport with 500 attendees and 80-100 vehicles and are adding speakers daily. It could quite go beyond that.
  • This is NOT a gathering of people who think electric cars are cool, or for OEM's to have an autoshow. It is not really designed to "promote" the electric car concept. Our viewers are a little beyond all that already.
  • This is a meeting of people who BUILD electric cars for fun or profit and most of our attendees either operate small conversion shops or plan to. Some are from University build teams and indeed a few actually do work in the engineering group at conventional automotive OEMs. Some will have small businesses providing componentry to this group - indeed we're already aware of several stunning announcements already planned for the date. It will be heavily focused on educational sessions, and very technical - discussing the latest developments in battery technology, drive trains, thermal management, control, instrumentation, and related disciplines along with tips and experiences of some of the veterans who run successful conversion shops NOW.
  • We will try to make it fun as well with scenic drives, a car show and parade for the locals, awards dinner, tour of EVTV studios/motor verks, an autocross, etc.
  • The OEM's are not going to do it. The government is not going to do it. But we see a new era of thousands of small boutique custom conversion shops converting all manner of classic automobiles, late model automobiles, and even experimental automobiles springing up across the land to support a growing desire for a real, efficient, and AVAILABLE electric car. We intend EVCCON 2011 to mark and celebrate the beginning of this new model for the adoption of electric vehicles of all sorts. This is truly a grassroots revolution in how we build, purchase, and use automobiles, and the landscape will never be the same again. You won't want to miss the beginning.

Shift Linkage Cover

Another small detail I took care of was prepping and painting the shift linkage cover.  It had been badly painted in the past and needed a quick refurb.  I sanded down the old paint, then painted it with glossy black plastic paint.  Here it is back in place.

Swap Meet

There was an auto swap meet today in my town, set up by the "Early Ford V8" club.  I would say it was about an acre in size, with a lot of very, very rusty old car parts that I wouldn't be able to identify!  I got a lot of foot traffic past my spot and some good discussion about 914s and the world of electric cars and solar power.

The entry fee was $25 so I was trying to earn my money back and sell some stuff to get it out of the shop.  I really wanted to sell the engine and told people it was worth $500 but I'd sell for $350 so I wouldn't have to take it home.  I had a couple of serious browsers, but in the end it didn't sell.  I sold two starter motors, the original 12V battery and a box of spark plugs, for a total of $22.  I ended up with a net loss of $3, plus another $5 for a huge Porsche 2011 calendar, still in the box and shrink wrap.  I did get a couple of good leads on places a little south of me that might be interested in the remaining parts.

Saddlebag Vent Installation

 The saddlebag battery cases need to be vented, so EA has this two-into-one system.  First thing was to mount the exhaust plenum to each box.  They didn't have nut studs installed at the factory, so I had to install them myself.  I did that, and mounted the plenums to each box.  Then I discovered that the "T" is too short - it needs to be about 1/2" longer on each side to properly grab the plenum flange.  I'm going to have to paw through the plumbing section at Lowe's to find a replacement or a way to extend it a bit.

Next I mounted the exhaust fan housing to the top of the "T" and ran a flex hose to the exhaust port on the rear firewall.  Last I ran the wiring not to the relay area (because it was all sealed up), but over to the fan on the right side of the mid battery box.  Here you can see the gap that I'll have to fix.

Transmission Fluid Fill

It's so close to the end of the project I can just smell it.  It's been a year and I just want it to be over so I can get it on the road.  One easy step is to fill up the transmission.  This will be one of the three fluids on the car, including the brake fluid and the windshield washer fluid.

The fluid was drained when I did the cleaning, so there was nothing left inside.  First I removed the upper fluid plug with a 17mm hex key on a 1/2" drive socket I got from AutoZone.

EA includes 3 quarts of Royal Purple transmission fluid, so I'm not going to second-guess them on this.  I found a great fluid filler at AutoZone, with a flexible hose, on/off twist valve and funnel.

I was able to stick it through the passenger-side saddlebag battery rack and into the top filler hole.

The Haynes manual says the transmission takes 2.5 litres of fluid, so I filled it exactly to that level.  Nothing dribbled out, so I stuck the tip of my finger into the hole and felt the fluid was right up to the level of the hole.  I put the plug back in with a decent tightness.  The online forums all say that the plug can get so tight that you have to heat the transmission case up to red-hot just to get the plug out, so I was careful not to overtighten it.

Mid-Battery Box Installation

With the wiring complete in the engine compartment contactor / relay / terminal block enclosure, it's time to put in the battery box.  Of course it wouldn't be an EA project without a few headaches.

The first thing to do is put the clear cover on the box.

I then mounted an exhaust fan to the box.  This went smoothly, but I had to work hard to get the bolts through the exhaust fan box and into the studs in the battery box.

I then dropped the front half of the box into place and ran a bead of sealant along the seam.  I then tried to fit the back half of the box into place and found it wouldn't fit.  It needed about 3/4" more space, so I gently bashed the top of the rear firewall with a rubber mallet back enough to make it fit.  I cleaned and re-laid a bead of sealant, then fit the rear box half into place.  I put in the hold-down bars and tightened them down to lock the seams until the sealant cures.

I then hooked up the +12V exhaust fan wire, which was installed earlier.  The problem is the way the terminals are set up on the exhaust box, it's easy to get the bolt shaft to spin while tightening down the nylock nut.  The head of the bolt is impossible to get to at this stage, so I just tightened down against the top nut, locking down the wiring, but the bolt itself is a little loose in the hole.  I think I'll put some sealant on it to keep it from moving around too much.  This exhaust fax terminal mounting methodology really needs to be re-done from scratch.

Charger Plug and Wiring

The EA kit comes with a nice weatherproof 120V socket with male pins, designed to take the female end of an extension cord.  The manual has a suggested through-the-bodywork installation process.  After all of the work I did with this car, there's no way I'm drilling a big hole through it.  I decided to mount a box inside the front trunk, giving easy access by popping the front trunk, plugging in, the laying the trunk lid down.  This also gives me the option of moving it in the future, or adding a J1772 plug when I add a 240V charger.

I got a 4"x4"x4" plastic box with a removable gasketed lid at Lowe's.  I found a place for it in the front left corner of the front trunk, next to the battery box.  I mounted it in place with two bolts and a rubber strip to cushion the box from the vibration.

I then drilled a hole in the lid, sized to the plug from the EA kit.

Here's the plug in place for a test fit.

I mounted the plug with some nice stainless steel pan-head allen key bolts and nylock nuts.  I ran the EA-supplied cable from the plug and out of the box through a cable gland.

Here it is in place.

Last step was to land the wires onto the terminal block.  The top three terminals run over to the charger.

Motor Overtemperature Indicator

The next disappointment from the EA kit is the handling of the motor temperature overheat indicator.  According to the manual, the wires from the motor temperature switch are wired to the red alternator light in the left-side gauge cluster.  Unfortunately, when I powered up the12V circuit, the light went on, indicating an overtemp situation.  This is clearly not the case, so I did some investigation.

The Warp 9 includes a temperature snap switch that *breaks* the circuit when too hot.  This action goes against the way the EA wiring diagram is designed.  I can only think that the Warp motor changed spec somewhere along the line and the EA manual wasn't updated, or the EA manual has been wrong all along.  Either way, I had to make this work.

The normal way to do this is with another small relay.  I wrote up the circuit below.

The key is to energize the relay through the overtemp switch circuit, but wire the "unenergized" terminal to the indicator light.  It will only light when the overtemp switch fires and breaks the circuit.

Luckily I found a cheap Tyco relay online, and mount and wired it into a small space in the front relay box.

With the circuit now wired up, I turned the switch and the light stayed off.

I then disconnected the motor overtemp switch wire, and the light went on!  Success!  I'm getting to be a real champ at diagnosing and fixing EA problems.

Energizing the 12V circuits

After the ignition switch was wired in, there was nothing stopping me from hooking up the battery and turning the key.  This should help me test the 12V circuits.

I had my son standing next to the battery with a fire extinguisher as I turned the key.  BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!  I nearly jumped out of my pants.  I had tucked the horn wire into a space in the steering column, completing the circuit.  As soon as I turned the key, the horns went off at full volume.  I switched off the key and pulled the horn wire out.  I turned the key again and heard a click in the relay box.  I followed the diagnostic tests in the EA manual and immediately found a problem.  The green oil pressure indicator light is supposed to light up when the key is turned, indicating that the 12V circuit is on.  But the light didn't go on.  After tracing the wiring and checking with a meter, I found that the light bulb was bad!  I bought a box of replacement lights for the instruments, but that particular one still had its old bulb.  Lesson learned...  The rest of the EA tests with the batter and DC/DC converter were successful.

Next I tried pushing the electron pedal and heard the contactor engage with a loud clunk.  Success!

I don't have any of the original 12V devices in place like lights, blinkers, etc. so there was nothing else to test.  As I rebuild those parts of the car, I'll test them.

Ordering the Batteries - Wrong Terminals!

I placed an order for the batteries with my local Battery Systems store.  They matched the best price I could find so I felt good about supporting a local business.  Unfortunately after the two week wait, the batteries arrived with the wrong terminal.  My son took the truck to pick them up, so I didn't realize the problem until he brought them home.

The EA kit explicitly needs the "Small L" terminals, because the battery bus bars are cut, bent and drilled to exactly fit.  I don't know where the terminal spec went wrong, but Battery Systems is sending these back and ordering a new set.  They'll be here in 3 weeks as they have to be ordered directly from the factory.

Horn and Steering Wheel Installation

After I got the steering column in place, I decided to try installing the steering wheel.  I should have known there would be problems, as there was no horn button in the car when I bought it, along with a Momo aftermarket steering wheel.  The horn button (several actually) and a round metal ring were included in a box of parts I got with the car, so I tried to figure out how to get it all back together properly.

It turns out the metal ring is a standard part that provides a ground connection, completing the horn circuit and beeping the horns.  The problem is, no matter how I tried to mount the ring between the steering column and the wheel, it wouldn't fit.  There is a raised ridge around the ring, but the hole in the wheel is 55mm and the ring is larger than that.  To me this says the ridge has go point into the steering column, but it doesn't fit into that very well either.

The ring does the job of a compression friction fit of the horn button.

I'll have to go back again and see if I can make things fit.  I'm guessing the steering column is not quite compatible with this ring, but despite a lot of Google searches, I can't find an alternative ring or any advice on making this work.  I'm going to leave the wheel off for now as I finish up work on the dashboard area.

Steering Column Rebuild

Now that I have the ignition cylinder restored and new keys cut, I could move ahead and rebuild the steering column.  I sanded, primed and painted the metal housings, then built everything back in reverse order.

A major change I made was to swap in a 924 indicator / wiper stalk assembly, as it has an electric switch to control a windshield washer pump.  There is an article at Pelican Parts that guided me through the swap.  This is the 924 assembly I bought on eBay, after I moved the 914's white wire guides over.  You can see the red and brown wires at the bottom are extra, and don't have a guide slot. 

Next I added butt splices onto the two wires, to extend them down into the dashboard so I can wire them up to a fuse and the washer fluid pump.

Here I'm threading the extended wires through the gap in the bracket.  I gently slid the 914 wire guide into the bracket and slid the assembly over the steering shaft and onto the bearing.

I then ran the four long screws into the steering column bracket, securing the whole assembly.  And here we are, ready for the steering wheel.  This is an easy and very worthwhile retrofit, thanks to the evolution of the part from Porsche.

Keys and Locks

The original key was badly worn, to the point where it was difficult to start the car without significant wiggling.  As I was getting ready to rebuild the dashboard, I took apart the locks and thouroughly cleaned all of the components.  The dirt and grime of 37 years just kept pouring out.  I then took the keys, the ignition cylinder, the door locks and trunk lock to an automotive lock specialist in Morro Bay.

He made new keys from the ignition cylinder, and then further cleaned and tuned the locks.  They work very well now.  You can see the difference between the original key and the new one.

Transmission Punch List

Back when I did the transmission installation, I had a couple of remainder items.  The first was a plastic cover for the shifter linkage.  The second was a nylock nut to hold on the other transmission mount.

Let's do the nut first.  The nut was tricky because it's a metric M12 x 1.5.  12mm nuts are fairly common around here, but the 1.5 thread is not.  Most hardware stores in my area like Lowe's, OSH and TrueValue seem to stock the coarser 1.75, both in regular and nylock.  I had given up and was going to order a stupid nut on the web until I happened to be in the NAPA auto parts store in my town and viola!  They had it!  So now my transmission is firmly mounted on both sides with the correct nut, and it won't work its way loose.

Now onto the transmission shift linkage cover.  I didn't remove one from the car during the teardown, so I was searching around for a used one or a replacement.  I finally stumbled on one at Auto Atlanta.  I ordered it for about $25, only to be notified it was on backorder.  I waited for about 2 months for it to show up, and sadly it's not very good.  First, it's just a tiny bit too small, so it's extremely difficult to get around the linkage housing.  Second, it's made from very thin, brittle plastic so of course in my efforts to get it to fit, the lip cracked off.  I called up Auto Atlanta and the guy seemed to know exactly what I was talking about when I described the problem and my feelings that it's just not a very good product.  He explained that they can only get this part from a single supplier and they know they have problems with his size and material choice.  He readily gave me an RMA to ship it back to them.

Shortly after all of this I was looking for another part and I found a freaking transmission shift linkage cover in a cardboard box of parts from the previous owner!  Argh!  I installed it, using a hose clamp around the lip and it's great.  It looks like it was painted at some time in the past, so I'll remove the paint and get back to the original plastic and treat it with some back-to-black plastic lotion.

My Last Shipment from Electro Auto?

Today is July 2, 2011 and I think I just got my last shipment from Electro Automotive.  Well I am actually waiting for one final thing but I don't know that I'll ever get it.

The final part I was waiting for was the engine cover pins.  I placed my order on June 3, 2010, which is almost exactly 13 months ago.  Today I got a totally-stock, over the counter part from Summit Racing.  And EA sent it Priority Mail!  Why did it take them 13 months to get a stock part from a standard supplier, then decide to spent extra money to save a day in the mail?  Their business processes just boggle the mind.

Brake Work

It's been a while since the last update, but I've been making steady progress.  I found these great single-person brake bleed nipples at PelicanParts.  Since I'm working on my own, everything that helps me do things myself gets a shot.  These have a one-way valve that allows you to bleed the brake by backing them off 1/4 of a turn, pumping the brake until the air is gone, then tightening again.

 I replaced them on all four caliper units.

I'll fill and bleed the system later.

Next I moved on to the brake pressure sensor switch.  Alert readers will remember that only one of the wires was connected to the sensor switch, the other one was dangling.  I bought a new switch from Pelican Parts and replaced it.  The new switch has two connectors, but upon removing the old one, I found it was in good shape, yet had only one connector terminal.  I can only think it was a badly-done replacement, so I put in the new switch and put new connectors on the ends of the wires, running them through a rubber shroud.  It turns out the length of the connectors prevents the shroud fitting correctly, so I'll put right-angle connectors on soon.