Tuesday, March 23, 2010

First Feeding

I stopped by the workshop today to plug in the charger and see what happens. Again, no sparks. The blinky lights on the charger made sense, so I left it going for the day. If he gets time, James is going to bleed the hydraulic clutch today, and I plan to bring it back home.

Remaining ToDos:

  • Install Battery monitor leads
  • Install Battery overcharging shunts
  • Finish Heater element and core
  • Reassemble interior
  • Drive back to the landscaping rock yard and run it across the scales
  • Locate pre-tear-down height measurements and take it to a local spring shop to see what options I have for stiffening the rear suspension
  • Assemble Lexan water shield for control board (so that in the future I won't have to wait for sunny days like today to drive)
  • Have the Vision Steel guys form some sort of under-motor-splash-guard (see above)
  • Replace Windshield

A little further out:

  • Take care of the paint job (rust on leading edges of hood)
  • Polish or replace headlight units (Angel Eyes anyone?)
  • Set up onboard data logger (CarPC or Arduino with WiFi interface, TBD) and touchscreen display
  • Rework control board; pull everything off the plywood and replace with HDPE (like a big white butcher block)
  • Install Tach sensor and wire to BMW Instrument Cluster Tach
  • Figure out Air Conditioning (we mounted the original compressor near the stub-shaft so that we could drive it off a pulley later on if I wanted to). I may go with a bucket of ice instead.

Way Way Out:

  • Scheme up some sort of removable forced-air motor cooling system for parade duty
  • Scheme up some sort of custom 144VDC-120VAC inverter so that I can use the car as a backup power supply in case an ice storm or tailgate party breaks out

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Not much time this evening to document everything, but I did want to at least post that we had the first test drive(s) this afternoon. I've definitely got the "EV Grin" that I've read so much about on the web forums.

It was a beautiful day, and I just couldn't think of any reason not to go ahead with the drive. Last night I hooked up the all the batteries and re-did the original BMW battery connectors to fit my smaller 12V house battery. I applied the heat sink goo to the controller and tightened all the electrical connections. There wasn't much else to use as an excuse for putting off the first tests. So, this afternoon after work, I went down to the workshop and we rolled it out.

There's a few issues to be cleared up. The power steering pump never came on. I'd guess that one or more of the flimsy pins in my fancy radio-shack connector pushed out instead of making contact. I'll check that out over the next couple of days. Additionally, we've got to do a better job of bleeding the hydraulic clutch; today it didn't really ever seem to release.

The driving was great though. Great pick-up, very smooth, no mechanical noises indicating misalignment of the motor shaft with the transmission. The brakes worked fine. I could hear the vacuum pump coming on and shutting off periodically as expected.

We drew quite a crowd at the shop this afternoon. The registration on the car has expired and the insurance suspended (on purpose....) so we couldn't head out on the roads. However, the parking lot between warehouses allowed for plenty of zipping back and forth. Several of the guys who've been watching were very surprised by the pickup. Several of them took turns getting behind the wheel, and everyone came out grinning. It's definitely an odd feeling.

On my first drive I noticed that the ride was very rough, almost wobbly. On my second pass, someone posed the question "Did anyone tigthen the lug nuts since we had the wheels off?" Sure enough, two wheels were very loose. See, some problems do have simple solutions.

Here's a link to the vide of the very first drive:
and another: