It didn't run. Well, that was okay, because I didn't intend to keep that GAS engine. And so my 4 month Electric Car Conversion voyage begins.
My boyfriend, Steve Clunn, has been converting cars for almost 20 years. I do enjoy helping him. Right from the beginning, he told me I would converting this car by myself and he would be my safety net if I ran into anything I couldn't handle.
On the Morris the Motor and Transmission are one unit. Bolting the Motor to the Transmission was not possible. Well, what to use for a Transmission? A trip to the back woods ferrets out an old 1986 Toyota Transmission. I am not going to say my boyfriend is a "Motor and Tranny Hoarder", lets just say he is frugal and keeps special motors and transmissions for a "just in case moment". Out comes the sub frame on the Morris, make room for an Electric Motor coupled to the Toyota Transmission with an Adapter Plate and coupler and the Drive train is ready to go back into the vehicle.
Once the sub frame with the new Electric Motor, Adapter Plate and Transmission are in the vehicle, we need to see how its going to run. The usual procedure is to take a 12V battery and connect it to the motor. ( holding two cables together as an ON / OFF switch ). This is traditionally called the "First Ride", and is usually accompanied with lots of Hoots and Hollers.
Mine was particularly memorable. Steve let me drive, he sat on the front of the car touching one battery cable to the terminal of a 12V battery. As we were headed back to the garage, I yelled out the window at him and asked him should I put her IN the garage. I guess I didn't hear him well and thought he said yes, when in fact he was saying NO and IN we went., screeching to a halt using the emergency brake with both hands. He didn't stop as fast as the car. Close call. Note to self, check hearing aides.
Of course we can't drive a car like this for long. Electric Cars have something called a Controller. The controller works much like a dimmer switch in your house, allowing a little or a lot of current to get from the batteries to the motor by way of the throttle.
I picked the new Soliton Junior Controller. My boyfriend felt that the 1000 amp Soliton1 would be too much power for such a little car. Now that it is complete, I think he was right. Even the 500 amp Junior has enough power to spin the wheels in first gear on black top ! Which he seems to enjoy doing when ever a crowd of people ask if it is a "golf cart".
Before I could legally drive this car on the road, I had to get all the lights, wind shield wiper and horn working properly. Only "MY" boyfriend would have someone "build" a light bulb. And that is what we did for the License Plate light and the two front blinkers. We replaced the front blinkers with LED lights and the back plate light he had me solder many little LED light bulbs to a board that we reinstalled in the back License plate.
The next item to go in is the "traction pack Batteries". These are the batteries that actually propel the car. This is where I learned to weld. First you have to weld up a battery rack which bolts to the car and also secures the batteries to its self. We don't want those bad boys floating around in the car while we are driving.
My total 20kw Lithium pack weighs just under 500lbs and stores the same amount of electricity as 35 Golf Cart, which would weigh about 1,950lbs.
Lithium batteries require more monitoring than lead acid. The monitoring system is called the BMS. It alerts you immediately if any battery is too low or being over charged.
With the traction pack securely mounted in the car and the 12V house wiring complete, we are now ready for a real test drive. Check out the suspension, front tires. weight distribution, gauges, meters.
It took my boyfriend and I about 130 hours time to convert. And I have to give him a lot of credit. He let me do a LOT of the work on this all by my self, but I have to tell you guys, I think it was harder on him to NOT help, than it would have been to just jump in and help me. But we did have a grand time doing it.
I think I have invested about $5,000 in parts, (Motor, Controller,fuses, Dc to Dc, Battery Charger, wire, cables, nuts, bolts, etc.) and the Battery pack is on loan for "beta" testing right now. But the FUN and the MEMORIES of doing this beauty? Priceless. Going to my "FIRST" Cruise Night at the Mall last Tuesday, Priceless. I was truly the "Belle of the Ball" All the guys wanted to come over and see my little car. That is when I realized I am now "Officially OLD". I didn't care if the men oogled my car and not my boobs !!
Written by: Audrey Martin
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