Later this week, I’m planning on dragging all my SuperTruck project parts (engine, tranny, other tranny, bell-housing, OTHER bell-housing, clutch, flywheels, etc, etc.) over to show to Hot Rod Jim.
Jim made the adapter plate for my Geo Metro, based on the oily tagboard tracing I gave him, and also helped out chopping the motor tail-shaft and cleaning up the commutator on his lathe.
I’m trying to figure out what combination of parts and in what order I need to get the engine and transmission together and functional. Part of that magic is the right distance for the transmission shaft to reach where it needs to go, holding the clutch and reaching into the flywheel.
Once he sees the parts, he should be able to give some advice to the best approach to hooking it all together.
So, since I’m a visual learner, I’ve been digging through YouTube for videos on how diesel engines work and about clutches.
I found a “how diesel engines work” video that was GREAT! Well, information-wise at least. Camera-work, lighting, and sound were TERRIBLE, but the person knew what he was talking about. When I saw that the engine was held up by a SALT-
SHAKER, I knew this was my kind of guy! He had some really good info on the different ways fuel gets into diesel engines, and I feel like I’m starting to understand it a little better.
I also found a REALLY GOOD video on clutches! Most of the video is nice clean animation, which really gets to the heart of how the parts work.
That video is at the top of this post.
I finally feel like I’m starting to learn how some of these things work. Of course most guys would already know that kind of stuff BEFORE they start an experimental eco-hot-rod, but that’s just not my style! :thumbup:
Nope! I gotta come up with something crazy first and then go back to learn the basics of how to make it possible!
I found myself today to be terribly frustrated. That is, until I took the Redneck approach to battery upgrades!
Spring is finally here and the grass is growing…. FAST!
Last week, I mowed, and could tell that my old electric riding lawn mower battery pack was getting old. I couldn’t mow for more than 15 minutes at a time, and my lawn takes about an hour of mowing total.
Checking with my volt meter, I could tell that one of the batteries was REALLY bad, with two others being merely bad.
I do have some other batteries around from various projects, and although they aren’t quite the same size, will work much better than the bad ones.
The only trouble is that I had NO WAY to pull the batteries out.
Oh sure, the first one wasn’t so bad. Disconnect the power, remove the cables, and lift straight up on the handle. Boom, battery is out!
However, on two of the FRONT batteries, they had no handles! The size of those batteries is just perfect to fit cross-wise inside the lawn mower. The handles are mounted on a tab that EXTENDS width-wise BEYOND the edge of the batteries. So to originally fit them in, I had to hack off the battery handle tabs.
Which makes it easy to get the batteries in, and NOT so easy to get them back out. Besides the lack of handles, there was NO spare room on either side of the batteries. I had a little room front to back to work with, but there was nothing to grip with my fingers.
This is EXACTLY what a BATTERY LIFTER is designed for. Too bad I don’t have one. I thought I had one. I was SURE I had one. Maybe I lost it, maybe I never owned on in the first place, but I sure as heck couldn’t find it today.
So that’s when I have to start getting creative. I looked at the battery to see if there was someplace OTHER than the sides to get a grip. Sure enough, there was – the battery posts themselves. Flooded Marine batteries usually have both automotive-style AND threaded posts.
If I could connect some sort of handle to the threaded posts and hold it down with a nut, I could then pull the batteries right up!
I went behind the seat in my truck (where I have all sorts of tie-downs, bungie-cords, and straps) and found some heavy cord. It would be thin enough to tie around the posts, but strong enough to lift the battery.
I tied a half-knot around each post and then put a large washer and nut over it and tightened them down. I gently lifted the battery straight up, until I could get a real grip on it and properly carry it with both hands.
Wow, mark that one up to working WAY BETTER than I thought it would! The rope did NOT slip off and I did NOT drop it on my toes! WIN!
After that, it was pretty easy to install the new batteries and cable them up.
I was able to mow part of the lawn tonight before it got dark, and it felt like the mower was powering along much better. Checking my voltage afterwards, the individual batteries were all higher than the old ones would have been. I put the mower back on charge so that tomorrow I can finish the lawn.
So, I wouldn’t recommend general carrying of batteries this way, as it might be stressful on the posts, but it sure worked great in a pinch!
PS: Please don’t use steel aircraft cable for this little trick. Think about it.
I was down at the Milwaukee Makerspace today, as the second Sunday of the month is Electric Car Club meeting today.
It was also Mother’s Day, so I woke up early to make from-scratch waffles for my wife, before sneaking off to play with cars and batteries.
Tom L. was there with his Electric El Camino, which I haven’t seen since he set up his new battery pack. All the lithium cells are under the hood now, along with some spiffy LED lighting. Also new to me was his redneck Air-Conditioning system. Instead of some complicated and expensive high-voltage car AC unit, he simply installed a home window air conditioning unit, by way of Sawzall. The hole he cut was nice and clean with the air conditioner sitting at the front of the bed, and the cold end poking into the cab. He has a very compact universal power inverter to run pack voltage (about 180VDC) to 120V AC.
Meanwhile, Tom G. was replacing his old lead-acid batteries in his Dodge Neon with a very affordably purchased new pack. The toughest part was reaching the batteries in the middle, which we pulled out with a cross-bar going to a battery lifter.
I also go to talk with Tom a bit about using a wall-powered AC Drive to test the AC motor in the flood-damaged Mitsubishi i-MIEV. I look forward to jacking up the back of that car and spinning the tires with wall power!
I headed into the other room to pull out my diesel engine and other parts to dive back into working on the SuperTruck project. I’ve been busy with other things and haven’t had a chance to do much on it lately. My components have been shrink-wrapped up and stowed since the Makerspace moved this winter.
I peeled back the plastic and re-familiarized myself with the parts. It’s a bit of a mix of Mercedes and Chevy S10 components, and frankly, they all look the same to me! I had to dig through the parts and see what things lined up to remember what I actually had there!
The engine is from a 1980′s Mercedes 240D. It was originally connected to an automatic transmission. Unfortunately, the flywheel between a manual and automatic transmission is different. So, I hunted down a used flywheel from a MANUAL transmission 240D.
I had also special ordered a clutch and matching cover plate from a racing supplier. I told them that I wanted a clutch that would fit inside the Mercedes flywheel, but the center hub needed to match the driven shaft of the Chevy S10 manual transmission.
I threaded on the manual flywheel to the engine with three flywheel bolts and then fit in the the clutch and cover plate. It all looked like it fit correctly. After that, I propped the S10 transmission up close to the engine. The flywheel fits inside the Chevy bell housing.
The driven shaft in the transmission may be just a tad short. The hole in the center of the engine crankshaft is both fairly large and deep, so maybe I can put a support bearing in there that’s spaced out just a bit?
Of course the main thing I have to do is build an adapter plate that fits the engine and transmission together. That’s not all that different from the mounting plate in my electric Geo Metro to mount the electric motor and transmission together.
Another issue is that the location of the starter is completely different between the two engines. I’m not sure if that will be a problem or not. I think that perhaps at the worst, it would just mean modifying the Chevy bell housing. Nothing a Sawzall can’t fix!
I was also thinking about the best way to attach the electric motor (which I don’t actually have yet. Tom G. is keeping an eye out for me at the salvage yards) to the transmission. One Electric Car Club member was looking it over and suggested using HALF the U-joint from the drive shaft to another half a U-joint to the motor tail-shaft. Apparently, using the u-joint to connect components from different brands is quite common.
I’d know that if I ever actually worked on cars.
The other thing that I’ve found out about working on custom car projects – hang out with old guys. OK, not actually that old, but at least guys who worked on traditional car systems when they were younger. They have good ideas about parts interchange and ways to do things that can be accomplished with some straight-forward garage technology and can-do attitude.
So, anyways, at least I feel like I’m a little further along on this project. Maybe next I’ll try giving Hot Rod Jim a call and see what it would take to make an adapter plate while centering the engine and tranny to each other.
I recently got to have a bit of fun charging somebody else’s EV. Nope, not a Leaf or a Volt…. A Ford E350!
It’s not very often I have a 13-passenger van roll into my driveway WITHOUT any internal combustion engine noise!
A little while back, Dr. George Corliss of Marquette University (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) called me up, asking if he could charge up the van at my house. The plan was to show off the vehicle at a clean transportation event in Madison, Wisconsin. The van, known as the eLIMO, was designed for use around an urban campus, not for road-trips. So the idea is that the van could make the trip as long as there was somewhere to charge on the way.
And I just happen to live between Milwaukee and Madison.
When the eLIMO pulled up, the first thing that caught my attention is just how BIG it is. I’m used to working on Geo Metros and electric motorcycles. Heck, a Nissan Leaf isn’t a huge car either. It felt rather odd to have such a LARGE vehicle driving around without an engine. Dr. Corliss and one of the engineering students were now both in my driveway, ready to charge up the van.
While I was told that the eLIMO features a 240V twist-lock power connection, it was NOT the one I was expecting. I have a 240V 30A outlet in my garage for my welder, but the van has the 20A version of the twist lock. The 20 and the 30 look identical….. until you plug them in. Er, TRY to plug them in. The size between the two is exactly enough to make them NOT interchageble, but you wouldn’t know just by glancing at it.
At least I had my Box o’ Miscellaneous Electrical Parts handy! In just a few minutes and only using a screw-driver, we made up a new dedicated power adapter pig-tail, plugged the van into my garage, and had it charging.
The next day, Dr. Corliss left my house very early in the morning to make the trip to Madison. Leaving so early was both required because he was planning on driving REALLY SLOW to stretch the pack, and there would be less traffic as well.
By the time I woke up, the van was already gone, and I headed off to the Wisconsin Clean Cities event. When I got there, I was glad to see the eLIMO set up among other electric, propane, CNG, hybrid, and alt-fueled vehicles. He made it there with 30% charge remaining, and was now plugged into power at the exhibit hall (using that same pig-tail!)
There were many presentations, some done as panels on particular fuels, including the one about the Marquette Van. I pulled out my video camera to film that. (I apologize for the first minute of video – I didn’t have a tripod, and the pen propping the camera up on the table kept sliding around! Wish I would have had some way to plug into the sound-system as well!) This was the first time I had seen a formal presentation on the eLIMO, and found it fascinating.
After the event, I got to speak with George on camera for a brief interview about about the project.
For the trip back from Madison to my house, he drove a little faster and arrived with a 22% charge remaining. Again, it was an overnight recharge, and then the van gone in the morning.
If you want to watch the 14 minute presentation from the event, here it is!
My two-year old is actually starting to become quite the EV’er herself. Her first ride after coming home from the hospital was in my electric car, and she loves the Hymotion Prius and anything else she can get her hands on. She just HAD to hop in the driver’s seat of the van and test it out for herself. She said something like “I wish the van can stay here forever!” to my wife.
It was a fun day and pretty cool to get to help out the University by powering their road-trip!
If you want to learn more about this project, the students involved maintain a blog about it at: http://muelimo.com/
Since I’ve been shooting a number of YouTube videos about the flood-damaged Mitsubishi i-MIEV, I’ve starting getting REQUESTS from viewers. Things like “Hey, can you show us how the Fast Charge port works?”
A commenter yesterday was asking about the location of the cooling fan for the battery pack. I could have just written a message, but the truth was that I knew exactly WHERE the fan was, but I myself hadn’t yet seen it! So, it seemed to make sense to take apart the battery case lid to get at the fan, and film it so that we could all learn just a little bit more about electric cars!
The fan is obvious, in that there is a bulge and an air filter right in the top of the case! After flipping it over, I was able to remove the bolts that hold in an inside cover to reveal the fan! Three more bolts held it in place, which I removed to get at the fan itself.
The power cable to the fan has four conductors. I would assume that two are for power, and perhaps the other two are for a speed sensor or some other form of check to make sure the fan is running or not. (Possibly even a temperature guage?) It could just as well be that the combination of the four wires are used for some sort of voltage/speed control to the fan.
I probed the fan, testing with 12V power, but was NOT able to get it to spin. Inside the fan, I could see a bare circuit board, which would be as corroded as everything else in the battery pack. So, no luck making it go!
The way the fan is configured, it DRAWS air through the battery pack, and then exhausts it through the top of the pack under the car.
Seems like a good and simple system, particularly for warmer climates.
Just NOT the best design for a battery pack when a hurricane comes in!
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