Bronze Bowl

by Ben N on January 22, 2024

About a month ago, I got a propane forge. It’s designed primarily for blacksmithing, but once I realized that it could get hotter than the melting point of brass and bronze, I had to give METAL CASTING a try!

A few little casts gave me some great experiences fast! I especially like how the Trilobites turned out!

I’ve made numerous small parts so far, including a trigger guard for a flintlock pistol, a bottle opener, and a bronze spoon!

Since I was building up my skills, I figured that a BOWL might be the next most complicated thing.

My wife has several small orange bowls which she inherited from her mother. They are a great retro orange color. Unfortunately, they are just plain ceramic, and they DO break.

I thought I’d try using one of them as a pattern for a bronze casting. The bowl is a neat shape and even though I can only cast a pretty small amount of metal right now, I SHOULD be able to heat just large enough of a volume to make one.

I’m creating sand-casts. These are simply molds in which a person packs sand around an object to leave an impression in it. The mold is split open, The original pattern removed, the mold is closed up again, and molten metal is poured in the empty space.

For the metal, I’m using 95% salvaged/recycled Copper and 5% elemental Silicon. This is a “Silicon Bronze” and is pretty close to an alloy which bronze sculptors like to use.

I created the sand-mold, melted the bronze, and poured it into the sand-mold. Unfortunately, I didn’t estimate the volume correctly. There just simply wasn’t enough metal to fill it up.

Back to the drawing board….
I made a new sand mold, cut up my failed casting and melted it AND some additional material in the forge. Then I tried casting #2.

This time, the mold filled all the way up, BUT… after examining it I saw that it really wasn’t a great casting. There were numerous odd-shaped voids visible on both the inside and the outside of the bowl. So, this bowl wouldn’t be great for actually eating food out of, but it could still make a great art piece.

I have a 2″ sanding disc that I can put in my cordless drill. I used that and increased the grit of sand-paper starting at 40 grit and working my way up to 2000. I was able able to mount the bowl in my wood lathe. By spinning the bowl AND sanding it with my cordless drill, I was able to get the interior pretty smooth!
I finished it by shining with some Mother’s Chrome Polish.

I wanted to leave the exterior of the bowl rough. I also really like the type of patina created by applying Liver of Sulfur. That’s an oxidizer which will darken brass and bronze. I heated the bowl with a propane torch and then daubbed on the L.O.S. with a shop rag. The bowl turned a dark gray.

In a weird accidental discovery, I realized that I had given the interior of the bowl an amazing rainbow finish! Bronze will change colors depending on how it is heated. By chance, I got this incredible finish. Unfortunately, it was only surface deep, and I found I couldn’t keep the rainbow. I re-polished the inside back to a golden shine.
I’ll have to do some further experiments to be able to take advantage of these tempering colors in the future!

On the exterior of the bowl, I polished it down with #0000 extra-fine steel wool. This removes the oxidation from the higher parts of the surface, creating a bright highlight against the darker low areas. It provides a nice contrast on the rough sand-cast exterior.

Overall, I’m very happy with the bowl!
It even sounds good!
Any why not? Bronze is the traditional metal of bells!

The one big limitation that I have right now is how MUCH metal I can cast. The propane forge is NOT designed to hold crucibles. So, I can only fit a very small one inside.

I hope to soon get a melting furnace! The PROPER piece of equipment for metal will allow me to be able to melt much more at once. This opens the door for larger pieces or to be able to make multiple castings at once!

Needless to day, I’ve been watching a lot of metal casting videos on YouTube lately.
My favorite metal-casting YouTube channels are:

The Lundgren Bronze Studio videos are especially good, as the host not only shows all the steps, but also his mistakes and everything else in the learning process. Good stuff.

Well, I’ve been having a lot of fun casting metal. Being able to take scrap materials and completely transform them into something else is absolute ALCHEMY!
While I’m not turning lead into gold, scrap copper, tin, and silicon into art is a pretty close second!

Until next time, stay charged up!
-Ben Nelson


Tiny Gold Bar! (Brass Casting)

by Ben N on December 22, 2023

I just made a gold bar! Well, it’s gold colored at least…

I’ve long been interested in both blacksmithing and metal-casting. I recently got a gas blacksmithing forge. This 3-burner is great for general heating of iron bar stock for blacksmithing.
Just turn on the gas, light it, wait a few minutes, and you have a nice heat for general work.

However, when I looked at the specs on it, they said that it should get hot enough to melt brass. I got curious, so I mail-ordered a crucible (a high-temperature pot for melting metal.) Since the forge is not the right style for melting metal, I only purchased a very small crucible, to make sure it would fit inside.
The #0 size looks like it’s about a shot glass and will hold one pound maximum of molten metal.

After an experiment or two, I found that it was fairly straight-forward to melt scrap brass. Much of the brass I used was spent .22 rounds. I first tried making some castings just by pressing objects directly into some generic sand, but then I wanted to see if I could make a real shape from scratch using 3D modeling.

Since the brass has such a nice shiny yellow color, I imagined a stereo-typical gold bar. I set to work modeling one in Fusion 360. I’ve been slowly teaching myself this software. While it is total overkill for this simple project, it does have some other features I found useful. For example, it can calculate the volume of any object I design. By assigning a material, such as brass, it pulls in density information and automatically calculates mass. In that way, I could make sure to design my shape so that it fits within the amount of metal I can melt in my tiny crucible.

I drew out the gold bar in CAD.
One reason why I wanted to make this shape is that it already has a draft. Draft is simply having an angled edge in a pattern so that an object can easily slip out of the mold. That’s why the sides of a gold bar are slanted!
A 10 degree angle on the sides of the bar looked about right.
I also embossed the lettering “24K” into the face of the bar, and made sure that had a draft as well.
Lastly, I changed the height of the bar until the calculated weight would match what I knew I could melt. The software calculated a little over 7 oz, or around 200 grams.

With my 3D object complete, I exported it to my Ender 3 S1 3D Printer.
I printed the object out of plain white PLA plastic.

Next, I heated a screw to thread into the back of the print. This would give me a handle to pull it out of the sand mold. I removed the screw and set the print in the bottom of an open wood box, which would hold some sand.

My “green sand” is a mix of fine grain sand and about 10% powdered clay kitty-litter with enough water added so that it clumps hard when squeezed in a fist. This type of sand can be packed down and becomes quite firm.

With the 3D print in place, I covered it and the bottom of the open box with chalk dust. I hoped that would work well as a release agent, keeping the sand from sticking. I loosely sprinkled sand over the 3D print until it was completely covered, and then packed it down. I then kept adding and packing sand until the frame was filled solid with it.

Next, I flipped the frame over.
Before pulling out the print, I decided to cut a small trough in the sand with a piece of pipe. I thought it might be best to not pour directly into the mold, as the weight of the molten brass might push too hard against the fine sand of the embossed lettering, ruining it. By pouring to the side of the bar and then letting the molten metal run in, I was hoping it would increase my chances of having a good casting.

I threaded the screw into the back of the 3D print, gently tapped it a few times to try to release the print from the sand, and then gently pulled it out.

This left me with an indentation in the sand the size and shape of my 3D print. However, I also noticed a small amount of sand that came out stuck to the face of the print. This would cause a rough surface, but I saw that the lettering itself still looked pretty good.

After that, it was time to melt down some brass, heat the forge, add scrap brass and a little Borax as flux, and get ready for the pour.

I poured the metal into the sand and let it come up to even with the surface. In fact, just a little further. Although I had leveled the sand-mold as best I could, it was still just a little off, producing a bit of a slant on the open top side of the casting.

Grabbing the casting with some pliers and throwing it into a bucket of water, I was very pleased with the initial result. It was the right size and shape and the lettering was clear.

At this point, I realized that I should have made the runner to the casting MUCH smaller. The pouring area had become a large hunk of metal with a LOT of surface area connecting it to the gold bar. This required a lot of cutting. I put the casting in a vice and cut off the extra with a metal-cutting blade in my cordless reciprocating saw.
After that, it was a bit of grinding to clean up the cut marks.

Next was sanding. I used a series of rough to fine sand-papers on a disc sander to take off the rough surface, smooth it down, and shine it up.

I also wanted to darken the lettering. I thought I would try ammonia vapor to do that. By simply placing a brass object in a jar above a small amount of ammonia, the vapors will react with the surface to oxidize it and make it dark. About an hour later, my gold bar was completely dark gray.

I polished the oxidation back off, but unfortunately by the time I really had the top of the polished bright, the #0000 steel wool had also polished away most of the darkness in the lettering! Worse than that, the oxidation also really showed off the scratches on the side of the bar where I put in significantly less time sanding and polishing! Oh well…

In the end, I had a nice little hunk of brass which looked like a gold bar. The drafting made it pull fairly clean from the sand mold, although I still need to improve my sand and release agent. With the exception of the bottom-left of the “K”, the text came through very well. I later painted it in with a little bit of black hobby paint, and it looked very nice.
Final weight was right around 7 oz, just as the CAD software said.

It’s VERY cool to be able to have an idea, create it in 3D computer space, and then make it into a real, tangible, and HEFTY item. While the gold bar is nothing more than a shiny paper-weight, it was GREAT practice in making and learning how to improve my next cast.

I’m hoping to be able to get a proper casting furnace which will be able to handle good-sized crucibles for making larger castings. I also need to start working on two-part molds so that I can create a casting with details on all sides, rather than a flat top only!

Casting is a blast, and I’m sure you’ll see more from me in the future!
Until then, stay charged up!


The Incredible, Flexible, Ryobi 18V Battery

by Ben N on November 29, 2023

We sometimes take things for granted. One of those things is the modern cordless tool battery. Back in the day, we had to make do with CORDED power drills and the like. But a lithium tool battery is SO MUCH MORE USEFUL than simply powering a drill.

Modern lithium batteries are much LIGHTER than lead batteries, contain MORE ENERGY, and CHARGE FAST. They also usually contain safety features to prevent damage due to temperature or even short-circuiting. Because of mass-manufacturing, they are relatively inexpensive and readily available.

So, why just use them for the cordless tools they were designed for?
Cordless tool batteries are an excellent platform for Off-Grid, DIY, and almost any other project you can think of!

Ryobi 18V batteries are an excellent choice. Ryobi has a HUGE selection of tools, and at less cost than Milwaukee, Dewalt, or Makita. Another advantage is that Ryobi NEVER CHANGED their form-factor. They are a “stem” battery. Even very old batteries fit the latest tools and vice-versa. Other brands have changed physical shape over the years, and most now have a terminal setup which makes it harder to easily connect to the power of the battery.

Let’s take a look at a few projects based on Ryobi lithium batteries.

A few years back, I was playing around with low voltage landscaping lighting. Those bulbs typically run at 12V ALTERNATING CURRENT from a small transformer. But they tend to run on Direct Current every bit as well. Because of LED technology (which by its nature is low-voltage) we’ve also seen a boom in lighting that runs on 12V or even just USB.

I had purchased a 3D printer and realized there was nothing stopping me from simply creating a 3D shape which would connect a Ryobi 18V battery to a standard light-bulb base. After a few prototypes, combining some existing open source 3D models, I worked with another designer (who had better CAD skills than I) to create a single solid 3D model. Nickel strips (such as are commonly used in DIY battery projects) complete the electrical path between the low-voltage light bulb and the battery terminals.

Screw in the light-bulb, push the whole thing down on top of the battery, and let there be light!

The bulb provides omni-directional illumination and the battery itself is a solid base. It works just as well for a trouble light under a car as it does a lantern on top of a picnic table while camping.

After sharing my model, quite a few people were interested in buying them, so I started selling them online. You can also download the file and simply 3D print them for your own personal use.

Probably every parent in the United States is familiar with PowerWheels! These compact “ride-on toys” are even child’s dream. Their very own electric car to cruise around the driveway and back-yard!
Unfortunately, parents will soon also realize that the proprietary lead-acid battery is a bother to remove and reinstall, and since the kids never charge the car, that the battery soon dies a permanent death. On top of that, wouldn’t it be fun to soup up the car a little?

That’s where the “PowerWheels Adapter” comes in. It’s a piece of plastic that matches the shape of the Ryobi 18V battery and has a red and a black wire coming off of it.

Simply cut off the electrical connector in the PowerWheels, connect the Ryobi adapter, and slap in a battery! The Ryobi battery will not only last longer, charge faster, and be easier to install and remove, but it will also increase the speed of the car by 50%. The speed of common brushed DC motors is based on the voltage provided to them. Higher voltage means higher speed. (But keep it within reason! No need to melt little kid car motors!)

These adapter work great for not only PowerWheels, but also almost any other project where you want to interface a new battery.

Electric Wheelbarrow/Work Cart
For a larger, more powerful project, how about something that can really help you get work done – an electric wheelbarrow!
This frame would have originally had a gas engine in it, but the company making the gas-powered carts went out of business. I got a “New Old Stock” cart which was never fully assembled. Powering it with electricity instead of gasoline would mean it would be powerful, (it could tow my car!) but also QUIET and since there wouldn’t be exhaust, it could also be used indoors.

I installed a small electric motor from a 40V electric push mower. Of course, an 18V battery wouldn’t power that… which I why I used TWO!
I installed two “PowerWheels Adapters” and connected them in series (+ to -, + to -) to complete a higher voltage circuit. This allowed me to continue to use all the 18V batteries I already had for the more powerful, higher-voltage project.

The project turned out great, and was perfect for tasks such as moving heavy loads of rocks or firewood.

Youtube playlist of Electric Wheelbarrow videos.

In the time since I built the wheelbarrow, I’ve also started purchasing some outdoor power equipment. Those typically run at a higher voltage. Again, I invested in the Ryobi system, based on cost, availability, and variety of equipment.

I absolutely LOVE my electric chain saw, and I’ve even used the leaf-blower as a source of air for a make-shift forge!

These tools use a 40V battery.

Years back, I built an electric bicycle from a kit. That eventually lead me to building an electric motorcycle, an electric car, and then on to all the other DIY projects since then.

A few years ago, I was injured in a vehicle collision, and since my limited range of motion in my knee, I found myself yearning for an electric bicycle again. The electric “boost” of the bike would take up the slack, allowing me to still be able to pedal. Otherwise, I simply wouldn’t be able to bike at all.

I already had a bike hub motor kicking around that a friend gave me. He had decommissioned his bike (powered by three heavy lead-acid batteries.) I could easily mail-order an inexpensive 36V e-bike motor controller, but the expensive part of so many projects is usually the battery.

Again, Ryobi to the rescue.
A 40V tool battery is just about perfect for an e-bike. It’s right within the voltage 36V nominal equipment requires. I already had the batteries and chargers. No need to buy an expensive battery (and matching charger) which could ONLY run the bike.

The Ryobi 40V battery, 36V motor and controller was almost a perfect match. Not just in terms of voltage, but also the physical size and the amount of current the battery can provide.

All I really needed to do was to 3D print a mount to bolt in place on the bicycle frame which would be designed to match the 40V battery.

While doing some research on this project, I stumbled on a paper by engineering students at the University of Pittsburg. Their senior thesis project was to design an inexpensive, democratic electric bike system using readily available parts. The project included research into various batteries and cost per kilowatt-hour ($/kWh), what system voltage to use, and even CAD design for battery mounts.

In the end, their final project design for a simple, inexpensive electric bicycle which anyone could build was NEARLY IDENTICAL to mine!

I downloaded their battery mount CAD file, 3D printed it, and have had a great electric bicycle ever since!

A quick look at my Ryobi electric bicycle.

Over the years, I’ve owned several different brands and battery systems. I ended up with a mix of tools because I got them different ways – a prize in a contest, a great deal on refurbished tools, and even inheritance. Unfortunately, a MIX means that the batteries are NOT interchangeable.
Investing in a SINGLE brand/make/type means I have interchangeability. And the Ryobi brand, is a great combo of affordable/available/versatile.

I’ve loved working on various electric projects using these batteries, and hope that you do to.
If you are an “Off-Gridder”, the batteries can be charged by solar or when you are running a generator anyways. If you are on the grid, but always like to be prepared, these batteries are great for emergencies as well!

I even designed a project that makes a light come on when the power goes out!

Until next time, stay charged up!
-Ben Nelson


See you at the Energy Fair!

by Ben N on June 19, 2023

Hello friends!

I’ll be at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association Fair this weekend, near Stevens Point, Wisconsin!

At 2:00 PM on Saturday, you can see me in the Red Tent giving a presentation about how you can power your home with your electric car!

The Energy Fair really is a fantastic event, and I hope to see you there!
June 23-25, 2023.

Details of the event at their web page:

Until then, stay charged up!
-Ben Nelson

PS: You can see a copy of the PowerPoint I use for my presentation at:

You can see a detailed video that I made about installing a 12V inverter on a 2023 Chevy Bolt EV at:

If you were talking to me at the fair about Electraks or other items I have for sale, please see:


Stick Shift for Electric Car

by Ben N on June 14, 2023

While I love our 2023 Chevy Bolt EV overall, it IS missing something…
Can I fix it with a DIY solution?

One thing a bit unusual about the later version of the Chevy Bolt is that it does NOT have a traditional gear selector. Instead, it has a number of “power-window-style” switches to pick the gear. In my opinion, this takes up more space than some other options would, such as a small rotary dial.

In front of the gear selector buttons is a pair of cup holders. And finally in front of that is the center console arm-rest. The issue is that all the space taken up by the gear selector buttons and cup holders is that it pushes the arm rest rather far towards the back of the car. Even though I’m relatively tall and have my seat slid back quite a bit, I still have to “chicken wing” my arm back to use the arm rest. Otherwise it’s an “elbow rest” at best!

On top of that, since there’s no gear selector stick, the entire rest of my arm flops down uncomfortably in an awkward position. Since this car is so narrow, it would actually be better WITHOUT the center console! Most cars of this width that I have owned before have NO center arm rest and instead have the hand-brake and manual gear selector only in the middle.

So, I decided I needed at least a place to rest my hand. Since the car didn’t have a gear selector, I’d just have to make one.

My hand comes out to just over the front cup holder, so that’s a perfect position for it. I’d simply make a stick shift that goes right in the cup holder!

At first, I thought I might simply use some disposable cup as the base of it. Searching around, I didn’t find one that fit really well. Then I got to thinking that making a casting of the cup holder would give me an EXACT fit!

I had some Durhams Water Putty, which is more or less a Plaster of Paris type product. I whipped up a batch, lined the cup holder with aluminum foil and plastic wrap, and started to scoop in the putty over a piece of 3/8″ threaded rod which I had cut to about 9 inches long. The 8-Ball was already threaded for 3/8″.

To make sure the rod would stay centered while the putty dried, I cut out a circle of MDF for the bottom of the cup holder and a circle of cardboard for the top. Both had a hole in the center for the threaded rod.

After curing overnight, I pulled out my casting, knocked off the rough edges, and hit it with a coat of black paint. I wrapped some electrical tape around the side and glued on a piece of non-slip material to the bottom. I also cut a piece of black foamcore as a cover for the casting.

Lastly, I put some heat shrink tubing over the threaded rod and screwed on the ball.

The stick shift fits perfect in the cup holder. It’s also easily removable, such as for when my wife is driving the car.

It’s the right height and position for my hand, so my entire arm now gets supported while driving.

Sure, I know most electric cars use single-speed gearing, so they don’t even need a multi-gear transmission, let alone a manual one, but it’s still a nice feeling to have a “gear-shift” in an electric car!

Until next time, Stay Charged Up!
-Ben Nelson


Ryobi Automatic Emergency Light

April 3, 2023

Check out the video above for a quick look at the project. The video below shows you in detail how to build it! Recently, I had been thinking about emergency lighting. In the case of a blackout, the first thing a person needs is light, even if it’s just to get to your junk drawer […]

Read the full article →

Bolt vs Volt Seats

March 12, 2023

I WANT to love the 2023 Chevy Bolt EV, but the one thing stopping me is the driver’s seat. It’s narrow, and the left side of it digs into my hip and left leg. It’s borderline painful. Not what a person wants when they have bought a brand new car! Could I replace the seat […]

Read the full article →

A Pleasant Charging Experience

March 1, 2023

The other day, I had something that is unfortunately not as common as it should be: a pleasant charging experience. First, let’s back up a moment and say that the VAST MAJORITY of all electric car charging is done at home. Plug the car in, walk away, DONE! It’s about as much work as plugging […]

Read the full article →

Chevy Bolt EV Cheaper than a Honda Civic!?

January 9, 2023

When will electric cars be as cheap as gas cars? That’s the question I recently got on Facebook. The poster continued suggesting how inexpensive some gas cars can be. It seems to me that anytime somebody tries to compare one car to another on price, they compare it to what they THINK a Honda Civic […]

Read the full article →

We got a BRAND NEW Electric Car!

January 6, 2023

We just bought a BRAND NEW Electric Car! What did we get? It’s a 2023 Chevrolet Bolt EV! This electric car has a 66kWh battery and is rated for 259 miles of range. The one we purchased is the 2LT trim level, which includes leather seats, fancier rims, and a birds-eye-view camera system. It also […]

Read the full article →


December 22, 2022

I recently got the chance to try out the SHOCKFLO 16A dual-voltage electric car charging unit. It’s very inexpensive,($160 as of this writing,) but is it any good? Let’s take a look! The very first thing that I noticed is that it feels solid. The body of the unit has a nice textured finish. The […]

Read the full article →

3D-Printing Time-Lapse

November 6, 2022

While I’m no master of C.A.D. or 3D-Printing, I sure think those time-lapses of 3D prints look AMAZING. So, I decided to figure out how I could do it with my own 3D Printer. A while back, I bought an Ender 3 S1 printer. ( friend of mine runs a small electronics business and had […]

Read the full article →

Thrift Store Solar+Storage!

October 16, 2022

Wow, what a week it’s been! The real highlight was stumbling on the thrift store score of the century… Let me start off saying that it was an unusual set of circumstances. The job I was going to be working on earlier this week was cancelled last minute. That job was more than an hour […]

Read the full article →

Ryobi 3D Printed Lamp Holder

April 3, 2022

And here’s the lampshade that I made to go with it. You can find the 3D model for the Ryobi Bulb Holder at: The hub for the lampshade now includes clips to snap on to the lightbulb: I’m still tinkering with the lampshade brim file, and will make an update here when I […]

Read the full article →

Greenworks Electric Chainsaw

March 12, 2022

See the entire review of this chainsaw at: Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook Buzz it up Share on Linkedin Share via MySpace share via Reddit Share with Stumblers Tumblr it Tweet about it Subscribe to the comments on this post Tell a friend

Read the full article →

CHAdeMO Relay Hack, Switch, and Testing

November 11, 2021

Continuing work on my CHAdeMO Vehicle to Home project… On the Mitsubishi iMiEV electric car, it’s totally possible to activate power to the CHAdeMO port WITHOUT needing to use CAN bus signals. It can be done completely analog, with just a few simple 12V signals. Part of the reason why is that the relay which […]

Read the full article →

Converting Tractor Hydraulics from engine to Electric

August 10, 2021

Tractors are mechanically complicated.Besides a transmission, there’s also the connection for the Power Take-Off (PTO) and an engine-driven pump which powers the hydraulics. Since there’s no longer an engine, we’ll have to replace the source of power for the hydraulics. Probably the easiest way to do this is with an electric motor and pump salvaged […]

Read the full article →

Solar Trailer: Tilt Lock Redesign

August 5, 2021

My first test tow of the trailer went well, but one thing I still wasn’t happy with was the mechanism for locking the angle of the panels. So, it was time for a redesign! The major thing seemed to be the fact that the tilt lock only had two points of contact. That meant that […]

Read the full article →

Building a Solar Trailer, Part 1

August 1, 2021

Recently, I had a day or two available to work while waiting on things for other projects. For some time, I had the idea of a “Solar Trailer” in the back of my mind. I had seen a number of commercially-built solar trailers go up for auction, but at prices more than I could afford!So, […]

Read the full article →

Tractor Work Resumes

June 6, 2021

After a long hiatus, I’m working on the Electric Tractor Conversion again.This past year was a bad one, with COVID, a couple of deaths in the family, and other issues. One of the most difficult for working on the tractor was probably the fact that I was cut off from my typical resources for working […]

Read the full article →

February Solar Electric Bill

March 7, 2021

How much did electricity cost me this month when I have solar panels? And how long do they take to cover their own cost? Find out in this video! What does this month’s electric bill come to? February is a dark month. We still have many days of solid gray clouds, although not as much […]

Read the full article →

Towing a camping trailer with a Tesla

February 20, 2021

When I was at Fully Charged LIVE, one of the more interesting displays was a private owner of a Tesla Model X and Casita travel trailer showing off his rig. Mike Zuteck gave me a tour of his towing setup. As he’s in the aeronautics industry, he was especially interested in modifying his trailer to […]

Read the full article →

Massive DC Forklift Motor

December 1, 2020

Forklift motors have been popular for a long time in DIY Electric Vehicle Conversions. They tend to be Series-Wound DC motors, which offer tremendous torque at low speeds and are common enough that that can often be found at junk yards. A few years ago, my friend, Tom, and I scrapped out a 6,000 lb […]

Read the full article →

August Solar Electric Bill

October 1, 2020

Today, I opened my August electric bill. It was NOT what I expected! So, I’m a little late. I got my bill nearly a month ago. However, personal and family matters have kept me busy from making videos lately. So, the bill sat until now, when I finally got a chance to open it on […]

Read the full article →

CHRGET Universal Mobile Charger

June 13, 2020

I was recently contacted by the folks at CHRGET. They said they were coming out with a new EVSE, and asked if they could send me one for review. Of course, I said yes! *Full Disclosure – Why would they send me one for free? Well, they would want the advertising, as they are doing […]

Read the full article →

Liquid Cooling for Nissan Leaf motor

May 24, 2020

I’m getting ready to bench test the Nissan Leaf motor, but both the motor and inverter use LIQUID COOLING! I doubt the motor and inverter will make much heat at all when bench testing. However, since I have to figure this out sometime anyways, I thought I would get it taken care of right now. […]

Read the full article →

April 2020 Electric Bill

May 15, 2020

At this time of year, it’s always fun to open my electric bill, to see how much money the power company OWES ME! Last month, I had a credit of over eleven dollars. This month, we have had more sunny days, and the sun is getting higher in the sky. So, I expect even better […]

Read the full article →

Welding frame rails / Rolling the Tractor

May 13, 2020

Converting this International Harvester 300 Utility tractor to electric has had a few challenges. One of them is that the engine is structural and connects the front axle (and everything connected to it) to the transmission. I found a relatively quick and easy answer when I discovered that some other tractors have frame rails that […]

Read the full article →

Nissan Leaf Transmission Tear Down

March 17, 2020

I recently disassembled a Nissan Leaf driveline. That was essentially just taking apart the main components of the charger, inverter, motor and gearbox. After doing that, several viewers requested seeing inside the gearbox. I was also interested in seeing inside and was curious if I could use part of it to mate with the motor […]

Read the full article →

Nissan Leaf Electric Motor from Junk Yard

February 19, 2020

Pretty excited that I just picked up a Nissan Leaf Motor! Yesterday, I drove to Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin to Diamond Auto parts to pick up not just a motor, but also the gearbox and inverter for a Nissan Leaf. The Leaf motor packs quite a bit of power into a small package, and they […]

Read the full article →

Suzuki SV650 Electric Motorcycle

February 9, 2020

One of the joys of going to FULLY CHARGED LIVE (Feb 1 & 2, 2020 in Austin, Texas, USA) was meeting people in the real world who I otherwise only knew via the internet. Robert Powell is one such person. We met up with him before the event opened and got a chance to see […]

Read the full article →

Chevy Volt Dent Repair

January 3, 2020

After installing the new doors on the Volt, it was road-worthy, but I still didn’t like the dent in the back fender. There were a few dings above the rear door as well. So, I set to work to figure out how to pull out the dents. I had already played around a bit with […]

Read the full article →

Fixing a Crashed Chevy Volt

December 28, 2019

I just purchased a Chevy Volt!While I’m excited about that, the only reason I got it was because it was cheap. And it was cheap because it needed a bunch of work… Not long ago, an acquaintance of mine was driving his 2012 Chevy Volt when a deer hit him. (No, he didn’t hit the […]

Read the full article →

Prepping to remove the Loader

November 20, 2019

I removed the sheet metal “Hood” of the tractor to get a quick look at the engine. Pretty simple under there, but both the loader arm AND the loader frame really block working on it. Clearly the loader has to come off right away. In the front, the loader is bolted to the tractor with […]

Read the full article →

Tractor Arrives!

November 15, 2019

Today’s excitement is that the tractor arrived!When we went to look at the International Harvester 300 Utility tractor, one of the appealing things about it was that the seller offered to be able to deliver it.So, today, I’m waiting for the tractor to show up on a gooseneck trailer. The seller, Wayne, showed up right […]

Read the full article →

Winter Projects

November 13, 2019

Winter hit hard and fast here in south-eastern Wisconsin, with 6 inches of snow in October and it’s 6℉ as I write this in early November. So, that means it’s time to button down our winter projects! CRASHED MITSUBISHI IMIEV AUCTIONIn the last video update, I mentioned a crashed Mitsubishi iMiEV that was up for […]

Read the full article →

October Electric Bill and Time of Use

November 12, 2019

I just got my October electric bill! Let’s look inside and see what it comes to. Since I have solar on my garage, my electric bill is far less than it used to be. I typically look forward to getting my bill and taking my best guess as to what it will come to. Overall, […]

Read the full article →

Ford 8N Tractor for Electric Conversion?

October 29, 2019

Today, I stopped over at a friend’s farm property to check out a couple of tractors. I’ve recently been researching which tractors might make good candidates for an electric conversion, but what I really needed to do is just go out and see some. A family friend, Linda, had two old tractors on her property. […]

Read the full article →

DIY Teardrop Trailer Tour

October 9, 2019

About 15 years ago, I built a teardrop trailer. At the time, I never dreamed I would tow it with an electric car! But here we are, living in the future! A teardrop is a retro style of camping trailer with a shape, you guessed it, like a teardrop. These were popular after World War […]

Read the full article →

Tesla Implant!

October 1, 2019

I recently met up with John Olson. He implanted himself with an RFID chip which would allow him to unlock and drive his Tesla Model 3 just by holding his hand up to his car! I met him at the Milwaukee Makerspace for a video interview. One of the reasons we met there was that […]

Read the full article →

Solar Savings – August 2019

September 9, 2019

I just got my electric bill for this past month. Let’s open it up and see what it comes to! August was relatively cool, so we didn’t use the air-conditioning much. That’s important, as what I PAY for electricity is simply the difference between how much I make with the solar and how much I […]

Read the full article →

Wheelie Poppin’ Tractor for Junk Parade!

September 2, 2019

This year, I made it. I got my overpowered piece of junk electric tractor into The World’s Greatest Junk Parade! Last year, I took this old GE Elec-Trak frame and added a forklift motor and 6 Nissan Leaf Cell Modules. The driveline was a little complicated, and I didn’t get it working in time for […]

Read the full article →

Lithium Battery Communications

August 26, 2019

I just got my laptop to communicate with the Valence lithium batteries in the Ford Ranger EV pickup truck! The truck’s instrumentation is pretty basic – just a “Miles to Go” and “Percent Charged” meter, which were designed to work with lead-acid batteries. I wanted to be able to communicate directly with the lithium batteries […]

Read the full article →

Electric ATV Repair and Upgrade

August 11, 2019

Not long ago, a neighbor was cleaning out his garage. Among the things he was getting rid of was an old kids electric ATV. It was in poor condition, but looked like a fun “fixer-upper”! My daughter is also now eight-years old and has outgrown her Solar-Powered PowerWheels. So, a Razor brand ATV looked like […]

Read the full article →

Electric Truck Lithium Battery Upgrade

August 10, 2019

I upgraded the Electric Ford Ranger to Lithium Batteries!The truck had Group 24 Lead-Acid batteries in the bed. The batteries pulled from the Smith electric truck are Valence brand Group 27 batteries designed as 12V replacements. So, the logical thing to do was simply pull out the lead and put in the lithium in it’s […]

Read the full article →

July 2019 Electric Bill

August 8, 2019

I just got my July electric bill. Time to open it on camera so that you and I get to see what it is at the same time! In July, we finally started getting some nice summer days! (June was surprisingly rainy and cloudy!) But along with the sun was HEAT. We used our central […]

Read the full article →

Battery Pack Disassembly

April 18, 2019

Once we finally made it back from North Carolina, we needed to unload the batteries. While we had a forklift to LOAD the batteries, we didn’t have one at my place and had to resort to an engine hoist, furniture dollies, and finally, steel pipes. Getting 2,000 pounds of batteries off the trailer was no […]

Read the full article →

Removing the Batteries from the Smith Electric Truck

April 15, 2019

Well, it’s been an adventure so far…I was originally asked by my friend, Seth, to accompany him on a road trip to buy a commercial electric truck. The Copart auction had already taken place. He just had to drive 900 miles to get the truck and drag it back home. In the highlight of the […]

Read the full article →

Feb 2023 Electric Bill

March 15, 2023

I don’t tend to do “This Month’s Electric Bill” that frequently on YouTube anymore, but I thought this would be a good one. It’s March right now, so I have the bill for the previous month – February 2023. This is important because I have found that March tends to have very GOOD solar production. […]

Read the full article →