VECTRIX – Assemble!

by Ben N on February 28, 2015

Today, I spent the afternoon putting the Vectrix electric motorcycle back together.

After originally taking it apart, manually charging the batteries, connecting them with jumper-cables, and finally getting the cycle to communicate with a computer, it was time to put it all back together.

I started by removing the jumper cables that I used as an extension to the battery pack. Always fun to remove those, being careful not to bump anything else…

Then, it was on to the two halves of the battery pack. The front pack has to go in first, along with the battery temperature sensor wires and circuit board. To lift the battery, I used a length of chain, (making sure that the plastic cover was on top of the battery and that there was no way for the chain to short circuit the cells) and attached it to the two threaded rods in the center of the battery, and screwed the nuts over the top. It’s no easy task to lift the battery – it’s about 100 lbs. and sort of an awkward move to get in into the cycle.

I fished the temperature probe wires through the frame of the cycle and plugged it in to its connector.

Getting the rear half of the battery in place is even a little trickier. It fits VERY snuggly since the other half of the pack is already in. Besides that, all the wires to the motor controller are in the back, including the main + and – wires from the controller to the battery.

IMG_2273I connected the main power wires to the + and – posts on the rear battery. The entire battery pack is arranged in such a way that the final connection is made by plugging in the quick disconnects in the middle of the pack. Officially, service technicians are supposed to make the final connection first through a “special tool”. One which I don’t have. Instead, I have a 120VAC light bulb. All the “special tool” really is is the right connectors and a resistor. I used a 100 watt light bulb, with some alligator clips to make the connection. The light bulb glowed for just a moment as the motor controller’s capacitors drew current. Once that was done, I plugged the quick disconnect together to complete the pack.

IMG_2277With the battery in and connected it was time for the main cover, which has the cooling fan built it. That covers the entire battery pack and the controller and other electronics. The big trick is to fit the back end of it UNDER the bracket that holds the trunk switch. After fiddling with  it a bit, I found that  the best way to go is to use a flat pry bar to bend that flap and pop the main cover under it.

From there on, it was a matter of installing the pile of bolts that hold the battery cover, installing the trunk release bracket bolts, and finally the seat screws.

I also dusted off the cycle. Besides the later of salt from the original ride in the bad of my truck during the first snowstorm of the season, the cycle was also now covered in sawdust from sitting in my Dad’s wood-shop.

IMG_2283I opened the man door and maneuvered  the cycle out of the shop to the driveway. It was a nice sunny winter afternoon – about 15 degrees, but blindingly bright. I booted up the cycle and all of the correct lights came on – no errors. The dash gave me an estimated 21 miles of range. That’s not nearly what the cycle was originally designed for, but seeing as how the cycle wouldn’t even turn on at all when I first got it, it’s pretty good.

However, when I twisted the throttle, nothing happened. Well, not nothing. I heard a weird noise from the back of the cycle. Sort of a cogging electronic squeal. I instead tried reverse and nothing at all happened. Sighing disappointedly, I returned to the garage and got a jack so that I could test the cycle with the rear wheel in the air.

Again, I got pretty much the same results, with the exception that reverse at least TRIED to spin the tire. Going either direction with the throttle, I got a tiny bit of movement. Do I have voltage but not the CURRENT to spin the tire? Is the encoder bad? I was able to spin the wheel just fine when everything was torn apart in the shop.

Well, back to the drawing board. If you have ever seen this problem on your Vectrix, please let me know! Otherwise, I’ll just take everything apart and see if there is anything visibly wrong with the controller card.

Til next time, stay charged up!


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