It's nice to have another tracker build in the group!
I'm planning on putting all of my batteries behind the front seats. The 50, 100 AH cells should fit nicely in a box not much bigger then the trunk/back seat area. I'll be sacrificing the back seat but I don't see any way around that. The real quest for me is do I try and recess some of the batteries into the area where the fuel tank was? This blog shows a Lead-Acid conversion which did just that with some success. http://got-ev.blogspot.com/
You can see that he managed to get the back row of Lead Acids almost level with the floor but the second row had to be elevated to avoid hitting the rear differential. I could follow this example and probably get 20-25 cells recessed below the floor but then what do you do with the rest of them? I'm not sure it's worth the work but I might try it anyway just for fun. I'm going to wait for my cells to arrive before I decide. Let us know what arrangment you come up with and how it works for you.
The choice of battery capacity was a tough one for me. The 160 AH batteries will give you much better range and higher current but they are a bit harder to fit into small spaces and with my budget I would have had to go with a much lower voltage. In some ways it also kind of depends on what controller you're going to use. Once I decided on the Soliton Jr. I knew that I could go up to 340V with my battery pack so if I used a smaller capacity battery cell (like the 100AH) and found it wasn't enough I could always just add more cells later and increase the pack voltage/energy. If, on the other hand, you're controller is only good to 150V then you're better off choosing a higher capacity cell and lower voltage to start off with because you won't be able to easily increase your pack size later. Just one of the many choices I've made that I'm not 100% sure of...
I think I ended up raising the motor around 2 inches to clear the steering components. Like I said, it wasn't difficult to do but did leave me with the shifter in a bit of an awkward spot. I'm convinced I'll be able to fabricate my own shifter later that will work well but that may be more work then I realize.
I honestly think that the adapter plate and coupler is the most troublesome part of these conversions. The company that built my adapter plate insists on you supplying a drawn template because they've had so many problems with the same model of car having different bell housings. Even with the template the adapter plate depth was way off and the adapter plate had to be changed to fit my application. I think if I did this again I might consider working with a local machine shop to build the adapter plate. Atleast that way they can see what is required rather then relying on pictures and emails.
I'm not planning to heat my batteries directly, atleast not initially. I think that there is alot of merrit in heating the bateries; however, I'm thinking that if I ensuring that the cab is warm enough for me to drive the vehicle that might be good enough to keep the batteries warm enough to perform well. I also noted some data collected by Tesseract that showed that the internal resistance of these cells was very high when they are cold which say that they will kind of act as there own heaters as soon as you start running amps through them. That being said I'm speaking from a place of significant ignorance on this topic and expect to observe the performance of the cells very closely and adapt my approach accordingly.
I am definately planning to heat the cab, unfortunately I haven't made any decisions on that yet. I was hoping to have the conversion completed early this spring and have the the summer and fall to figure that out but of course my timelines have slipped. I'm leaning towards installing a ceramic heater into the block heater (fairly common approach); however, I'm not completely sold on that idea. It would certainly be alot easier to just tie in a water heater into the existing block heater and I think that propane heaters have some merit as well.
I'm also wondering if anyone has ever tried to use the waste heat from the motor to heat the cab. I know that Dimitri tied his controller cooler into his block heater to add some heat but the efficiency of the controller was such that there was very little heat to be had. The motor on the other hand is probably only 80-90% efficient and produces a bit of heat which a person might be able to tie into their air intake and use for some mild defrosting. Just an idea I'm toying with, I'll be sure to post what my final decision is and how it works.
Charger decision is another tough one. There are, what appear to be, some very good chargers available but they're really expensive. If you have the money I think you can't go wrong with the Manzinita. I, unfortunatley, do not have that kind of budget for this project and decided to go with the Elcon 2000+ charger. By all accounts Elcon appears to be a pretty good quality brand of charger that comes at a very reasonable price tag. The challenge with this (and other less expensive chargers) is to make sure that you know exactly what you're charger settings are before you order it because they have to be set at the factory. The Elcon has some user variability (10 pre-set voltages) but it really is key that you know what you want when you order it. EVTV did a nice little segment on these chargers last week (october 7th episode I believe) that you can check-out on Utube if you're interested. That show bores the pants off me but if you can stay awake there is often some good information convied.
Sorry for the long response, I hope it's helpful. I look forward to watching your progress.