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1961 Volvo PV 544 to EV 544 - Build Thread

14769 Views 186 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  jclars
Hello All!

I pondered what to do to this car for over 1 year since driving it home. Yes, it was the first project car I had not needed a trailer for! I have travelled as far as Southern Cal. to pickup other projects with a trailer in tow. Never one only 15 miles from home! And so cheap ($2500) for a running vintage car!

Because the starting point was so favorable, it was tempting to simply do a stock restoration. But then I started digging and found the engine and tranny were not original, coming from a newer Volvo. I felt like it opened the door for a restomod. I am soon 72 years old and have always enjoyed a challenge. My last build was a traditional hot rod which included at totally fabricated frame and flat head V8. Parts were either already in my shop or sourced from multiple swap meets and online sales The various parts spanned years 1928 to 1962 in vintage. I also upgraded a 1958 MGA Coupe to a 2000 Miata drive train. I have done a 1956 F100 PU with a 90's era drivetrain from a T-bird SuperCoupe. This past May I drove Rte. 66 in it. 6000 miles round trip. So major technology jumps with previous projects has been accomplished. And I drive the things! But ICE to EV??? Before last year I didn't even know what those acronyms stood for!

I reviewed the topics I was to cover with my first post, and I can see the logic to determine where everyone enters this EV game. So I can fabricate, I can visualize, I can drive. But this EV thing was a bit intimidating. Then I took a ride in a modern EV and got sucked in! With your help, I hope to make this car an almost daily driver. I am planning for 80 - 100 mile range. I also want to approach this incrementally, both for affordability, but also because I like to mock up restomods to present a car look like it could have come from the factory that way. I have become adept at doing this, but it has always been by trial and error with lots of cardboard and wood mock-ups. I have fabricated things multiple times to get it looking right (as well as for structural integrity!).

I hope I can present this EV conversion similar to my other less radical projects. I want the motor with controller to take center stage, so no battery box on top of it, even though there is a lot of room under the bulbous hood. Likewise, I doubled the HP and Torque on that MGA mentioned above, and it suddenly became a fun (not to mention dependable) sports car! While I will only have a marginal HP jump in my chosen EV gear, I am pretty sure the torque value and dependability factors will be satisfying enough!

That all said, I have been working with EVWest to gain a system understanding and with a local Electrical shop that has dabbled in EV development for the last 10 years. EVWest had done a Volvo P1800 several years ago and just this past week we were able to confirm a match to my Volvo bellhousing and flywheel. So I have the adapter/coupler on order with them. I also have a Hyper 9 HV motor system with chill plate and front motor mount on order with the local shop. Saved much on freight by finding a local source for that! I have other components pre-selected from both EVW and locally, but again will use these first major pieces to anchor the mock-up stage. So because the adapter is a long lead item, I will probably be doing more restoration type stuff in the interim, so bear with me.

I attach pix of the car, the voluminous engine bay and similar trunk. I do plan to put at least some battery packs in the rear where the gas tank came from. However only 100-120 lbs or so to help keep within original weight trim. Which I think will be okay, with so much room in front. But again, I want to showcase the motor. Not the battery packs.

Looking forward to hearing comments from this valued knowledge base in the months ahead!

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John Larsen
Lynden, WA
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Others here probably can.

If you couldn't tell, I don't need them, so don't have bookmarks or a collection of these.
This unsafe for the road shit has to stop if it's over 60V outside the box. It's unclear to me if that diagram is, or not.

It's up to you guys to call people out to kill the practice. There are too many people relying on Youtube and extrapolating such diagrams ("I'll use this on my 400V build, just size stuff accordingly") these days and all it takes is one tragedy to regulate most of us totally out of the game.
Well Remy, if you don't need a diagram, why can't you help the rest of us idiots who DO need them?

I don't need a business textbook either, but I usually try to steer new (or old) business owners in their attempt to get things right...Sometimes to save them from another form of shock treatment.
Lots of people here, not just me. I just pop in on my breaks.
I have not run across the 60V outside the box rule. I strangely have not come across this. Can you define it for me? What are the boundaries before I get too far in to my peripheral purchases.
It's important enough not to get buried in a build thread. It's here: Federal Law for Builds Using >60VDC
Thanks Remy!

I see your major take-away implies that an inertia switch would be the minimum requirement for eliminating high voltage outside the box in the event of a crash.

Having read partially through the law (more reading tonight), it is unclear to me how a generic wiring diagram can be criticized for not capturing all the individual characteristics of a given build that their equipment might be installed in. A simple disclaimer would rectify it, but simply calling it "generic" should do as well.

Every install is subject to the constraints of the physical attributes of the donor car. I found this out right from the get-go when trying to figure out proper distribution of the battery pack weight. No one said "oh by the way, don't forget the guidelines for Federal Law 49 CFR § 571.305 - Standard No. 305. I might have quit right then and sought out something safer like a big block Chevy in a 2200# vehicle. With the potential of matching every disastrous outcome that the referenced law is trying to prevent.

BTW - I did receive advice from various posts early on that emphasized the use of an inertia switch.
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99% of the people on here are not aware of the CFR. Now they are, and can thank you (I'm thinking they'll have a tar and feathers kind of celebration) for stirring the pot to get it posted.

Are you now gunna make me post emissions regs, where the more recent manufacture of car or engine governs levels that have to be met by your SBC (we use "LS" engines these days, old man)?
Actually, I suggested a big block, not an SBC. Yeah, LS rules these days, but not in my lifetime. I have an old Ford PU with a more modern supercharged V6 in it though. Same for my 58 MGA coupe with a 2000 era MX-5 engine in it. I figure this EV conversion is going to match those for fun and comfort.

Well, maybe not the old has all independent suspension from a T-bird and a Jaguar. It rides and handles like a sport sedan! AND includes all the inherent safety features of those vehicles! Yes, including an inertia switch.

And the MGA? To the old timers at this British car show, it might as well have been an EV! Probably the only one there with an OBDII era computer system. Safe? Uh, not really, although I did add disc brakes to counter the extra HP.

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while we were sorting out the Federal Law rant, Thundersruck Motors replied to my request, and because I had selected their newer MCU BMS, I can do this switching by programming the keyswitch (ksi) function to "on"..

TSM does not appear to have a complete generic wiring diagram that includes the newer MCU, so I am no further along in that regard.

If they had responded sooner, we all would have continued on in ignorance of the Federal blissful would that have been??

The good news is that thanks to everyone's input on many previous posts, some that encouraged use of the newer TSM MCU, I am making progress in sorting through masses of EV knowledge and applying it to my vehicle!
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I went to a safe haven and almost completed the 12V system today, upgrading the old fuse box that had broken cardboard backing falling off along with antiquated ceramic fuses.. Having put the EV controller on the old battery shelf in the firewall, I have relocated the 12V battery to the trunk (boot) and ran 6 ga cable to the front ignition switch. Total amp draw on the 12V fuse box may be 30 amps after I add a cooling fan for the controller radiator. (That's with all accessories turned on.) Should have plenty of capacity for the LV/HV circuits. The original wiring on the Volvo was in good shape, plus it was sized for 6V with 25 amp service, so it is extra heavy wire gauge for 12V at 30 amp.

Cant put off the HV wiring much longer...

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Safe haven? Nice try 😈

Where's your DC to DC going and what's the peak charge rate you're planning?
Yeah, I figured between the two of us, we could find someway to make a 12V system unsafe...or at least come up with a Fed regulation to make it totally unwieldy in the least.

Go back to post #107 for the DC-DC location. Sheesh Remy, if you can't keep up, take notes for crying out loud! :devilish:
Suddenly bogged down in a wiring maze. That and the first warm weather of spring has arrived and so my shop time takes a hit!

First of many wiring questions, I'm sure. I am attempting to map out the HV wires first and separately, before integrating 12V and lo/hv.

Is physical location of the shunt critical? As I understand it, All negative loads before going to the controller would need to be on the "upstream"side. I would prefer the shunt in the front, close to my main contactor and any metering devices.
I would like to run the (-) conductor from the rear pack to the shunt in a front HV box. But that would mean returning negative leads (al biet, smaller awg) to the rear charging system.

Is this a legitimate way to look at it?

A series high current circuit doesn't care where you put a voltage measuring resistor. The voltage-measuring circuit across that resistor cares, unless it's integrated into the shunt.
Thanks Remy! First of many questions as I map out a hopefully logical schematic that matches my car.
You're such high maintenance.

No wonder she approves of you spending all your time in the garage with THAT car.
Wrong wrong wrong! Did I mention her hobby? Dressage, including all necessary equipment...
“ That diagram is unsafe and should be revised…”
For the sake of all those who will start their dreams with this diagram.

Wish it said this when I started;
  • Battery boxes - Steel, sealed, vented to outside passenger compartment.
  • No high voltage outside battery box.
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