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1967 Econoline van with Nissan Leaf system

14028 Views 58 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  stable
Hello all!

I am just about to install my leaf motor in my van.

I have a few 1967 Ford Econoline HD vans to work with. and almost 2 complete Leaf systems.

Leaf parts:

2014 motor
2014 VFDrive
2014 6.6kw charger
2014 24kw battery (66,000km)

The charger, drive, and battery all match and were salvaged from a single car.

I also have a second motor, inverter, transaxle, driveshafts etc just in case.... (2016 model)

I have a fiat 20spline clutch fitted onto the motor shaft

I am purchasing 7.4 - 1 ratio gear set for the Ford 9" differential.

I will run the motor directly to the driveshaft

I would prefer to use the Leaf pack as a whole unit still in original case. It fits on my van floor easy for now.

I have the Thunderstruck VCU kit with pedal and contactors.

I have MOST of the Leaf wiring harness that will be needed.

And now my big question::::::::::::::::::

I hope to use the battery as it is. I see it has all the bms, contactors, heaters etc in it... Is it possible to use this battery in its stock form with the Thunderstruck system? I mean use the Leaf battery, Leaf contactors and Leaf charger all in its orriginal metal shell with the Thunderstrukc VCD?

Although I have read a TON of stuff over the last decade and built a dozen or so RC ebikes etc,,,, I am a newbie to the Leaf stuff. But very eager to learn!

Looking forward to working with you guys through my project. As soon as i figure out these last wiring bits ill be rollin!!!!!!

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The Heavy Duty means 3/4 ton suspension, 9" rear end and the 240 motor... i think...

for getting started i am just bolting the battery on top of the floor in the van. not permanantly, just to get touring and gaining some experience. i will fully do the van another day. i have already removed the doghouse. my leaf battery will sit where it was and under the seats.

so battery up in the van on the floor. motor under the van connected to driveshaft. no interference.

that being said, do you think i can use the leaf battery unopened? with the leaf contactors and bms? or do i need to open the pack and rewire everything?

I am very ignorant so far with all the "Canbus" stuff. but im learning fast!

im wondering if when the Thunderstruck VCD, the Leaf inverter, and the battery BMS all have their "Canbus" wired together;; if this makes the leaf battery happy.?

it seems the Leaf battery has a computer inside it, and all this runs the internal contactors. so i need to learn to operate the internal contactor relays with the Thunderstruck VCD..???

once again, sorry for my ignorance. i generally dont like asking questions on the net as the info is generally all readily available. however, here i am ;) and VERY MUCH appreciate your help!

Ill take some pictures soon to keep your interest ;)

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update and questions...:

i got the old van motor and tranny pulled out of it last night. drug it out from under with my honda and onto the driveway!

i wired up all the leaf components to the Thunderstruck VCM.

i got the Leaf pack internal relays working to precharge the main leads.

and i got the Thunderstruck VCM talking with putty.

when i turn on my ignition switch i hear the precharge and main negative relay click inside the pack. then i check the voltage entering the traction inverter and i see 384V there.

HOWEVER, Putty keeps repeating the line "inverter voltage too low 0v".

i do have the green and blue canbus wires directly from the VCM to the nissan inverter. maybe im missing a terminal resistor or something?

i also have keyed power and ground going to the inverter.

im missing something still.......... ill just keep googling and reading!!!! ;)

sooooo close to a running bench test.........

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ha ha ha, ok... watching the "how to videos" they expressed how the colors of the canbus wires lined up. ha ha..

ill switchem tonight and see if thats my problem.

i couldnt wait till after work... i just slipped out and switched the can bus wires... victory!!!!!!!!! green to blue, blue to green. i have a running bench test!

i set the throttle so it has a dead spot at the beginning. and i set the torque down to 300nm.

pushed the throttle and it spun up! and then it kicked out.... im going to sort out my wires more when i get home and make sure im not getting feedback because of proximity.

thanx for your help!!!!!! im making progress!

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thank you for your compliment! 9 days of progress and then 3 days stumped... ha ha ha...

i cant get the motor to run consistently. i have de-tuned all the settings. i have put 2 x 120ohm resistors on each end of the canbus. i have disabled canterm in the vcu. i have relocated all throttle and canbus wires away from any other wires.. all grounds are seperate and tied to the same bolt on the inverter casing. i have wrapped the canbus + throttle wires in tinfoil and grounded that to the motor... still same...

if i VERY gently press the pedal i can get the motor to move forwards. and i can make it move backwards. sometimes several times in a row. but always by the 2nd or 3rd throttle blip it faults and the green light flashes.

if i quickly press the pedal it revs up, jolts a bit and faults.

so im kinda winning... but confused. thats enough for tonight. supper time and cartoons next!

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I have emailed Thunderstruck about the issue. Sent them a picture of the config file and my set up.

As i took some pictures for them, i thought i would share them with you! Sorry they are from a gopro, all i had to take pictures with.

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thanx Jeff! ive watched all your videos.... ;) i do have my throttle grounded to the same point as the VCU. both grounded to the aluminum case of the inverter. the battery is also grounded there. and the throttle wires are routed far from any other cables.

John at Thunderstruck has lead me to a relay issue.

when i turn on my ignition toggle it sends 12v to the precharge relay and the main (-) relay in the pack. then when it senses voltage it turns on the main (+) relay.

i havnt opened up the leaf pack. so far i have just tapped into the 3 relays inside. i am assuming the bms will still keep the pack balanced without the whole car attached??? i am assuming......

i checked for running voltage after VCU startup... i clipped my voltmeter to the high V terminals on the inverter and it reads 383v at precharge, then the VCM clicks the high V contactor and turns solid green on the light. and then the voltage starts to drop off slowly while the green light is still lit. then when i reset the 12v toggle it starts over....

so i have to learn more about how to make this pack work. i dont want to open it up if i can help it. but am willing to do whatever it takes!

so, volts dropping after the main contactor "sounds like it closes".. this is definitely my problem.

Jody Willcock
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does the precharge relay stay closed during running???? i have my main(-) contactor wired to the precharge relay circuit. so maybe after the VCU sees everything is good it drops the precharge relay? if so this would also drop my main(-) relay and i would not have a circuit anymore.....

or does the precharge relay stay closed during running?

awesome, ill change that tonight and report how it goes.

winner winner, now i will have some chicken dinner! wired the main(-) relay to the ignition toggle and it retains voltage after precharge. runs smooth!

it will rev up in forward and slow down when i release the pedal. the brake switch works and stops the motor when in forward.

however, when in reverse i release the pedal and the motor keeps spinning at constant speed. even if i press the brake switch.. it keeps spinning at a constant speed like cruize control. only way to stop it is to switch it off.

it works as you would predict in forward gear. but reverse wont stop.

so i will research that now and the Leaf BMS. while i rig this motor into place!!!

thanx for your help, i now have a running bench test!

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Thunderstruck tells me:

"Reverse has no regen. When the motor is in reverse idle or neutral it does some interesting coasting action without any regen. In the vehicle you will have enough parasitic drag to slow it down."

so then its time to figure the driveshaft out and the battery bms.


im about to start the next stage of my project. had to "put out some fires" at work for a bit. now im back to my stuff!

i want to mount the leaf motor and inverter on its side. with the cooling lines all facing up. i dont see any reason why not. anyone see why not???

i have my coupler to mount the driveshaft directly to the motor almost done. if this all works out on the first little test drive i'll invest in the lower 7.4 : 1 gears that are available for the 9" ford differential.

i have enough battery charge to get around the town a few times no problem. so ill get a few test runs up and down the block done with the charge i have (about 90% im guessing)

i still dont have a working charger. i will figure that out last after i get it rolling on its own.

so my last question is about the BMS again.... does the bms not balance the cells when the battery is not connected to the car? what functions if any does the bms do when not connected to the canbus? would it balance during charging? when sitting in storage? or not at all?

thats my progress and questions for today.

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7.4 : 1 ring and pinion:

im just "slightly" concerned about driveshaft rpm.... well play that by ear. maybe literally. ha ha ha.

i did check the voltage on the system after shutdown and it quickly drains back to 0v. i also have high voltage gloves for reassurance. keeping as safe as i can! thank you for the pointers.

im hoping that the nissan leaf stock bms will do something for me. even if it only balances when charging. or at all. from what i read people are hacking into the batterys through the canbus and checking individual cell volts. if this is possible then i can at least check my individual cell voltages and keep an eye on them. i best do this before i do any miles with it.

anyone think im silly to mount this motor sideways?

exactly brian. i see no reason why not mount on its side. thats the plan then!

i got the driveshaft coupler almost finished. local machinist charged me $20 to make the fiat clutch center fit into my driveshaft end. that may be the only real custom part i need to build!!!!! im loving how easy these electric conversions are.. i may NEVER build another gas car..... ive done lots of turbo cars... sooooooo much work....

i havent done anything really photo worthy since the last photos. when i get the motor mounted ill do more photos. i dont use / own cameras or phones, so its a special day when i use a camera! ha ha ha.

so my last real unknown is the leaf bms. as youve told me i probably wont make it useful... but im having a hard time understanding that its not functioning anyhow...

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good to know that the bms is possible. i have glanced at openinverter but havnt signed up yet. i also see uksouthwestev has the leaf dc-dc converter and charger running now. so im hoping to follow his lead!

for progress:::

all the stock stuff is out. even the 165lb cast steel weight hiding over the gas tank. thats more than the motor and inverter right there! ha ha ha

i have pulled the battery up into place between the front wheel wells. its a little high but i plan to take my 3/4" plywood shim out. then hopefully the seats sit well enough over the battery with room for me under the steering wheel.

the motor / inverter stack doesnt fit nice so im just mounting the motor seperately from the inverter. i bandsawed the extra aluminum off the motor giving me access to a flush front mounting surface. i am going to trim the tranny crossmember some to fit the motor right where it needs to be. i dont want to modify the driveshaft. im just running it stock which is very short. this hopefully will help me through the high rpm wiggles ;)

i pressed in new heavy duty u-joints into the driveshaft. its all greased and ready.

the fiat clutch center has been machined to press fit inside the ford driveshaft splines. i still have to drill and tap the motor shaft for a big bolt. i hope the steel is manageable. if it survives a few trips up and down the block i will locktight the hell out of it splines and all and hope it stay in place.

getting the motor mounted in place with the driveshaft installed should be easy from here.

so here are my new questions / concerns. i have separated my motor from controller now. am i best to source a 2010-2012 motor wire harness for it? would the 2010 3-phase wiring seal to the 2013 motor? or should i just build some short copper busbars to stick into the motor and connect the 3-phase wiring to?

i also need another round connector for the 2016 battery. i need to source one of those to permanently wire this thing. any idea what its called or where to find it? its the one where i tap into the precharge and relay circuits on the traction battery.

if i can get the motor wired to the inverter and the circular battery plug ill be rotating tires soon!

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I made a couple little videos to catch you guys up. the first is a basic overview. and then i linked a "channel" where i will keep posting as i progress.

to date everything is in position and the motor is mounted in place. still some bracketry to build before a test drive. but im progressing!

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="
" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

hope you enjoy!

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its been a while... but i made some progress!

van runs. im running it through my second vfd so i know i have 2 working units now.

looots still to do but here is a little video to catch you up so far.

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