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1987 Honda Accord hatchback?

5562 Views 10 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  dtbaker
I have a beloved 87 Accord that has given me over a quarter million miles, and I'm considering it as a donor for an EV conversion. I'm looking for it to become a simple commuter car, ~40 mile range @ 40 MPH.

First (and probably most important) question: Is this a suitable vehicle?

For background, I've done some basic auto repair activities, but I am bolstered by a group of friends with access to equipment and a greater skill set than mine. They've promised to help, between bouts of laughter at my hijinx.

I've browsed through much of the NuWiki front page links, and while it's overwhelming in toto, I believe I'm seeking the simplest approach: DC, lead-acid batteries, maintaining the clutch. According to web research, my Accord has a curb weight of ~2600 lbs and a CdA of 7 ft^2; can't seem to find anything about the GVWR.
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An 87 accord is certainly a workable car. GVW should be labeled on the car itself someplace, like a plate on the drivers' door. Hondas have counter-rotating engines to most other cars but that isn't much of an issue, just be sure to adjust brush timing if you go with a DC motor.

40 miles at 40mph is doable with lead acid but these days, you are probably much better off going with lithium. 100AH at 120 or 144 volts will only cost a couple thou more than lead will but will give a much lighter, better performing car with better range.

If you want to go with DC, an 8" motor will be fine as will a 9". If you want AC, there are "low voltage" systems (96V I think) that are reasonably priced and will give enough performance. With the lower voltage, you might go to 120AH or 160AH cells though.

One note on the honda, unless the chassis is in really good shape, it might be worthwhile to look for a better donor vehicle. Sounds like yours is likely to be pretty well worn out. I spent only $400 on my MR2 donor with 188K on it, but I ended up spending about $2500 on the chassis just getting it up to my standards. I would have been better off finding a better donor. Live and learn.

Good luck.
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if you want to keep it for another quater million miles then it will prob need alot of work done to it. Of course if you love it then this could work to your favour also, whilst tidying a few things you could find uprated springs etc to handle the extra weight and if its not too rusty then rust proof the battery area and a new lick of paint may make it look great once more.

Anyways techy time now. A used forklift motor would pull such a car along happily I would imagine, depends on your budget. a smaller 72 or 96v system should be fine, and if you can keep it cool then a 6.7" motor would prob handle the job also, however a 8 or 9 is probably playing it alot safer.

Lead acid? Maybe not so great in a hatchback as there are alot of gases that pour out when in use/charging/warm. If you can get sealed then thats a huge improvment but at 72v your only needing 24 lithium cells and you could get away with 60 or 80 ah for the range you are wanting so may not hurt the wallet/marrige as much as first thought.

Good luck with the conversion!
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Thanks for all the feedback -- I think. You've re-opened all the option questions, so I'm back to re-considering everything. :confused:

I'm going to try the approach of scanning and monitoring the surplus shops in the area to see what appropriate motors might show up there. Are there good rules of thumb for appropriate parameters to seek on the motor plates, e.g.:
* Voltage
* Amperage
* Torque
* HP
* ???

i converted a 99 hyundai accent hatchback gsi, and i can tell you you probobly wont be happy with 72v, my top speed at 72v is only around 75km/h

i would go with

a "paul and sabrina" DIY controller- 600$ ( 144v)
if your on a cheap budget try and find used golfcart, or new. i have marine batteries that were very cheap and seem to work well ( i bought a 144v, 115ah marine pack for 996$ after tax. then you can later upgrade the size of your pack, or go lithium once the lead batteries die.
for a charger i would shop around on ev websites, i found a 144v 10a smart charger for 650$
and i would definately go with a forklift motor if i were you. read the thread "choosing the right forklift motor" or something like that. i got my motor for 50$

just my 2cents
Hey Zig,

I cant email you back as your account dosent have email receiving enabled. I got my batteries from a company that removes UPS/Telcom batteries from call centres. When the betteries are reduced to 90% productivity the call centres bring in a battery company to replace them with new ones. I purchased the old ones from this company. I supose id I didnt buy them they could sell them as scrap. There are also of call centres where I live in New Brunswick, Canada. I would suggest trying to find a company like that in your area, where do you live?
HC -

Some computer geek I am, eh? I'll see about fixing that setting. Good on you for tracking my thread down!

As long as we're here.... I'm in Albuquerque, NM, US. I'm most interested in the low-cost DIY-ish approach to this project, and your thread is inspirational along that front. After reading it, I did stumble on a discussion about the use of used UPS batteries, which seems to be largely opposed to the notion. One aspect of the discussion that could impact me is the 95+F ambient temperature issue. While we don't have regular 100+F summer weeks like Phoenix, AZ, 95F in the shade isn't uncommon here.

What are some other options for cheap --ahem, affordable battery sources?

Hey Zig,

If your trying to operate on the same budget as I am theres not alot of options. Ive heard people have had luck with used golf cart batteries. You could approach cart shops or golf courses. I basically found my batteries by asking everyone localy, and everyone I asked was so interested in what I was doing they put effort into helping me find something. It also helps that I'm an IT technician and I knew a few ppl to point me in the right direction.

I see from your previous post that your now rethinking everything, I decided I'm just going to go for it with out worrying about that stuff. I know when Im done the car probably wont be that usable, ha ha, but I will have learned alot and spent next to no money. I expect that I will be doing numerous upgrades as time goes on. Thats part of the learning process. Did you decide on a budget? I think that will really dictate what you should be looking for.
Man I should've done that with my '89 Accord LX-i. The head gasket blew, it had close to 145,000 miles on it - which for a Honda isn't much - and I was already sold on getting my 08 Camry. I donated it to a non-profit organization that used the $ from auctioned-off parts to go to charity. The outcome of it going to charity was great in and of itself, but now that I look back on it, had I started tinkering with it for a bit and learned the EV specs, it might have raised a bit more $ for the charity.

Not that I want my hybrid Camry to die on me, my next project will be to study and mess around with the electric specs until I've maximized the mpgs to an even greater level than it's at right now.
TPalco -

This is proving to be challenging due to my low level of experience. With the help (and humor) of a few neighbors, we finally got the engine block/ transmission out -- two days before Halloween, allowing me to distribute candy from the empty engine compartment.

I am motivated to keep the clutch in the system as a reflexive quick-disconnect, but that seems to involve taking the flywheel off the engine, and two of those bolts refuse to budge, even under impact wrench attention. Maybe it'll be a clutchless system after all.

Another frustrating finding: the mounting mechanism for the transmission involves one mount that is attached to the tranny, and others attached to the (now AWOL) engine. Haven't figured out how I'm going to get that all to line up precisely, which I presume will be a fairly critical aspect.

Plugging along....

I'm in Albuquerque, NM, US. I'm most interested in the low-cost DIY-ish approach to this project, and your thread is inspirational along that front. After reading it, I did stumble on a discussion about the use of used UPS batteries,

you may save cash up front, but have endless headaches and short life span as well as ongong range anxiety dealing with use UPS or old golf cart batteries from the golf course or salvage yard..... save up and go with LiFePO4; something like CALBs.

Dan - in santa fe
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