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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there!

First post and I hope this will be a long and detailed thread before this is all over. I've been searching for weeks for a good donar vehicle. I found it today and brought it home. Found a road-worthy 1991 Geo Tracker 2WD. Looked at an 89 4WD an hour before we went to see the one I bought. Paid only $525 for it and was able to drive it 90 miles home. The older 4WD owner was asking $1800 and wasn't taking anything less... I've noticed lately that smaller 4WD Trackers, Sidekicks, Samauri or anything like it don't last more than a few hours on Craigslist, here in Northern Idaho and they get close to $2000 if they are in good shape. The 4WD we looked at was beat and someone had painted it with a rattle can of white paint... it looked really bad and showed evidence of being beat by a previous ownter.

I was glad to get a 2WD due to the lower weight and like the idea of a little greater clearance for moving thru snow. Not planning any off-roading nor trying to plow through a few feet of new snow, so 2WD will work great.

Now, it is time to figure out which motor to use and all the other details. I'd like to design for a 60 mile range, with a max speed of 60 when necessary but for the planned use of this vehicle, I can get by with a top speed of 45 for normal driving. Only want 60+ MPH for short periods of time if needed.

While I'd like to do this with an AC system but the expense is too great for my first conversion. I'll probably go with a DC motor but I don't know how much of a motor I'll need.

I'd like to start with lithium batteries because this vehicle needs to be usable year-around and given the impact of lower temperatures on flooded lead-acid batteries, I can't see them as practical for my needs. I know that will add a lot of cost up front, but I expect it to pay off in the long term.

I'd also like to retain the existing clutch so that other drivers (the Mrs.) don't have to re-learn how to operate the manual transmission.

So I'm looking for suggestions on:

1. Appropriate DC motor
2. Size and type of lithium battery pack
3. appropriate motor controller.
4. Battery Management System
5. on-board charger

and anything else that an experienced person would know about.

My intent is to do as much of this conversion myself as practical. I'm expecting that by using off-the-shelf components, this should be possible. I have a good in-door location for working on this conversion and most of the tools I think I'll need.

So, if you have any suggestions, please let me know and I'll do my best to document this project here so that anyone else wishing to do the same, or similar, might benefit.

Thanks,
Pete
Sandpoint, Idaho
 

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So I'm looking for suggestions on:

1. Appropriate DC motor - Warp9 would be great for your needs

2. Size and type of lithium battery pack - I would suggest 144v (45 cells) at 130ah cells to get an easy 60 mile range with heater and lights running in winter, OR 120v (38 cells) at 180ah. Higher voltage is usually better as you draw lower amps for same performance. CALB cells are emerging as having good quality control AND good availability.


3. appropriate motor controller. - Curtis 1231 might be good for economiical mid-performance build, or Soliton Jr if you want to pay a little more for modern guts, built-in contactor and heat sink, and higher performance.

4. Battery Management System - debatable religious issue whether you actually need one or not. I place my trust in top-balance and letting the charger do its job. So far (2000 miles) my cells have remained 'balanced'.

5. on-board charger - depends what trades you want to make regarding flexibility with expense. Zivan or Elcon are good on the lower end, and something like Manzinta or others are user-variable outputs for possible configuration changes but cost a lot more.

...keep reading!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the input Dan... and the link to the EnviroKarma.org web site. I'll study up on your suggestions and that site and get close to spending some cash soon as I expect there to be a fair delay between ordering and seeing the items show up on my doorstep. :)

Thanks,
Pete
 

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Hey Pete,

I'm currently 80% complete on a similiar vintage Geo Tracker conversion. I think that these vehicles are excellent candidates for EV conversions; I'm not sure why we don't see more of them on the road.

DTbaker's recommendations above sounds pretty solid to me.

I went with 160 V (50 batteries) 100 ah battery pack, warp 9 motor and a Soliton Jr. I'm not on the road yet but I think this configuration will work well for me. I'm currently just waiting for my batteries to arrive to complete my conversions.

I lookforward to reading about your progress. I found this forum to be an excellent resource and I'm sure you will too.

Good Luck!
Shane
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hi Shane,

Do you have a thread going on this forum? Was wondering if you had any pictures posted. I will post some 'starting' pics as soon as I can wrap up a few other projects around here. Wifie says I have to finish up a few before starting another. :) The good news is that I think I've found a dead 92 Sidekick a few miles away that I can get for cheap... need it for a lot of missing parts from this 91 Tracker. Both are in rough shape but combined, I think I'll have a nearly complete vehicle.

How much of a lead time is there for Lithium batteries?

Thanks,
Pete
 

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How much of a lead time is there for Lithium batteries?
I would suggest buying only from batteries that are in-stock in the US.... NOT a slow-boat 6 week wait from china; too much can go wrong in deals like that as we have all learned from some vendors like EVComponents(J.Mori$$on) in the past...

Keegan at Calibpower.com generally has CALB in stock and ships within a couple days of payment clearing. Some other Vendors may have stockpile of older Thundersky or Winston on the shelf.... call and make sure they have stock sitting ready to ship!

It is best to order a couple weeks before you plan to install to allow time for balancing, and construction of battery boxes build around actual dimensions. It really helps to have the batteries on hand when figuring out cable routing and terminal/terminal connections when you are working with odd-size or multiple batery box locations., etc.
 

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Hi Shane,

Do you have a thread going on this forum? Was wondering if you had any pictures posted. I will post some 'starting' pics as soon as I can wrap up a few other projects around here. Wifie says I have to finish up a few before starting another. :) The good news is that I think I've found a dead 92 Sidekick a few miles away that I can get for cheap... need it for a lot of missing parts from this 91 Tracker. Both are in rough shape but combined, I think I'll have a nearly complete vehicle.

How much of a lead time is there for Lithium batteries?

Thanks,
Pete
I haven't started a build thread yet but I really should. I've taken tonnes of pictures. If I get a bit of time this weekend maybe I'll get one going and post some of my pictures. Or atleast post my build in the Garage section of the site.

My battery supplier (CanEV) tells me that once they place the order they often get batteries from China within 3-4 weeks but I think it depends on a lot of variables. If you're in the USA there are a few companies that are starting to warehouse a good supply of batteries locally which would make the lead time very short. Alot of the folks on this forum are ordering CALB batteries from CalibPower for this (and other) reason(s). Depending on who you talk to there doesn't seem to be much savings in ordering direct from China.

For us folks in Canada it seems just as easy (and possible a bit cheaper) to order direct then to import from the USA.

Just one of the many choices you'll have to make:)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hi Shane,

Is your donar car a 2WD or 4WD? I'm looking around for an adapter plate and haven't found one yet... so wondering what you found?

Also, are you using an onboard charger or only charging at your home base? I'd like to do both but the costs of chargers is a real 'eye-opener'!

Thanks,
Pete
 

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Hi Shane,

Is your donar car a 2WD or 4WD? I'm looking around for an adapter plate and haven't found one yet... so wondering what you found?

Also, are you using an onboard charger or only charging at your home base? I'd like to do both but the costs of chargers is a real 'eye-opener'!

Thanks,
Pete
My Tracker was a 4wd but I took out all the front drive components to save weight and turned it into a 2wd (your approach is much easier).

I believe that Dan is correct and that the adapter plate should be the same as the swift but definately do some checking before ordering. What I did was I made a template of the bell housing and had a custom adapter plate and coupler made for me by Charlie at EVcoupler (http://www.evcouplerconnection.com/).

Charlie was a great guy to work with and bent over backwards to make sure that the setup worked for me. Plus his prices are really reasonable.

I'm currently planning to just charge using an onboard charger for now but may upgrade to a larger home based charger in the future. There seems to be a real range of charger prices. I would recommend taking a look at the Elcon chargers. You can get an Elcon 2000+ for around $600 that will very likely be large enough to allow overnight charging from a 110V outlet. If you have a smaller battery pack you might even get away with the Elcon 1500. It seems to be becoming one of the more commonly used chargers for EV conversions.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
How does the clutch work in an EV?

I've discussed going without a clutch but decided I want to retain it. But now that brings up a question of exactly how that is going to work. Normally, the pressure plate and the flywheel sandwich the clutch disk. The flywheel is mounted to the ICE crankshaft.

So, with an EV motor, is there still some sort of flywheel attached to the motor for the clutch and pressure plate to mount to?

I'm sure there is... I've just not seen a good diagram to illustrate this. Does anyone know where I might find a good visual description of the motor-flywheel-clutch-pressureplate arrangement for an EV setup?

Thanks,
Pete
 

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How does the clutch work in an EV?
I've just not seen a good diagram to illustrate this. Does anyone know where I might find a good visual description of the motor-flywheel-clutch-pressureplate arrangement for an EV setup?
'clutched' adaptors typically keep the clutch/flywheel from the ICE motor. The hub on the electric motor shaft and appropriate design of the adaptor plate/spacer positions the clutch face and throwout in its original position.

I have some pictures of the parts and assembly in my photo gallery starting right around here
http://www.envirokarma.org/ev/gallery/080619_07.motor.w.clutch.htm
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks Dan, that is exactly what I was looking for!

Next question: What is the best method or material for strapping the batteries to prevent swelling? I've seen plywood used in several examples. Wondering if 1/8th inch aluminum plate might work and save a bit of space due to the reduced thickness. I just don't know how much force a battery that wants to swell will exert.

Also wondering why the batteries want to swell in the first place... voltage too low, two high, discharge rates too high? The idea that they might swell on their own while awaing installation is a bit alarming... I'd hate to spend almost $6000 on a set of batteries only to find out a bunch have swelled up on their own.

Thanks,
Pete
 

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Thanks Dan, that is exactly what I was looking for!

Next question: What is the best method or material for strapping the batteries to prevent swelling? I've seen plywood used in several examples. Wondering if 1/8th inch aluminum plate might work and save a bit of space due to the reduced thickness. I just don't know how much force a battery that wants to swell will exert.

Also wondering why the batteries want to swell in the first place... voltage too low, two high, discharge rates too high? The idea that they might swell on their own while awaing installation is a bit alarming... I'd hate to spend almost $6000 on a set of batteries only to find out a bunch have swelled up on their own.

Thanks,
Pete
I honestly believe it to be the heat that warps the plates when the cells are charged. I have had fast chargers and slow trickle chargers and both of them warped the battery plates. I did not have problems with receiving batteries that were bulging.
 

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Next question: What is the best method or material for strapping the batteries to prevent swelling?
....well I think it is debatable whether or not compression strapping is needed or beneficial. I doubt that the plastic deforms unless it is hot from overchange or extended high-C discharge, in which case the batteries are suffering anyway. I am thinking that the tighter constraint would just make it more likely to vent out the top. I'd almost rather have it bulge a little if it got to that.

That being said, I just made my battery boxes a tight fit. I do NOT have foam insulation on the sides because we have mild winters and car is in the garage at night. My boxes are 1/4" polypro plastic sheeting, which is fairly stiff, but does have some give.

1/2" plywood would be stiffer probably.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Finally got another project to the point where I can put it away for the winter and get focused on my EV project. Here are a couple of 'starter' pics.



The interior is a little rough but for the price, I can clean it up nicely.



Why is it that every potiential donor car has a broken windshield?? :) This one does also... so that will be something to fix before it goes on the road again. Headed to the local EV group meeting tomorrow night where I hope to discuss some of the finer details of my design before I start ordering parts.

More to come...
Pete
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Started de-ICEing the donor today. The motor is still in place because I'm trying to sell it and having it run should mean a better price. This is what things looked like Sunday morning...



This is what things looked like Sunday evening:






Hoping to find more time tonight to work on this.

Also considering ordering a Kostov 10" DC motor for this project. Apparently, it is a slightly lighter, shorter and more powerful motor. Anyone have any experience with that motor selection they care to comment on?

Thanks,
Pete
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Charger Selection?

Hi there,

Still working on the donor vehicle while I lay plans...

Considering a 120 or 144 volt battery pack consisting of 100 Ah lithium batteries. At 100 Ah, the recommended charge rate is .3 C or in this case, 30 amps.

I'd like this charger to live on board so I can take advantage of opportunity charging. My questions, got any recommendations on which charger to use?

I will of course include a BMS so the I'll need a charger that can be shut off by the BMS when peak pack voltage is reached...

Thanks,
Pete
 

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Discussion Starter #19
De-ICE'd

This is the required photograph, right??



Took me most of Saturday to pull the motor... had a few distractions. Pulled the transmission from the motor Sunday and powerwashed the Tracker. Ordered the Soliton Jr. last week. It should be here Friday.

My motor supplier is at that big EV Conversion conference in Missouri so I'll order the motor soon as he gets back.

Ready to work on mounting the motor and trans in the donor now.



Lots of clean up to do before I can really install anything. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Progress to report. My Kostov 10 inch motor just arrived and I just ordered the adapter from CanEV. Hope to see the adapter by next Monday. Meanwhile, I've got to find some documentation on the motor because the crate didn't include any.

Ordered a bunch of parts for the roller, new clutch kit, new brake parts, etc. Should be a busy weekend.

Also heard that it is recommended to burn in the brushes by running it for a few days on 12 VDC. Anyone have any thoughts on that? I'll post a question about that in another forum and see what happens.

Pete
 
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