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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,
I've been doing reading on this forum for a while and planning/scheming/dreaming and finally found a bug here in Alaska that was not a rust bucket, and went for it. Happens to be a convertible which will be really great for about 3 months of the year...
Anyway, it looks like the thing to do is start a build thread so I don't hijack any other thread with my noob questions.
Right now I'm doing a bit of repairs typical of these 40 year old beetles such as floor pans and brakes and figuring out why certain lights don't work. Actually there are a few rust issues to address, but the frame is straight and pretty solid. Hopefully I'll have these details worked out in the next month or so, and will be ready to begin installing conversion parts.
So, the plan is to do a 144v system. I'm looking into some 160ah batteries from this thread http://www.diyelectriccar.com/forums/showthread.php/voltronix-lithium-ion-3-2v-160ah-91276.html
I'm watching for used warp9 motors, but considering other motors also, and trying to read as much as possible about controllers and chargers. I'm hoping to retain the clutch. My target is $10,000 for the conversion. I'm hoping for 60-80 mile range and decent power to go up hills as I have about 1,200 feet to climb over 4 or 5 miles on the way home. I'm thinking at least 500 amp capacity for the controller to begin with, maybe up to 1000 amps if I come across one at a good price. I wouldn't mind a bit of acceleration now and then. I might need a bit of heat in this thing as well, haven't looked into that very much yet.

SO, there it is, on the table for dissection and correction. Any help or guidance anyone can provide on any components will be highly appreciated. I have a couple sons, 8 and 10, that are excited to help, and we hope to be driving on electric power this summer.

Thanks,

Dale
 

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Hey Dale. Welcome to the site. I also did a 73 SB. I have a range of between 80-100 with 31kW traction pack when it is warm out. I bought a used ADC FB1-4001 9 inch motor for $1000 but everything else was new. From the sounds of what you are looking to do the traction pack is your biggest expense and will run between $6000-$9000.

Good luck on your build and look forward to seeing how it goes.
 

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Hi Dale
There is many beetle conversion around here and on evalbum. So, learn, take the best advice and let you inspired by the others good conversions and do your conversion nicely.

My first advice: Don't forget to add enough heater in your battery pack. It change everything on cold weather (performance, range, etc.).
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the welcome guys. Wessss, I read through your thread a couple times, thanks, a lot of good info there.

On the heater, I'm thinking of having it on a timer so that it comes on maybe 10 minutes before I leave in the morning, while plugged in, to relieve some of the heat requirement when I'm driving. Not sure if that will work out or not, but that's the tentative plan.
 

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On the heater, I'm thinking of having it on a timer so that it comes on maybe 10 minutes before I leave in the morning...
Most prismatic cells suppliers suggest to charge their cell between 0 and 45°C.
So, under 0°C you will always need to heat your cells. That will give her longer life and better performance.
In fact, from experiment, I've been incapable to charge my battery pack at -15°C without heating because the cells didn't take any current.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Most prismatic cells suppliers suggest to charge their cell between 0 and 45°C.
So, under 0°C you will always need to heat your cells. That will give her longer life and better performance.
In fact, from experiment, I've been incapable to charge my battery pack at -15°C without heating because the cells didn't take any current.
OK. I thought at first you were talking about cabin heating. Now I realize you said battery pack heating...oops.... anyway, I will keep that in mind and figure out a way to keep the batteries above freezing. My shop/garage is not heated other than a barrel stove, but generally is warmer than outside temps, but not always above freezing if it gets really cold..
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Some progress in the last couple weeks- fixed a front strut, pulled the seats and ordered some floor pans that are scheduled to arrive next week. Also have a controller, batteries, and a WarP9 on the way, probably 2 weeks out. Was working on some wiring of running lights and headlights today, and was wondering if switching to LED headlights is the best for a DIY conversion. In the summer around here they would rarely be used, but in the colder months we get a fair bit of darkness, and I'm going to be wanting every spare watt for a little cabin heat, so maybe the LEDs would be the way to go?
 

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Some progress in the last couple weeks- fixed a front strut, pulled the seats and ordered some floor pans that are scheduled to arrive next week. Also have a controller, batteries, and a WarP9 on the way, probably 2 weeks out. Was working on some wiring of running lights and headlights today, and was wondering if switching to LED headlights is the best for a DIY conversion. In the summer around here they would rarely be used, but in the colder months we get a fair bit of darkness, and I'm going to be wanting every spare watt for a little cabin heat, so maybe the LEDs would be the way to go?
Switching to LED headlights will help but it really is not significant from a range extension standpoint. In my car the running lights used as much as the headlights. Count your 1157 bulbs and those draw about an amp each when they are used as running lights. I have six of those. I also have four side markers that each draw about half an amp. And the license plate lamps draw about an amp. Dashboard lights were not easy to measure so I don't include them here. So my non headlight load was 9 amps. Low beams with the original halogens were about 8 amps. Switching to LED headlights only dropped this to about 6 amps but there is a lot more light. switching the running lights reduced the load from those from 9 amps to about 2. Saving a total of 9 amps at 12 volts is 108 watts. At 300 wh per mile that would extend my 60 mph range by 0.6%. So range extension is not a good reason to do it when it will cost around $400. The better light at night is however a good reason and the tiny range extension is a free plus. It also is a somewhat dramatic lightening of the load on your DC-DC converter.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks Doug. Those are good points about the cumulative draw of the running lights, and also about DC/DC load. I'll look into cost on all of it and go from there. I do like the idea of a brighter headlight... wouldn't want to have a meet and greet with a moose after doing so much work on this project... :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
OK, quick update:
First bits of ev parts arrived a couple days ago: Controller, display, and throttle. Got a classic netgain controller 1000 amps- bigger and heavier than I thought it would be, a nice looking piece of equipment. Pretty exciting to start getting the pieces together!
Also I have the floor pans cut out and am doing a full one on the passenger side and a 1/4 pan on the driver side. Wire brushed and put some Ospho on tonight and will primer and weld the pans in this weekend. Not doing a full resto but getting her fairly tidy.
Batteries and Warp9 coming next week. Now I need a charger and a motor adapter to finish out the major components. Been looking at Elcon chargers and also looked at NEK at electriccarpartscompany ... anyone have experience with either of these chargers or would anyone like to chime in with a recommendation? It will be 144v of 160ah LifePO4 Voltronix.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
A little more progress. As the snow gradually melts around here, we finally got the ICE OUT.


It's nice to have helpers!

I have compiled all major components except the charger and motor adapter. Floor pand have been replaced, rear brakes re-done, and some other mechanical stuff fixed. Gas tank is out as well, and after pulling it I noticed the steering shaft was shot, which explains the play in the steering, so I'm ordering up one of those also... Anyway, I'll be working on some battery boxes next as I wait for the adapter for another couple weeks.
Since I'm here in the north, I'm looking for ideas on how to insulate and heat the battery boxes. I think I'll have 3 separate boxes. One behind the back seat, one where the gas tank was, and one in the spare tire well.

So, here is where I could use some help:
I have read a little about this on some other threads, but would love to hear some feedback from any cold climate folks that have successfully kept batteries above freezing without a heated garage. What methods have you used that have worked? What should I avoid? I'm looking at heat tape, or pad heaters in the boxes, with temp sensors and thermostatic control, but the details are unclear with respect to how exactly to construct the enclosure and how to distribute heat evenly.
Thanks for any advice.
 

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Good progress!

I'm looking at heat tape, or pad heaters in the boxes, with temp sensors and thermostatic control, but the details are unclear with respect to how exactly to construct the enclosure and how to distribute heat evenly.
I've heard both methods used with no issues. I don't use active heat but I'd recommend trying to just do 2 batt boxes if you can to simplify things. it would be difficult to insulate and heat a box in the spare tire slot.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks Ziggy. I'm thinking of going with pads secured to 1/4" aluminum plate under the batteries to disperse the heat evenly, and insulate around that. Then use a PID control and thermocouple to control the heat.

On another topic, I am pondering cutting out the front bracket support for the gas tank, so that the forward battery box can be big enough to hold 25 cells. I'll have 20 cells in a box behind the seat, so then I would just need two boxes. Any buggers cut this bracket out? I don't think it's structural, but... maybe it gives some rigidity to the front? Probably I could leave about 1" of the bracket, as it would be below the batter box.
I'm not concerned about ever restoring this to a gasser again... Thoughts?


Thanks!
 

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Do you have a picture of the bracket your talking about? My 62 Bug has the steering running through part of that fuel tank hole. Bummer, cuts out lots of usable space. The SuperBeetle is laid out different than the normal Bug. I don't remember what the SuperBeetle looks like under the fuel tank area. I have 34 100ah cells where the rear seat once lived.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Here is a pic. Yes the steering axle goes through there. Actually I just removed the shaft today since the U-joints were shot... But I was thinking of making the box in sort of an L shape so, it could get to full width where the shaft goes down to the steering box.
I'm keeping the back seat but 20 cells will fit behind it. probably will make the convertible top stick up a little, but not much...
Anyway, here it is. If I cut down the bracket, I would extend the battery box maybe 6 or 8" into the area of the spare tire well. Could actually fit 30 160ah cells there and get 160 volts....
Crazy?

 

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Discussion Starter #16
Put some coil over shocks on the rear last night. Got the new steering U-joint linkage, but waiting for my son to help with that..
Still haven't cut into the gas tank support bracket to make room for a bigger battery box- any sage advice from buggers on that? :D
 

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Put some coil over shocks on the rear last night. Got the new steering U-joint linkage, but waiting for my son to help with that..
Still haven't cut into the gas tank support bracket to make room for a bigger battery box- any sage advice from buggers on that? :D
I fit an 11 kw pack (34 Calb CA100 cells) and charger all in the front of the car. I would not cut that bar if I were you, it's the necessary cross member between the McPherson struts. I put 24 calb CA100 cells in the spare tire well, no cutting. 3 against the cross strut, 4 rows of 4, then another row of 3, 2 in the very front. Second box on the right side of the car gas tank area level with 10 cells. 4 kw charger on the left side. Sorry no photos, taken apart for painting. Both boxes have pet warmer floor heaters, 1/2 plywood insulating walls and floors with 1/8" heat dispersion plate beneath the batteries. Upper right side has an outer aluminum box, main front box has just wood sidewalls with aluminum angle around perimeter bolted to tire well deck. Additional cells could go in back behind the rear seat.

If you have to remove the gas tank support you could weld or bolt in another replacement cross strut between the top of the McPherson strut towers. I would advise having it in place before cutting the other one out.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
If you have to remove the gas tank support you could weld or bolt in another replacement cross strut between the top of the McPherson strut towers. I would advise having it in place before cutting the other one out.

Thanks for that, Zak. Yes, I suppose it does have a structural value. I'll work around it. Thanks for the description of your boxes, and the pet warmer idea. I'll look into that. Are you using your own thermostat and controls for those, or just using them with the built-in temp regulation?
 

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I'm using three of these:
K&H Heated Resting Mat for Small Animals, 9 By 12 Inches about $30 @ Amazon
You can get them from a number of sources 110V ac 25 watts they have an internal thermostat. Since I'm using 3 I'll probably run them on DC and see how they do since it's close to my pack voltage. The bottom of the battery box has 1/2 plywood with a through hole and recess the pad screws to. The aluminum sub plate under the batteries rest directly on the top of the pad and the perimeter is 1/4" away from the internal sidewalls to avoid heat transfer outward. A slot has to be cut for cord clearance. I plan on spraying foam between the wood sides of the main pack and the tire well after it's in place. cover everything in carpet. The plywood components are painted with good quality oil based paint to seal them.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Battery placement

I'm debating these two scenarios, given that 20 cells will fit behind the back seat, and 16 cells will fit in the gas tank well. I'm going for 144 volts, 45 cells, so this leaves 9 cells to put somewhere. These are 160ah cells, about 3"Wx7"Lx11"H, about 12 pounds each, so we're talking about 108 pounds plus bus bars, battery box, so maybe 120 pounds or so.

A) Put the 9 cells in the spare tire well. Total 3 battery boxes. Advantages: Easy, close proximity to box in the gas tank well. Disadvantages: more weight in the front end, uses up trunk space.

B) Put the 9 cells under the back seat, 5 on passenger side, 4 on drivers side. Total 4 boxes. Advantages: Weight distribution is lower, and more weight in the rear where I have adjustment ability with the coil over shocks. Disadvantages: One extra box, would need to replace the stock back seat with a custom solution since the cells are too tall to fit under seat; more cable connections.

Any thoughts? The crux of it is really whether the bug will handle ok with 300+ pounds (25 cells) in the front...
 
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