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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,
I'm currently looking into a potential project down the road. I've always liked 1980's era Chevy 4x4 trucks and I was thinking of doing an EV conversion with one.

Your skill level with auto mechanics and fabrication
I'm quite skilled with automechanics (I can do almost everything on a truck minus the wheel alignment). I've got an oxyacetalyne welding setup and quite a bit of fabrication skills. I can do some custom work with cast aluminum as well (I've got a forge)

The range you are hoping to get (how many miles/charge)
I live in a hilly area, but I'm looking to get 70-100 miles per charge. My commute is currently 30 miles RT, but I frequently have to make further trips.

What level of performance you are hoping to get
The highway speed in the area is 70mph but I'd like to be able to get to 85mph. I may put a plow on it for taking care of my driveway, but I wouldn't drive it long distances with it on.

How much money you are willing to put into your project
I'm not sure how much it will take. I know that the starter truck will be about $2k to start.

What parts you've already considered, if any.
I haven't considered any parts yet

This was the truck I was looking at - https://nh.craigslist.org/cto/d/1985-chevy-silverado/6421056919.html

I'd appreciate any advice anyone would have. If the advice is "Don't do it, you're stupid" just let me know why.

Jay
 

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welcome and hope you are having a great holiday.

Quite a few people ask about converting full size pickups and 4x4's to EV. As with any vehicle, conversion is possible, but weight and efficiency of the chassis is going to be a major factor in the cost and performance (especially range) of the end result.

A fairly easy back-of-envelope / rule of thumb for range is to look at the original gas mileage of the vehicle - for that truck 12-14mpg is probably the best that could be expected (I had a 77 ramcharger, similar sort of thing, it got 11mpg with an automatic and 14mpg when I converted it to a manual)

With a lithium battery pack, you can figure for every 5% of the overall weight of the vehicle as batteries, you will get about the equivalent range to what it would have gotten on 1 gallon of gas. There will be some variation from the type of lithium you use (telsa, leaf, volt, LiFePO4, etc)

So for example if the truck weighs 5000lbs as it sits, and after conversion you have a 1100lbs battery in a 5500lbs vehicle (20% ratio), you can probably expect about the equivalent of 4 gallons ICE range or maybe up to 60 miles.

Applying that calculation to my scion xB (600lbs lithium in 3000lbs vehicle) The original ICE EPA mileage was 30, in which case I would see 120 mile range as an EV. Actual driving mileage was probably more like 25mpg overall, and the car has about a 100 mile driving range under good conditions.

Here's the best comparable pickup example, built by an EV club member in seattle:

http://www.evalbum.com/2898

good luck
 

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Hey Jay

Sounds like a neat project, The bigger they are the more expensive to convert, esp in terms of motor & batteries cost, even using salvage parts.

I'm currently converting a SWB 1450kg LandRover 3200lbs and don't think I'll even go close the the performance figures you are hoping for , over $15,000 spent so far .

To complete the list of things you can DIY , Wheel Alignments are quite easy to do at home , especially on 4x4 . google "String wheel Alignment "
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you both for the valuable feedback.
That F250 is actually quite encouraging. Given that that truck is a heavier curb weight than what I'm looking at (The 1/2 Chevys, even the long bed, were just shy of 4500lbs) and he went so far as to add a bed lift and other weight adding components, but he still got respectable mileage and power out of his conversion. I find it encouraging.

Do you think I would be better off starting with something smaller like a motorcycle? Sometimes I get a bit ahead of myself and go for the big fish even though I don't know how to fish just yet. It seems like this community is quite friendly, so couple that with what research I can do, I think I would be pretty successful. I figure my budget will be sky high to do what I'm looking for, but I'm not planning on banging this out in a month. It'll be a long running project. First to get the vehicle ready for the conversion (body/frame work) then moving onto the actual restoration. I'm fond of the older trucks because I plan on ripping out a lot of the electronics and building my own (I recently did that with my motorcycle, replaced the directional/brake/headlights with an arduino setup with fail safes). I enjoy having that flexibility that the newer vehicles just don't give you.

Thank you both for your responses. I've really got to sit down and think about how much I want to spend on this project. I really want a daily driver out of it, but I'm not sure how long this type of conversion would last with that much use. Any ideas?
Jay
 

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A motorcycle is a great smaller scale way to start with an EV build, and with the right chassis and a big enough battery you can get range up to around 100 miles. If you aren't sure you want to dump all the money into building a full sized 4x4 I'd encourage building the bike first. I don't pay as close attention to the motor options at that scale but on the DC brushed side of things one option is a Perm 132 motor combined with a 72v, 100ah (24 lifepo4 cells) or 72v, 130ah (20 leaf modules) battery and alltrax controller is a fairly 'classic' setup. If the bike was faired fairly well you'd see range probably around 60-90 miles at 60mph. You might also be able to salvage the components from a wrecked electric motorcycle (zero, brammo, etc) (or just rebuilt the bike), if you can find one around.

Even smaller scale would be to build an E-Bicycle. Noting that some of these "bicycles" can have performance closer to the motorcycle envelope than the traditional bicycle. In this case the conversion is a matter of replacing the wheel with one that has a hub motor, and building or buying the battery, often from RC car/plane lithium polymer batteries. A conversion at that scale could be done in hours to days depending on what you are trying to build.

good luck.
 
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