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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I'm working on a compact tractor EV conversion and would like to share the build with you all. We've decided to call it 'Bleuie'.

I've been researching and collecting components for this project for about a year and a half now, and am finally ready to start stripping out the ICE and re-building the E-tractor.

Donor tractor:

Here are some details on the donor tractor I'm using.



It's an Iseki TU 318F 4WD compact tractor. It has a front, mid-mount belly (which is currently capped) as well as rear PTO shaft and 3-point linkage.

The original engine is a 3 cylinder diesel (E3100 - RPM and torque curves attached). There's a slight problem with it at the moment that will prevent a rebuild (I got it in this condition with the express intent of converting it). You can see the problem here:



Here's a side view from the left of the engine compartment. I like how the steering shaft gets offset to the side to facilitate the other engine components:




And a top-down view from the left:



And a view of the stock dash board:



Rear end showing PTO and 3-point linkage:



And a view from underneath in the right, looking back and left. I took this photo to see where potential mount points are for a front end loader (which is another aspect of this project, more on that further down the line...) Notice the capped belly PTO shaft:



And similarly, here's a view looking forward of the front axle, with mount points for a loader:




And a view from the front of the front axle and steering mechanism. I noticed there's a bit of oil seeping from the front left joint (I'm guessing it must have hit a post or stump or something solid while moving forward and turning, as one of the steering lock pin and plate seems to be a bit bent):




EV Components:

I've decided to go for the following:


  • LiFePo4 batteries (16 Sinopoly 200ah cells), 48v nominal. I've chosen a controller that'll allow me to expand this to 72v if needed...
  • ME1003 8" motor (double brushed, rated at 200a continuous and 400a burst for 1 min).
  • Alltrax SPM-72400 controller. This can go up to 72v input and matches the amp rating of the motor.
  • Various other bits and pieces (Curtis PB-6 0-5K Ohm Throttle, pre-charge resistor, emergency disconnect, fuses, 95mm2 cable and connectors, etc.)
I've got the motor now and am just awaiting for the final bits to clear arrive from evdrives (they're awaiting customs clearance, which sometimes takes a long as the shipping part!).



Inspiration:

As a source of inspiration for this project, here's an excellent conversion example of a Kubota compact tractor of around the same size that Steve from Smoothwake did:
It is using the ME1004, which is very similar to the ME1003.

And this is a very cool little electric tractor that Steve built from scratch, which was my original inspiration:

And of course Woody's electric tractor project here on the forums! :D

Planned additions (phase 2) :

I'm also hoping to add the following, once I have the tractor powered up:

  • Power monitoring (both consumption and charging). I would like to get some good data on how much power is being used doing different tasks with the tractor. I'd ideally like to take samples every second or so - both from the pack as well as controller. I'd also like to match this with GPS data to get a good picture of matching power consumption and geo-location...
  • As mentioned previously, adding a front end loader. I have sourced one, but have a feeling it might be a little too big for little Bleuie... I'm hoping to use a starter motor as hydraulic pump.
  • Adding an auxilliary Lead Acid pack on a tow-able 3-point hitch tray. I've got a 5kw 48v DC to 230v AC inverter that I plan on using with the tractor so I can use powertools (grinder, chainsaw etc) out in the field. This will be integrated into the tray. This inverter will also let me plug the house into the tractor in the event of a power cut (I've got 'essential' house circuits wired up to support this, more on this later too.) .
I'll hopefully get a chance to start proper work on Bleuie in the next few weeks, now that we've got much longer evenings!

Till next time,

Duncan.
p.s. Here's an album with more photos of the project if you feel like browsing.
 

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Anothe Duncan from NZ? ;)

Looks like a great "donor" vehicle for the electric transplant. I also have a couple of smaller EV tractor projects in the works, but I find myself not very inspired because they will be (1) just a small weird-looking utility hauling vehicle, and (2) a very old Simplicity Broadmoor that still might not be quite what I want. The 3-point hitch, 4WD, and ability to add a FEL makes yours a very versatile and capable vehicle. My choice would be a 3 phase AC motor but what you plan seems straightforward and eminently "doable". Good luck.
 

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I am having small tractor envy!;)

It looks a great tractor to start with, lots of functionality and scope for development.
I take it you have land and space to use it to it's fullest?
:)
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Anothe Duncan from NZ? ;)
Yes indeed. I went and paid a visit to Duncan a few weeks ago and saw his home-built roadster device. Very impressive!
Looks like a great "donor" vehicle for the electric transplant. I also have a couple of smaller EV tractor projects in the works, but I find myself not very inspired because they will be (1) just a small weird-looking utility hauling vehicle, and (2) a very old Simplicity Broadmoor that still might not be quite what I want. The 3-point hitch, 4WD, and ability to add a FEL makes yours a very versatile and capable vehicle. My choice would be a 3 phase AC motor but what you plan seems straightforward and eminently "doable". Good luck.
Well, if they serve a purpose and are practical, who cares what they look like? Sometimes, the more unique the better! :D

And thanks for the encouragement. I decided on the ME1003 in part due to its cost and in part due to its size - there isn't much room in the engine compartment!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
A electric car power steering set up from a VW or Volvo solves your hydraulic problem quick and easy for the FEL
Thanks Piotrsko! I picked up a cheap second hand starter motor that should hopefully suffice... I know duty cycles are different, but I've heard of people using them successfully as hydraulic pumps so I guess the load must be sufficiently lower for them not to burn out.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I am having small tractor envy!;)
Hehe - well, perhaps I have home-made tractor envy too! :D

It looks a great tractor to start with, lots of functionality and scope for development.
I take it you have land and space to use it to it's fullest?
:)
Thanks, it took me a while to finally get a suitable size. And yes, we have 10 acres here with lots of projects... (of which the FEL will come in super handy for most!)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Bleuie EV conversion, day 1.

Hi all,

So a friend of mine (Ants) an I managed to start on dismantling and water blasting the engine this weekend.

We didn't quite get to remove the whole thing, but did get the radiator, exhaust manifold, air filter and fuel cutoff parts removed.

Here are some pictures and video of the progress:

Ants on Bleuie - last diesel powered (albeit by proxy) motive before removal of parts:




Bleuie and me, prior to removing anything.

Before we removed anything, we started draining the engine oil. Only about 1 to 2 liters of oil drained in the end - hardly surprising considering the gaping hole in the side of the block!


Radiator, radiator fan, air filter, fuel pump, exhaust manifold, tachometer and alternator removed. Quite a bit of space freed up already!
There were 2 steel pipes that fed into one of the bottom corners of the radiator unit that had what looked like nearly clear hydraulic fluid in them.
I sealed these off by looping back the rubber piping that sealed them to the radiator (as suggested by Ants).
You can see them on the middle bottom part of the picture. Strangely, they don't appear in the radiator schematic for the tractor:



I'll trace these back at a later date to determine exactly what they are.


The bits removed. About 1/2 a litre of diesel and a few 100 mls of radiator fluid as well.

I might be able to re-use the air filter for forced cooling of the ME1003, if it ends up running a bit hot.


Post de-greasing and water blasting. I started removing the engine from the transmission, but only got about 1/3 of the mounting bolts removed (ran out of energy and time).
I'll also need to remove the hydraulic pump from the engine, as it'll prevent the engine from being moved in one go. The hydraulic pump is the aluminum block to the right of the oil filter, just below the steering shaft. Here's the schematic for the Hydraulic system:



All in all, I'm pretty pleased with what we got done for the 'first day' of the conversion.
She's back to resting under the tarp for now.
I'll eventually move her into my 21ft continer workshop. It'll be a bit of a squeeze and cozy, but weatherproof.
 

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Here is a link to my E8n I did a little while back. Mine was a direct drive setup. It wasn't long when I realized I needed to come up with some form of a clutch running off the original peddle. Once that was added, the tractor became very handy and straight forward in it's operation. Anyone can run it and at this point my family hates it when my father barrows it and leaves one of his old junker gas tractors to use.

http://www.diyelectriccar.com/forums/showthread.php/e-ford-8n-80143.html
 

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Here is a link to my E8n I did a little while back. Mine was a direct drive setup. It wasn't long when I realized I needed to come up with some form of a clutch running off the original peddle. Once that was added, the tractor became very handy and straight forward in it's operation. Anyone can run it and at this point my family hates it when my father barrows it and leaves one of his old junker gas tractors to use.

http://www.diyelectriccar.com/forums/showthread.php/e-ford-8n-80143.html
Very nice conversion you have there tchapin! :) How have you found the little eTek motor's performance? What's the max load you've put it under (amp wise)?
 

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Well the tractor has a pretty easy life. Traction is more of a problem then power. Really the only real amp load is if we have both transmissions in high gear and going for a speed run. I run it up to 250-300 amps for a short time in those cases. Regular work is normally 50-100 amps.
 

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Re: Bleuie EV conversion, day 1.

Cute video! :)

There were 2 steel pipes that fed into one of the bottom corners of the radiator unit that had what looked like nearly clear hydraulic fluid in them.
I sealed these off by looping back the rubber piping that sealed them to the radiator (as suggested by Ants).
You can see them on the middle bottom part of the picture. Strangely, they don't appear in the radiator schematic for the tractor:
Could be an optional built in oil cooler, perhaps something that only appears in some countries or as a special factory order perhaps.


It's great getting down to removing all the oily stuff. :D

I found that when I drive my tractor I use the foot brake as I would do a clutch.
Unlike a 'proper' tractor I have a foot accelerator instead of a hand throttle.

I hold the tractor on the foot brake with my left foot and then apply a little power with my right foot. I can hear the power application as the Curtis whines a little. When I know the power is on, and the slack in the drive train is taken up, I ease off the brakes as I would lifting off a clutch and the tractor pulls away.
I find it easier doing hill starts that way.

At Arch's previous job, Beryl the Bradshaw FB2 could be held on the hand brake when doing a hill start.

The replacement Goupil has a micro switch on the hand brake and the foot brake so then when either are applied the controller is cut out.

That makes hill starting a pain! The Goupil always rolls back a few feet as there is no drive at all until a moment after both brakes are off.
 

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Re: Bleuie EV conversion, day 1.

Cute video! :)
Thanks! :) Can't wait to get her motive under her own power again.

Could be an optional built in oil cooler, perhaps something that only appears in some countries or as a special factory order perhaps.
I re-read an old email from the previous owner, where I asked about hydraulics, and he mentioned there were 2 hydraulic lines feeding into the radiator. Funny that I read it just after I posted the last update, haha. So yes, hydraulic line it is!

It's great getting down to removing all the oily stuff. :D

I found that when I drive my tractor I use the foot brake as I would do a clutch.
Unlike a 'proper' tractor I have a foot accelerator instead of a hand throttle.

I hold the tractor on the foot brake with my left foot and then apply a little power with my right foot. I can hear the power application as the Curtis whines a little. When I know the power is on, and the slack in the drive train is taken up, I ease off the brakes as I would lifting off a clutch and the tractor pulls away.
I find it easier doing hill starts that way.

At Arch's previous job, Beryl the Bradshaw FB2 could be held on the hand brake when doing a hill start.

The replacement Goupil has a micro switch on the hand brake and the foot brake so then when either are applied the controller is cut out.

That makes hill starting a pain! The Goupil always rolls back a few feet as there is no drive at all until a moment after both brakes are off.
Yeah, I'm no motor head, but it's great to see how it's all pieced together and works. That controller-disabling-brake sounds like quite a pain indeed! Luckily there are no hills where Blueie will currently be used, so hill starts won't be a problem (although it's a hand throttle, with a brake, so it shouldn't be an issue in any case). Plus, because there's no requirements to get it road legal, I can set it up whatever suits best (and is safe of course!).

I plan on removing the rest of the engine block this weekend. I'll take off the hydraulic pump first, leaving the connections to the hoses in place.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
So Ants and I managed to get some time to (start) stripping the engine out last weekend.

First of all we removed the starter motor. It got quite the knock when the piston blew out of the side of the block!

Damage to starter motor.
With the starter motor removed, you can see the flywheel (that the motor turned) inside the clutch housing:

Starter motor removed.
We had hoped to be able to remove the engine by removing as few other parts as possible. The service / workshop manual, however, recommended removing the clutch housing, which in turn meant removing the footwell and stering column assembly. I intend to keep the clutch as-is and just replace the ICE. It turns out that we did need to remove part of the foot well and the steering column, as there were 2 bolts that held the plate that attaches the engine to the clutch housing on that were inaccessible otherwise.

The steering column, unbolted.
Having the service manual as well as the parts manual really made identifying all of this nice and easy - I'm glad I got them!

On a slightly tangental note, we had some other friends around, which meant that I was finally able to get the old garage double-door lifter onto the pallet shed frame I made! Provided some much needed shade in the scorching NZ sun...

Ahh, some shade.
Having the tractor in the shed also had the added benefit of being able to use it to lift the engine block out of the front of the tractor. I didn't have an engine hoist as such, but Ants came up with the idea of using ratchets with the shed cross beams for lift. IT worked better than I expected, and after a bit of persuasion the mounting plate seperated from the clutch housing, and the engine was floating freely!

Up, up and away!
Part of the hydraulic system did get in the way though (I believe it's the return line?), as it followed the contour of the engine. This meant that the mounting plate got in the way as I was seperating it from the clutch housing. After some persuation though, that last obstacle was removed and the engine was finally free to swing.

Hydraulic line, after moving it out of the way...

A side view of the flywheel and clutch, still attached.
View of the clutch housing, flywheel and engine. Notice the hdraulic lines leading to the gearbox...(more on this later)
I decided to do a quick comparison of old engine vs new motor - it turns out that the electric motor was even smaller than I though, in comparison!
Old heart vs new
I'm pretty pleased with the progress we made on Saturday. It's great to finally have the engine removed! :D
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Re: Compact tractor conversion: Transmission...

As mentioned in the first post, I was a bit confused with the hydraulic line feeding into the radiator.

This appears to be the hydrostatic line coming from the gearbox! For some reason, I though that the tractor was manual, but it's not - it's hydrostatic. This is confirmed by the Model Name Plate, as well as the schematic from the workshop manual:




So the HST transmission fluid got cooled using the radiator. This means that I'll more than likely need some sort of active cooling for those lines.
 

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Re: Compact tractor conversion: Clutch & flywheel inspection and measurements.

I'll need to get 2 additional parts machined up in order to get the electric motor mounted to the clutch mounting plate:

1. Connection from motor shaft to flywheel. This is essentially what the old crankshaft was.
2. Adaptor plate to mount the motor on the mounting plate that connects to the clutch housing.

I've taken measurements of the various parts (including the splined shaft leading to the transmission), and will bring the existing mounting plate, flywheel and clutch when getting the 2 parts machined.

I did a quick inspection of the clutch to see what condition it was in. It doesn't look too good (from my severely limited knowledge) unfortunately. It appeared to have scratch marks on the clutch plate, and part of one of the diaphragm springs had fallen out of its enclosure.


Clutch: not so good...

Sprung spring.
Upon closer inspection of the photos, however, it appears that the 'scratches' are some sort of fibrous material. I suspectef that some grass got into the housing at some point perhaps.


Closeups of clutch plate.
But then I read up a bit on clutch plates and their composition. Apparently clutch plates come in one of 2 forms: Organic and Ceramic. The organic ones are made of metal fibre interwoven with organic materials. This would explain the fibrous look of the scratches. And indeed, upon further inspection of the first image, it looks like the fibre is part of the plate itself.

Also, some of the rivets on the clutch seem to be badly worn.

I'm of two minds whether or not to replace the clutch. On the one hand, it's obvious it's in bad condition, and replacing it now would be the best time, if I was to do it.

On the other hand, I'm not sure how much I'll be engaging the clutch when operating the tractor. So engaging/disengaging cycles potentailly won't be an issue...

Any thoughts/advice on that one? I'll enquire as to how much a replacement clutch will cost in any case.
 

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Do you need a clutch at all?
You can direct connect the motor to the trans using the old clutch centre anyway.

That spring is broken from one of the clutch centre springs and, with the worn rivets, I would either find an alternative centre plate or scrip it down to just the splined disc to make a couple from.
 

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Do you need a clutch at all?
You can direct connect the motor to the trans using the old clutch centre anyway.

That spring is broken from one of the clutch centre springs and, with the worn rivets, I would either find an alternative centre plate or scrip it down to just the splined disc to make a couple from.
Yeah, I had been toying with the idea of removing the clutch (and flywheel) and direct coupling it, as you say, but thought it might be better to leave as much in, apart from the engine, as possible. Would you recommend keeping the flywheel or discard that as well Woody?
 

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I don't know that you need the flywheel either.

If it is hydrostatic then there might not be any need or benefit to having a clutch or flywheel assembly as there are no gears to change. The flywheel might add mass to dampen out the loads but the motor armature isn't going to suffer that much anyway.

I'd be tempted to have a look at the manual to see what the workings of the trans are and if there is any need for the clutch especially as you can just stop the motor to change any gear or settings if needed.
Also check if the motor needs an idle setting for keeping hydraulic pressure up for any other actions, though that is unlikely.

You can knock up a cheap and ugly fixed coupling with that clutch plate, strap the motor in, and see what happens with the trans. Put the tractor on stands so it doesn't run away and to reduce drive train load for testing.

That will also tell you if the rest of the tractor all works as expected.
 
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