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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks,

I’m considering dipping my toes into EV conversion with an International Harvester Scout II (don’t have the donor vehicle yet). I’d love to get some opinions and reality checks after reading a bunch of build log threads and wiki content (super helpful, thanks so much!).

The vehicle would be used as a commuter and daily driver. My range requirement is minimum 50mi (my commute is 35mi each way and I have charging at both ends). Ideally 80-100mi. Charging at work is free so round trip work-home-work would be great (this may also require fast charging to get enough juice for the round trip during a regular work day?).

Performance-wise it doesn’t need to be too zoomy. Top speed of 75 would be great but 65 would be fine and 55… doable.

Budget maybe $20k on top of the donor vehicle. Not trying to max out everything, obviously spending less would be preferable, but I understand it’s not a cheap hobby :)

I have basic auto mechanics skills (serviced my own cars in the past, never pulled an engine or anything tho) but planning to take it slowly and learn, and willing to pay a professional to do things that are outside my reach. Also have basic metal fab skills - made a lot of knives and done some blacksmithing, but not a lot of real machine shop work. Happy to pay professionals here also. Can grapple with CAD and electronic/PCB design, and am skilled at both forward and reverse engineering of software, firmware and hardware. Fine with wiring, soldering, etc.

I have most of the tools listed on the wiki in all sections and will acquire anything I need and don’t have.

Some initial thoughts:
  1. I’d buy a Scout with a manual transmission
  2. I’d like to reuse existing knowledge and designs as much as possible as I’m not gonna be able to knock up an adapter plate or coupling at work in a machine shop like I see a lot of folks do. Might need to pay someone to help design and fab something here if there’s not something in existence that’ll do the job.
  3. From what I’ve read many of the Scout transmissions are identical to Jeep trans so this may influence selection to try to reuse work others have done on Jeep conversions
  4. Likely keep the clutch for safety and simplicity
  5. I’d love to keep the option of 4x4 in future, or at least not make design decisions that rule it out (like ripping stuff out) if it’s not a huge trade off
  6. Fine with losing all of the bed to batteries at least to begin with, and then later work out fitting battery boxes wherever else they can go
  7. Don’t care about heating/AC (I live in California)
I haven’t made any decisions on parts yet.

My first questions:
  1. Ridiculous? Not gonna happen? Too ambitious for someone who’s never pulled the engine out of a car before? Considered starting on something simpler like putting an EV West kit on a bug for my girlfriend, but go big or go home :)
  2. Would a Leaf part swap work here or is the Scout gonna be too heavy? The battery box as is (per googling some measurements) would kinda fit in the bed initially (a little wide, so might need to sit on top of the wheel wells and be otherwise supported)
  3. Or would I need to be looking at something like a Tesla motor?
  4. I'm assuming the mechanical challenge with the Leaf would be mating the motor with the transmission?
  5. Is there another obvious clear best path forward as far as motor and related parts selection goes?
  6. I'd probably need to upgrade the brakes right?
  7. Likewise with power steering?
Appreciate any feedback!
 

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Very doable. One route would be to buy a Nissan Leaf, adapt the motor to the gearbox (tricky/custom), and use the batteries, charger, BMS, and other bits as much as you can. That's probably $10k.

Another route would be to use Chevy Bolt batteries and a Hyper9 or some such. Adaptation would be a lot easier, and the batteries are much better, but you're looking at $20k minues what you could recoup form selling the rest of the Bolt.

I wouldn't mess with the brakes or steering until it seems necessary. With regen, you won't use the brakes much at all, and heavy steering has a lot more to do with tires and castor than weight. The torque from the average electric motor will be more than stock.

That said, building the Bug with a kit will be a lot easier, teach you quite a bit, and would probably have better resale than a home-spun conversion. Still smells like a $20k proposition, if I recall EV West's prices correctly.

No conversion is a weekend project, but any means.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the feedback, Tremelune. Totally understand that even a kit conversion is a big project, especially for someone who's not skilled in this area already. I'm in it for the project and learning experience as much as the end result. I'll think more about doing a bug first (also, realistically, if I find it's really not for me, a bug with a partially installed EV West kit is probably a much easier flip than a pile of parts and a gutted Scout).

Another route would be to use Chevy Bolt batteries and a Hyper9 or some such. Adaptation would be a lot easier, and the batteries are much better, but you're looking at $20k minues what you could recoup form selling the rest of the Bolt.
A quick google tells me the Bolt battery packs are 66kWh vs Leaf's 42-62, is that the main difference? I also notice the whole Bolt battery pack is heavier.

Is there likely to be much difference in difficulty/level of customization required to do a full part swap from a Bolt vs Leaf? Is the Leaf just advantageous due to the big used market?

I wouldn't mess with the brakes or steering until it seems necessary. With regen, you won't use the brakes much at all, and heavy steering has a lot more to do with tires and castor than weight. The torque from the average electric motor will be more than stock.
Gotcha. My only concern was safety on the brakes. I'm guessing though on a truck they'd be already be sufficient for whatever load it's rated for on top of the weight of the vehicle?
 

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The Leaf has been hacked quite a bit. I believe the current state is that, with a $1,000 controller, you can use the motor, charger, DC/DC converter, and BMS (if you use the full pack in the same configuration). With the Bolt you're looking at figuring out controlling the motor, and then a few grand worth of DC/DC, charger, BMS...I don't think much of the Bolt has been figured out because they're new, but I haven't really been keeping up.

The Bolt batteries are stronger and more dense. You don't need to use all of them, so weight/space is more or less what you can swing. Same with the Leaf, if you buy $1,000 BMS system. Drivable Leafs can be found for near $5k. Most Leaf packs you'll find are 24kW. Batteries lost capacity rapidly until March 2013. They got even better in the 2015 model year.

There's no slam dunk, you just need to choose your compromises.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Right, that makes sense. Appreciate the input. I'll do some more reading with all that in mind.
 

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My first questions:
  1. Ridiculous? Not gonna happen? Too ambitious for someone who’s never pulled the engine out of a car before? Considered starting on something simpler like putting an EV West kit on a bug for my girlfriend, but go big or go home :)
  2. Would a Leaf part swap work here or is the Scout gonna be too heavy? The battery box as is (per googling some measurements) would kinda fit in the bed initially (a little wide, so might need to sit on top of the wheel wells and be otherwise supported)
  3. Or would I need to be looking at something like a Tesla motor?
  4. I'm assuming the mechanical challenge with the Leaf would be mating the motor with the transmission?
  5. Is there another obvious clear best path forward as far as motor and related parts selection goes?
  6. I'd probably need to upgrade the brakes right?
  7. Likewise with power steering?
Appreciate any feedback!
You can absolutely do a conversion. Anyone can given enough time. I've been learning as I go and it's gone great. As long as you understand basic safety procedures for working with high voltage and don't accidentally short the batteries, it's hard to mess something up that you can't go back and fix. Set a pessimistic timeline (9 months), and try to surprise yourself.

For what it's worth, I started this process having never done anything with cars. Not even changing the oil. But with hands-on experience, I have learned loads about everything related to engines than I thought was possible.

The kinds of conversions that are much more challenging are ones where you're either working on a very tight budget or are programming and building some of your own components (a lot of people build their own inverters for example). Using off-the shelf parts or a leaf motor, its relatively straightforward.

I'm going to echo what Tremelune is saying here. The leaf motor would be more than enough power to get to 75 mph IF you use a gearbox, which I highly recommend. The only challenging bits of the leaf are adapter plates for adapting it to the transmission and the voltage. Nissan leaf inverters require 300-400 volts I believe for full performance (although they will spin with less), which is why I'm not going to use a leaf motor in my conversion, since I need at least 140-150 miles of range and I am using tesla modules for their energy density. If you are going to use a leaf motor, I would just buy an entire salvage leaf (<$10k) and pull the motor and battery pack from it. The leaf motor has a fixed differential bolted on but that can be easily removed if you want to mate it to a manual transmission. This option is the cheapest and would definitely be a good choice.

Another option is to go with a Netgain Hyper9 HV motor, which is a motor designed specifically for conversions. They're $4300 for the motor, inverter, and contactor. You can pair that with 7 Tesla modules ($1000 each about) for 35kwh of battery capacity. This should give you at least 80 or so miles of range, and driving conservatively I'd guess you would get over 100 easily. A total for this option would be somewhere around $20k.

A Tesla motor is unnecessary for your needs and requires a lot of fabrication work.

Don't go with EV West. They have a 5-year waitlist for conversions they do themselves and they have made it clear to me that they don't want the business of individual enthusiasts from my email exchanges with them.

You probably won't need to upgrade brakes or power steering assuming they are working fine in the current vehicle. All in, post-conversion the car will only weigh a few hundred pounds over what it weighed before I would guess.
 

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I'm attempting something very similar with a Bronco, but I'm removing the engine, transmission, and transfer case and replacing them with a Tesla large drive unit mounted at an angle to drive the front and rear axles. I'll gain some efficiency by not running the motor through a gearbox but then I'll lose some by it being full-time four wheel drive, so it may end up being a wash efficiency wise. Mostly I'm doing it this way so I can have more room for batteries.

So far this is what I've purchased:

Tesla LDU with drive shafts and wiring harness - $2400
Quaife 4.5 gearset - $2600 (ouch, I know)

I plan on using the EV Controls drive unit controller - $2700

AEM has also just released a Tesla drive unit controller for about the same price but the EV Controls unit lets you view and change settings in real time with an ipad, so I wont have to buy further instrumentation to gather data.

So right now the damage is $7700 and I still need batteries, BMS, charger, DC-DC converter, accelerator pedal, and a precharge circuit. Plus motor/battery cooling and custom driveshafts.

Overall I think my price and range goals line up with your project but I may end up with less range unless I can find a killer deal on batteries.

Keep us posted! I'd love to see what direction you decide to go.
 

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I'm attempting something very similar with a Bronco, but I'm removing the engine, transmission, and transfer case and replacing them with a Tesla large drive unit mounted at an angle to drive the front and rear axles....
The angled shaft made necessary by the Broco's centred rear propeller shaft (and the off-to-the-left drive unit output) is a concern, but I recently realized that the Lada Niva has an offset like that in standard form (due to their choice of transfer case and their centred rear axle pinion) so it apparently can work. In this case, even if the offset is okay, the angle is still a concern: if the rear output of the drive unit is not parallel to the pinion shaft of either axle, then the propeller shafts need constant velocity joints (instead of the usual universal joints) to run smoothly... perhaps that's the plan.

The other way to handle this offset issue is to have a rear axle made up with the differential off-centre to match the front. This is the stock configuration of some vehicles (notably the original Land Rover), but is generally not used in vehicles that come in both RWD and 4WD versions. It would require custom-length axle tubes and axle shafts, with the tubes welded into the centre section and end housings welded on to them. Custom-width axle housings are commonly made for custom vehicles, and having different left and right lengths is not a problem. This would be expensive, and would require ensuring that there is room for the rear shaft in that position.
 

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The angled shaft made necessary by the Broco's centred rear propeller shaft (and the off-to-the-left drive unit output) is a concern, but I recently realized that the Lada Niva has an offset like that in standard form (due to their choice of transfer case and their centred rear axle pinion) so it apparently can work. In this case, even if the offset is okay, the angle is still a concern: if the rear output of the drive unit is not parallel to the pinion shaft of either axle, then the propeller shafts need constant velocity joints (instead of the usual universal joints) to run smoothly... perhaps that's the plan.

The other way to handle this offset issue is to have a rear axle made up with the differential off-centre to match the front. This is the stock configuration of some vehicles (notably the original Land Rover), but is generally not used in vehicles that come in both RWD and 4WD versions. It would require custom-length axle tubes and axle shafts, with the tubes welded into the centre section and end housings welded on to them. Custom-width axle housings are commonly made for custom vehicles, and having different left and right lengths is not a problem. This would be expensive, and would require ensuring that there is room for the rear shaft in that position.
Yep, both prop shafts will have CV joints. This was the OEM configuration on the Bronco anyway, I'm assuming the reason is to allow large amounts of axle articulation without binding.

The UK company Electric Classic Cars puts Tesla drive units in original Land Rovers using this same setup, but like you mentioned, they don't run into the angle issue because the front an rear differential housings are offset to the same side.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
For what it's worth, I started this process having never done anything with cars. Not even changing the oil. But with hands-on experience, I have learned loads about everything related to engines than I thought was possible.
That's awesome. The more I read the more I think I can do it, just need to take my time. I'm definitely expecting it to be a 6-12mo project.

I'm going to echo what Tremelune is saying here. The leaf motor would be more than enough power to get to 75 mph IF you use a gearbox, which I highly recommend. The only challenging bits of the leaf are adapter plates for adapting it to the transmission and the voltage. Nissan leaf inverters require 300-400 volts I believe for full performance (although they will spin with less), which is why I'm not going to use a leaf motor in my conversion, since I need at least 140-150 miles of range and I am using tesla modules for their energy density. If you are going to use a leaf motor, I would just buy an entire salvage leaf (<$10k) and pull the motor and battery pack from it. The leaf motor has a fixed differential bolted on but that can be easily removed if you want to mate it to a manual transmission. This option is the cheapest and would definitely be a good choice.

Another option is to go with a Netgain Hyper9 HV motor, which is a motor designed specifically for conversions. They're $4300 for the motor, inverter, and contactor. You can pair that with 7 Tesla modules ($1000 each about) for 35kwh of battery capacity. This should give you at least 80 or so miles of range, and driving conservatively I'd guess you would get over 100 easily. A total for this option would be somewhere around $20k.
So if I used the components from a Leaf I'd have to use the battery setup in pretty much its exact existing configuration if I wanted to use the Leaf BMS right?

I'm not too concerned about perf, and 75 top speed is probably fine for me, but if I wanted to increase the range to more like 150mi (maybe even 200mi) what would I be looking at? A full set of 14 Tesla battery modules? Is a full Bolt pack likely to meet that requirement with a Hyper9?

I'm still a bit undecided about the requirements. I know what my bare min requirements are, but if I end up spending more on a really nice example of a Scout it seems silly to not go all out on the conversion. I don't have a hard budget requirement, just what I feel like I want to put into it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'm attempting something very similar with a Bronco, but I'm removing the engine, transmission, and transfer case and replacing them with a Tesla large drive unit mounted at an angle to drive the front and rear axles. I'll gain some efficiency by not running the motor through a gearbox but then I'll lose some by it being full-time four wheel drive, so it may end up being a wash efficiency wise. Mostly I'm doing it this way so I can have more room for batteries.

So far this is what I've purchased:

Tesla LDU with drive shafts and wiring harness - $2400
Quaife 4.5 gearset - $2600 (ouch, I know)

I plan on using the EV Controls drive unit controller - $2700

AEM has also just released a Tesla drive unit controller for about the same price but the EV Controls unit lets you view and change settings in real time with an ipad, so I wont have to buy further instrumentation to gather data.

So right now the damage is $7700 and I still need batteries, BMS, charger, DC-DC converter, accelerator pedal, and a precharge circuit. Plus motor/battery cooling and custom driveshafts.

Overall I think my price and range goals line up with your project but I may end up with less range unless I can find a killer deal on batteries.

Keep us posted! I'd love to see what direction you decide to go.
This is an awesome design. So you're gonna basically fill the engine bay with batteries?

I understand a lot more about how the 4wd components work now. I'd probably lose a reasonable amount of efficiency in 4wd yeah? I'd consider pulling out the transmission and transfer case for efficiency but I guess that would be a lot of fabrication work like your project, which might be a bit out of my league for now.
 

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So if I used the components from a Leaf I'd have to use the battery setup in pretty much its exact existing configuration if I wanted to use the Leaf BMS right?

I'm not too concerned about perf, and 75 top speed is probably fine for me, but if I wanted to increase the range to more like 150mi (maybe even 200mi) what would I be looking at? A full set of 14 Tesla battery modules? Is a full Bolt pack likely to meet that requirement with a Hyper9?

I'm still a bit undecided about the requirements. I know what my bare min requirements are, but if I end up spending more on a really nice example of a Scout it seems silly to not go all out on the conversion. I don't have a hard budget requirement, just what I feel like I want to put into it.
For 150 miles you probably want to do almost exactly what I'm doing: a Hyper9 with 10 Tesla modules 5s2p (5 in series, 2 in parallel). Or you could shoot for closer to 200, with a Hyper9 HV and 14 Tesla modules 7s2p. Netgain motors will be a little easier to use since there are pre-made adapter plates available from CanEVs and a few other sellers that can just be bolted on and put right into the car. You do need a BMS for each parallel string though, so keep that in mind as an added expense.

I would go for a leaf system if you don't need more than say 80 miles of range. Above that, something Hyper9 or Hyper9 HV based.

You'll definitely want to do it right the first time though. I personally would reccommend the Tesla and Hyper9 route since Tesla batteries are the best available and will last for at least 8-10 years, if not more. They've come down in price significantly lately too.
 

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This is an awesome design. So you're gonna basically fill the engine bay with batteries?

I understand a lot more about how the 4wd components work now. I'd probably lose a reasonable amount of efficiency in 4wd yeah? I'd consider pulling out the transmission and transfer case for efficiency but I guess that would be a lot of fabrication work like your project, which might be a bit out of my league for now.
4WD won't make a huge difference in efficiency as long as its part-time. Most 4WD cars are part-time, meaning you can change the transfer case from only delivering power to two of the wheels vs all four. Leaving it in essentially 2WD means that the only efficiency lost from having 4WD will be the added weight (no more than a couple hundred pounds). So expect a 4-8% decrease in efficiency and total range by having 4WD.

Leaving it in 4WD will result in a larger loss in efficiency (possibly over 10%), so I would just keep it in 2WD unless off-roading.

I would say definitely DON'T get rid of the transfer case. You will need to get new shafts and more to get that working, and I think that it's a waste of your time and money to essentially make that car worse. Instead, spend that money in getting 4-8% more battery capacity so that you can still hit your desired range with the added weight.
 

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For 150 miles you probably want to do almost exactly what I'm doing: a Hyper9 with 10 Tesla modules 5s2p (5 in series, 2 in parallel). Or you could shoot for closer to 200, with a Hyper9 HV and 14 Tesla modules 7s2p. Netgain motors will be a little easier to use since there are pre-made adapter plates available from CanEVs and a few other sellers that can just be bolted on and put right into the car. You do need a BMS for each parallel string though, so keep that in mind as an added expense.

I would go for a leaf system if you don't need more than say 80 miles of range. Above that, something Hyper9 or Hyper9 HV based.

You'll definitely want to do it right the first time though. I personally would reccommend the Tesla and Hyper9 route since Tesla batteries are the best available and will last for at least 8-10 years, if not more. They've come down in price significantly lately too.
I agree with reider, the Netgain option has been used by a lot of companies like EV West and ElectricGT so there's already a lot of adapter options and application examples out there for reference.

Since the Scout and the Bronco are about the same size, I think it's relevant to mention the amount of real estate available for batteries. It's probably possible to fit 10 or even 14 Tesla modules in the Scout, but it will require a lot of fab work and Tetris-ing to pack them out of sight. But, if you are not worried about putting them in the bed then it gets a lot easier.

For reference, the Bronco kit sold by ElectricGT keeps the transmission and transfer case and has 65kWh distributed between the fuel tank area, the engine bay, and the space under the seats. I think that's about the max amount of batteries that can be packed out of sight in a Bronco or Scout-sized vehicle if you keep the transmission and transfer case. That should get you about 130 miles of range.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I agree with reider, the Netgain option has been used by a lot of companies like EV West and ElectricGT so there's already a lot of adapter options and application examples out there for reference.

Since the Scout and the Bronco are about the same size, I think it's relevant to mention the amount of real estate available for batteries. It's probably possible to fit 10 or even 14 Tesla modules in the Scout, but it will require a lot of fab work and Tetris-ing to pack them out of sight. But, if you are not worried about putting them in the bed then it gets a lot easier.

For reference, the Bronco kit sold by ElectricGT keeps the transmission and transfer case and has 65kWh distributed between the fuel tank area, the engine bay, and the space under the seats. I think that's about the max amount of batteries that can be packed out of sight in a Bronco or Scout-sized vehicle if you keep the transmission and transfer case. That should get you about 130 miles of range.
That's a useful data point, thanks. I'll have to read more on what has been done on similar vehicles. I'm fine with batteries taking up the entire bed to begin with, and I'd likely look at improving that over time. I'm currently feeling out if my friends who work at Tesla can get me any sweet deals on batteries 😇
 

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So if I used the components from a Leaf I'd have to use the battery setup in pretty much its exact existing configuration if I wanted to use the Leaf BMS right?
If by "existing configuration" you mean 96 sets of cells in series, then likely yes. On the other hand, other than the length of wiring between BMS components and battery modules, the physical arrangement how the modules are stacked up and packaged) doesn't matter to the BMS.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
If by "existing configuration" you mean 96 sets of cells in series, then likely yes. On the other hand, other than the length of wiring between BMS components and battery modules, the physical arrangement how the modules are stacked up and packaged) doesn't matter to the BMS.
Yeah, I meant if I wanted to use only part of the whole Leaf pack for whatever reason (or additional sets of cells if the other components could handle it) then I'd need a more flexible BMS. Is that correct?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Decided to go with a Scout 800. Rolled this bad boy off the truck this week. First order of business is to clean off all the 🐦 :poop: and get it running so I can at least drive it in the interim and don't just let it sit and rust while I faff about being indecisive about the project direction. Pretty good condition overall - most Scouts of this age are well-rusted.

122484
 

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Super excited for your project as it's similar to mine! My buddy has an original Scout SII! He's in the process of restoring it, it's not even completely rusted through! Looks like your truck is a pretty good starting point too! Cool matching hardtop.

Some ideas maybe or maybe you haven't thought of:

-Maintain the stock transfer case but ditch the transmission. It's possible you can find a "doubler" that matches your transfer case. Doublers are used to ultra-low gearing on 4x4 trucks with massive tires and basically "double" the reduction ratio into the transfer case. This is what you want in order to direct drive with the LEAF motor because you can ditch the transmission's dead weight and better utilize the transmission tunnel space possibly even fit the motor there and have an entire engine bay for batteries.

-Keep the stock transfer case so you can shift to Low Range and go offroading or pull trains or whatever sounds most fun to you.

-From my experience driving EVs I expect my 4x4 EV to get 2mi/kwh on a good day. That means to go 100 miles, it needs 50kwh of usable capacity. Something to think about. I plan to use a single LEAF battery to start, and then add more as I go because they are the cheapest option. I do not even know if multiple BMSs can be run independently like that but I think they can.

-Download the CAD file for the adapter plate and wait until the coupler adapter is available for purchase here: For Sale: em57 leaf motor couplers then just need to have a driveshaft shop build a custom shaft to match and build some motor mounts!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Keen to see your cruiser build too, all the rich kids parents had those when I was a teenager in Australia 😂

-Maintain the stock transfer case but ditch the transmission. It's possible you can find a "doubler" that matches your transfer case. Doublers are used to ultra-low gearing on 4x4 trucks with massive tires and basically "double" the reduction ratio into the transfer case. This is what you want in order to direct drive with the LEAF motor because you can ditch the transmission's dead weight and better utilize the transmission tunnel space possibly even fit the motor there and have an entire engine bay for batteries.
I thought about this but I talked myself out of it. I wasn't sure how to go about the gear reduction and didn't realize there were good options out there. How do I go about calculating what gear ratio I would need? Are there generic options that would do what I want? Would be amazing if I could fit the whole motor and gearbox assembly further back to make room for batteries. The only down side is I do like the idea of being able to slam on the clutch as a safety measure

-Keep the stock transfer case so you can shift to Low Range and go offroading or pull trains or whatever sounds most fun to you.
Yeah def keen to do this!

-From my experience driving EVs I expect my 4x4 EV to get 2mi/kwh on a good day. That means to go 100 miles, it needs 50kwh of usable capacity. Something to think about. I plan to use a single LEAF battery to start, and then add more as I go because they are the cheapest option. I do not even know if multiple BMSs can be run independently like that but I think they can.
Yeah I think if I decide on the Leaf part swap I'd just use whatever pack I got with the donor vehicle and explore other battery options later - maybe flip the whole leaf pack and BMS

-Download the CAD file for the adapter plate and wait until the coupler adapter is available for purchase here: For Sale: em57 leaf motor couplers then just need to have a driveshaft shop build a custom shaft to match and build some motor mounts!
THIS is what I've been looking for. So what exactly would I need to connect this coupler to the gearbox/doubler?
 
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