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Introduction and Project Description

2038 Views 22 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Ben_Volvo_Wagon_Leaf
Hello forums!

My name is Ben, and I am in the early (read: learning!) stages of a project to convert a Volvo 122 Wagon (1966) to electric. I have worked on and brought back from the dead multiple vintage Volvos, so I have experience there, and I have had a few Nissan Leafs as well. Whenever I finish a Volvo project, I quickly sell it and start another, because as much as I love these cars, I just don't enjoy driving them. What I do enjoy driving around town is my Leaf, constrained range and all. I am working on bringing these two things together!

Currently, I have emptied the wagon, and done some rust repair on the battery box area, floor pans, etc. I have rebuilt the rear suspension and front suspension. I had built a b20 with fuel injection (megasquirt) and have an m41 overdrive transmission, but those I will be selling off and I am committed to this direction of the project.
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I have purchased a crashed but functional 2013 Leaf. From the A-pillar back, the car is immaculate. The car drives and charges. The batteru shows 73% state-of-health on LeafSpy, and that is good enough for my purposes. I have since stripped the front down to access the radiator, which is cracked, and will be addressing that first so that I have a stable test bed I can charge safely while I diagram, label, and learn. Ignore the home improvement stuff encroaching on my garage space :).
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The plan is still coming together. I'm thinking at this moment of using n m40 4 speed, driveshaft, stock differential, mounting the Leaf stack in the engine bay (EV West adapter plate I have read here exists), and building a battery box above the rear axle for the Leaf batteries. I will either try to find a Resolve-EV controller, or Thunderstruck, or do some significant CAN work to try to re-use as much Leaf as possible.
  • Skills: I am a computer engineer by training, and have good mechanical experience working on vintage cars. I have some experience with electronics (megasquirt conversion, regular 12v car stuff) but no experience with high voltage, yet. Reading and learning.
  • Range: Around-town here in Sacramento, 40-50 miles will do for me. Grocery store, kids school, Volvo meets etc.
  • Timing: I love a project, and this is at least 5 of them at once. I give myself a few years.
  • Investment: I chose two cars I was comfortable with, and cheap compared to Tesla parts. I am into the Volvo for 1k, and into the Leaf for about 3k. I figure another 3-4k for a controller, wiring, gauges, PPE, etc. Reasonable? I will find out.
Appreciate any advice! There are some great threads here on a Volvo 544, and a Volvo wagon, and just so much great details in general. Thank you!
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Thank you both for the info! I’ll be in touch about the adapter plates when I get that far. The Volvo M40 and M41 transmissions, while not a plentiful as vw, would be great to have CAD drawings for!
Thanks for all of the feedback. I have finished my last project, a 1973 Volvo 164, and with that out of the way I am ready to make some progress on the conversion. Goodbye ancient fuel injection - one step better than carbs, but only a baby step better.

Originally, I had planned to re-use most of the Leaf components, but after reading more (especially here) I am leaning toward just removing the (motor/inverter/PDM), wiring, battery, and any subsystems I might want and then having the car hauled off. I can then either get a resolve-ev controller (looks like it is back in stock?) or the thunderstruck controller. This approach has the benefit of getting the donor car out of the driveway more quickly, keeping peace with both my girlfriend and the neighbors. Always a good goal.

Any thoughts on the approach here and which of the two controllers? I have observed much success here with the resolve-ev and despite the slightly higher price am leaning in that direction.

A bit of an update (I'll need to ask to have this thread moved to the appropriate place):

I've taken off the dash and the center console and everything is freed up and pretty wild looking. The car still moves and actually has no warning lights beyond the headlights (which are nonexistent). I was surprised that the unplugged airbags didn't trigger any complaints, although when I tried unplugging the airbag module it was pretty annoyed.

Still keeping my options open, so pulling the entire harness and modules out is the current plan, something like this:
  1. Remove front end (done)
  2. Remove dash and console (done)
  3. Verify car still works (done)
  4. Battery disconnect switch (done with expensive new gloves)
  5. Drain coolant and prep engine bay for removal (done)
  6. Remove CV axles from trans (in progress)
  7. Remove motor stack
  8. Remove battery
  9. Remove all wiring and modules
  10. Get rid of car (either craigslist or pick n pull? Any other stuff I should pull?)

So helpful to have a nice clean car to start with. Dash removed:

Gloves - purchased from Grainger, good customer service:

Magic flying front end (wheels are going the Leaf my daughter drives):
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Looks like progress... are you still considering using the original VCM/BCM, etc? Is that why your digging into the dash? Or just taking out what you can just in case? It took me a while to get all the wiring harness and stuff out. I can't believe how many different connectors Nissan used and each one with a different trick to unlatch them.
I'm still considering it, although it seems unlikely to use all the modules when there are such good options. On the other hand... It would be a fun challenge to try to shoehorn the heatpump or some other component into the donor car and I'd hate to leave anything behind.

As for all those connectors, I feel like Nissan had 100 engineers submit their designs for the best clip... and then just used all of them!
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