DIY Electric Car Forums banner
1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,
My dad has a 1977 Ford F250 that hasn't run in about 20 years, but has been garaged this entire time. It's in great shape, and I think could be a perfect candidate for an EV conversion. Is this a terrible idea? Is it too heavy? I'd really love to have it as an around-town car, and the dream would be to have a longer range too. Where should I start if I want to go down this road. I think it could be a cool project to do with my dad when he retires (hopefully soon).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,100 Posts
It's doable. I have a F450 on my project list, so yours would be "modest"

You need to decide on range and performance. Several pickup truck builds on here for you to see what's involved. @OR-Carl just finished an S10.

Quick, fast, and long legs means bags o money. 2wd is a lot easier than 4wd/awd.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
287 Posts
An example of a more recent and much larger F450 conversion:


If he could do it with a 'new' model year F450, an older and simpler F250 would be a breeze. What's your budget and range/performance goals,.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
An example of a more recent and much larger F450 conversion:


If he could do it with a 'new' model year F450, an older and simpler F250 would be a breeze. What's your budget and range/performance goals,.
Thanks reiderM,
This example of the F450 seems pretty complicated (at least for my current level of knowledge). But, it is good to know that it can be done with an even bigger truck.

I don't currently have a budget (which might be a blessing or a curse, I haven't decided yet). I certainly don't have unlimited funds, so I guess a budget of 15-20k would seem reasonable to me. But, if there were large gains to be had at a slightly higher budget then I'm open to that too. (and of course, if I can get similar results for cheaper than 20k that would be fantastic).

My range/performance goals in order of priority are as follows:
1. 3-season vehicle. I live in Central NY and the donor vehicle is 2WD so I won't be using it in the winter.
1a. No need for AC or heat in the cabin. If it is hot I'll roll the windows down and if it's cold I'll wear a coat. I presume this will make the build easier and/or give me a longer range/better performance.

2. At a bare minimum I'll need a 40+ mile range. I live in a very hilly area, so I want to be sure that I can go into town (4 miles) and back home with a few stops and possibly even some cargo.
2a. I'd really love a 150+ mile range though. If I could use this as my only vehicle in the Spring-Fall that would be ideal. If the cost isn't too exorbitant, I'd be willing to invest in a more expensive system to get this kind of range over just a minimum around-town truck.

3. I'd like to keep the ability to carry some cargo in the bed. I've been wondering if the bed could be converted into the battery box by using a lot of conventional lead-acid batteries as a solid layer on the 'floor' of the bed, thereby creating a 'new floor that would be about the same height as the wheel wells, and keeping the costs of the conversion a little lower. I don't know if this makes sense or not. Possibly it is better to have fewer, lithium-ion batteries?

4. This model has two gas tanks. I think it would be super cool to have a tesla charger port in one of the gas tank flaps and another, more standard charging port in the other gas tank flap. I'm guessing the ability to have multiple charging ports would add significant cost? This idea is more of a dream because I think it would be pretty rad to park a 1977 Ford next to a Tesla Model 3 at the Super Charger station.

5. I think those are really all of my 'requirements'. I'd love to be able to take my dad's old truck (that I helped to pick out as a toddler) and get it back on the road as an EV.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It's doable. I have a F450 on my project list, so yours would be "modest"

You need to decide on range and performance. Several pickup truck builds on here for you to see what's involved. @OR-Carl just finished an S10.

Quick, fast, and long legs means bags o money. 2wd is a lot easier than 4wd/awd.
Thanks remy_martian,

Do you know of any resources that would help me decide on the power I would need given the weight of my vehicle, the distance I would want to travel, the speed, and the elevations I would want to go too?

Is it better to design a build a system that is bigger than I think I would need, or is it ok to build a system that might be ok, and then upgrade afterward? is an upgrade as easy as getting more batteries?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,100 Posts
Your lithium batteries are little humans in a t-shirt. You're going to need to heat them to use the truck in cold weather.

If you live in a hilly area, you'll need regen, which will heat the battery going down the hill as the battery gets charged (think of it as a 50kW charger), meaning you will likely need to cool the pack as well or no regen for you once the battery gets hot.

You want batteries and their connections out of the weather. In the back of the box sounds nice, but rusty battery cells (Tesla cell casings are naked steel) aren't.

You are not going to charge a non-Tesla at a Supercharger, and when you can, it'll be with the "standard" charge port in use today. I suggest a power port inside the other fuel lid to run up to a kilowatt of 120VAC off the HV pack.

All it takes is money, time and a lot of effort.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,100 Posts
Plan on 1-2 miles of range per kWh as a guesstimate. You can finesse it more acurately by looking at similar builds (weight, boxy aero).

The motor depends on performance and if you keep the standard transmission. If it's an auto trans, it gets ripped out and the fun begins finding a drive solution.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
287 Posts
Thanks reiderM,
This example of the F450 seems pretty complicated (at least for my current level of knowledge). But, it is good to know that it can be done with an even bigger truck.

I don't currently have a budget (which might be a blessing or a curse, I haven't decided yet). I certainly don't have unlimited funds, so I guess a budget of 15-20k would seem reasonable to me. But, if there were large gains to be had at a slightly higher budget then I'm open to that too. (and of course, if I can get similar results for cheaper than 20k that would be fantastic).

My range/performance goals in order of priority are as follows:
1. 3-season vehicle. I live in Central NY and the donor vehicle is 2WD so I won't be using it in the winter.
1a. No need for AC or heat in the cabin. If it is hot I'll roll the windows down and if it's cold I'll wear a coat. I presume this will make the build easier and/or give me a longer range/better performance.

2. At a bare minimum I'll need a 40+ mile range. I live in a very hilly area, so I want to be sure that I can go into town (4 miles) and back home with a few stops and possibly even some cargo.
2a. I'd really love a 150+ mile range though. If I could use this as my only vehicle in the Spring-Fall that would be ideal. If the cost isn't too exorbitant, I'd be willing to invest in a more expensive system to get this kind of range over just a minimum around-town truck.

3. I'd like to keep the ability to carry some cargo in the bed. I've been wondering if the bed could be converted into the battery box by using a lot of conventional lead-acid batteries as a solid layer on the 'floor' of the bed, thereby creating a 'new floor that would be about the same height as the wheel wells, and keeping the costs of the conversion a little lower. I don't know if this makes sense or not. Possibly it is better to have fewer, lithium-ion batteries?

4. This model has two gas tanks. I think it would be super cool to have a tesla charger port in one of the gas tank flaps and another, more standard charging port in the other gas tank flap. I'm guessing the ability to have multiple charging ports would add significant cost? This idea is more of a dream because I think it would be pretty rad to park a 1977 Ford next to a Tesla Model 3 at the Super Charger station.
It seems complicated, but once you get a sense for conversions and such it's not so terrible. People are always surprised to learn that the wiring and electrical is not the hard part: its the fabrication! Building mounts and battery boxes and such is often harder than one would expect going in.

A budget of 15-20k is certainly reasonable, especially with the goals you stated.

If you're only looking for 40 miles of range, you wouldn't need much battery capacity. Lead-acid batteries no longer make sense for conversions as lithium batteries are far lighter and barely more expensive. Plus, lithium batteries last for >10 years, compared to having to replace lead acids every year or two. You'll get better range for the money with lithiums.

So there's really two separate paths you can take here: low range, low budget (relative low, no conversion is cheap!); or high range, high budget.

Low range, low budget: I'd reccommend you go with a kit motor like a hyper 9 and then 5 tesla modules. You could definitely go this route for $20k all-in. I think you'd be able to find space for 5 modules pretty easily without compromising bed/interior space.

High range, high budget: A tesla drive unit and 14 tesla modules would get you probably around 200 miles of range, although this option would set you back probably $30-35k. You would likely have to sacrifice a good bit of cargo space to fit those modules though.

Addressing your last point, unfortunately this isn't really feasible. The Tesla supercharger network is locked down and conversions can't access it. I highly doubt this will change anytime soon. Although on a hardware level, multiple charging ports doesn't add much complexity or cost. It's the software that makes it difficult. The open standard right now is J1772, which is what just about everyone uses in their conversions.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,100 Posts
This is a truck...."Tesla drive unit"????

If you want higher end, forget Tesla. Something like a UQM and Torquebox or Cascadia Motion with an inline reduction gearbox is a superior choice without having to build an independent rear suspension for a 3/4 ton from scratch as you have to using a Tesla drive unit.

Another choice might be what @gregski is doing for propulsion on his in-progress truck build, though I'm not sure how well it'd be suited for a 3/4 ton.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
287 Posts
The problem with the non-OEM, high-voltage motors is that the cost makes them a hard sell for most budgets. With a $20k budget, you'd be spending most of your budget on a motor and inverter if you go that route.

Depends on how much the budget could be stretched, but I doubt that it would make sense unless he wants to drop $45k on this thing.

Another alternative I just thought of: Nissan leaf motor. Can be bolted direct to transmission or use with the original differential, and is also high voltage (so easier to have more battery capacity). For the modest demands of this project it might actually be a perfect fit. Leaf motor+inverter stacks can be had for $1000 and another couple hundred for an aftermarket controller.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top