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Discussion Starter #1
So I just had a crazy idea because I have not entirely been indoctrinated into "the status quo" of doing things. The basic idea is to use the block of the ICE to retrofit with "electric pistons" de-ICE-ing as usual but re-using the block.

Might be worth an experiment, but I wonder if you could DIY coils which would be inserted into the cylinders, sans piston head - replaced with a ferrous rod and "fire" the coils in a traditional firing order thus attracting the new ferrous "pistons" in a rather traditional manner? Drivetrain remains intact - The controller would be rather a simple timing device, heck may even be able to re-use the distributor for timing purposes.

Hopefully I explained the concept sufficiently.

This is just a napkin idea at the moment, but wanted some thoughts on the idea as I am thinking the parts would be way simpler to fabricate and install by a DIYer.
 

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Reciprocating motion is wasteful.

Your modified ICE will be more complicated, produce less power and use more juice than an electric motor of the same weight.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Reciprocating motion is wasteful.

Your modified ICE will be more complicated, produce less power and use more juice than an electric motor of the same weight.
While my "gut" agrees w/u for the majority, still more wasteful than getting maybe 20% from fossil fuel, notwithstanding carbon emissions?

Thanks for the feedback, appreciated. Am wondering if it would be worth a try to gather empirical evidence, rather than just dismissing it.
 

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It would certainly work, and certainly work poorly... which is why no one does this. Even if you could make it work effectively and efficiently, there is no technical advantage to keeping the block (and crankshaft, connecting rods, and lubrication system), and you would just have an overly bulky and heavy motor.

... I wonder if you could DIY coils which would be inserted into the cylinders, sans piston head - replaced with a ferrous rod and "fire" the coils in a traditional firing order thus attracting the new ferrous "pistons" in a rather traditional manner?
That would be a solenoid per cylinder. The mechanical and electromagnetic issues with this are huge and this should be obvious to anyone seriously considering building it.

The controller would be rather a simple timing device, heck may even be able to re-use the distributor for timing purposes.
Just switching power based on crank rotation ("timing") sounds good, but doesn't work in reality, because switching huge currents is never quite that simple.

The distributor (if you have an engine so old that it actually has a distributor) would have some problems, including:
  1. it only fires on every second revolution (assuming a four-stroke engine),
  2. the cap and rotor isn't designed to switch power - the power is fired during during the "on" phase of a contact
  3. the cap and rotor "contacts" don't actually touch (they just get close) so they don't conduct well
  4. the part of the distributor which actually switches power, which was the points in an old mechanical distributor of way back in the last century, and was later electronic, only produces a pulse
  5. the distributor handles a tiny amount of electrical power compared to the power output of the engine... so maybe you could use the distributor from a big V8 engine to power a motor like this for a small toy
Each of these problems kills the idea of using the distributor as a power controller. If none of them occurred to you, I think you're missing the fundamentals to create new automotive technology with engine components.
 

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Your modified ICE will be more complicated, produce less power and use more juice than an electric motor of the same weight.
Or perhaps more precisely, it would be an electric motor, but it would be more complicated, produce less power and use more juice than any conventional electric motor of the same weight and bulk.
 

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Your solution is ridiculous.

But far as I know, literally no one has ever done it.

So, if it interests you to do it, just for the sake of doing it... then do it. And keep a build log here. I'm curious to see what your frankensteining efforts produce.

As to whether it's better, no. We know it's going to be crap. But whatever, do it anyway :p
 

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As Matt suggested, you can do it just to confirm that it's a bad idea. While this wasted effort might seem ridiculous to a lot of us, I do realize that some people just won't believe that a stove is hot until they touch it and burn their hand. Or more seriously, they don't understand the problems with a design until they try to solve them by themselves. On the other hand...
“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself.”
- attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt
 

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While my "gut" agrees w/u for the majority, still more wasteful than getting maybe 20% from fossil fuel, notwithstanding carbon emissions?
But that's not the choice. If you are converting a vehicle with an engine to an EV, there's this difficult, expensive, complex, unproven, and doomed to failure scheme or there's completely replacing the engine with a proven effective and efficient - and readily available - conventional electric motor.
 

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And just to disappoint you even further, your idea is not at all new. What you are speaking of is called a solenoid engine (as, I think, somebody already have pointed out). Here is a v12 prototype. Nobody makes them large for a reason.
 

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Your solution is ridiculous.
LMFAO, thanks!

@Brian_ Your feedback has given some insights which would eliminate it. The main question I wanted to answer is if done this way, is it potentially simpler and easier for a DIYer with limited tools & shoestring budget.

There are complexities I never considered on my napkin sketch, that's why I came here to inquire.

Cheers!
 

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And just to disappoint you even further, your idea is not at all new. What you are speaking of is called a solenoid engine (as, I think, somebody already have pointed out). Here is a v12 prototype. Nobody makes them large for a reason.
Not at all disappointed, nor claiming the idea as new. Nor claiming it would be as efficient as traditional motor - agreed it would definitely not.

I have to admit those builds by davidrobert2007 are pretty darn cool.

Re "nobody makes them large for a reason" - like I said, maybe a crazy idea.

Cheers all, and thanks again for the replies ... Now to source a motor for this 98' Mazda B4000 (Ford Ranger).

Cheers!
 

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Okay, question asked and answered, and all is good. :)

Still, I already wrote this reply, and the discussion may be amusing to those interested in machine design...
And just to disappoint you even further, your idea is not at all new. What you are speaking of is called a solenoid engine (as, I think, somebody already have pointed out). Here is a v12 prototype. Nobody makes them large for a reason.
Great link. I wouldn't have thought to look for anyone who has had actually built something like this.

The primitive commutator is a clever feature, using shaped contacts to provide speed/power control by varying the duty cycle of the applied power. Driving the commutator at half of crankshaft speed is an amusing analog of an engine's camshaft, but it doesn't make sense since it needs to cycle at crank frequency. I thought that perhaps it just had two on periods per revolution, or contacts on each side, but it appears to be constructed to fire a solenoid only on every second rotation. There's no rational reason for this as an electric motor, so I can only guess that the device is intended to demonstrate how a four-stroke engine fires.

Note that while it is large compared to the solenoids and constructed specifically to drive them, the commutator system is still inadequate to handle the fractional-amp current required - it just drives transistors which handle the actual motor current. It could be done without the transistors, but much better brushes (not just those coiled wires) would be required.

If anyone is interested in how this thing was built, I noticed a link to a build video at the end of the demonstration video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k64LixRRfEw

While this is a reciprocating engine using solenoids, maybe it should be made clear that an assembly of commercially produced solenoids is still very far from do-it-yourself solenoids in an engine block. And remind anyone still thinking of this as an engine design that this motor isn't driving anything.

It should be obvious that this toy isn't actually an effective engine, since all it can do with about 24 volts and an amp or two is spin itself at low speed, while driving nothing at all.

Still, it's an amusing device.
 

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A better idea would be to work on the power generation side of the equation. Then, you'd have all the juice needed to run any motor you want. Battery bank technology is expensive and not the most reliable component in the system. I am looking at other manners of motion power. Going Electric is too costly right now to replace my turbocharged ICE vehicle. IMHO.

https://youtu.be/5EL_bLOK8_A
 

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I would just like to say the following.


Good on you for thinking outside the square. Don't be discouraged by the overly negative responses.


I am not discounting some of the specific down sides mentioned in the responses. But the tone in some responses is un justified.


I often come up with whacky and impractical ideas. But my willingness to share them regardless of the negative response often leads to variations of the idea that becomes practical. It's called collaboration.
 

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Others have built solenoid engines, but as noted above, they are not really practical for an EV or any other application needing considerable power. Here is a thread about a solenoid powered "hit and miss" engine, where I offered some suggestions:


http://modelenginemaker.com/index.php?topic=6669.0


A solenoid engine is essentially a switched reluctance motor, except with linear oscillating motion instead of rotary, where the magnetic field is applied to the rotor tangentially. I have thought about making a sort of solenoid engine using a linear actuator with a long stroke provided by three phase induction, or possibly a "rail gun" type mechanism that uses the Lorentz force to accelerate the piston.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railgun


Keep on thinking outside the cubicle ;)
 

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A solenoid engine is essentially a switched reluctance motor, except with linear oscillating motion instead of rotary...
True! A nice way to look at it, and possibly a good way to understand switched reluctance motor, since a solenoid is an easier-to-understand starting point. :)

So to understand why a set of solenoids doesn't make a good motor design: a normal rotary motor does the same thing, without all the extra mechanical complexity and bulk of the reciprocating mechanism.
 

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A major issue is that magnetism works well only for short distances, whereas solenoid motors (and IC and steam engines) have fairly long strokes. I think the hit-n-miss engine I showed uses a spring to quickly absorb and then more slowly release the energy imparted by the solenoid.

A rotary electric motor essentially has dozens of magnetic poles in the rotor and stator, that operate in close proximity, along a rather large surface area, so there can be a lot of rotational force. And a rotating element can spin at very high speeds with no loss of inertia due to oscillating mass of pistons and connecting rods.
 

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If only for the sake of nostalgia, it might be worth pursuing. If someone desperately wanted to keep the engine, but make it electric, this would be an interesting way to go. Instead a simple solenoid powering "pistons" which only push in one direction, how about linear accelerators that would work in both directions, as well as using the whole stroke? - Edit - reading back through the posts, it looks like Paul already suggested something like that, :)

However, as the proceeding clever folks have pointed out, this would a very expensive, time-consuming, inefficient, and complicated way to make an EV.

My "someday" nostalgia project will involve swapping the jugs from a BMW boxer engine (or a Harley V-Twin) with electric motors. Obviously an undertaking in the interest of nostalgia as well, but working with the strengths of electric motors. The only inefficiencies will be the extra bevel gears in the driveline. This could also work with many different air-cooled engines, even a VW/Porsche engine. A 911 with six small brushless motors working together, could produce quite an interesting electro-mechanical symphony (would probably sound like a TIE Fighter rushing by, lol).

Fun stuff to think about...
 
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