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My Brain is full. So now what do I do?

4623 Views 13 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  m38mike

I'm a raw neophyte trying to learn as much as I can from everyone before I jump in and start screwing things up trying to build something.

I'd like to thank everyone for sharing all this great information. I've been reading over everyone's shoulder for a couple of months now.

There are too many good posters to mention them all, but I'll hit a few of the highlights:

1. I've read all of Jim Hustead's (HiTorqueElectric) posts. Heck... I not only searched the archives and read all of his posts, but I read every entire thread that he has ever posted in. I also have drilled through his entire website. I learned a great deal. Thank You Jim.

2. I've been digging through every build thread I can find. (Sorry your cars got smashed Brian, just when I was getting through your build thread your car was gone. Felt like I got kicked in the groin. What a let down. I'm sure you felt a lot worse than me. I was just living vicariously through your posts, but still. That su#$%ed! It was a nice car while it lasted, and I still learned a lot.)

3. I've watched about every YouTube vid that I can find. Yes, I've seen all of Gavin's, Ben's, Forkenswift, n2confusion, and a bunch of others. Thanks guys.

4. I've been digging through various blogs too. Too many for me to remember them all.

5. I've read the entire Wiki. Good Stuff.

Here are the most important points that I think I've learned so far:

1. If I want to save some money, I need to learn to weld. My Grandfather had a welder and I sputtered with it when I was younger. Didn't have a clue what I was doing, but I manged to stick a few things together. Time for me to get serious and get the proper equipment and safety gear. I'll need to invest the time and energy to practice and get it right. There's no doubt in my mind it will pay off in the long run. (I've got more things I'd like to do than just mess with EV's and welding would sure help me do them (is that sacrilige to say on this message board?).

2. I want to start with a small screwup before I begin my bigger more expensive screwups. I'm thinking about building a bicycle trailer that has and electric assist capacity. Yes, I'll need brakes on it too, but it seems like a fun starter project. At least it should be fun until I have my first crash. Who knows? Maybe I'll invest in a good camera in get the whole thing on YouTube and you guys can laugh at the old guy tumbling off his bicycle. Why do I envision the trailer rolling on down the road without me to mock me? Eh... I'll get over it... I hope. Maybe I better double check to see if my health insurance is all paid up? Once I fix all of my mistakes on that small bike trailer project, then maybe I'll move up to a conversion of some kind. Then I get to make more expensive mistakes.

3. It's all about the details. The basic concepts make everything seem so simple (in some ways, that's probably correct), but getting all those details just right are what makes a project safe, reliable, efficient, and... well... USEFUL. Making an expensive toy is one thing, making something you and your family can depend upon every day is something completely different.

I've learned a lot more and probably forgotten 3/4th's of it already, but I keep plugging away.

My brain hurts. It's crammed full, and I know there's a lot more to learn. Everything I read from now on is probably going to cost me as it forces old knowedge out my ears. My daughter says I don't even know how to dress myself already. Will I now lose eye-hand coordination and verbal skills as I learn more?


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Thanks Pete.

Right now my expectations are probably already too high.

1. I expect to have fun.
2. I expect to build a little trailer that doesn't kill me.

I don't really have any big performance goals. It's more of an excuse to build something small. I'm not much of a motorcycle type, so this seemed a reasonable compromise. If I can build something safe, controllable, and using the basic princples I've learn that apply to car conversions, I'll be very happy.

I'm thinking a tiny pump motor and a cheap lower voltage system. Cheap small lead batteries. Not looking for extravagant performance, just functional proof of concept. More trying to prove to myself that I can build something than trying to prove the motor can push me.

I'm well aware of reasonable expectations on an eventual car conversion. No problem there. 20 miles in round town non-highway range is reasonable. 40 miles is possible. More than that gets really expensive. I'm comfortable with those numbers. Actual performance will vary a lot depending upon what I finally decide to do. Those decisions will wait until I've cut my teeth, or broken them falling off a bike.
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I'm no EV expert yet-my brain is far from full-but I suspect that a bike with a Pusher trailer might be inherently unstable, especially in turns and particularly if your trailer uses the popular swivel hitch. The bike and Pusher could easily end up going in separate directions! :(

Have you considered mounting the motor on the bike ...

You've hit upon the one area that has my highest concern.

Part of my logic is that this will be a bit of an experiment. Control will be everything. Trailer brakes will be critical, but there will be more to it than that.

I'm convinced that the trailer hitch will need to mount as low on the bicycle as practical. (that probably means somewhere near the real axle.) The higher the hitch is located the more the trailer might want to push me over in a turn.

Yes, I've considered mounting the motor on the bicycle. It is a tried and proven method. If I were to go down that path, I wouldn't want to do it to one of my nice bicycles that I already ride. I would want to go find one at a garage sale or something. That is certainly a possibility.

Part of my desire to lean toward a pusher trailer would be that it could be interchanged on any bike I chose (more or less.)

Keep in mind that my expectations are pretty low as far as performance goes. I'm not looking for rapid starts, or fantastic speeds. My hope would be to only have a pusher trailer that would essentially push itself and whatever payload I have on it with a tiny little extra. I expect that I'll still be doing a significant amount of effort with good old fashioned pedals. In fact, it seems to me that lower gear ratios for the moter may not be desirable at all. Human power for 1st gear and startups seems fine. The trailer would be pushing for uphill and long sustained straighaways once I'm riding in a stable manner already. I don't anticipate using it in a busy urban environment. I don't like biking those environements much at my age anyway. I'm no teenage daredevil.

I agree that powering through corners would probably be very unstable, especially going downhill. Hence, I expect that the trailer will be coasting through any turn that is very sharp. I've actually considered this while riding my bike, and it's extremely rare that I'm applying pedal force through any sharp turns. I can't imagine wanting to gun the accelerator on a trailer when I'm not willing to pedal.
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Thanks to everyone for your input.

One thing I may not have made clear is that one of the primary goals for the bike trailer is my own personal education. It's intended to be a small project to give me some experience in some areas where my skills are lacking.

Welding is a skill I lack that I definitely want to learn. While I hardly think that welding up a bike trailer will make me an expert welder, it's as good of an excuse as any to get me started. I figure if I can weld up a bike trailer that hauls around payload, motor, batteries, and absorb the pounding on the pavement, then battery racks in a car conversion shouldn't be a lot more difficult.

The "Bob Trailer" design is interesting. I hadn't considered that type of a design before. Clearly I won't be purchasing one, but I might try to weld up something similar. Bending curved tubes or other metal to form the curved front without getting kinks might be tricky without a fancy pipe bender, but maybe I can rig something up.

I suppose I could build a more boxey prow. I'd lose some aerodynamics, but it would be a lot more simple to build.

The downside to the BOB design is that half the weight on the trailer is added to the rear bicycle wheel. Ideally the trailer would hold most of it's own weight. Of course this depends upon whether the trailer is loaded with most of the weight toward the rear or toward the front.

I need to figure out what kind of max gross weight I expect to have on the trailer and make sure I don't exceed what one bicycle wheel can safely handle.

Up until now, I had figured on building a rather generic trailer something like this one:
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