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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
"Trying is the first step towards failure." - Homer

"I've made a huge mistake." - Gob

Instagram feed: @RaidenMotors https://www.instagram.com/raidenmotors/

There is no amount of research that will give you the knowledge and experience of actual doing, so I'm shrugging at my ignorance and na簿vet矇 and jumping in.

On my most ambitious day in automotive procurement thus far, I acquired both a (wrecked, drivable) 2014 Nissan Leaf SL as well as a JDM-spec 1992 Rover Mini Mark VI. My plan is to take the Leaf drivetrain and stuff it into the Mini. Wish me luck.

Performance goals:
- 50mi range.
- 75mph top speed.
- One gear.

Amenity goals:
- Air conditioning.
- Heated seats.
- Onboard charging.

Hopefuls:
- Stock look.
- 100mi range.
- Defrost/heat.
- Fast charging.
- Success.

There are two major hurdles for me, as far as I can see:

1) Get the Leaf motor spinning on a bench.

2) Get everything physically installed in the Mini.

Both are rife with unknowns and tribulations, but I guess that's the "fun"?

I'm exploring the Leaf hurdle in this thread. Plan A is to just transport over everything I need to trick the motor into thinking it's a Leaf on the wind. Plan B is to buy kits from some of the mad scientists around here to escape from all the proprietary Nissan stuff. Plan C is a Hyper9 adapted to a CRV transmission mounted to a Honda conversion subframe.

For the physical installation, I'm winging it, and I'm nervous. The best guide I have is photos from this thread where someone in Germany basically did a lot of what I'm hoping to do. It mostly involves a custom front subframe and axles.

I'm gonna eyeball the front subframe, but I anticipate installing something aftermarket both because I think they have a better chance of fitting the motor, and I would also like to upgrade the brakes and suspension while I'm mucking around here.

I would like to keep the whole battery in the same configuration, but package it differently behind the front seats. There might be room in the boot, but 400lb behind the rear axle seems extreme. 400lb of batteries behind the front seats also seems extreme, but I'm not sure how easy it will be to stuff battery modules throughout the engine bay, boot, and interior, but that's also an option (as is ditching half the pack, probably).

All told, I expect the Mini to come in well under 2,000 pounds with driver.

 

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Decades ago I did something similar ish
I put a Lancia engine and gearbox in my mini

The basic system was
Remove the front of the mini - front subframe, outer wings and inner wings
This gets you the front bulkhead

I then moved the Lancia "front subframe" into place and made up some support structure to hold it and the Lancia front suspension in place

I initially slapped a widened Clubman front on to cover it - But it was UGLY

So I managed to fit a proper mini front - at that stage the radiator was in the boot with air intakes behind the doors
 

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Get a new brain board for the inverter from Paulholmes, and you'll no longer need the Leaf VCM. Also you gain control of the motor.

Sent from my G3223 using Tapatalk
 

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I'm exploring the Leaf hurdle in this thread. Plan A is to just transport over everything I need to trick the motor into thinking it's a Leaf on the wind. Plan B is to buy kits from some of the mad scientists around here to escape from all the proprietary Nissan stuff.


I am nearing completion of my Suzuki Samurai conversion utilizing the leaf components alone. Other than some DTC/CAN troubleshooting and the fact that I am traveling for work, I'm almost there. With that said, I spent a large amount of time troubleshooting and bench testing the entire system, getting it to run on the proprietary Nissan components before installing into the Samurai. Everything worked. Following installation, that all changed.

In hindsight, I believe my time would have been better spent getting everything to work with components such as Paul's board, Wolf's BMS chip( when/if he decides to make it available) and Wolf's pack sniffer2. Also, Skooler mentioned in another thread that Indra will soon have an option for a controller.

After purchasing a new 2018 leaf and driving it for the last year, I have really enjoyed the E-pedal feature. This is a function that the 2013 leaf - and my Samurai will not have. Being able to use the motor to brake is a feature that I find extremely useful which has me leaning towards switching my strategy to utilizing what you described as "Plan B".

Best of luck with whatever you choose!
 

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Fortunately, this Mini conversion won't require the extent of bodywork or structural work that Duncan did, because the motor and transaxle should fit. Track dimension is an issue, so even if the Leaf axle shafts worked with Mini hubs (they won't) they would need to be made shorter... still much easier than fitting in the wildly wide stuff that Duncan's car used (for a very different type of car).

I think it's reasonable to assume that the subframe is key. Starting with a commercially-produced subframe (intended for conversion to some other engine) makes sense because it will have all of the body and suspension mounting points in the right places, but it will need to be significantly modified to fit the Leaf drive unit... and that seems like a reasonable approach to me. For someone with enough experience, building a subframe from scratch would be less expensive.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I spent a large amount of time troubleshooting and bench testing the entire system, getting it to run on the proprietary Nissan components before installing into the Samurai. Everything worked. Following installation, that all changed.
Whoa, that's alarming. What changed? Did you solve the issue?

I'm down to buy a new board to untether myself from proprietary stuff, but I want to be sure it replaces enough hassle to be worth it. If I get Paul's board and ditch the VCM, what can go with it?
 

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Whoa, that's alarming. What changed? Did you solve the issue?

I'm down to buy a new board to untether myself from proprietary stuff, but I want to be sure it replaces enough hassle to be worth it. If I get Paul's board and ditch the VCM, what can go with it?
I have not solved the issue yet, as I am away for work. A number of things can go wrong though when fitting things into the vehicle. Between the VCM, BCM, LBC, IPDM, Inverter PDM an the entire harness, lots to get right when finally installing into the vehicle. My issue could be as simple as a bad ground, or possibly as complicated as an accidental mis-wire. Additionally, CAN is susceptible to crosstalk so perhaps my wire runs are messed up. A number of things that I could have screwed up. However, a key point is that whatever is wrong it is my fault.

Originally I thought this would be the faster approach - and cheaper for getting my conversion on the road. Gaining more control over the entire system would be of benefit to me long term though.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Well, the Leaf showed up, and it seems to be in good condition. It drives on its own and has been plugged in for the last few hours. Seems to be charging and balancing pretty well, with no bad cells that I can detect. Water pump is whirring away, and it even came with a fast charger and nav.

When the car arrived, the traction battery was probably sitting at 5% for weeks. I was lucky to get it into my driveway before it refused to move. I think the battery is at about 80% of new capacity, which will work for me. I wonder if it has the "lizard" battery (which is rumored to have been quietly phased in starting in 2013).

It's a neat car! Under the knife it goes! Phase 1 is to try and get the motor spinning on a bench...Phase 1a is figuring out everything I might want to pull from this Leaf before I put it up on eBay...







LeafSpy app screenshots:



 

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Discussion Starter #9
Some progress. Teardown is pretty straightforward. You just...pull stuff off. The hardest bit is freeing the wires and connectors. I used the Nissan dismantling guide for some, and the factory manuals posted earlier are very helpful for figuring out how things go together and come apart. Now is not a bad time to drain the coolant from the motor and radiator.



I managed to get the battery sled out by using two jacks, slowly lowering each side an inch or two, one after the other. The rear jack is a motorcycle scissor lift that came in handy due to its wide base and castors. I more or less did a variation of this guy's triple hydraulic jack approach. It goes faster with a friend.

Next challenge is to figure out the easiest way to unstick the battery sled cover...and I also need to figure out how to remove the axles from the gearbox...and a bunch of other things, but...







 

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Discussion Starter #10
The gasket seal on the 2013+ battery covers is a monster. If you're looking to tear one down, a multi-tool will be your best friend.

This was helpful, though he does not demonstrate how much work is involved in releasing that gasket:

https://www.summet.com/blog/2015/04/17/how-to-open-a-2013-nissan-leaf-battery-pack-and-remove-the-modules/

I attempted to use my shop crane to simply peel it off from one corner, and it ripped through the eye hole before it even budged. Then I tried a hammer and a chisel with some success. Then I tried an air chisel and it was worse. Then I looked up "power spreaders" and "gasket knives" with nothing promising...then I remembered my multi-tool.

It's not a slam dunk; it still took me an hour or two. The best method I'm aware of is:

1) Go around the whole cover and pry up the lip so there's ample room for the multi-tool blade.

2) Apply some upward pressure (if you can) to prevent the multi-tool from getting bogged down between the rubber as it cuts. I used my shop crane, but a floor jack and some S-hooks would do it. It just helps spread things and improve visibility.

3) Like when cutting something a bit thick with a razor blade, do several "light" passes as opposed to trying to cut through the whole gasket at once.

4) Leave one long side intactyou'll be able to clam-shell it with three sides free.

 

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... before I put it up on eBay...

I put mine on Craigslist when I got everything off of it that I wanted. The only thing I ended up selling was the hubcaps, wiper blades and the center tail light. Some guy asked for the rear seats but could never seem to get to my house to pick them up. I ended up taking the shell to the scrap yard.



I wish the best in getting rid of yours.



B
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Bit of progress. I got the main module packs out with the help of a shop crane and some dollies. Disassembly was reasonably straightforward with a pair of high-voltage gloves and docs/videos of others who have done it. The hardest part was the cabling clips, really. They can be tough to get to, and there are two kindsyou'll have to take a look behind to see how to release them. I don't know why I didn't just pry them all out, but I'm trying to exercise patience with this project...

Does anyone know how to tell if this is the "lizard" battery pack? I couldn't find any info on it.

To save me the hassle of removing a bunch of components that I would have to put back on, I'm just gonna cut the axles at the wheelI'll only need (at most) one side anyway! Hopefully they'll pry out of the motor side fairly easily, but that is yet to be seen...Not much info out there on this bit, as I think most drop the front subframe. After reading about the procedure in the factory manual, I don't want to go through all that...I'm just gonna free the axles, unbolt the motor mounts, and yank it out the top.





 

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Discussion Starter #14
More progress on the "easy" part...I cut the axles and they pried out of the gearbox easily. I dunno how I'll mate them to the Mini wheels, but I'm hoping the answer lies under the rubber boot. Once everything was out of the engine bay, the motor lifted out with ease. I've pulled my first motor.

The hardest part of this teardown is dealing with the wiring harness. I've never seen so many wires, clips, and connectors in an automobile. Very few major components are actually detachable such that it looks like I'll need to take apart the entire dashboard and center console, disconnect everything, then fish the whole nervous system forward through the hole in the firewall. I wish I knew what was unused and safe to cut off.

The prospect of getting all this stuff in the Mini is proving daunting. Progress?





 

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Discussion Starter #16
I plan to control the Leaf stack by keeping all the Leaf stuff more or less intact...Excluding standard 12v components, everything in the Mini will think it's a Leaf...

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face, so we'll see what happens when I start snaking wires around...
 

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I plan to control the Leaf stack by keeping all the Leaf stuff more or less intact...Excluding standard 12v components, everything in the Mini will think it's a Leaf...



Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face, so we'll see what happens when I start snaking wires around...
We've done that a few times now. Doable but complicated - you'll start getting odd behaviours that don't quite make sense! let me know if you have any questions. I posted a list of components required in the reusing with vcm thread a couple of years ago.

Sent from my SM-N950F using Tapatalk
 

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I plan to control the Leaf stack by keeping all the Leaf stuff more or less intact...Excluding standard 12v components, everything in the Mini will think it's a Leaf...

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face, so we'll see what happens when I start snaking wires around...
We've done that a few times now. Doable but complicated - you'll start getting odd behaviours that don't quite make sense! let me know if you have any questions. I posted a list of components required in the reusing with vcm thread a couple of years ago.

Sent from my SM-N950F using Tapatalk
How much of the dashboard did you have to remove to get the electrical out? We're you able to do it without taking the doors apart?
 

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I'm following with interest, keep up the good work. :)

It's going to be a very tight squeeze getting this lot into the original Mini! Are you planning to turn it into a 2 seater to make more room for the batteries?
 

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How much of the dashboard did you have to remove to get the electrical out? We're you able to do it without taking the doors apart?

I took my dash completely apart because I wanted everything out of it so I don't know the minimum. The doors have connectors so you likely won't have to take them apart. I did everything without removing the doors from the chassis, too.


Bill
 
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