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Starting out

7361 Views 69 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  JRoque
So i plan on buying a car from a junk yard, taking out all the metal parts and leaving only the basic like wheels and steering wheel. Then i want to attach a DC motor (i would go with AC but AC is far more expensive and i don't have much money, I'm only 17 with a job where i make usually more than $100 a week.) to the back axle. Would having the dc motor directly connected to the axle work? In order to manage speed i was thinking of ringing something like a pedal with a switch like a dim switch that you put on the wall.

I need a good cheap motor and controllers and just the essentials. Any suggestions are extremely welcomed! Thank you all!
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Taking out all the metal parts will only leave you with some plastic and rubber from the tires :)

Aside. Why take a stripped out vehicle like that? What is your purpose for this setup? I'd hook up any motor to the transmission because it will allow for better control. Direct takes away some gearing and makes things more difficult. Why are you wanting to build a junky electric chassis? Makes no sense? Why junk?

Pete :)
OK then how do i go about changing/converting the car?
I get a car from a junk yard or a doner what? I need basic newby help.
As stated i don't have too much money, and i probably won't build it real soon but theirs no harm in having the knowledge on how to do it. It's all for the leaning experience for me.
I'm going to move this thread to the conversions and builds forum.

Hunter, have a read of the 'sticky' thread at the top of the forum about where to start.
oh ok. sorry for the wrong location. Thank you!
I guess the simple way to start is to find the right car first.
Figure out what sort of car would be best suited to your needs, probably something small and lightweight, but also consider if you need luggage space, passenger space, etc.

Have a look in the garage to see what conversions have been built on the same car and what sort of cost and performance is likely.

Also find out where you can get access to scrap fork lift trucks local to you, a breaker of repair works may be able to help but also look for non runners or faulty forklifts for sale locally. You can then buy the whole thing and remove the parts you want before selling the rest.

Do ask for opinions here before you commit your cash to a purchase.

A low budget doesn't exclude you from making a good conversion but it does mean more time spent searching for good budget parts.
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So i get the motor from a forklift? Would that be cheaper than buying a new motor?
So i get the motor from a forklift? Would that be cheaper than buying a new motor?
For your average car conversion you would look for a fork lift motor of around 9" diameter up to about 12" diameter.
There is a sticky at the top of the motors forum that tells you about using forklift motors but given a Warp9 is around $1800 but you can pick up a similar sized forklift motor for maybe scrap metal price or a little over.

I picked up an 11" motor still attached to an axle and with wheels, so I have the scrap value of 400lbs of steel, for £150 here in the UK. There is a fork lift breaker I know of who just has a warehouse full of motors for £300 a piece.

However you look at it that is a big saving that can be used towards buying a controller and batteries.

I would also suggest loking at the Paul and Sabrina Open Revolt controller kit.
Is a forklift motor strong enough to move a small car at 40 mph? Does it get good range? Is there a way to do regenerative breaking with it? Can you do regen braking with a permanent magnet DC motor?
Is a forklift motor strong enough to move a small car at 40 mph? Does it get good range? Is there a way to do regenerative breaking with it? Can you do regen braking with a permanent magnet DC motor?
OK, lets thake this back a step.

You have a limited budget, forget regen. If you managed to get a return from it it would not be worth as much as the cost of getting it unless you lived in a really hilly area and drove a lot. An affordable motor is likely to be a series motor and so not really good for regen anyway. A PM motor would be better but will cost more.

A small forklift truck weighs maybe 3-4tons and will carry maybe another 2 tons. The motor will be plenty strong enough. You just need to run a higher voltage for speed and get the gear ratios right.
My 11" came out of a 4ton capacity truck.

Do have a look at the cars in the garage and see what they are using and read that sticky thread in Motors.
You, Woodsmith, sir, are AWESOME! Thank you! Now to find a forklift dealer in Miami, FL.
How much do forklifts run for? Oh and if there is no regen braking, does that mean i need more batteries for better range?
There have been builds done for around $500.00.

Search for threads by Stunt Driver ?/ and vpoppov. Both names might need a little changing to be correct, but, you need to do some research, first.

These guys will be more than helpful, BUT, you have to read some threads, and have a better handle on what this involves.

Lots of guys come on here and ask to be spoon fed. When they are told what I just wrote to you, some get indignant. Others go off and never come back. The few that take advice, and read and search, all have successful builds. :)

I've been hanging around here, for over 2 years. Still don't have a build started, BUT, I'm getting closer.

Some guys start out with a motorcycle build. It's cheaper, a bit easier, and more affordable, buying used parts off the Internet or scrap yards. Basics are pretty much the same. Do your research, then, come on back and ask away. :)
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My drawback is the money i have to put into this. I don't want to do a motorcycle cause i wouldn't use it cause they are more dangerous and well frankly i prefer cars.
So basically i get a motor and put that onto the transmission while leaving on the AC, windows, dashboard? I don't need a suped up car, just something basic to get me from one place to the other and then later add in things. Any ideas who would be able to help me out with the removal of engine /engine parts?
Likewise I haven't much money and if you have a look at the two threads in my sig you will see what I am working with.

'Me Wee Beasty' is a tractor that I scratch built to learn about the process of using electric motors to drive stuff. I knew about as much as you when I joined the forum and had high ambitions. The ambitions are still there but tempered with a lot of learning and a little then a pinch of realism.
My Trike is the road going version I started because I found that I couldn't afford to convert a Toyota MR2. Well, I could afford to convert it but I couldn't afford the batteries to run it for my needs.

The trike is a cut down, light weight commuter that uses what I can get cheaply. I have an 11" motor for it because it will definately do the job, and some. I do have a 9" motor but as it was given to me to experiment with I may well pass it on to another more needy local to use.

My budget is zero. I scrounge, beg borrow and trade to get parts. As a part time trainee teacher my income is minimal but my hours long and trying. I still managed to scratch build a tractor pretty much from scrap metal yard finds and the Trike will be done the same way, slowly and cheaply.
Just about everything I have bought can be resold either as is or as scrap metal.

Now we know where you are based, someone else may be able to give you a pointer to a fork truck parts place. Keep an eye on Ebay too, fork lift motors, DC motors, EV motors, non runners, kit car projects, unfinished projects, etc and you may come across something that is useful.

The idea is to keep reading and keep looking. It often doesn't matter if you get a car or a motor first, or some other component. But do read, a lot!

BTW, I'm not awsome, the likes of major, jackbauer, Tesseract, Qer, Jimdear2, Toddshotrods, CroDriver, gottdi, just to name a few are awsome. I'm just stuck indoors today with a bug that I am hoping isn't more then just a cold.
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Im in Miami Florida. Is it illegal to use a go-cart on the road instead of a car? Building a go-cart or a trike would be much easier than converting a car. I might start with that.
Well, legal or not on the road it would be a good place to start.
You can pick up a small motor and controller and maybe a few lead acid batteries and have something you can buzz around a parking lot while you are learning how throttle pots work, and the importance of chargers, and what happens if the transmission fails and the motor spins to death.:D

That was what my tractor was for. I found out that a little 7" golf buggy motor on 48V was enough to pull wheelies until it smashed my Ransomes transaxle.:eek:

Go here: and use the search function to have a look at all the cars that may be of interest. Far more at this site than in our garage. Cost of forklifts are dependent upon how savvy you are at finding them. By all means take good photos (not from your phone) and post them with questions about if it would be good to use. Basically you want a motor of 9" average size diameter and a shaft that is a keyed shaft for ease of conversion. It can have a dual ended shaft. Shafts with splines are not a deal killer. But keyed are easier to deal with. Be sure your motor has dual brushes per brush holder. It needs to be a series motor with 4 equal sized terminals coming from the motor. From there you want to have a look at the commutator. Good photos come in handy here. You don't want it tore up but smooth and dark is ok. But we don't want burnt either. Many large motors are good to use and will usually live up to 5000 rpm and up to 144 volts. If you go with 120 or more volts you should advance the motor. Some motors have built in ability to be advanced or retarded or neutral. Some don't. Not a deal killer but again makes it harder to deal with the fork motors for your conversion.

Choosing a vehicle is what do you want to drive. Not what is available. Drive what you like. I like the VW. My first was a Ghia and I am working on an MG and building a 67 VW Bus. So get what you want. Don't cut corners but be frugal and hunt for good deals and you can build a pretty nice vehicle. When you get your car, get one that is clean and not a rust bucket. In other words don't buy a POS that need thousands to restore just to daily driver status. Unless like me you want something that will require that if you can't afford the money up front. Costs of the vehicle will play a part in your total budget. Plan for it.

Pete :)
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What are "throttle pots" and what is it when a "motor spins to death."? (doesn't sound like a nice experience)
Throttle potentiometers control the input signal for the controller to control the voltage into the motor. Do not run a DC Series motor with more than 12 volts under a no load condition. This is what happens.

Pete :)
So a Throttle potentiometers tells the controller how much electricity to pass to the motor or tells the driver how much is being passed?
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