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Hi, everyone. I'm writing looking for advice and/or real world, dirty hands help to restart a dormant conversion project. Here are some details:

  • '73 VW Super Beetle
  • Conversion kit from Wilderness EV in Utah - they don't offer this kit anymore
  • Shunt motor
  • 48V system
  • Kit was controller-less on/off
  • Car ran like that for a little while, but kept blowing parts due to crazy initial loads when switching on
  • Purchased Alltrax controller but scared to hook it up because it's expensive and I don't know what I'm doing.
  • Project has been sitting in my driveway for several years now. It would please my wife greatly if I either sold it or got it running. I'd prefer to finish it, but need help.
  • I wrote an article about my experiences (combined with a review of WKTEC) which you can read if you like. It's here (but I don't work there anymore).
I'm in Fort Collins, CO - is there anyone in the region who would like to help me plan and execute the Alltrax controller installation? Failing that, are there businesses you can recommend to help me out? Failing that, can anyone provide some online hand-holding to get me through the project?

Thanks for whatever support you're able to provide.

--Rich
 

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Hi and welcome to the forum.

I'm not much help as i don't know anything about the controller having not got there myself yet but I do wish you luck in your project. It sounds like a good one to me.

There are people here who will be able to advise you more. Maybe you could post some more about what the installation is like now with some photos?
 

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Does your conversion have a clutch? If it is direct coupled, switching the car on is a huge electrical surge -- I could see that blowing things up. Switching it on in neutral and easing out a clutch would be much gentler. Even better would be to start up with a starting resistor for a moment, let the motor start spinning, and then connect it directly. If you have a clutch, you also have the option to let the motor idle all the time.

You also want to be sure the field is switched on first and turned off last. If you turn the field and armature on at the same time, the armature starts drawing current much faster and has a huge current spike.

You also want to be sure to start with full field. I once started with no field by accident. It promptly vaporized a battery cable!

Good luck, I'll hope to hear you are back on the road soon!
Hi, everyone. I'm writing looking for advice and/or real world, dirty hands help to restart a dormant conversion project. Here are some details:

  • '73 VW Super Beetle
  • Conversion kit from Wilderness EV in Utah - they don't offer this kit anymore
  • Shunt motor
  • 48V system
  • Kit was controller-less on/off
  • Car ran like that for a little while, but kept blowing parts due to crazy initial loads when switching on
  • Purchased Alltrax controller but scared to hook it up because it's expensive and I don't know what I'm doing.
  • Project has been sitting in my driveway for several years now. It would please my wife greatly if I either sold it or got it running. I'd prefer to finish it, but need help.
  • I wrote an article about my experiences (combined with a review of WKTEC) which you can read if you like. It's here (but I don't work there anymore).
I'm in Fort Collins, CO - is there anyone in the region who would like to help me plan and execute the Alltrax controller installation? Failing that, are there businesses you can recommend to help me out? Failing that, can anyone provide some online hand-holding to get me through the project?

Thanks for whatever support you're able to provide.

--Rich
 

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sounds like you need to go thru schematics from the start, and PROBABLY yank all the old junk and start fresh. I would recommend 96v minimum, and 120v system is much more drivable.

Get the basic old bible 'convert it' and make sure you understand the high voltage components, and the separation between high and old 12v low voltage stuff.... absolutely use a quality controller, circuit breaker, fuses, etc.....
 

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The instructions for the controller should include a schematic that shows how you hook it up. If you did not get any instructions, you can probably download them from alltrax.

As was recommended before, get ahold of "convert it" or the other commonly recommended one "build your own electric vehicle" by bob brandt. Read and understand before doing anything.

Assuming your conversion does still have a clutch, I would NOT recommend applying 48V to a motor if it has no load on it. It is too easy to over-rev and damage or destroy the motor doing this.

I will also echo the concern raised about the system voltage. 48V is very low for a full sized car. I would not expect a usable top speed much past 25mph. If cost is a major concern, you can at least go to 72V without likely needing to spend much more on anything. Once you go past 72v (out of golf cart territory) stuff does start getting more expensive.

Good Luck.
 

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A shunt motor shouldn't overrev on 48 V. Wilderness EV did sell some kits with a shunt motor and a rheostat to control the field.

Corich, hopefully your controller is for shunt/sepex motors?
The instructions for the controller should include a schematic that shows how you hook it up. If you did not get any instructions, you can probably download them from alltrax.

As was recommended before, get ahold of "convert it" or the other commonly recommended one "build your own electric vehicle" by bob brandt. Read and understand before doing anything.

Assuming your conversion does still have a clutch, I would NOT recommend applying 48V to a motor if it has no load on it. It is too easy to over-rev and damage or destroy the motor doing this.

I will also echo the concern raised about the system voltage. 48V is very low for a full sized car. I would not expect a usable top speed much past 25mph. If cost is a major concern, you can at least go to 72V without likely needing to spend much more on anything. Once you go past 72v (out of golf cart territory) stuff does start getting more expensive.

Good Luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Wow, what an exciting response! I'll try to answer most of the questions you guys posed.

  • Photos: Sure, I can get some pictures. It doesn't photograph too well, but I'll do what I can. Give me a day or so.
  • Clutch: Yes, sorry I didn't mention it. Since it's a shunt motor, it can handle spinning with no load at all, so the original kit's M. O. was to turn the motor "on", and feather the clutch out to get moving.
  • I was recently given the two books y'all suggested. I haven't read them yet - they seemed awfully dated, so I wasn't sure if it would be worthwhile to do so. Since they seem highly regarded, I'll read them.
  • DavidDymaxion's questions about "field" went over my head, pretty much. I guess I'm short ;^) I think you mean the current that creates the magnetic field; I think WEV shipped the motor already set up. The kit instructions basically told me to bolt voltage onto it (with a contactor in the circuit, of course) and that was all it took. It does spike pretty impressively when turned on, even without load. My ammeter would register a brief 400+amp surge before settling in near zero when I hit the gas. So maybe they are coming on at the same time? I would have absolutely no idea how to change that.
  • dtbaker suggests more batteries. I already have 8 x 6V deep cycle batteries, and there's not much room (spatial or fiscal) for more. I could get to 72V only by pulling the spare tire and giving up a lot of my grocery space in the nose. I should mention that I never wanted much more than "neighborhood" performance from it, but I have 3 kids and a wife to carry. It definitely did 35 before, though the range was disappointing, especially with kids aboard.
  • Come to think of it, at 35 mph, the car drew upwards of 350 amps and seemed to have a range of less than 10 miles. I'm definitely listening to the 72V suggestions, if you'd care to elaborate.
  • dtbaker's idea of "yanking out the old junk" could work - I'm price sensitive, but also willing to consider more modern systems if they'll get me a dramatically better result and clear instructions.
  • And DavidDymaxion, the controller is indeed intended for shunt motors. It's an Alltrax DCX series, I believe the DCX 400. I'll try to confirm that the next time the sun is up.
Thanks to all of you for taking the time to answer. I'll try to get you photos and a bit more info shortly.

--Rich
 

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You already have the controller, so that sounds like the best way to go. If nothing else, it won't do those huge current spikes, so your range should be a bit better.

My 48 V car pulls about 1/2 the current your car pulls to go 35 mph. I wonder if something might be wrong. Is anything getting hot? Do the wheels spin easily? Do wheels get hot from dragging brakes?
Wow, what an exciting response! I'll try to answer most of the questions you guys posed.

  • Photos: Sure, I can get some pictures. It doesn't photograph too well, but I'll do what I can. Give me a day or so.
  • Clutch: Yes, sorry I didn't mention it. Since it's a shunt motor, it can handle spinning with no load at all, so the original kit's M. O. was to turn the motor "on", and feather the clutch out to get moving.
  • I was recently given the two books y'all suggested. I haven't read them yet - they seemed awfully dated, so I wasn't sure if it would be worthwhile to do so. Since they seem highly regarded, I'll read them.
  • DavidDymaxion's questions about "field" went over my head, pretty much. I guess I'm short ;^) I think you mean the current that creates the magnetic field; I think WEV shipped the motor already set up. The kit instructions basically told me to bolt voltage onto it (with a contactor in the circuit, of course) and that was all it took. It does spike pretty impressively when turned on, even without load. My ammeter would register a brief 400+amp surge before settling in near zero when I hit the gas. So maybe they are coming on at the same time? I would have absolutely no idea how to change that.
  • dtbaker suggests more batteries. I already have 8 x 6V deep cycle batteries, and there's not much room (spatial or fiscal) for more. I could get to 72V only by pulling the spare tire and giving up a lot of my grocery space in the nose. I should mention that I never wanted much more than "neighborhood" performance from it, but I have 3 kids and a wife to carry. It definitely did 35 before, though the range was disappointing, especially with kids aboard.
  • Come to think of it, at 35 mph, the car drew upwards of 350 amps and seemed to have a range of less than 10 miles. I'm definitely listening to the 72V suggestions, if you'd care to elaborate.
  • dtbaker's idea of "yanking out the old junk" could work - I'm price sensitive, but also willing to consider more modern systems if they'll get me a dramatically better result and clear instructions.
  • And DavidDymaxion, the controller is indeed intended for shunt motors. It's an Alltrax DCX series, I believe the DCX 400. I'll try to confirm that the next time the sun is up.
Thanks to all of you for taking the time to answer. I'll try to get you photos and a bit more info shortly.

--Rich
 

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Rich,

I am also in Fort Collins and would be happy to come help you with your project. Send me a PM if you are interested.

Pete
 
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