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Discussion Starter #1
Right. I guess I should start posting a couple pictures. lol
This is the subframe for the project. It will bolt right up under the frame after I take out the existing axle and leaf spring system. I am making the halfshaft extensions now at the moment and just waiting for an air bag suspension system to show up.
I have the complete Leaf loom but there are a lot of inputs to the breaking system, hall sensors, steering sensor (I'm not sure I have that component), yaw sensor, and they all work to control the ABS system. Any insight into simplifying this mess would be appreciated.
 

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I see that you've switched from the earlier plan of adapting the original LT rear suspension into a deDion, to using a trailing-arm or semi-trailing arm independent suspension (presumably from a T4 Syncro). As long as all of the bits have enough capacity for this heavier truck, this seems like a good plan to me. :)

Usually clearance between the suspension arms and the front of the Leaf motor would be a concern, but presumably in this case the extra width of the LT moves the arms apart enough to provide enough room.

It looks like the arms are entirely outboard of the subframe rails, the Leaf drive unit is entirely inboard, and the rails are parallel and equidistant from the vehicle centre line. Since the Leaf unit is normally offset to the right-hand side of the vehicle (with the long motor to the right, the short transmission to the left, and the plane between them about centred, placing the diff about on centre) either
  1. the Leaf unit is offset to the right in the subframe, or
  2. the Leaf unit is about centred, in the subframe, so shifted left of where it would be in the Leaf.
Which way did you go? It looks like #2.

Assuming that the diff is now left of centre, either
  • the right-side halfshaft is longer than the left, or
  • the Leaf has unequal-length halfshafts, despite have a roughly centred differential.
The photos are great, but it's a little hard to judge dimensions from them.
 

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Very interesting. A van and a Leaf transplant. That could very well be the only road to a DIY EV for me (regulatory barriers).
The Nissan NV200 is a bit too small (and new).

The driveshafts? Are they a direct fit? Seems unlikely, maybe custom made?
 

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Very interesting. A van and a Leaf transplant. That could very well be the only road to a DIY EV for me (regulatory barriers).
This LT is a truck with a tray bed, not an enclosed van, but many are vans and either way it is a commercial vehicle. Tony, I assume that you mean that regulations would be easier to work with for a commercial vehicle, right?

The driveshafts? Are they a direct fit? Seems unlikely, maybe custom made?
I'm interested in the details, but they're clearly not directly from either an LT or the Leaf. The LT doesn't have an independent rear suspension, and the Leaf (aside from not having similar hardware on the wheel end as the VW pieces being used) is much narrower than the LT. The front track of a 2017 Leaf is 1,540 mm (61″), while the LT is 2.085 m (6 ft 10.1 in) wide at the cab and 2.14 m (7 ft 0.3 in) at the flatbed, so the track must be substantial.
 

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I need a van with an elevator for a wheelchair in the back as my future means of transport.
Electric of course.
Because of strict regulations for the electrical parts I want use components and systems that have been declared road legal as part as a type approval.
Transplanting a drivetrain and the electrical system from a Leaf into an older type van (like a VW up to '91) with an elevator already fitted, seems to be the best option.
There are a lot of Leafs on the road and they're affordable.

So I'm very interested to see how this conversion goes. For instance the driveshafts. Apparently, they don't pose a big problem for the TS, but I'm very curious how he solved it, since they are clearly not from the donor cars.
 

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I need a van with an elevator for a wheelchair in the back as my future means of transport.
Electric of course.
Because of strict regulations for the electrical parts I want use components and systems that have been declared road legal as part as a type approval.
Transplanting a drivetrain and the electrical system from a Leaf into an older type van (like a VW up to '91) with an elevator already fitted, seems to be the best option.
That makes sense. The easiest fit into a third-generation Transporter (T3) might be a small Tesla Model S/X drive unit, because that motor sits behind the axle like the VW engine - the Leaf wouldn't fit with the T3 suspension and structure because it sits ahead of the axle line. The LT has lots of room to work with and the suspension is being completely replaced, but something like a T3 doesn't have that kind of space, and replacing the whole suspension doesn't seem like a good route for easy approval in a highly regulated country.

Fitting an entire Tesla battery pack into a VW van is another matter. See Kevin's "ICE Breaker" project (Tesla drive unit into T1) for one example (of a small drive drive unit, and 3/4 of the battery modules), but note that a complete change in suspension shouldn't be necessary (especially in a T3).

One challenge with the complete powertrain from a production EV is that the system doesn't want to run with critical parts missing, which is likely to be the case. The approach used by some people is to replace the controller with one which they can program, but you would need to check if that meets the approval requirements.

On the other hand, a Leaf (or VW e-Golf) drive unit would fit in the front of a T4, fitting very much like the original transverse engine. There would still be the challenges of fitting in the battery, and making the control electronics work.

So I'm very interested to see how this conversion goes. For instance the driveshafts. Apparently, they don't pose a big problem for the TS, but I'm very curious how he solved it, since they are clearly not from the donor cars.
In addition to this project, Kevin's project and others have described building halfshafts which fit the drive unit one end and the base vehicle's hubs on the other end.
 

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Spot on, Brian. For my own safety and the safety of others on the road, it is much better to pick an EV from the well engineered and tested commercially available ones.;)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Sorry for not getting back quickly. Anyway, yes, the arms are from a 2002 T4. The ones I originally had were from a 1992 but they were drums and I really wanted discs, and the Leaf needs ABS which is only on the disc brake models. The shafts are OEM T4 units which I cut (bloody hard stuff) and I have a thick wall DOM steel which I have bored out to lengthen them. The final length is not determined yet but they are "slightly" different in length but probably not by more than 25mm so I guess you could say the motor is mounted roughly in the middle.

Due to the differences in the mounting under the LT, I decided to make it a complete unit with all shock and spring mounts as part of the sub frame. I have just received air bags which will help a lot in figuring out the ride height.

Tony, I would be really interested in putting a Leaf drivetrain into a T3. There is a DOKA with a Tesla motor in the USA but I think it would be pretty easy to mount the complete Leaf system in there. The rear deck would come up a bit and one would have to make room for the batteries but the T3 is so great a vehicle, it would be worth doing. I assume you are in the UK.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I see that you've switched from the earlier plan of adapting the original LT rear suspension into a deDion, to using a trailing-arm or semi-trailing arm independent suspension (presumably from a T4 Syncro). As long as all of the bits have enough capacity for this heavier truck, this seems like a good plan to me. :)


The photos are great, but it's a little hard to judge dimensions from them.
Interesting thing about the T4, the rear hubs contain the same spline as the Syncro so all I had to do was pull out the blanking plate. It was a bit confusing at first because the ABS ring is not on the shaft but as part of a cup that fits into the hub (pics below). I machined the cup to allow the spline to go through to the hub, thereby keeping the ring.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Here is a pic of a T4 with the air bags from someone else motorhome. I will be doing the same thing. Although it is a drum, the blanking plate is the same on the disc model, except for the ABS ring.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
So I'm very interested to see how this conversion goes. For instance the driveshafts. Apparently, they don't pose a big problem for the TS, but I'm very curious how he solved it, since they are clearly not from the donor cars.
I did get the Nissan shafts which I disassembled to give me only the, hard to copy, spline for the Leaf output. I then welded flanges onto it to make adapters that will take a standard VW T4 shaft. It wasn't as difficult as it may seem.
 

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A little beginning for the air bag supports. The bottom clamp will have a 10deg or so bevel to take some stress out of the rubber.
Good - I've seen some terrible air spring mounting jobs, and it's good to see you doing it properly. Presumably this will place the end plates aligned and approximately parallel at full compression.
 

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The bracket can be seen having a different angle to the support. The setup will have a much lesser angle when the weight is on it but it seems there is no way to eliminate it totally.
The best that you can do with a single-arm suspension like this is to have the end plates parallel at one specific height. The best compromise might not put that at the normal ride height, because it is probably more important to avoid damage at the extremes of suspension travel.

The other solution is to mount the air spring on a telescopic cylinder (normally a shock absorber) with the angle change taken up by the mounts at the ends of the shock, but the T4 arms are not designed for that... and most air spring don't use that setup, and don't have problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Yea, I thought about something like a "bag over shock" at one point and I will be putting them on the front as a spring replacement. I need a 2" lift as well.

I think it will work out well. Right now I am troubled by the lack of Leaf battery packs out there at the wreckers. If I can't find one, I will be forced to buy a couple Volt packs (or equivalent) and figure out how to make the Nissan controllers listen to some foreign sensors. That is a tall order for me. I am no good at that stuff. I need to build battery boxes which will be hard to do without the cells.
 
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