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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey'a from the Funland that is Finland!

Slowly trying to get started with my T2 build. :)

Tire Wheel Car Vehicle Volkswagen type 2


This bus used to belong to my granddad and has pretty significant meaning to me as I remember it from my childhood too. Actually I remember that the first car I wanted even before having a license was a T2 due to this one. Of course I could never afford one back then and it'd probably have made a horrible first car. :D

Granddad eventually drove it to Estonia where he had settled for retirement and used it for transporting guests from the harbour city Tallinn to his lodgings further in the countryside. The bus suffered some sort of engine failure there in the first decade of 2000's and was left into a shed to wait for repairs. Originally with T1 engine, the Estonian friends of my granddad managed to source a supposedly new T4 engine for it but the engine swap was never completed. The engine they found is some form of abomination from German military, it has EMF shielded wires and supposedly runs on 24V system. I wonder why that didn't work out. :D

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Anyway, come year 2019 and granddad's health had started to fail. He wished for me to have the bus since he knew I had liked it, so we rented a trailer and a van for the rescue mission. And there it was. We talked a bit with granddad about how cool it'd be to have the original "hippie van" to run on modern green tech, but considered that completely unrealistic back then.

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Granddad has since passed, and this silly pandemic has taken most of my energy and effort since I work in healthcare so I haven't had much to give for the bus. But now it's finally looking like I could have some time for this as well. When I first got the bus, the idea was simply to get it running "any means possible" so I put up project threads on Samba and whatnot, but the more I've read and the more I've learned about the reliability of the original T1, the challenges and the parts needed for the T4 conversion, especially with some weird 24V starters and alternators, the more it's started to seem like going electric isn't that unrealistic after all, and could even be much better option in a long run.

I've just put my motorbike on sale for financing this project, and I'm learning the ropes of EV conversion and the build I want to go with. I do have some experience playing around with older vehicles, but EV world is new to me. But hey, what's the fun if there's no new learning path to follow. :)

Bus itself is in a decent condition for one that's been sitting 10-ish years in a cold shed. No major rust, no missing pieces. Just two mouse nests. :) I've cleaned it all and removed everything but dash. Trying to recruit some friend to help with dropping the engine out next. (Surprisingly difficult when all my friends seem to want nothing to do with heavy oily machinery :D but I'll manage.) I plan on selling the T4 afterwards. I also have the original T1 unit in pieces, which I plan to clean and keep as part of the bus's history, but doubtfully will even try to repair that.

This needn't go fast nor be comfortable even, this needs to be reliable and have a decent range. :) Regen is must, heaters are not. Right now I've been thinking of keeping the original transmission and going with Hyper9 HV (peak 89.5kW), 1st gen Leaf (80kW) or AC-51 (peak 65.9kW) depending on what I can source easily here in the North EU. I briefly considered Tesla SDU as well, but our legislation has limits for maximum motor power after powerplant swaps so that dream was crushed quickly. My unconfirmed math would result into 100kW max allowed power output from the motor, but I'm still bit unsure how I need to prove that and if it can be electrically limited. Need to have a chat with the inspection/MOT people before committing to any direction. :)

Anyway, first steps is removing the old engine and some welding, going over suspension and steering parts as well as brakes etc, whilst simultaneously planning for the future. I have found a company in Finland dealing old Tesla battery units and am planning to contact them for pricing when I've some better plans sketched out. Right now the idea of "false bottom" for the battery units inside the cargo space sounds most desirable. There is also a one resto/conversion shop in Finland if I run out of juice doing this on my own, but I'd rather at least try first. :)
 

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Welcome Cera, that was a lovely story about your grandad.

Id be looking at the nissan leaf drive train if I was you. There are heaps of them around for parts and are quite well understood and well made.

You could use the nissan leaf gearbox (my recommendation) or make an adapter to fit it to the t2 gearbox.

As far as controlling the inverter, alot of people on here have had success using the resolver ev controller while the controllers on open inverter are also popular.

Lots of decisions ahead of you.....looking forward to see how you get on 馃榾
 

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I briefly considered Tesla SDU as well, but our legislation has limits for maximum motor power after powerplant swaps so that dream was crushed quickly. My unconfirmed math would result into 100kW max allowed power output from the motor, but I'm still bit unsure how I need to prove that and if it can be electrically limited. Need to have a chat with the inspection/MOT people before committing to any direction. :)
When you speak to the inspection people, ask them if they are looking for a peak power figure, or a continuous power figure for the electric motor.
Here in Australia, we are fairly strict about engine conversions having too much power or engines that are way oversized. For the electric conversions, they want to know the continuous rating of the motor as its always possible to 'overpower' an electric motor temporarily so it would be easy enough to circumvent the rules by underpowering the motor for inspection, then overpowering it for the street.
A Tesla SDU has a peak power of ~220kw at 400 volts, But is considered to have a continuous rating of 35kw, which sounds a lot more reasonable to the engineer and inspector, but still makes for a very potent powerplant.

Your bus looks really cool, it should make for a nice conversion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
When you speak to the inspection people, ask them if they are looking for a peak power figure, or a continuous power figure for the electric motor.
Yeah this is one of the main questions I want answers to :) also I'm curious what kind of proof/papers do they want to confirm the power, since as I've understood it, electric motor power is mostly defined by the inverter used? Also if listing the manufacturer peak/continuous on paper is enough, or if they want some kind of dyno to prove "actual power". If they accept dyno, then downtuning electrically would be a possibility as well.
 

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Find yourself a copy of the COMPLEAT IDIOTS GUIDE TO THE VOLKSWAGEN, probably in a library. The title explains much, and is a fun read for how to for the mechanical systems. Dropping a motor can be a one person effort and at one time I was proficient enough to taking my daughter to kindergarten, go home, and remanufactured the engine, then pick her up at lunch on a new engine.
 

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Yeah this is one of the main questions I want answers to :) also I'm curious what kind of proof/papers do they want to confirm the power, since as I've understood it, electric motor power is mostly defined by the inverter used?
The physical limitations for a given motor are the current which the motor can tolerate and the speed that it can turn, mechanically. In most cases the inverter is more limited in both current and power than the motor, and in most cases the battery is even more limiting in power. Part of the current limitation is overheating, which is the source of the high peak power ratings and much lower continuous ratings: a lot of current can be tolerated for a short time, until the motor gets too hot.

Also if listing the manufacturer peak/continuous on paper is enough, or if they want some kind of dyno to prove "actual power". If they accept dyno, then downtuning electrically would be a possibility as well.
That's likely to be a challenge, as Tesla motors are built by (or at least exclusively for) Tesla, making them the only authoritative source of specifications, and they would never mention the low continuous power rating - they're all about superlatives. Motor manufacturers (rather than car manufacturers which make motors for themselves) are more likely to publish proper complete specifications. I think that a dyno test is problematic, because a test could simply be conducted at low power - it doesn't prove that higher power is not possible.


Do you really want a high-power T2 anyway? Anything significantly higher than the original engine output seems like enough to me.
 

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You may not want a heater in Finland, but your battery will. It needs to be kept above about 15C when driving or charging.

"This needs to have...decent range" Please quantify your ballpark numbers here...decent to one person is 60km, to another it's 500km.

You're brave to do this given you sound like you're on your own as far as your friends go. Hopefully really stubborn as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Dropping a motor can be a one person effort
Yasss, it was! Not the most perfect execution perhaps, but good enough for me!

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Do you really want a high-power T2 anyway? Anything significantly higher than the original engine output seems like enough to me.
No, I definitelly don't. I think there's been misunderstanding. Our MOT inspection people require the power ratings anyway, so despite the motor - be it Leaf, Tesla, or AC-51 - I need to present them with the power figures somehow and currently I'm in the unknown with what figures do they want to stare at (and therefore don't know what the viable motor options are for real).

Right now I'm mostly interested about Leaf motor, but yeah like I said.. paperwork to figure out how they'll accept it before committing to anything.

You may not want a heater in Finland, but your battery will. It needs to be kept above about 15C when driving or charging.

"This needs to have...decent range" Please quantify your ballpark numbers here...decent to one person is 60km, to another it's 500km.

You're brave to do this given you sound like you're on your own as far as your friends go. Hopefully really stubborn as well.
Eh this will be a summer car anyways, there's no point driving this kind of things in our winter :p I think batteries will be quite happy in our 20C summer. But we'll see, heater is not completely out, will think more about that kind of things when the plans get more concrete. :) Decent range for me is 150km+ since this is a camper after all. The more the better of course, but I know it doesn't come cheap. Like I mentioned my current plan is to go with Tesla modules for their longevity.

Thanks! I do consider myself stupidly stubborn :) There is the backup option of conversion shop but damnit before I pay for those kind of moneys straight away. ;)
 

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Id be looking at the nissan leaf drive train if I was you. There are heaps of them around for parts and are quite well understood and well made.

You could use the nissan leaf gearbox (my recommendation) or make an adapter to fit it to the t2 gearbox.
Fortunately, a T2 has the CV-joint rear suspension, so it can be used with a transaxle other than the original VW unit or equivalent (unlike a basic Beetle). Unfortunately, it is unlikely that there is space for the Leaf motor, which sits ahead of the axle line and so would presumably conflict with the suspension control arms. Drive units which place the motor on the axle line (such as the Chevrolet Bolt unit used by Yabert in his Westfalia T3 with chevy bolt drivetrain), or behind the axle line (which means mostly Tesla, but also the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV rear drive unit) are more likely to fit without radically changing the van's rear suspension.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hmm. Is there a specific reason why Leaf motor should be mounted "in front of axle" (as it sits in Leaf itself) when using the Leaf gearbox? Or can I mount it "wrong way around" with the motor sitting "behind" the axle as would most likely be necessary in this bus where the engine room exists in the rear...? Of course this would kind of invert forwards and reverse, but does that matter with electric motors?

Obviously there isn't really much room in front of the rear axle, when the original engine sits behind it. So the only option I can think of is either mounting the Leaf motor to the existing transmission (rather would not), or turning the whole stack wrong way 'round and perhaps cut some metal from where the fuel tank normally sits (above the clutch bell housing) :p

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Hmm. Is there a specific reason why Leaf motor should be mounted "in front of axle" (as it sits in Leaf itself) when using the Leaf gearbox? Or can I mount it "wrong way around" with the motor sitting "behind" the axle as would most likely be necessary in this bus where the engine room exists in the rear...? Of course this would kind of invert forwards and reverse, but does that matter with electric motors?
That's a good idea to explore, and it may work. It doesn't matter to the motor itself. With some drive units lubrication is an issue, because they include an oil pump for lubrication and cooling which would turn backwards - I don't think this is an issue for the Leaf but that's just from my imperfect memory ;). The controller needs to be told to run in reverse (fundamentally just swap F and R labels on the shifter), and may have different speed and power limits in reverse, which would need to be checked out. The helical gears will load bearings due to torque reaction thrust in the opposite to the usual direction, but that also happens during regenerative braking and during driving in reverse, so it's unlikely to be a problem.

This has been done with Tesla drive units (which definitely have issues because they have oil pumps). Maybe someone has run a Leaf unit backwards and has checked all of this out?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Watched a disassembly video of the Leaf transmission from YT and it doesn't seem like anything would prevent running it in reverse most of the time. :p no oil pump, just basic helical gears. Thrust like you mentioned could be an issue, but thenagain like you also mentioned regen does spin it in reverse anyways sooo...

I don't know. Right now this seems like a promising avenue to explore.
 

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Do you want to keep the transmission or no? A Leaf motor may be an option if you do. A lot less futzing with relengthening axles, and running things backwards in trade for an adapter plate and coupler.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Do you want to keep the transmission or no? A Leaf motor may be an option if you do. A lot less futzing with relengthening axles, and running things backwards in trade for an adapter plate and coupler.
I mean this is a difficult question! I have an local offer now to trade the Typ4 into completely rebuilt transmission so that'd be "free" if I choose so. So far my thinking is

Pro's about keeping the VW transaxle:
  • Would make the engine placement much, much easier with no need to work with the CV shafts nor build any sort of cradles in near-suspension area.
  • Most conversions do it that way so at least there's proof that it works.
  • Original is original :p even with conversions.

Con's about keeping the VW transaxle:

Currently I do feel that keeping the transaxle maaaay be the better way to go, especially with the trade offer I now have about that rebuilt transmission.
 

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The way he's doing it certainly is annoying. Mr Cheap Charlie.

With Valentine's Day around the corner, commitment means...cutting off your input shaft for her (the T-2) 馃槀

You can get any number of machine shops to machine a proper coupling for your setup, and a spacer plate isn't rocket science. Look around in this place and someone may have done the heavy lifting at least on the bolt locations and shaft centerline.

An additional "pro": the transaxle does give you the added benefit of putting it in first gear if you ever start to miss your motorbike's acceleration from a stoplight. Assuming you don't start shredding sheet metal on the old girl.
 

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Con's about keeping the VW transaxle:
  • ...
  • Added possible failure points, I don't know how reliable the VW transaxle is.
There's a whole industry in upgrading the transaxles of air-cooled VWs, because the stock ones fail, but a lot of people put a lot of power through them... so I don't have a good idea of how well a stock T2 transaxle would handle the torque of, for instance, a stock Leaf motor.
 

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Despite the note in the article, the Leaf transaxle really is a transaxle: it's a fixed-ratio (or "single speed") transmission and final drive in one unit.

In the article there is this comment:
Note that I didn't intend to take the end plate off of the Leaf motor to see if I could swap out the output shaft for something that would make this much easier.
It's good that he didn't try that. The "output shaft" of the motor is the only shaft of the motor - there isn't some output portion which can be removed and replaced by something more suitable for connecting to the VW transaxle input shaft.

The huge length between transaxle and motor cases forced by the shaft lengths (because both are male so instead of one going into the other they are end-to-end) and the need for an adapter (because of the different splines) is an annoyance of coupling any common electric motor to any common automotive transmission. It seems tempting to cut off the end of the input shaft, but that seems like a bad plan to me - the transmission input shaft end is supposed to go into a pilot bearing or bushing to ensure shaft alignment, and that alignment is still needed.

Ideally, the adapter would have a bore which is a good sliding fit to the plain end of the transmission input shaft. An alternative is to run the adapter in a steady bearing mounted in the adapter plate, which has been done by others in this forum.
 

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Input shafts, like everything that hack was doing (how on earth did he get into Hemmings?), is not something you'd hire your local catalytic converter thief to cut off for you...

There's nothing stopping a person with even a smidge of pride from removing the shaft, having it shortened on a lathe, providing a "pilot bearing" alignment feature on its end.

On the motor side would be a bespoke splined coupler with a recess for a pilot hole (no bearing needed...it doesn't spin) and a shrink fit of that coupler onto the motor splines. This provides the ability to easily R&R the motor and aligns both shafts in a balanced manner.
 
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