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Westfalia T3 with Chevy Bolt drivetrain

72351 Views 174 Replies 26 Participants Last post by  remy_martian
VW Vanagon T3 with Chevy Bolt drivetrain


I'm asking myself if DiyEcar is still the best place to put a build thread and to obtain help.
It was the case many years ago when the overvolted forklift motor was the rule, but now?

Well, my plan is to put a 200 hp 60 kWh Bolt drivetrain in a Westfalia... Exciting right?
Yes, but all the electronic and control in the Bolt fear me a bit.
Anyway, I will have the crached Bolt in few days and the West in few weeks.

Let me know if you have advice or help.


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Vehicles are declared a total loss when repair costs exceed the value
Actually, by law, some places it's more aggressive than that.

For example, "2/3" is often the rule. $3000 car has $2000 of damage or more, it's done. It will be given a salvage brand and then you have to rebuild it with a pretty serious and detailed inspection afterwards.

On anything more than 5 years old, a shopping cart scraping along 3 panels of paint can write the vehicle off.

There is also "unrecoverable" brands that are common, which is usually frame damage (can never be repaired). I think there's also a moderately common brand for, no parts from this vehicle can be used to repair another one, which is when it's especially compromised.

Airbags might also result in a unrecoverable or salvage brand by default in some jurisdictions, not just be a component of damage dollars.

They often don't want to give the contact info away, but there's usually a guy who works for the government that signs off on all that, (if for example, a vehicle was branded in error, or, the insurance adjuster filed the paperwork before it was agreed to be settled [happened to me], it's the guy they'll call to undo that). If you can get a hold of him and say something like "Hey, yeah it got written off for damage, but, it's just paint, it's structurally sound", they'll, very rarely, reverse the decision to brand a car. But you usually have to have proof and they have to talk to the insurance agent or whoever inspected the car. Usually there are inadequate notes (it's not the adjustor's job to help you prove this, nor the mechanics, nor was it at the time), or that person is gone or doesn't remember or whatnot. He's not the guy looking at the car, he's the industry guy doing the clerkwork, and in my case it was a person with significant clout, almost like you'd be careful how you act around a judge, even though the job is fairly mundane.
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A 2/3rds value rule sounds like just an insurance guideline (rather than a law)
Hmmm. So I went hunting for a regulation. Can't find any. Was told (few years ago) by my insurance company it was a provincial regulation, industry standard just about everywhere, and that all insurance companies have to follow it.

... and for some reason I believed them, despite them lying about just about everything else and prematurely reporting my car as salvage so that it would be illegal for me to drive before I'd even agreed to their lowball settlement offer (later got 300% the max they insisted), as a way to pressure me into accepting it (their client at fault).

Government doesn't exist on weekends but I think I'll call around on Monday and see if I can find out for sure.

Good to be skeptical.
The Vanagon moved by itself last week.

Nothing quite like the "hello world" and nothing explodes.
So your goal is to hook up the AC compressor and the electronics, but not either of the radiators (evaporator and condensor), for the sole purpose of fooling the battery charger to turn on?

Presumably, the AC motor/compressor will actually be turning on and off still, and compressing refridgerant, and all that, it just won't go to any rads?

Stating the obvious: If you hooked the entire system up, it would presumably work fine. All you're changing is removing the E and C rads and replacing them with a loop.

And your question is, will that "swap a radiator for a loop" trick work?


I only have partial knowledge about this, but, my immediate concern would be that parts of the AC system are going to just about immediately break if they get a liquid when they were expecting a gas. You compress the gas into a liquid which makes it hot, then you cool that hot down to ambient, then you pump the ambient liquid to a second radiator and then let it expand back into a gas that is now cold. That cold gas is what the motor/compressor is expecting, not a liquid.

So, sometimes there's valves and stuff like that to make sure that won't happen, but, I have a hunch they're suitable for normalish circumstances, maybe they won't handle or operate correctly being given a hot liquid rather than a cold gas. Maybe not, maybe it's fine.

When you add your refridgerant, same as on any other AC system, you'll have to pull a vacuum for an hour to get rid of any moisture in the system, because moisture + refridgerant = hydrochloric acid I think. But that's a solveable problem.

I'd be more tempted to electronically fool the system than mechanically fool the system. If it's expecting a voltage, fake the voltage. If it's expecting a sensor, fake the result of the sensor. Should be doable with just some resistors.
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Did the compressor start? Was it hooked up?

Hard to say.

Don't suppose you have functioning hardware that you could swap into place and see whether it works or not when connected properly. That would isolate whether the problem is the way that you faked it or whether the charger brains don't work.
Just brainstorming...

Maybe the resistors you used are wrong, or reporting values outside the proper range.

Is the behavior different now (after electronic faking) than it was before? Or did this get you past where you were before, just not as far as you wanted to (i.e. the 30 seconds)? I'm trying to determine if you had zero success or partial success. Zero success to me means check for mistakes or additional things missing. Partial success means tweak what you're able to tweak and try again.
Your 300 km of range is just over the "I can roadtrip in this" range to me. At 200, 250... starts to be too tough.

Looks like an awesome trip. Great to see a DIY EV go on such a long trip :)
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