January 5. I have chosen to put 15 8-volt deep cycle lead acid batteries in the car. This is to get good performance (65 mph) and good range (about 60 miles?) at a reasonable price. Also, I didn't want to go over the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the car, which is the total allowed weight of the car and its cargo. Inside the driver's door is this information: GVWR 2830 pounds, F 1480 R 1390. I weighed the car with the electric motor installed. Here is an updated table:
weight with internal combustion engine (lbs)
weight with electric motor (lbs)
8-volt batteries weigh about 65 pounds each. Since I have removed about 400 pounds of weight, I should be able to put about 1000 pounds of batteries in the car without going over the GVWR.
January 10. Lead acid batteries do not store well without maintenance so I want to get the car ready for batteries before I buy them. I have to build crash-proof battery holders. To figure out where batteries will fit, I made cardboard boxes to use as mock 8-volt batteries:
I can only fit 4 batteries up front without putting any batteries directly over the motor. This should be OK. It should bring the weight of the front up to where it used to be. Here is a front view. I removed the metal front piece so I will have more room to work:
I removed the back seat. The rest of the batteries will have to go back here:
January 11. I'll make the very front battery holder first. I used the monster hacksaw to cut lengths of 3/16" angle iron at 45 degree angles. I welded them together, tack welding first to check for square. Here is the bottom frame, welded, square:
I set this frame into the front of the car and used scrap iron to figure out a support bracket that will bolt to one of the existing holes in the body:
Here is a test fit. The blue circle shows where the bracket bolts to the body. Very firm fit. I plan to weld another bracket that will bolt in at the red circle and there will be a second vertical support to hold a top frame over the batteries.
January 18. Try again. When I test fit my cardboard batteries, I found that the battery frame above is too far towards the passenger side of the car. The battery will interfere with the front grill. I cut the frame in half and modified it to mount on the firewall:
The strongest bolt is the 12 mm bolt on the left. I made use of two threaded bolt holes in the firewall. I can stand on this frame so it should be strong enough to hold a 65 pound battery. As I build these frames, they will gain support from each other, says the rough plan in my head.
Here is the frame with test box:
Here is one frame in the front. I had to modify the bracket. I will weld a second frame to this one and leave a gap for a middle strut that supports the hood closure:
January 26. I finished the front frame. It will hold two batteries. It is bolted in two places at the bottom, feels very solid:
I built the forth frame and mounted it on the firewall with an existing 12 mm bolt, and bolted it to the frame with a bracket:
It should have one more anchor point. I will reflect.
January 27. I added a strap, bolted to the firewall:
Here it is with a mock battery:
I did more calculations. 4 batteries up front will weigh 256 pounds. This will bring the front weight up to about 1300 pounds. If I put a box of eleven batteries in the back where the back seat was, it will put 700 pounds of batteries between the two axles with center of mass about 20 inches in front of the back axle. The weight of this big box will be distributed between the axles, with about 550 pounds on the rear axle and 150 pounds on the front axle. This is just about the right weight on each axle when added to the existing weight (1450 pounds in the front, 1315 pounds in the rear).
January 28. With the front battery locations defined, I ordered the controller, pot box, contactors and inertial switch from EV America. More on these when they arrive.
I still have to build a back battery box. I calculated the size of the frame that will hold a box for eleven batteries, cut and fit 3/16ths angle iron together:
Magnets and clamps hold pieces until I can tack weld the corners. Here I am ready to tack weld the last corner:
Here is the tack weld:
Making small welds at each corner lets me check for squareness before doing the final welding. Here is the flat, square frame on the floor:
Here is a split view of a corner showing the final weld and the inside fit. Nice!
January 30. It's very cold in the garage but it doesn't stop me from working. I welded a cross piece of angle iron to add strength to the frame and to make the frame level in the car. Here is a view from the hatch showing a test fit of the frame:
You can see where I polished the metal with my angle grinder to prep the metal for welding hold-down brackets. Here are the brackets clamped in place:
I tack-welded the brackets and tested the fit. Then I welded the brackets and drilled holes, test-bolted the frame. I used two 17 mm seat-belt bolt holes in the back but had to drill holes in the floor to bolt the front brackets:
I have started building the battery box with wood left over from building the garage. I routed a 1/2" edge around the bottom piece (foreground) for the sides to fit in:
February 1. Holding the sides of the box together using right angle clamps, I drilled and screwed the sides together to check for fit:
Then I glued and screwed sides together, glued and screwed on the bottom piece. I cut some pieces for the top edge. I routed or ripped a 1/2" channel in these pieces to give the box some rigidity. The box has a 3/4" plywood lid like the bottom piece, not shown here:
I have to strengthen the box with metal banding or straps, and I need a secure way to attach the box to the frame.
February 7 and 8. I bought some 1.5" wide 1/8" thick flat steel at Fazzio's. I cut, bent, drilled and welded it to the frame. Here it sits in the morning mist, welding fume actually... turn on the exhaust fan:
The front straps attach to welded bolts using wingnuts:
Here is the box in place, strapped securely to the frame:
It was warm enough on the 8th to paint, so I took advantage of the weather to prime the box with Kilz oil-based primer:
I washed all the battery frames with warm soapy water:
Then hung them up and primed them with Rustoleum clean metal primer. This not the best anticorrosion solution but it's better than nothing:
It's too soon the prime the front frames, really, because I still need to weld hold-downs to these frames. I can always touch them up later. I want to wait until I have real batteries before I make the hold downs.
February 10. I painted the big battery box blue and top coated the big frame with Rustoleum top coat:
I'll assemble the big box and frame when the frame is dry, install it in the car if only to get it off the garage floor.
February 16. To better secure the box, I decided to add a strap across the back, drill it for two more 17 mm bolts. I also welded the bolts to the brackets on the middle support to make mounting the frame and box easier:
As I work on the batteries I need to work concurrently on the controller board.
February 21 - 22. I decided to put hold downs on the battery frames without waiting for real batteries. I'm assuming 9.5" tall batteries. A strap will go across the top of the battery and bolt to the up-ended threads. If the batteries are taller than 9.5", I can bend the ends of the top straps to accomodate:
Here is a close up of a 1/4-20 screw welded to the strap:
It's welded underneath:
Here is the frame primed, hung up to dry in this crooked view:
I welded hold downs to the other front frames as well, primed and top-coated them.
March 1. Here is the big blue battery box with a computer cooling fan mounted in the front to serve as an exhaust fan:
You can also see two 7/8" holes drilled in the front and side. This is where the battery cables will go. Here is a close up of the fan. It's a 12 volt DC brushless computer fan, so it should not produce any sparks to ignite hydrogen gas:
I'll figure out how to wire it up so that it will turn on when I charge the batteries.
A back view shows the vent hole at the top of the box. I will connect the plastic air intake pipe from the old engine here, to direct battery box fumes out through a hole in the floor of the car:
Hydrogen gas is a light gas that diffuses quickly. I should put a rubber strip around the box lid to keep it from escaping into the car...
March 5. Here is the box bolted in the car with four 17 mm bolts into the seat belt nuts. Two 3/8th's bolts through the floor (not shown) are secured with nuts underneath:
The vent hose on the right is not secured yet.
March 10. I found Acura Integra rear coil springs on ebay for $30. They came today:
These should help support the heavy battery box.
March 15. There is already a hole in floor near where I need to cut a hole for the vent hose. It had a rubber plug in it:
I used my trusty measuring tools to define the circle I needed to cut, hacked away with reciprocating saw. This metal is thinner than I thought it would be:
Smooth the edges with the air grinder:
Attach hose at both ends:
March 18. That rust was bothering me so I wire-brushed it, primed it with rusty metal primer:
March 19. The Russco charger came today! Here it sits in place, between the DC-DC converter and the controller board. I will cut and weld an angle iron bracket to secure it. It came with a gray Anderson connector to hook it up to the traction battery pack:
March 20. I have started the charger bracket. I'm using one of the front battery hold-down posts for support. The angle iron comes from an old bed frame. Here is view from the front:
March 21. Here is the finished bracket. I'll bolt it in before I drill it for the charger mounting holes. It still needs to be primed and painted:
I have been working on a mount for the circuit breaker. This is a 250 amp DC circuit breaker that will mount on the big battery box. It will trip if there is a short circuit. It will also serve as an emergency off switch, if the power gets stuck on somehow. Here is a piece of painted OSB, drilled for 1/4-20 carriage bolts:
I cut and drilled two 1/16 inch thick steel plates hold the breaker down:
March 22. Charger bracket primed and painted:
March 23. I ordered the batteries from Tri State Battery in Delaware. 15 US Battery US8VGC 8-volt batteries, $89.95 each plus $7.50 core charge, delivered. They will give me $5 each for 4 old 12-volt batteries bringing the total to $1441.75.
March 24. The batteries were waiting for me when I got home today:
I disconnected two cables from the controller and lifted up the board to provide access to the front battery rack:
Here are the four front batteries in their places:
I'll cut and drill straps for each one. I don't like how the front rack rocks a little. I'll have to secure it better.
March 26-28. I cut, drilled and fitted a brace to the front rack, pulled it out to weld the brace on and bolted it back in.
I made hold-down brackets for each of the front batteries out of short pieces of angle iron connected by a welded strap. Here are the four brackets in progress:
I had to custom make each one to fit the individual hold-down posts, so I stamped each one with a number starting with the most positive battery as battery # 1. Here is bracket # 2:
I welded two tabs to each bracket to fit over the hold-down studs. Set up:
Welded and drilled:
Brackets painted, front batteries and charger installed:
With batteries and charger in place, I connected cables to the circuit breaker and finished mounting it. You can see a 1" diameter clear vinyl hose covering the 1/2" copper cable at the bottom. This is extra protection for passengers, since the cable runs inside the car. You can also see two batteries in the box:
March 29. I made a little battery holder for the auxilliary battery:
I have chosen a 12 amp hour motorcycle battery from Wal-Mart. In principle, I won't use this battery. It's there in case I lose the DC-DC converter.
The battery fits between the two 8-volt batteries in the back of the engine compartment:
Here is the finished package, with a hold-down made of scraps from the junk drawer:
I made cables for all the batteries up front and I ran the other big cable to the rear box, this one in a black vinyl hose:
My son helped me put the batteries in the box:
Just a few more cables to make.
April 1. I made two more battery cables for the rear box. I finished the big Anderson connector in front of the charger by making a short cable to the left contactor. I connected all the batteries up front. I brushed Noalox anticorrosion paste on each lug and battery terminal. Then I put the lugs on the terminals, added 5/16th lockwashers and nuts:
I did the same in the back:
I'm ready to test the controller and motor.