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Journal JWSmythe's Journal: Building a new car.... 2

    I always have grand plans when I'm broke, but there's no harm in documenting my plans, should I accidentally get some money. I could have (theoretically) done this with my tax return and economic stimulus check, but those disappeared before they ever got to me. The evil ex-wife had them sucked away straight from the Fed. If she was computer literate enough to read this, then I could add a few more phrases to say how I feel about her sucking every penny I have away, but I'll save that for later.

    Anyways, on to the car.

    I've wanted to do an electric car conversion for a while. I've been trying to figure out the best way to do it. I've read countless pages where other people have built theirs. Most of the problems they run into are finding places to put batteries, or other idiosyncrasies with the particular vehicle. I want to avoid those. :)

    Right now, I drive 30 miles daily. 15 miles to work, 15 miles home. Other than that 30 to 60 minutes driving (depending on traffic) it is parked. Half of the drive is stop&go at up to 45mph (speed limit & lots of cops). The other half is one long stretch where I just have to get up to speed, and then coast. Sometimes in my regular car, I do exactly that. I get up to speed (about 80mph), for about 1/3 of the run, put it in neutral, and coast the rest of the way. It saves me a lot of gas.

    My concept is to make a "sand rail" EV. Most cars weigh 3,000 pounds or so. My TransAm weighs in at 3,400 pounds dry (no gas, no driver). Even something tiny like a Miata weighs 2,100 pounds. Looking around, a good ballpark for a sand rail, with engine, is about 1,000 pounds.

    I'd want a 4 seat version, just for the extra space. I'll explain space in a minute. I looked around online, and there are a bunch of different manufacturers, making almost identical frames. Not hard, since anyone who can weld can make a frame. It's the same technique as making a roll cage for a race car, which every town has a shop that can do.

    I'd like to find a semi-complete project. That would be frame, transmission, wheels, seats, brakes, and most of the lights.

    I found batteries for my bus. 1200A group 8d batteries, for $85/ea. They're "used", which appears to mean remanufactured, not taken out of a crashed truck. They're roughly 250Ah each. They each weigh 120 pounds too. They're not a lot of fun to move by yourself, I assure you. :) My bus takes 2 just to start (wired serial for 24vdc)

    It would require an electric motor (obviously), which would attach to the original transmission. A lot of them use VW bug parts, which is cool (cheap and readily available). The batteries would be mounted everywhere I could. Most of them have a long nose, which could hold 8. Around the motor could hold at least 2, and the remainder would be put under, beside or between the seats. I'd like to have at least 10 of these group 8D batteries, which would give me 2,500Ah.

    Then it would be a matter of skinning it. That is fiberglass or sheet metal to make it somewhat aerodynamic. A little Heat & A/C unit would be nice too. That should run on a power inverter happily, and there *should* be plenty of power to run it with for 15 minutes. Here in Florida, it's hot 13 months of the year, but on occasion, we get a cold day, cold enough to justify having heat, and not just a jacket.

    For recharging, since there is a minimum of 6 hours of daylight here (Florida), I'd cover the roof area with solar panels. That's part of why I'd want the 4 seat version, so it would have extra surface area.

    Worst case, I have to plug it in at home too, but at least it would get some charge while I'm at work.

    Now, all I need is money. I'm working extra now, which may pay the bills, but not pay for projects. I thought about bank robbery, but the profit vs risk isn't worth it. Banks don't keep enough cash on hand, and I'm not a good criminal, so I'd get caught. :) With my luck, I'd get $2,000, and end up in prison for 40 years. Prison definitely keeps me from doing cool projects. I've been thinking about prostitution, but as an average skinny white guy, the most I'm going to get from wearing a G-string on the corner is people begging me to put clothes on. :)

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Building a new car....

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  • Solar panels even in FL will only augment mains charging, not replace it, unfortunately. You've got 25kWh (slightly more, but you're probably going to avoid discharging the batteries completely) worth of batteries to charge, and at best a car roof's worth of the best solar panels on the market will give you 0.5kw peak (that's if you build a mechanism to keep the solar panels pointed directly at the sun all the time - the power a solar panel makes rapidly drops off as the sun gets more away from shining stra

    •     The part I have to really calculate out is, how much power am I really going to burn up driving to work. That's all I have to make up for while it's parked. Even if they sit a little low sometimes, weekends should make up for it. Or at worst it would have to charge at home or work.

We can defeat gravity. The problem is the paperwork involved.