Monday, July 30, 2007


We are still waiting on a few bits of the Vanagon (electric heater components, DC-DC converter, and a Curtis "fuel" gauge) but they will be on their way soon and in the meantime there is plenty to work on. Today the class unpacked the first two shipments from EVAmerica, spread everything out on a tarp and labeled it.

There was quite a bit of discussion about the clutchless motor coupling and clutchless motor mount assembly immediately above. Mike has always left the clutch in when converting, and he's suspicious about removing it, fearing that without some inertia in the engine, pressing the accelerator pedal while the vehicle is in neutral could result in overstressing the engine and -- well, he kept using the term "blowing it up." There was much lively speculation about how the clutchless system might function safely, all of which was technically beyond me, especially because I was distracted by the blowing-up concept. I am looking forward to the resolution of this debate.
Confabulation under the van.


Rory said...

How did you go about determining which components you needed ?

jisaacs said...

Rory, I ordered this conversion kit from a company called EVAmerica. There are others located across the country; our instructor Mike Parker recommends Electro Automotive on the West Coast,which offers complete "bolt-in" conversion kits for Volkswagen Rabbits and Cabriolets. Ours is not a bolt-in kit, we will be doing some design and fabrication. Any EV company will help you determine what components you need and assemble the kit that is right for your conversion.

Thanks for following along,

GoomMarston said...

This is cool, it looks like fun and a learning experience at many levels. Is there a role for this program in changing public policy, or is it just self-protection or just intentional living by a select few?

Please - I'm not intending this to be a criticism. I mean to learn from a huge variety of sources where the drivers of social behavioral change can be found, fed, and fostered.


Bill Marston, Philly

jisaacs said...

Bill, I'm glad you asked that question. While this workshop is small, I do have a big vision: to help jump-start (pun intentional) systematic electric vehicle training programs in PA's vo-techs and community colleges. Batteries and electric drives are already out there -- a quarter of a million more hybrids hit US roads in 2006 -- and it is time to ensure that the auto tech students of today are equipped to service and maintain the automobiles of the future.

If you were to visit NMTCC, you'd see an incredibly well-equipped auto shop and a parts room that looks like a store. Auto manufacturers donate many of these materials so as to ensure a trained workforce, and the school also purchases supplies to support their training. But I've already had a teacher who is taking the workshop tell me that while he is very excited to take his students through a conversion, he will have to scrounge for the funds to pay for it.

It is my hope during the coming year to investigate and formally apply for federal and state funding that will help equip all Pennsylvania vo-techs with components specific to EV's such as controllers, cabling, and batteries. This is such an educational project -- I'd like to see every auto tech student have the chance to work on an ICE-to-EV conversion.

So -- that's not policy-making as far as governing the public's choices, but it's the larger educational mission of this workshop. I also hope to promote the notion of EV conversion shops as a "green" niche in the auto maintenance business. Not everyone wants to convert their own car! Non-technical folks like me want to bring a donor vehicle and $10,000 to the conversion shop and drive away in an EV two weeks later. I hope to see EV conversions become a thriving industry in our area.

Oi, that was a long post -- but you asked! Thanks for following along!