Friday, August 10, 2007

Day 9 - Do or Die

Oh boy, did we have a full set of goals up on the whiteboard for Thursday.

Bolt down battery racks
Install axles
Cut vent holes in boxes for wires
Wire motor/contactor/pot box/deadman switch (low-voltage wiring)
Install and test the auxiliary battery
Locate and mount the circuit-breaker
Wire batteries together (high-voltage wiring)

Now that is triple-tasking: Paul is under the van working on wiring; Bill is explaining the axle installation to Lynn; and Larry is up in the van working on the battery boxes.

Peter and Bill work on the bolts underneath the vehicle.

Dan teaches Lynn how to grease CV joints.

A mount for the auxiliary battery is clamped in the vise -- the upper (red) portion of the bracket is part of the original Vanagon mounting system, and Dan welded the brown part for extra security.
Larry on the ladder.

Mike has written out the system testing procedure -- the backs of these are covered as well!

Lynn on CV joints, Paul on a stool to reach the wiring.

Wires are now bundled from the dash to the mid-point of the van ...

joined to the yellow hose which will route them to the rear ...

that's next on the agenda.

Afshin and Paul operate the brake. They are making a new lid -- one of the ones finished yesterday was a little tight.

Kevin was on the lid fabrication crew too.

Larry drills ventilation and wiring holes in the battery boxes with a hole saw mounted on a right-angle drill.

Hole close-up.

Afshin and Kevin are now fabricating boxes for the fans which will provide ventilation when the batteries are charging, to prevent hydrogen build-up. Afshin is nicely referring to these items as "ducts," but they sure look like more boxes to me. Sigh ... will the box-building never end?

Bill is still smiling and that keeps me cheerful too!

In the middle of the day Lynn, Mike and I went to the local radio station, WNPV 1440 AM, to be interviewed by Peggy Schmidt, who guest hosts monthly on "Comment Please by Univest," a noontime talk show. Like a dope, I didn't think to take my camera, so I missed cool shots of Lynn and Mike with headphones on! You can download the hour-long interview over at this link (click on Thursday's show). Peggy will be joining us on Friday for the roll-out.

Peter is welding the corners of the new lid -- he gave his mom a lesson. Lynn has always wanted to learn how to weld.

Peter grinds the edges of the lid.

Afshin scored the fans for the battery box ventilation system through Freecycle™ -- he posted looking for old CPU's and salvaged their fans for this project.

Bill and Larry check out Afshin's prototype box. I mean fan duct.

Looking for tools in the well-equipped NMTCC carpentry shop. The instructors of the carpentry, machine and electrical shops all generously gave permission to Bill to borrow tools as needed -- and boy have we needed them! Dan, Barry and Paul all agree that we would not have been able to accomplish this particular project in their home schools because of the amount of fabrication we've had to do. We're fortunate to be here at the Career Center. Of course, a bolt-in conversion with fewer design/fabrication challenges would be quite feasible in any technical school -- and I was pleased to hear that Dan and Lynn are considering the possibility of running such a workshop over at the Community College of Philadelphia! That's exactly the kind of viral replication I was hoping for by putting on this class.

Okay. It's almost 4 p.m.: time to admit that the batteries will not be wired up today.

Though a start did get made.

Dan and Paul have hit a stopping point with the DC-DC converter, so they knock off; Dan will get the fuses they need to finish the job tonight at Radio Shack.

Afshin and Kevin are unstoppable. They want to get those boxes done.

Kevin learns to use a pop riveter.

Just before 5:00 we hit a major stumbling block. We needed to re-crimp some of the cable lugs, and we can't re-use the ones that have already failed. (Above Bill was experimenting with banging one back into shape -- no go.)

By 5:30 I had found the only source of heavy-duty 2/0 gauge compression-style lugs in unusual quantities in the area -- and it happened to be Warehouse Battery Outlet in nearby Quakertown, which supplied both the traction batteries and happened to have the super-heavy-duty auxiliary battery in stock when we suddenly decided we needed to order that. AND -- they were open till 7:00.

Hurray for Warehouse Battery Outlet! All hope is not lost -- there's still more doing that can be done!

At the end of the day, as I rushed off to get lugs, Larry and Bill had done as much battery wiring as they could stand -- and they were still smiling.

Obviously there will be thrills and chills on Friday as we race to meet our 1:00 roll-out deadline! Stay tuned!

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