Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Day Three

Yesterday was energizing, today was tiring! We had an a.m. review of chapters 5 & 6 in Convert It, and then broke into shop for the latter portion of the morning. Here's a list of the tasks that were accomplished between 10:00 and 12:00:
  • clutch arm removed from transaxle
  • instrument cluster pulled and gauge mockup begun
  • seats and interior panels removed from van
  • supports cut off back seat to get it to fit onto the battery boxes
  • concentricity and clearances checked on clutch adaptor, and measurements taken for size of jig
  • more wires tied
  • began cutting battery box spacers (Lynn and Peter brought in a salvaged sheet of plastic -- the old bottom of an above-ground pool -- for this purpose)
  • determined battery placement for 12 volt system
  • solved battery box placement by eliminating second seat from van
After lunch we regrouped and reported on the morning's activities. Afshin had the insight that if we were no longer constrained by the second seat's size, we could make 2 equal-size battery arrays with 10 apiece, instead of the 3 (10, 8 and 2) that we had been tentatively working on. There were many advantages to this proposal, so it was approved. Another recommendation that came up in the afternoon was to swap a deep cycle 12 volt battery in for the existing 12 volt battery, which will still be called upon to power the electric heater, defroster, and lights of the van -- demands which place more drain on the typical auto battery than it is really designed for. We found a local source for the deep cycle 12v battery. An electric heater is en route from EVAmerica, but meanwhile Dan (with an enthusiastic crowd behind him) was proposing that we heat and defrost the van with 12-volt hair dryers instead, or at least use them as defrosters. I thought they were pulling my leg, but apparently they do exist! If the electric heater doesn't fit where we want to put it, perhaps we'll try this original solution.

In addition to the evaluation of the heater/defroster system on the VW, work proceeded in the shop and the classroom:
  • back seat spacing was measured for battery placement
  • fuse locations were determined
  • the hydraulic line for the slave cylinder was cut and the line welded up
  • work continued on the instrument cluster array
  • investigations continued on the battery boxes: what type of metal, how much of it, price, and availability
  • inquiries made about acid-neutralizing battery mat price and availability (locally not available in large sheets, only in 8 x 12 pieces)
  • Paul gave welding lessons to Peter and Kevin
It was lucky we'd debriefed in the morning, because by 3:30 it was hard to remember back that far!


Mike is creating battery spacers; Lynn is brazing the hydraulic line.

Afshin and Larry are determining the fuse layout.

Lynn explains how they removed the transaxle to Kevin; Dan shows progress on the instrument panel.

Paul is giving Peter and Kevin welding lessons, and politely suggesting that I might not want to attempt to photograph the arc.

Here is a trick from Dan: cap the axles with rubber gloves to keep them from dripping grease on the floor (or in your ear).

Bill spent a lot of the afternoon trying to resolve the battery box fabrication challenge. After getting a price quote on aluminum ... we decided to go with steel. That is within our budget, but it would be good if we had it in hand sooner, rather than later. Actually, it would be good if we had had it yesterday, and had fabricated the boxes today, but hey, then where would the challenge and thrills be?

Thanks for following along!


Anonymous said...

Keep it going guys and're all doing an amazing job! As a high school teacher who has worked with electric boats,cars, and bikes I empathize with some of your frustrations and set backs. I am closely following your progress and can't wait to see the finished product. Because of your efforts I have been inspired to take on a project like this at my high school. Keep up the great work!

jisaacs said...

Thanks for the words of encouragement, Kerry. Mike will be thrilled to learn that this workshop has inspired at least one individual to convert a vehicle in turn. His vision is more or less one of grassroots viral replication: he hopes each student in the workshop will convert a vehicle and teach someone else how to do it. I'm glad you got infected!