Friday, August 24, 2007

Tweaks and Testing: Day 3 (Plus Budget Report)

Bill reports in his own words on day 3: "The E-van had its first full charge and we drove off for some additional performance testing. 23 miles of up and down hills and a bunch of flat roads, got home with the gauge resting at 1/4. "

"Back on the charger for its #2 recharge and it's time to water the batteries."

Jenny speaking again: here's the charger sitting on top of the battery box. It stores under the driver's seat under that nifty little carpeted flap -- once it is a fully-integrated onboard charger, we may be able to leave it under there all the time, but for now, we might as well pull it out and let air circulate during charging.

Other data from the performance testing: the 12 v battery charge went to 11.55v, which is not good -- Bill was using the lights and wipers, and we want to be able to power those without running down the voltage over the course of 23 miles. He would like to review the DC-to- DC converter installation documentation to make sure it's functioning properly. On the upside, the van had plenty of power even at 1/4 on the fuel gauge; traction battery pack voltage at rest is 115v. It seems to have what it will take to make the 22 mile trip from Warrington to Ottsville on Sunday!

Day 4 to come: focus on battery box venting! Bill would like to install a pin switch so that when the flap on the charging port opens the fan will ground and operate. Also on the agenda are repairing the windshield washers and back up lights (er, now we see that Bill is kindly conducting standard Vanagon maintenance as well as specialized EV work) and installing the 12v electric heater that came with the conversion kit. Bill eBayed an old Vanagon heater core specifically so he could pull it apart and see how it will mesh with the new heater! Now that's forethought -- now he doesn't have to tear apart the existing heater/blower system until he knows what he's going to do with it.

Meanwhile, I finished off the accounting for the conversion and for the workshop. I am happy to report that I came in under budget, with $1,711 remaining to spend on refurbishing the inside of the vehicle (new seat covers, here we come -- and Dan thinks I should install hardwood flooring?!). I have about $8,650 in documented expenses, which includes the kit, the batteries & miscellaneous supplies and tools. However, many supplies were donated. I know for a fact that Bill has not reported all his expenses (including that cable-to-lug crimping tool!), but he's going to because I'm going to make a donation to Habitat for Humanity equal to the investment he made in the conversion as soon as he reports in. Right, Bill?!

Probably the most significant cost unaccounted for in the $8,650 figure was $750 for a charger, since we already owned one. Adding that in, this project costs out to $9400, just a bit under the standard $10,000 figure for converting an EV.

Anyone with an inexhaustible appetite for data can refer to the detailed list of items, prices and suppliers available here. I will update it to reflect the value of donated items as I get information.

Readers interested in sponsoring a similar workshop may also want to know what that process entailed as far as administrative costs and planning. Feel free to email inquiries to and I'll share what I learned from this summer's experience!

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