Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Big Trouble

Well, we never got around to diagnosing that battery/charger quirk, because a larger issue intervened: I had the van out on Sunday for a conditioning drive, had some difficulty shifting it from 2nd into 3rd, brought it to a halt in someone's driveway to get it into gear at a standstill, and then found that it would not start again.
Hurray for AAA -- the Vanagon (and EV) owner's friend.

Here's the van being hauled onto the tow truck with Matt in the foreground. I had assumed that the problem was the transmission -- which we have already arranged to replace -- but it seems it is not so simple. Matt did some basic troubleshooting on the spot with the voltmeter, and was able to find that there was power all the way to the motor (that is, the problem didn't lie between the batteries and the controller).

Back went the van to Bill's for more diagnostic testing. Everything indicated that the motor seemed to be the issue. Here he is prepared to disassemble the motor from the transaxle for a final test.

This motor is dead. But why?

Bill took a peek inside. He found that the 6 springs that push down on the brushes may have been installed incorrectly. They are pushing the side instead of directly on the brush.

We checked EVA's manual for our EV and nowhere does it specify that we should check inside the motor before installing it! Of course all motors are tested before they're sold, and this one has about 100 miles on it ... but though quite unusual, it's not unheard of for electric motors to be defective.

Next, we'll have to find a way to get this motor back to the manufacturer for further testing. Stay tuned!


kimpaw said...

I just found your site a week ago and was thrilled as I have been planning the next part in my personal internal combustion elimination project. Last years project was a 1970 GE Elec-Trak that I use for mowing and cutting fire wood with an electric chain saw run off the tractor.This yearI just finished an electric launch that is a great little boat that costs$ .07 an hr to run at 4 knots with a range of 6-8 hrs. and now I have time for the EV that I have been thinking about. Last winter I decided ,for many of the same reasons you did, that I would do a Vanagon and I have been looking for a rust free body. I am glad that there was a major problem found as your performance figures aren't as good as I was hoping for. I had planned to go with a 144volt sys. from the same supplier that you used. I would like to end up with a Vanagon that will go 60-65mph( I want to be able to go as fast as the dump trucks around here when I need to) for 40 miles, some hills along the way. I am anxious to hear how your Van does with a good motor.
Are the alignment jigs for motor installation that were made available for rent or loan?
Thanks so much for taking on your project and doing such a great job of documenting it. I love the fact you got so many people involved. Keep up the good work. Kimball Petty ,Little Deer Isle, Me.

jisaacs said...

Hey Kimball, Thanks for the good wishes and congratulations on your ongoing personal internal combustion elimination project. We've been thinking about converting a tractor during next year's workshop -- if you email me at info@buckscountyrenewables.com it would be great to be able to pick your brains about that process!

I've relayed your alignment jig query to Bill and will post when I have an answer.

We're looking forward to improved performance on the van as well -- of course anything is an improvement on dead in the water!! The flurry of emails between us and EVAmerica and Advanced DC Motors continues, but it looks like the motor will be heading back to ADC shortly. Stay tuned!