Thursday, January 28, 2010

More Photos of E-Van Painting -- and the Latest News

These action shots just in from the very helpful Suzanne!  I wanted to include the wonderful poster for the event, designed by a graphic arts student from NMTCC, as well.

I promised to post an account of my travels to EV groups in January -- about 250 hybrid miles logged on behalf of Bucks County Renewables this month!  On the second Wednesday I dropped in on the Eastern Electric Vehicle Club down in Plymouth Meeting PA.   Wish I'd thought to bring my camera with me so I could share a shot of the full house -- there were at least 30 people there and every seat in the room was filled!  I had to sit on the floor!

Hopped up to briefly announce the spring 2010 EV Conversion Workshop and the May 1 EV-ent in Macungie, but I am thinking I may go back to give a more in-depth presentation soon.  January's meeting featured a discussion of battery chemistry and an overview of recent EV developments, as well as a video on the hoped-for upturn in manufacturing in this country that is being stimulated by demand for and increased development of EV's.  We also celebrated EEVC's 2009 Member of the Year, Michael Manning with a surprise cake! 

Michael Manning behind the wheel of the Olympian in June, 2009. 

Michael's hands-on experience with EV's dates back to his high school days, and he has a longstanding professional involvement with electric vehicle design and production as well as battery development and research.   He's participated in several of Bucks County Renewables' owner panels this year and let me tell you, his depth of technical knowledge would be terrifying if it weren't for his sweet and unassuming air!  Thank you, Michael, for your willingness to share your expertise!
Speaking of awards, EEVC president Oliver Perry will be presented with the EAA Lifetime Achievement Award at the national group's Annual Members Meeting on Saturday, February 20 in Palo Alto, CA.  Ollie s being recognized for his many years of service to the EEVC, EAA and the world of electric vehicles in general.  Congratulations, Ollie!

The week after the EEVC meeting I was off to Morristown NJ for the monthly gathering of the New Jersey Electric Auto Association's Central NJ chapter.  This club is just a year old (a mere toddler compared to the EEVC which celebrates its 30th birthday this year -- yikes!) but is already doing some exciting things.  Founder and president Doug Stansfield has started Transatlantic Electric Conversions -- the only EV Conversion Shop and Parts Supplier round these parts -- in partnership with Phil Galati, , and he opened the meeting with a short overview of available Prius plug-in conversions.  Then it was my turn to give a presentation.  The shot above made me laugh -- Doug caught me waving my hands in the air just like Mike Parker, on-screen behind me!  Mike was the teacher from CA who came East to teach our very first EV Conversion Workshop in 2007.

After the slideshow and some questions and answers we all trooped outside to see Doug and Phil's very snazzy conversions (a Hyundai Tiburon and Ford Ranger).  Here's a snapshot of them on display together earlier this year.  I'm delighted to inform you that both vehicles will be available for up-close inspection at the May 1 2010 EV-ent in Macungie PA.  Hurray!  Wait till you see Phil's flux capacitor, it made me laugh and laugh!

The calls and email inquiries are starting to come in for the March-April workshop.  I'm about to post an announcement to environmental mailing lists and calendars so I'm expecting still more next week -- along with (I hope!) the first enrollments.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


The process that began in August finally culminated in the middle of January -- and it was such a fun evening it was worth the wait! There were dozens if not hundreds of parents, students and guests touring all of the facilities of the school and getting to see students demonstrating their skills.  The culinary school was serving up food, and there was free popcorn being given out in the hallway near the automotive technology wing.  Our very own Larry Dyer, math/science teacher extraordinaire and a participant in both the 2007 and 2009 workshops, was serving up the popcorn -- and he later took me to see the a7n7 battery enclosure he and Bill have been working on.  The box is done and ready to go in the van!  But I'm getting ahead of myself ...

I arrived just as Tom Meers of R.W. Mallon Inc, representing PPG, the paint manufacturer, was mixing up the paint.   I took a beautiful shot of him through the glass of the mixing booth and my camera batteries died in the middleDid I have a spare set with me?  I did not.  So I have no action shots, alas, but we had a wonderful time watching Tom and Nick Vesci, a student in the auto body collision course, spraying the van with the low-emissions, solvent-free water-based paint produced by PPG.  Tom really loves the paint he sells!  He says it's the first real progress in paint technology in 50 years -- and it's not that new, because PPG bought the company that invented it 23 years ago.  While it's been in use in Europe for 10 years and in California for the last 3, it is only beginning to be available on the East Coast.  Tom notes that body shops will soon be required by law to use low-emissions paint (here in PA and in a number of other states along the Eastern Seaboard, including NJ), and that means technical high schools will need to train their graduates on this new, green technology.  I'm completely thrilled to have the e-Van be the first vehicle at NMTCC to be used for such training!

I couldn't go home with no photographic documentation, and I was helped out by the warm and friendly Suzanne Kachelries, who took the pix below after spraying was completed.  As School to Career Coordinator at NMTCC, Suzanne is Nick's advisor.  (She also introduced me to his family, who operate Vesci Auto Body in Hatfield and are very supportive of NMTCC's educational efforts -- Nick's dad, Joe, serves on the school's Occupational Advisory Committee and Nick's mother says he has learned things here that he could never have been exposed to at their shop.)   Nick is seen below with Bob Hunter, the auto collision and body instructor who put many hours into this project -- and picked that stupendously eye-catching shade of orange! 

Above you see Nick and Bob with me (look at that my-van-is-finally-painted-grin!) and Tom, the PPG rep.  Tom and Nick worked together on the e-van, which was clearcoated and sprayed in the space of a short two hours -- hilariously interrupted by a fire alarm, causing us all to have to leave the building in an orderly fashion and wait for the all-clear.  

Guess what the cause was -- Mr. Dyer's popcorn machine!  No, it didn't catch on fire, but the heat from it triggered the sensitive alarm system.  I laughed all the way home thinking about it.

There's more to blog about soon, because I must recount my visits to the EEVC on the second Wednesday and the NJEAA on the third Tuesday of this month -- but I had to get these photos up as soon as I got them!  I can't wait to get down there with my own trusty camera and document the e-van's true final shininess (because of that fire drill there wasn't time for the final clear-coating, but that was to go on the very next morning) and, I most devoutly hope, the gorgeous battery enclosures fully installed -- only then we can finally get some electric miles logged on the 09 e-Van.   Till then, thanks for following along!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

2010 EV Excitement!

First, it's time to formally raise the curtain on our new video "What Makes an EV Go." This video was narrated and filmed by students in the June 2009 EV Conversion Workshop in Lansdale PA, using the 1985 all-electric Volkswagen Vanagon built by the class in 5 action-packed days. It is also a part of the downloadable hands-on, one-week EV curriculum for high school students developed in 2009. We are looking for feedback on the curriculum, so please get in touch with us if you are a teacher planning to implement it!

In other video news, Bucks County Renewables now has its own Youtube channel collecting all our EV-related videos in one place.

But there's lots more. First and foremost, at long last THE VAN WILL BE PAINTED on Thursday, January 14, 2009 -- and it turns out it was worth the looooong wait! The actual painting will take place during the North Montco Technical Career Center Open House between 6 - 9 p.m. Bob Hunter, the auto collision repair teacher at NMTCC, will be using new eco-friendly water-based paint in order to showcase the school's commitment to "green technology." Does that rock or what?! I'll be at NMTCC that evening to see the van roll out of the paint booth. For more info on the Open House click on the logo ...

Everything happens all at once when it happens, of course, so it was just last week that we finally confirmed the dates for the Saturday EV Conversion Workshop. Yippee! We are on at NMTCC for March 13, 20, 27 and April 10, 17, & 24. Note that there is no class Saturday April 3. Click here to go straight to the page where you can download a registration, and please don't delay because on Monday morning a huge email blast goes out to all the schools in the surrounding area and to all the technical high schools and community colleges with automotive programs in the region. I want there to be space in the class for all those who have written me asking when the next workshop will be already -- but it's first-come first-served, so hurry and get your registrations in as soon as possible!

Here's the really fun part: the vehicle converted during the Saturday EV Conversion workshop will be on display at the May 1, 2010 EV-ent in Macungie, PA. Yes, work is already underway preparing for an even bigger and better (and definitely sunnier!) EV show this year.

I spent the whole day updating the website so that when I start publicizing our course, people will be able to click right over to and download the registration form. We're live now! At some point I'd like to set up a Paypal account so folks can pay online, but I'm not sure that's going to happen before this workshop does -- there's a lot to be done!

Speaking of publicizing, I'm glad I didn't forget to mention that I'm going to be at the Eastern Electric Vehicle Club meeting this Wednesday, January 14 with fliers and all the latest news, and then next Tuesday I'll be heading out to Morristown NJ to present a slideshow of the 2007 workshop to the NJ Electric Auto Association.

Chapter president Doug Stansfield has a business called Trans Atlantic Electric Conversions that's just what I've been waiting for -- a professional conversion shop I can refer folks to who want an EV, but don't want to convert their vehicles themselves. Hurray! To my knowledge this shop is the first in the Eastern PA/Central NJ area, be sure to let me know if I am wrong! Trans Atlantic is also a distributor for WarP motors and controllers for those of you working on home or school builds. If you get in touch with Trans Atlantic, be sure to tell them you heard about them from this blog (that way they'll owe me and be willing to tow all their EV's over to Macungie to display in the spring!).

MMX (as the Romans would call it) has begun with a big bang, as you can see. Lucky I am all filled with New Yearish resolutions of getting organized and productive. I love January, though it's not prime EV-driving weather -- I wonder how Ken Barbour's Mini-E is doing in all the snow we've been having?