Sunday, October 23, 2011

Congrats to Brandon, Kudos to John, and Hiatus

Panorama photo of EV's on display at the 1st annual Electric Vehicle Conversion Convention held in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Sept 21-25

This is a belated and sadly abbreviated celebration of Brandon Hollinger's win of the EVCCON and our friend John Yecker's attendance of the entire event with his 93 Ranger.  (He did respectably in the drag race and had his truck written up at!  John sent me a bunch of pictures and I really wanted to interview him about the experience before it all got too old -- but most of October has gone by and the time has come to regretfully give up on that even though it sounds like the Best Time in the World.)

Tee hee this is the photo that accompanied the 8/17 announcement of the EVCCON at Autobloggreen and it is worth the read
There were other features I really wanted to share, too.  I wanted to follow up and get photos of those practically-new Dodge Colts EV twins for sale in Ohio and Florida.  I wanted to post my own interview with the guy who drives his electric Saturn Vue to the best local coffee shop for miles around, Rojo's Roastery in Lambertville, most weekends -- stupidly I never managed to connect with him in person myself, though back in April I did hook him up with the reporter from the Newtown Patch who did that nice write-up. 

Maybe I will still get the chance to meet Dr. Oppenheimer -- Rojo's is just a jaunt down the river in the electric Miata and there may be some fine fall weekends left on which to give it a try.  Maybe I will eventually find the time to finish the post I've been working on that (with Jack Rickard's help, thanks dude) connects the grassroots EV-building effort I've been privileged to be a part of for the last 5 years to the 99% movement and throws in a little basic Marx to boot ... it was going to be an Olympic-class relevancy event!  But for now, external events dictate that I take a hiatus from Bucks County Renewables and minimize posting on this blog.

Alert readers will have noticed that I haven't been promoting that 10/22 mini-workshop that I was talking about earlier in the summer; alas! my association with the Green Jobs Academy has been formally concluded and I declined their offer of an instructor contract for that mini-workshop in September.  I also made the decision that promoting EV's has to be shelved for the moment in favor of nurturing my growing little Montessori school in Frenchtown NJ, which happens to be my actual paid job at the moment.   

I have truly loved presenting talks & mini-workshops and overseeing three full-fledged hands-on conversions over the last 5 years.  I've talked to hundreds of people, formed ongoing friendships with some of them, had a blast, learned a lot (not just about electric vehicles but about founding a non-profit, making slide-shows & presentations, handling budgets & spreadsheets, fundraising, writing grants, administration, leadership, delegation, and building an effective team).  I am drawing on every one of those skills in my professional life and I am so grateful for all the training I got doing this for fun for all these years!  I'm sorry to have to lay it down now and I hope to find the time on occasion to post to the blog.

For all the warmth and acceptance and amazing support of the members of the EEVC and the many other EV drivers and advocates I've met, for the wonderful students in our hands-on workshops who safely and joyfully worked together to build the e-Van and our Red Hot little Miata, and for the many cherished collaborators I've had the pleasure of working with and learning from -- I am truly thankful. 


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Buses by the Depot 2011: Vanagons Turn Me On

Okay, it's been implied once or twice before on this blog but I thought I would come right out and give this post that full-on confessional headline. Of course there's a lot of appealing Volkswagen design on display in the multi-era bus panorama above but Vanagons ... ohhhhhh ... gimme a bunch of them parked all together and watch me get too squirmy and distracted to take my own pictures (this one swiped from BbtD 2010).

So I love displaying the e-Van at EV-specific shows, but I have to say that bringing it to Buses by the Depot 2011 this past weekend may have been my best idea ever.  Everyone there was a fellow fetishist.  Naturally, we had fun!

BbtD is an annual campout lovingly hosted by The Bus Depot in Green Lane, PA -- a nationally-known source for quality, affordable VW van parts.  Ron Salmon and his staff (good people all) have been organizing this campout in conjunction with a warehouse sale for several years now.  (I hit that sale & bought a shade canopy that clips onto any vehicle, EV display folks take note!)

Miraculously, the campout is held just 15 miles from North Montco Tech, so I was able to drive the e-Van there instead of being ignominiously (and fossil-fuelishly) towed.  It's the first time I've driven it to a show since 2007!  Must admit I was a little nervous en route; ever since we upgraded to 144 volts in 2009 our fuel gauge has not worked, so I had to have faith in Saint Bill when he reassured me that I would make it the distance.

I did, though not without some entertaining Little Miss Sunshine-esque moments, like the one early on where my 9-year-old daughter remarked from the back seat that the combination of my little moans of anxiety and the occasional grinding noise as I gradually got back into practice shifting gears without a clutch in actual traffic were making her a little nervous, and just at that moment I accelerated out of a stoplight and the side door slid all the way open with that solid Volkswagen thunk!  Eek!  "Don't worry sweetie, look, there's another red light coming up right here!  Hold on to all that camping gear okay?!!"

I hopped out, ran around to slam the door shut &  lock it, scrambled back into my seat in time for the light and we had no further really interesting adventures though my heartrate did not truly subside till I was parked at my campsite.

After that it was just straight up fun: talking to tons of people about the e-Van, ogling their buses in turn & sharing a delicious potluck dinner.  One of the best features of this campout is the communal meal on Saturday.  I was too busy eating to take pictures but Brendan did take one of me and his dad in front of the e-Van, which is basically my only documentation that it was there:


My friends Clark (red) & John (yellow) were there with their sweet pop-tops and unexpectedly I reunited with my long-lost pal Danno, who used to work on my first Vanagon and whom I haven't seen for years.  Danno's been living in his Vanno for the last year & it has some sweet mods that I wish I had taken pictures of, though of course they would have had nothing to do with electric vehicles.  

Next post I will return to EV-specific and very exciting news, I promise!  In the meantime here is a photo of the secret reason I am in Vanagon heaven right now:

 I own this silver Syncro everybody!  It doesn't run now but soon it will because St Clark is on the job!

Click on the photo to hear/see "Vanagon Song: Explicit Lyrics" on the Susquehanna Valley Vanagon Club website, a fabulous video but emphatically NSFW or Small Children's Ears unless you want your toddlers warbling "I drive a motherf***ing vanagon" in front of your inlaws  by Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Electric Dodge Colt Update: Long-Lost Siblings Found For Sale, Running & in Great Condition

 This week I learned a lot about the provenance of the Electric Colt pictured above!

Folks who have seen my "History & Advantages of EV's" presentation know that it begins with a little story about how back in April of 2006, I showed Matt an ad in a Quaker (Friends) newsletter for a used EV for sale and within a couple of weeks we were the innocent and proud new owners of the Electric Colt.  We had no idea what it was gonna get us into.

Matt got busy learning all about EV's by working on one, and I got busy learning why EV's were so great and making a little movie on the topic which of course featured the Colt.  My daughter's friend Corday, who was 12 or 13 at the time, shot the footage for me (it was her family's video camera) and Matt narrated the test drive; then I taught myself Moviemaker and found a lot of images on the internet and thrillingly got to use one of those headset microphones in order to record the voice-over that little 6-minute piece, the basis for the History & Advantages talk I give to this day.  (Now my talks are longer & even better because story-telling performances lend themselves to artful improvisation.)   The film was made for & debuted at the 2nd annual PA Energy Festival in 2006.

At the Energy Fest of course I had a nonstop blast (replicated on the 3rd weekend of September every year since) talking to people face-to-face about electric cars!  Oh my gosh that turned out to be the most fun thing in the world, even better than making movies about them!   It was at Energy Fest 2006 that I met my very first fellow EV-driver, Don Barry, who came to our booth to tell me about the 1993 Nissan pick-up he converted in 1999 and had been driving ever since.  (He brought it to the EV-ent in Macungie in April 2011 and I finally got to see it!)

In the fall of 2006 I also hadn't seen Who Killed the Electric Car yet, but it was released over the summer, and just reading about it in detail had galvanized me into action.  Immediately after Energy Fest I contacted Mike Parker on the West Coast and then Bill Kirkpatrick at the North Montco Technical Career Center, and launched the months of planning & attempted fundraising in aid of our workshop dream.  None of the fundraising efforts came through (except for $350 from Whole Foods for sandwiches for our participants, not much of a payoff for six months' worth of work!), but a financial gift from my father-in-law Tom Perkins gave Bucks County Renewables the funds it needed to put on our first workshop and successfully (anyone who was there would testify miraculously) convert our 1985 Volkswagen Vanagon into the e-Van.

So that was our first workshop funding stream!  And the little Colt that started it all was somewhat neglected once the e-Van rolled in August, 2007.  More than somewhat -- I confess that it sat unsheltered in our driveway while its car cover resided dry & safe in our basement for several years.  We at Bucks County Renewables do not wish to endorse or promote such behavior.  We can assure you that it attracts karma (but that's another post).

The tender-hearted among you will be relieved to learn that the Colt has been safely sheltered indoors at NMTCC since we moved it there in anticipation of a spring workshop in 2010 that never materialized.  (No funding stream!)  Saint Bill and his elves get to play with it occasionally.  Meanwhile when suddenly a funding stream in the form of a financial gift from my parents presented itself -- plus winning a set of batteries -- allowed us to proceed with the 2011 workshop we snubbed the Colt dreadfully in favor of pulling the engine out of a running 1990 Miata.  Oh dear, little Colt, you must have lost hope!  But never fear!

In the last week I've been researching your provenance pursuant to establishing your value and perhaps seeking to donate you as a project vehicle.  I've been in contact with your original owner Anne Moore on and off since we bought you; she and her husband Tom were active members of the Eastern Electric Vehicle Club beginning in 1991.

Anne has continued to serve the club since Tom's vibrant passing in 2008 by mailing out the paper newsletter monthly without fail.  All EEVC members know her handwriting on the little post-it notes that remind us annually when we're due for renewal!   I get a Christmas card from her every year, and was delighted to have the opportunity last week to call her and report that, after  years of finding no similar Dodge Colt to ours on the internet, I had suddenly stumbled across one in mint condition -- only 510 miles on the odometer -- for sale on Craigslist for $8600. (Yes this was synchronistic -- that is how we roll here.)

The ad has now expired but I hope to post details & photos shortly!  I got in touch with the gentleman who has the Colt on offer right away and learned that he actually has a 2nd one for sale in Sebring, FL where the vehicles were originally converted.  I had known all along that these conversions happened in Florida and that there were several of them; I have, I now realize somewhat thoughtlessly, repeated the understanding I have that ten of them were converted all at once in a mini-fleet endeavor.

Both Anne & the Gentleman With Two Running Colt EV's were vague about the total number that were converted and I still don't know that for sure.   But until I spoke with these two other Electric Colt owners and then did a little internet research, I didn't fully grasp that you, little Colt, were converted in at Sebring Auto Cycle in Sebring, FL, in the very same location where all CitiCars and ComutaCars were built -- and where a gathering of Citi-Cars will be occurring Oct 13-20th in conjunction with Sebring FL's 100th anniversary. My goodness!

Remember these?! I hope so ... what I really am curious about if you're reading this long caption is what is that vehicle in the background of this shot, it's not an EV.*
In 1991-2 the original Citi & Comuta-Car business in FL, now known as Sebring Auto Cycle, was owned by a gentleman named Jim Tervort.  After buying the remaining assets of the Comuta-Car company along with a consortium of employees, he designed & manufactured one last original vehicle, a 3-wheeled EV called the Zzipper

Anne & Tom bought a Zzipper from Jim and struggled fondly with it for a while before replacing it with the Colt (converting these Colts was apparently Sebring Auto Cycle's last gasp, and it may have been financed by Chrysler -- I can't find the darn link that told me that!).

Sidebar for frenzied EV history buffs like myself: the Zzipper was freaking nifty; in addition to being charged by a plug, it was designed to charge while being towed behind an RV and then used to freewheel around efficiently while the RV stayed put!  So clever!  You can read all about it here on the original Triton brochure (it got renamed later) and see one that is still preserved by Dennis Merritt here

Sidebar for frenzied 3-wheeler buffs: a nice roundup of optimal urban commuter vehicles from's Electric Vehicle Technology Forum

Back to our story: The Moores hoped to utilize their Zzipper on more than on just occasional camping outings.  The one they bought from Jim Tervort was the first imported north.  It had to be heavily modded for PA streets and winters; Anne laughingly relates that Tom wound up staying in FL for months helping rebuild it as Jim feverishly re-designed the vehicle!  Their adventures in their quirky little 3-wheeler were amusingly and honestly chronicled in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Feb 26, 1992 (Anne and the members of the EEVC have even more stories about its unsuitability).

Soon after that Inquirer article ran, the Moores traded the Zzipper in for the Electric Colt and achieved thier goal of a ZEV daily driver.  It burned through the original motor in 1998 and in 2002 was still getting 40 miles on a charge.  By this time they had racked up 18,000 miles on our Colt, using it to shop, run errands and live daily life in their Main Line community of Wayne, PA.  When they moved into a Quaker retirement community in West Chester they passed it on to their nephew Tom Hoopes -- then working for the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, for which I had volunteered for years on behalf of the Friends Peace Committee.

Anne hasn't seen me speak, so she doesn't know that when I am giving talks promoting EV's I have a slide where I always point out the "WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER" bumper sticker on the Colt (there when we got it) and the "PEACE ON EARTH" graffiti which was still festooning the Vanagon while it was on the lift waiting to be converted.  (Turns out tempera paint is a very longlasting medium!)  In my mind, the Colt and the e-Van (originally named "die Sprite" but known by the kids at my children's Friends School as "the Peacewagon") have always been deeply connected by their roots in the notion that the car you drive every day can be a mindful, political choice and part of a daily practice of nonviolence.  A way not to participate in the craziness.

Back in March 2005, when die Sprite was still running as an ICE vehicle and I seriously did not know that there was such a thing as an electric car, I painted my message of peace on the side and headed off to a peace rally & walk from Lambertville, NJ  to New Hope PA in observation of the second anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.  I was amazed at what a durable medium tempera paint turned out to be -- it simply lasted and lasted, and was still clearly visible when the van went up on the lift on July 30, 2007.  I washed it off in case the press came to our roll-out but they didn't. 

The Second Gulf War, alas, outlasted the Peacewagon's message.  By some definitions it continues to this day: eight and a half years and $9.5 billion later, as of June this year 44,000 U.S. troops were still stationed in the ruins of one of the oldest civilizations on earth.  How many deaths and how many gallons of oil turned into pollution or single-use, throwaway containers later, what a waste it's been.

The Second Gulf War outlasted the organized peace movement too.  As the war went on and on (and Afghanistan was added to the front) protests dwindled.  I remember that 2nd year rally as being invigorated, the 3rd year dispirited, maybe I skipped the 4th and by the time the 5th anniversary rolled around, which started as a peace network, had become an organized focus for Obama's election and there were no more peace rallies to be found.  The war had become nearly invisible, a strangely unacknowledged, uncompromising drain on our country's resources, strangely absent from the table of the election just as it had been in 2004.

In the huh-nothing-changed-that-much Democratic regime activism has not disappeared; it's not even underground, but it has become engaged with building community, instead of mobilizing protest.  The explosive growth in farmer's markets, buy-local movements, co-operative agricultural arrangements like CSA's and grass-roots educational efforts signal that the organizing spirit is still there, focused on where we can make a difference.

One by one, each one teach one, we can create thriving communities.  And we can grow ourselves, because it turns out that love leads to learning and learning leads to unexpected new things.  

5 years ago Matt wanted to play with an EV, I thought having one would be a great way to act for peace every day, and we both thought it would be cool to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

In the intervening half-decade I've sponsored three hands-on EV conversion workshops, exhibited and talked about EV's in a variety of venues, been called by reporters and asked to write articles, gotten to play with designing all kinds of promotional materials, learned how to write a budget and a grant proposal, overseen the development of a formal written curriculum, and engaged in a formal joint venture with the Green Jobs Academy of Bucks County Community College.  Quite a journey was launched when I first started noodling around with the Bucks County Renewables logo!

you gotta have a logo if you have a dream
Along the way the automobile-driving public in the U.S. has obviously become aware of EV's in a new way so I think we at Bucks County Renewables can pat ourselves on the back for having fulfilled our mission to promote EV's as a solution to our cultural dependence on fossil fuels and to help jump-start systematic instruction in our local high schools & community colleges!

Acquiring the Colt led to the two running EV's we proudly possess now.  First, die Sprite -- first reborn as a fully battery-electric vehicle, now finally ready to step out in roadworthy fashion and drive to a Volkswagen Van campout this weekend in Green Lane PA after being showcased at the PA Energy Fest just recently.  Second, the Red Hot 50-mile Electric Miata converted this summer, which has finally achieved the original goal Matt & I had along: an electric car that would comfortably accomplish a 30-mile round-trip commute in the evening, with no time to charge back up.  Who-hoo!

Acquiring the Colt also led to an incredible amount of fun,  including getting to test-drive a Tesla and Ken's mini-E (sorry I was such a wimp, Ken), talk about EV's with a beer in one hand and a clicker in the other at Green Drinks, stay overnight in a solar-powered cottage in the Poconos and tour a geodesic greenhouse, see a demonstration of Nikola Tesla's historic coil energized at midnight on Independence Mall, camp and hang out around the bonfire at one fantastic Energy Fest after another, and connect with so many wonderful people that 160+ blogposts haven't begun to be able to capture them all.

Finally, acquiring the Colt led me, just last week, to speak with two of the original adopters who bought an Electric Colt of their own when it was first rolling out -- all fresh & shiny & full of hope in 1992 -- of the same workshop that previously brought forth the Comuta-Car and the Citi-Car, examples of which I have seen many times on display at shows without knowing that our cars were connected.

I was so surprised to learn that my EV passion was originally stimulated by a vehicle with an actual pedigree: one built in Sebring FL, on the successive foundations of dreams for real choice and real change, a business that began in the 1970's and passed through several owners before the Colt was created and -- much later -- came into our hands.

The whole experience has rendered me even more historically-minded and long-winded than usual on this blog, for which I will not apologize because I had so much fun writing this review of the entire past 5 years and I am sure that if you followed all the way through you also did not mind!

Stay tuned for news of the e-Van's outing this weekend, doubtless also super-educational. 

* If you stuck through this whole long blogpost to the point of reading this footnote & still have an appetite for more, click on that photo from the Deer Lodge MT Automobile Museum. You will land on the (fairly current) blog of the senior citizen who posted this photo along the way while she's endeavoring to kayak in all 50 states -- oh my -- long caption, but worth clicking thru if you stuck it out, she does sketches for gas money and is kinda amazing! And don't forget to let me know if you too think that might be an Austin Taxi.

Monday, September 19, 2011

We Built a 50-mile EV!! & Energy Fest Report

So this weekend was the Miata's first long-distance road test.  Since Kempton is approximately 50 miles away, at the absolute maximum of our calculated range, we were nervous about doing the entire trip in one shot.  We opted to play it safe, and staged the car overnight with friends, who were happy to share a buck and a half's worth of their electricity in addition to beers & dinner!  Of course they also had to check the car out ... that's okay, Matt loves to talk about the Miata as much as I do!

Our numbers on battery discharge & amp hours consumed on the two 30-mile legs on the way to Kempton were so encouraging that Matt decided to drive it directly home to Ottsville on Sunday.  He found a route that was only 46 miles, including almost 15 miles on I-78 (he went no faster than the legal 55 since he was maximizing range).  The odometer read 45.8 miles when he arrived, with 27.9% remaining on the batteries -- well within the recommended discharge limit!*

*Despite the formulas we were looking at on the last day of class which indicated that depth-of-discharge was not an issue with lithium-ion batteries, we have learned that in fact they do appreciate being drained no more than 80%.  (I understand, however, that they are are more tolerant of the occasional max-out than lead-acid batteries are.)
On the basis of this real-world range test, we can calculate that our Miata has a projected range of 63 miles.  80% of 63 miles of total range yields an effective daily range of just over 50 miles, which was Brandon's original projected performance for the vehicle and far exceeds our actual requirement of a 30-mile commute. I can't tell you how thrilled I am (already wrote to all our workshop participants to share the great news with them directly)!  Since almost a quarter of this drive took place @ 55 mph and the terrain featured quite a few Appalachian foothills, I am sure we are going to be able to rack up an impressive # of laps on Penn State's test track at the 21st Century Automotive Challenge next May.  Can't wait to get out there and get some really solid data on our efficiency & range.  

Confirming the Miata's status as a true 50-mile EV was the icing on the cake of a fantastic weekend.  Bill & I had a wonderful time at the Energy Fest.   I gave 3 well-attended History & Advantages lectures and as usual our 3-hour conversion overview was made available to Fest attenders for a fee of $15.   The highlight of that workshop, of course, is our incredible panel of real-world EV drivers and builders who come to share their experiences & knowledge of the topic.  BCR contributes half the proceeds of this workshop to the Eastern Electric Vehicle Club and this year we were able to make a donation of $75 (Ollie, I owe you $15).
Displaying the Miata and the e-Van (as well as Bill's go-kart) side-by-side was just tremendous fun.  I spent hours talking to folks and answering questions about the cars.  

We proudly drove our 2 vehicles in the new EV parade & mainstage review that was held all 3 days of the Festival.  And of course, we loved catching up with our friends in the Transportation Tent area,  the visitors & vendors & volunteers who return year after year to the Fest, and meeting lots of great new people as well (including the Sustainable Living Roadshow who are a completely awesome crew of human beings)

We were particularly delighted to get to see some workshop alumni: Ralph Opitz, Jack Waitz & his wife Caroline and Dan Gallagher & his family all came by to share/admire/fondle the Miata they built this summer.  Lynn McConville from the 2007 & 2009 workshops also came by to catch up; she was on the way to give her own presentation this year on Power Up Gambia, the solar power project for healthcare facilities that she has been working for.  It was wonderful to see Ralph, Jack, Dan & Lynn again as well as Rich Vasko from the fall mini-workshop at Green Jobs Academy and many familiar faces from the Macungie EV-ents of the last 3 years.  Apparently electric cars help build community, instead of isolating us from our neighbors and friends ... think that thought deserves a longer post some other time!

In the meantime, here's a pic of our dusty little champ charging up again at home after her 46 mile haul from Kempton.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Miata & e-Van Update, Plus Final Energy Fest Plug

Maybe I'll plug the Energy Fest first.  It's just days away, and I'm belatedly realizing that I never posted my own speaking schedule in Kempton this weekend!  (So much for being a self-promoting machine here on this blog.)  If you're an Energy Fest virgin it would be wise to take an advance peek at the amazing roster of informative sessions available there from 10 am - 4 pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Talks go on all day in the Renewable Energy, Sustainable Living, Environmental/Social Justice, Green Building & Transportation Tents!

The laughably cheap entrance fee of $10 yields the aforementioned ton of info freely given, a few workshops with modest additional fees, over a hundred exhibitor booths, delicious food, and a sustainable ethic: everywhere a trash can might be, there are compost/recycling/landfill bins instead.  You will be amazed at how low-impact even a large gathering of people can be.  There's also fun stuff like music, yoga, & children's activities, plus extremely cheap camping ($15).   It's a beautiful setting -- outdoors, but all the vendor & lecture areas are protected by large tents in case of rain -- in the foothills of one of the closest sections of the PA Appalachians.  Kempton is also the location of Hawk Mountain if you want to combine the Fest with an educational side-tour to learn about the magnificent spectacle of raptor migration.

I get a fair number of emails from national "green expo" groups inviting Bucks County Renewables to purchase an exhibit booth at the indoor, air-conditioned conference center they've booked in my area for their particular tour.  That's not what the Energy Fest is like at all.   Sponsored by the MAREA, a truly grassroots and entirely volunteer organization located in Berks County, it's a genuine effort to educate on a local scale, to gather and disseminate the results of hundreds of people's labors, research, and passion over one glorious weekend, and so it is infused with a spirit of communal effort & shared fun that is gonna be missing from any corporate-sponsored, profit-making endeavor.  Obviously it would be crazy for you not to come!

Friday, Saturday & Sunday mornings I'll be speaking at 10 am  in Tent 7 (details here - lecture T1) and on Saturday afternoon from 1:00 - 4:00 I'll be there too, presenting an overview of the process of building your own quiet, environmentally sound EV's, including system options and conversion steps.  This workshop includes a Q&A session with a panel of current EV owners, giving the opportunity to hear about a range of real-world experiences.  Bucks County Renewables donates half the gate to the Eastern Electric Vehicle Club, many of whose members have been mainstays of the Transportation Tent since its inception at the Festival in 2007.  I can't link to the workshop description for some reason, and you can't register online in any event, so just ask about it when you purchase your admission if you're interested.  In the meantime, here is a link to check out a few of the converted and production EV's and other alt-fuel vehicles that will be on display this weekend!

And that tasty preview is by no means complete because our newly-converted Miata will be joining the e-Van on display this year, and I am so excited because it looks like we are going to get to DRIVE it there!  I have to back up a little bit cause when I last posted the DC-DC converter (our 2nd!) was still on the fritz and Brandon had zoomed in from Lancaster to do a consult.

Brandon thought the problem might be in the mini-Anderson connectors.  Some of the pins may have been loose inside.  Bill on the other hand thinks there may have been a loose connection on the hard-wired side.  Just in case he fixed both issues, eliminating the Anderson connectors entirely from the circuit and tightening the double-nut connections on the other side.  So far our loaner DC-DC converter is functioning fine although it did mysteriously blow an inline fuse on Bill when he first tested it.

All these problems with charging the 12-volt battery have Bill wanting to have a dashboard monitor for it in the future! He picked up a whole other Miata cluster at the local junkyard and rigged up a state-of-charge gauge in it, but installing that baby is going to have to wait till after the Festival.  Bill reports that getting in the new horn took long enough.  It turns out the Miata horn is one elaborate assembly!

Look what he had to replace to allow us to go beep-beep again ...  Meanwhile the e-Van's been prettied up in preparation for the Energy Fest; on Saturday I helped Bill take apart the plexiglass enclosures for the batteries and clean them all off.  Yuk, lead-acid batteries can get gross.

While I was cleaning batteries in the passenger compartment I admired the new 1500w ceramic element heater under the seat where the batteries used to be!  A snazzy duct has been cut in the old steel box and the heater is tucked inside.


So tonight we brought the Mazda home from Bill's place to ours, a total of 21.9 miles.  The battery pack was reduced by 58.2 %.  That suggests a total range of 50 miles and an effective one of 40 (80% discharge being recommended for lithium batteries during normal use.  We won't plan to make it directly to Kempton unless the Miata's projected performance picks up over the week (it's a 50-mile trip) but we do have a proposed itinerary that would allow us to charge it up at a friend's house on the way, so stay tuned for that adventure!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

11 Days Til PA Energy Fest! Updates & a bit of a Rant

Okay, so some years it has been a challenge just arranging to get one EV out to the PA Energy Fest's Alternative Transportation Tent -- this year we have two!  Saint Bill has been very busy making sure both the e-Van and our red-hot newly-converted Miata are ready to go ... including adding some informative bling ..


In addition to its lovely new magnet sign the e-Van has a working controller in it and is totally good to go.  Bill has been plowing through mechanical fixes on the Miata down to the last detail (horn, airbag light, new gear shift boot) and the charger has been relocated from its original nifty concealed spot behind the seats to one that makes it possible to monitor the apparently-more-important-than-we-thought LED readouts.  It now resides in the trunk along with the spare tire. 

Our biggest issue -- the last driveability tweak for the Miata before it can hit the road -- is the DC-DC converter.  Happily John Yecker has generously loaned us an old one of his, which will be brought by Brandon "Yes I Do Provide Technical Support for my Designs"  Hollinger  tomorrow.  (I just got a text from the gentleman in question reporting that the original electric Miata that he built made it today from Lancaster to Philadelphia, a 75-mile trip with real highway involved, with 27% of charge remaining.  Since his car is the older cousin to our newly-built 50-mile car, we are bursting with family pride here.)

Speaking of being able to go 75 miles between major cities on between, say, a buck-fifty and three dollars' worth of electricity depending on where you live, in a car that you can basically build (and therefore fix) yourself, and which you fuel at your house, thereby immediately liberating yourself from enslavement to

a) foreign oil
b) domestic auto manufacturers & their dealerships
c) all the gas pumps: the kind with televisions blaring pseudo-news and advertising & the more run-down, less-automated sort where you have to line up behind lottery addicts in order to pay at least twice as much for every mile
d) oil changes, exhaust repairs, replacing ruptured hoses & leaky gaskets & all that other stuff that wears out or (alarmingly & generally expensively) suddenly breaks in your average internal combustion engine, at least in my experience
e) guilt over really wanting to drive a car with extremely rapid acceleration, which is obviously fun, especially when you are faster out of the tollbooth/starting lane than like basically ALL gas cars on account of how electric motors have instant torque and that growly sound you hear when an ICE is trying to rev up super fast is the sound of it attempting to suck its way up the torque curve.  See you later sucker!

Anyway SPEAKING OF ALL THAT, this week a friend of mine tried unsuccessfully to lure me into commenting on a Facebook thread by emailing me the following:

 Care to respond to this?
Dans La Lune
Please don’t blame me for this splash of cold water. Blame the greens
4 minutes ago · ·

    • Now you've done it. I have to sic Jenny on you. She is not on FB, tho, so it might take a while....
      2 seconds ago

      Jenny Responds (A Lot More Than 2 Seconds Later): 

      I'm not especially tempted to engage in internet squabble on this topic, & you know why?  It's not just because I avoid pointless conflict on the grounds that is addictive (much like high-fructose corn syrup & Facebook), it's because I am totally for viral social media republishing of opinion pieces abjuring people to stay away from EV's because they are some kind of green scam.  Go right ahead, folks!  Object!  Foam at the mouth!  Buy a Hummer, or propagate the notion that it's more environmentally sound than a Prius!  Use up  all the fossil fuel already, ladies & gentlemen-- it's blindingly obvious that it will be easier to change our ways once the intoxicatingly energy-dense stuff is totally gone.  Please help yourselves to more oil.   It would be a public service.

      Meanwhile me and a few of my friends will be driving around in EV's saving money on gas.  Who knows whether the dying dollar will persist into the post-petroleum era (maybe we will end up rich in carbon-credits who knows, it's possiblebut I speculate that with a considerable amount of actual cash unspent on turning valuable oil into pollution  in order to commute 30-100 miles per day 5 days a week, accumulation of savings will permit our not-at-all-hypothetical cadre of actual present-day EV drivers to acquire what is known in the social sciences as "an economic advantage" over the folks who,  well past the tipping point, maintain a desperate grip on the steering wheels of their precious ICEmobiles.  In the not-too-distant future gas prices may double & cities may begin to levy pollution/mpg tolls, but I'm sure there will be some drivers who'll hang on till they're practically bankrupt rather than succumb to the EV-il tide.

      But many of the present-day haters will probably end up buying an electric car.  And because we, the smug & thrifty-when-it-counted greens, will at that point be super-rich in dollars or carbon-credits or social capital or what have you, we will  all be zipping happily around in fabulously satisfying high-tech & very very  fast electric sports cars with awesome range & power.  The likes of Margaret Wente and her propagators will be reduced to shooting us envious glances from their poorly-constructed, unaesthetically-designed, economical but unfortunately kind of crappy EV imported from India or China or some other crowded country with an eye on the US market for tiny, cheap electric cars.  Too bad they are so tiny their range is limited and you really have to eke out those miles!  Goodbye fun driving, watch your acceleration!

      To sum up, my prediction for the future is that the current anti-EV opinionmongers will mostly end up driving little electric shitbuckets because that will be all they can afford, while we here at Bucks County Renewables and our friends who hold the long view will be a) super-rich and b) driving futuristic electric cars of such awesomeness that they will make the Tesla seem both dowdy and underpowered.   We must try not to regard our defeated opponents pityingly; nor should we gloat, even though this whole outcome will secretly be very satisfying.  Zooming out of tollbooths well ahead of them with that slight I-was-an-early-EV-adopter grin on your face is permissible, of course.  

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Last Call for EVTV Voting Today - & EV News Roundup (at last)

I just got this video link today and am hastening to post it -- it's the very last call for EVTV voting for Brandon Hollinger's London Taxi project!  Yes that is a glimpse of our Red Hot Miata EV (for which Brandon did the design and pre-workshop build): our instructor Bill Kirkpatrick is putting it through its paces while I'm filming & giggling.
EV & Industry News

Hybrid News

Battery Technology & Development

In Wider-Ranging Renewable Energy News & Development

(Energy Boom)

EV's Are Not the Only Answer to Our Transportation Problems

 Slide To The Train  (Popup City)


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Today I Got To Test-Drive a Nissan Leaf! FINALLY!

But  first -- I have been delinquent in linking to this excellent write-up of our recently concluded 2011 EV conversion workshop which appeared in the online venue Bucks Local News!  I also have to admit I have been slacking even more than usual so I am way behind on post-workshop mop-up.   While the parts I was responsible for (publishing the final costs of the conversion; making an EVAlbum page for our newly-created Miata EV; and post-workshop publicity beyond the awesome efforts of the PR angels at Bucks Community College) have languished, Saint Bill has been dedicatedly plowing through the mechanical issues that surfaced during the Miata's ICE-to-EV transition.

I paid a visit to our little red-hot LiFe baby this weekend and she runs backwards and forwards, shifts smoothly, brakes silently on her yummy new high-performance brakes, and furthermore is sporting a brand-new alignment.  (Bill says the folks at North Penn Mazda were incredibly helpful in diagnosing and fixing the hard-shift-into-reverse issue.) 

Just a few EV tweaks left (including replacing a defective DC-to-DC converter, sigh) and then we will be inspectable and on the road -- we hope in time to establish some real-world kilowatt-crunching and range-tabulating data before we bring the Miata for display at the PA Energy Fest in September!

Okay, now I will tell you all about FINALLY getting to test-drive a Nissan Leaf.

This story really begins on Earth Day, 2010.  On that date Nissan opened up reservations for the Leaf, and we here at Bucks County Renewables ponied up $99 to reserve one.  We knew they would not be appearing exactly soon in PA, but we were quite sincere in our hopes of landing one of the first production electric vehicles available.  It was going to be red.  Sniffle, I really believed it would be here in a year.

Well, over a year has elapsed with little communication from Nissan to us personally as prospective, paid-to-show-we-were-interested buyers.

Then I got even grumpier on behalf of interested buyers everywhere in the confluence of the PA and NY and DC markets when our little ad-hoc group of organizers (led by the fearless Anna) of the EV-ent in Macungie couldn't manage to pry a Leaf out of corporate Nissan for display at our show back at the end of April of this year.  We went right to the top, with emails, phone messages, & two actual conversations with the director of electric vehicle marketing for Nissan USA

We argued with our usual charm and verve that an established all-EV show in the aforementioned confluence of markets would be a logical place to display the first pure EV on the market that actually functions as a family car (as opposed to the Tesla and the mini-E -- the 2-seaters we had on display in 2010).   Like, please show us you are serious about marketing electric vehicles folks!   We did not ask them for money or test drives anything -- just a Leaf for our EV-ent attenders to ogle.

How is it that we were not irresistible, Nissan
Admittedly there is a huge grin on my face in the actual photo at the top of this post, captured when we finally got our hands on the wheel of a Leaf earlier today, but here is Anna looking more thoughtful maybe she is reflecting on the months it took us to get behind the wheel of this thing ...

 Back in March & April all our persuasive efforts with the very tippy-top electric vehicle marketing person at Nissan North America in the end yielded the only sorta helpful "Well there's a guy in New Jersey who works for us who has a private one, maybe he'll be willing to bring it."  And then it turned out he had a schedule conflict.  So all of us were disappointed and made irl faces like this  :-(  and in my case at least began making ominous and public mutterings about buying a Ford Focus EV instead because in my opinion (and I have many) maybe Nissan was not serious about marketing this car.  From a consumer perspective -- and admittedly I am a notoriously hard-to-please customer, but really dudes -- I am no longer serious about buying a Leaf unless some Nissan rep drives it up to my door and makes me feel like they want to sell it to me and not the other way around.   

But!   It's not like I was gonna boycott the opportunity to take a test drive when Nissan FINALLY brought its "drive electric" tour to Philadelphia, so when our fearless leader Anna hipped me to this morning's test drive opportunity of course I signed up right away, along with Phil Jones, who serves with Anna on the board of the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Association and annually coordinates the Transportation Tent at Energy Fest.  

Phil Jones & Anna DiGate of the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Association after Leaf test-drive

This was the third day of a 3-day event.  It was a very wet Sunday morning in Philadelphia and actually there were more people in attendance than this desolate-looking scene indicates:

Under the tents there were all kinds of cut-outs and blow-ups and videos of the car in motion and also and a "what locations are w/in your 100-mile range" map/calculator toy -- but that's all available on the Leaf website.  I only photographed the above to remind myself how cheap our electricity is where I am in Bucks County (we are still paying less than 9 cents a kilowatt-hour).  Note the small print: price advantage holds even if gasoline drops below $1.10 a gallon.   That is one smug statistic!

This display featured the "in-home" J1772 charger which is hard-wired to your 240-v outlet.  The Leaf also has a regular 120-volt inlet for use with ordinary household extension cords.  Our tour rep was pretty clear that Level II opportunity charging at (e.g.) Walgreens, which just bought a bunch of these stations, was not going to be a real need for EV drivers: "We don't expect you to be spending 5-7 hours at the drug store of course!  Most drivers will charge up exclusively at home."

Kudos to Nissan for stressing this.  On the other hand, every single rep we spoke to had been hired on specifically to put on the "Drive Electric" tour -- there were no Nissan engineers or even salespeople in evidence, just event specialists who were basically free-lancing.  There was no question they had been well-trained by corporate Nissan for basic show-and-tell, but they did not understand the car in depth, and that was a little disappointing for folks like us who already have a pretty extensive knowledge of the vehicle or of EV's in general; several times I heard tour reps run up against questions they simply could not answer.  ("Why is there a battery temperature gauge?"  "Is the make-an-annoying-noise-to-protect-blind-pedestrians button truly an option as indicated by the turn-off button, or is the whine/beep legally mandatory?") 

And my review of the behind-the-wheel experience?  This car is definitely more nimble & fun to drive than the Chevy Volt, esp in non-eco mode; after much quizzing of the event rep I finally gleaned that the more efficient eco-mode basically resets the throttle calibration and forces leadfoots like me to accelerate more slowly.  

Eco-mode was more than adequate for city streets of course, but our event rep admitted that driving in it was a bit of a snooze and I much preferred the acceleration and cornering in non-eco mode, sigh.  The very availability of a choice between efficiency & power made me reflect on the fact that both the Volt and the Leaf are examples of contemporary "drive-by-wire" technology with a great deal of onboard computer-controlled communication.  Nissan has done a better job of making its Leaf optionally behave like what I still think of as a "real" car piloted by humans  (you can even turn off the ABS!) but its basic impenetrability even to someone like me who has managed to learn a thing or two about EV's during the last 5 years made me leave this sales event feeling, you know what?  I'm excited about production EV's and I know lots of people who will want to buy one, but I think I will stick with the build-it-yourself guys, because they are totally fun to talk to and will always give you the time of day.  Unlike, for example, corporate Nissan.


Oddly just as we were leaving the expo area, we came across the Popular Science tent (nominally part of the official festivities).  This tent was actually staffed by a person who made the thing he was talking about.   First I met the machine:

a converted electric Polaris ATV range-extended by a rather amazingly tidy and user-friendly configuration in the rear cargo area into a series diesel hybrid, extending its range exponentially from pure EV and increasing its viability as a deep-woods camping vehicle.

Cool homebrewed diesel-electric hybrid I got to see, oddly enough, while test-driving a Nissan Leaf

Only gradually did I realize I was talking to the guy who actually designed and built this conversion, a long-time staff photographer for Popular Science who has been described elsewhere on the internet as PopSci's "staff photographer/mad scientist."

John Carnett opens up the control panel that allows operators to dictate whether the diesel-hybrid motor uses EV power preferentially or vice-versa en route to its backcountry destination, where the vehicle can also serve as an onsite source of electric power. 
 John had a ton of other fun and cool projects, mostly in the green building line, and Anna and I totally endeavored to recruit him,  plus his sidekick & editor Doug who was on the scene & obviously a fan & fomenter of amazing DIY projects, for the PA Energy Fest.  C'mon Popular Science (not to mention corporate Nissan), join the fun!

The Nissan event was located right in Northern Liberties so after we escaped from the fascinating Popular Science tent we waltzed right down the street for Sunday brunch at the  Standard Tap.  This is relevant because EVs are totally local and so is a restaurant tbat features delicious heirloom tomatoes, in-season produce & exclusively locally-brewed beers on tap.  Oh Standard Tap you were already my favorite restaurant in the world based on dinner the other night, and then there was a pickled asparagus spear in my Bloody Mary this morning.  Obviously a stretch to firmly relate topically to this blog but like electric vehicles and the fun people who love them Standard Tap is totally awesome. 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

2011 Workshop - Day Six, July 30

to our 6-day hands-on EV conversion workshop

started out with desk time of course!  Sadly we had to announce that one of our students had to leave unexpectedly to attend to a family medical emergency and would miss the last day of the workshop.  We all extend best wishes to Chris & his family.  

 Look at Bill's arm muscles even when he is just waving his hands around in the air explaining final checkout procedures and establishing the morning agenda!

There were a few trivial things everybody was itching to finish up on the car before we could spin the wheels.  During the morning we also hoped to include a brief lecture by Glenn on electrical calculations/relationships and some time to cover resources in calculating for range, motor size & battery pack, but those activities wound up happening in the afternoon and I didn't get to document either because I was on a crucial supply run for coffee -- our only emergency material need of the day except for some optional WD-40!

I wish I had audio of the harmonious buzz of voices that I was hearing when I snapped this shot of everybody under the Miata animatedly discussing plans with their respective break-out groups.  

In the purely automotive department, the transmission needed to be refilled with gear oil

 and the standard underbody shield had to be reinstalled.

That is the grooved dark panel being installed above; the underbody shield was then extended with a sheet of corrugated polyethylene, nicely lit by the hanging light in the arty photo below.

 Jack came up with the idea & donated the materials for this solution as well as neatly executing it.  Extending the underbody will not only protect the motor from road-splash and grit but will also improve aerodynamics and thus increase range slightly.  Every little bit helps: this goes true for maximizing range and success in group projects!

Our (now fully-wired) charger is located under the panel behind the seats, and the peninsular covering piece above is somewhat raised, creating vents which will permit cooling air to circulate around it.  If we want to cover it with the usual mat we would have to come up with another venting solution, but I kind of like the chromey futuristic look of the naked rear shelf at the moment.  At this point of course we were all focused on rolling and not on aesthetics or cooling questions!  

Here we are all grouped up to watch some voltage testing -- Ralph is holding a protective sheet of plexiglas for the batteries.  Again, we can roll without the tweaks but we are lining them up for the future -- our Miata will, after all, be a show vehicle as well as a daily driver.  Expect to see it on display at the Energy Fest in Kempton PA in September!

 I just really loved all the teamwork: look, here are two people with their hands on one voltmeter, and not because either one of them is just learning how to measure voltage -- they are sharing the experience of taking the necessary readings to make sure our high-voltage wiring is correct all through the series.  A systematic check of all connections is required before we close the circuit.

Teamwork was also happening in the rear, where we needed to plug the hole in the trunk that used to carry the fuel line -- obviously this was not necessary to roll, but it IS necessary to protect our trunk battery pack from moisture by covering this larger hole (we will caulk around the battery box later). 

In the front it was time to wire up the Soliton Jr controller to the laptop and start calibrating for the final high-voltage connections!  The car was built to this precise point, but did not pass its run test in Lancaster last Thursday (my that seems like a long time ago).  So even though Bill & I got to see it all put together once before and knew all our components would fit, I have yet to see the system prove itself and make the car go.

 I am going to admit that at this point I had a little stab of anxiety that just like on our 7/21 test the wheels would once again not spin once we hooked up the high voltage cabling, and we would be struggling with little blinking red and green lights on the controller for the entire rest of the day and Not Roll.  I had to go out into the parking lot and chant "om nama shivaya" for a while until I felt better.

Owing to having to go outside to ground & center I forget what Jack was exactly up to here when I came back in.  All the green lights on the BMS are lit (this is just  the 'on' signal as the batteries are not charging at the moment).

 Dan is making another voltage check.  We have an issue, it seems; our controller is giving us the message that the 12v auxiliary battery is under-charged.  We will not be able to close our connection and spin wheels without it.

The rear-hole plugging project was progressing nicely.   Ben & Grant have engineered a truly elegant sollution and are happily installing it together. Note the stylish light blue rubber mat covering the old fuel line hole.

The owner of this hand was kneeling in the driver's seat of the Miata to ratchet the final bolts in.  This was extremely entertaining to watch in person.

Meanwhile the 12 v battery attained a normal charge so we could clear that error from the controller ..

after some RTFM'ing.

These changes along with some throttle calibration should give us the literal green light to spin the wheels ... and they did!

It was just before noon when Julie got in to turn the key and press on the pedal -- and the wheels spun!  Forwards and backwards!

OH MY GOSH WE PASSED OUR RUN TEST BEFORE LUNCH - that is a record for our workshops and I almost died of happiness right on the spot.  Okay that is an exaggeration but I did cry a little bit with relief.  

I got back from lunch late on account of the aforementioned coffee run, only to find that this was the class that just would not quit solving problems!  After the postponed lecture from Glenn, instead of wanting to roll out the car immediately they were all about "We want to calibrate the minimum and maximum throttle with this nifty controller interface" and  "We want to hook up the tachometer" and "We want to check out the BMS during charging and see if it really balances the cells."  SO it was back to the laptop and the voltmeters and the little blinking green lights for a little while before we took the car off the lift.

Brandon texted me right after our initial failed run test, "Soliton has great reputation for ease of setting adjustments."  (I think just getting & understanding this text about my controller qualifies me as half-geek.)  Of course, it's wise to investigate further when someone references reputation -- you don't know anything till you ask what their source was.  (Sometimes it was a salesman/corporate shill, or perhaps just some clueless person with no actual experience of their own either.)

Well, I had occasion to witness quite a few setting adjustments on this controller today, and it actually was easy.  Now, Soliton's reputation is not just reputation: it is fact.

It is totally slick to be able to troubleshoot your own controller using a web browser and without requiring internet access (we did not have wireless in the shop).  You just need an RJ-45 cable and you wind up communicating directly with the controller's CPU.  Because you're working thru a familiar browser there's no program to download or new interface to learn.  Needless to say, from an EV driver's point of view this set-up is far superior to having to box up an essential drive component like the e-Van's Curtis controller and mail it off for adjustment to somebody else who can tinker with the MOSFETs and diodes!  Self-diagnosis & adjustment = more actual driving time!

So this is a blissfully simple-sounding set-up, and I also can testify that it completely worked the very first time we tried it.  Furthermore, one of the things Richard & Grant first did with it (calibrating the throttle) was exactly what most excellent technical consultant Christian Ruoff had immediately recommended when Brandon inquired about our no-run scenario on 7/21.  Christian also offered to be available for phone help in the evening if needed.  We were about to take the car back apart so we didn't take him up on that ;-)

Some of our other kit components for this build arrived mislabeled, poorly documented, or with mismatched parts that rendered them effectively broken.  Not so our Soliton Jr. controller.  Thanks EVKinetics, this is what I call a quality and well-supported product, and hey some of you other suppliers: we are fans of competence here at Bucks County Renewables so level up!

After this there was kind of a blur of activity around tachometer, charger, and ampmeter, and I frankly started to lose track because I was so excited to get the car rolling.

Ralph and Dave are investigating the E-Xpert Pro ammeter/state of charge gauge.  It was successfully wired up so we can monitor pack amp-hours remaining as well as state of draw and also some other goodies which I have not fully investigated.

Rich stripping cable to hook the original tach up to our controller.  Once wired, all he & Dan had to do was tap on the laptop some more to tell it, "Hey, Soliton, Jr,  accept 4 pulses from output 1 in order to read the tach wire going to the motor."  Then came the spin test & lo and behold -- factory tach is now registering the motor's RPM's!  I overheard someone explaining that this would have been more difficult with a digital tachometer, & I'm not sure if the later model Miatas gave up the analog or not, so this might affect the ease of this set-up, which anyway our team made look easy and the results were pretty rad.  

Okay, everybody in the class is now clustered around the back of the car because the last little red lights on the BMS have winked out.  

Our lithium-ion cells are balanced and it't time to roll the car off the lift and let it hit the road for the first time as an electric vehicle.


Everybody got to drive it (except Chris Gillespie from the Green Jobs Academy -- and after she came out to join us and took tons of video and stills of everybody behind the wheel!).  I'll post the link when those go up on the GJA website and we definitely owe Chris (a Miata owner herself) a test drive as soon as possible!

I want to express my thanks once again to Chris & Ira, our administrative supervisors and warm supporters at GJA & Bucks County Community College -- it is owing to their belief in this program that we ran with 10 students and were able to have such a blast.

Gratitude is also in order to Brandon Hollinger of BH Electrics for preparing the kit.  He was so sad that work conflicts prevented him from being there in person and sends warm congratulations to everybody for a successful build.  

After regrouping for distribution of certificates of completion, thanks, and farewells, we dismissed class fifty minutes early (a workshop record).  Bill and I were done removing every trace of the last week's activity from our classroom by just a little after our official end-of-day at 4.  

But we didn't leave quite yet ...

The Miata appeared to have a significant driving problem following conversion; on the white board notes for the afternoon you might have noticed that we were having problems with the shift not staying in reverse.  We knew the wheels would spin backwards, but the back-up lights did not work on the lift and we couldn't get into reverse at all on the test drive.  The transmission worked fine before removal of the clutch -- we drove this car as an ICE for a few months prior to defossilization.  So this sudden problem was really bugging Mr K. 
As is his way, he magically fixed it. 

And then he played.

Thank you, Bill.