El Ohmbre™ Electric Vehicle Conversion Project Journal
(Newest entries are at the bottom)
August 23, 2008 - Started the Electric Vehicle ProjectI made the decision to tackle an electric vehicle project on August 23, 2008 and started the research for an appropriate chassis. Initially, I felt that it was important to select a car that I would like to drive such as a Porsche or other sports car but after doing some research I learned that certain cars were easier to convert than others. The reasoning made a lot of sense to me. Small pickups have a nice strong frame and can handle carrying the weight of the batteries and there is plenty of room to work. Therefore I decided to do a Chevy S-10 pickup or a Ford Ranger pickup based on them being an easier conversion. I began the search for an appropriate chassis.
September 6, 2008 - Bought the EV Donor CarI bought a well used 1985 Chevy S-10 pickup today. It has over 270,000 miles on it and it currently runs reasonably well so I know the brakes, steering, drive and electrical systems are all working properly. I drove the car to a weigh station and had it weighed: 2,680 pounds. I drove it around a bit to use up the gas in the tank and borrowed an engine hoist from a friend while I was out test driving. I placed an ad on Craigslist to sell the engine, radiator, gas tank, fuel pump and exhaust system.
September 13, 2008Started disconnecting the various engine connections. Started with the radiator hoses and removed the fan, radiator shroud and radiator. Throughout the next week, I removed all the other engine wires, unbolted the engine mounts and transmission mount. I disconnected and removed the drive shafts. Yes, this truck has a two piece drive shaft.
September 20, 2008 - Removed the Engine from EVEverything seemed to be ready so I enlisted the help of my wife and young son and started to pull the engine. Since the transmission and bellhousing are one unit I planned to pull the engine with the transmission attached. I discovered after some wrangling that the engine and transmission were not going to come out until I removed the transmission crossmember from under the car. After a little break for that task the engine came out pretty easily with just a little bit of wiggling around. I only forgot one wire which snapped when I removed the engine but it won't be needed anyway.
October, 2008 - Dirty WorkAfter pulling the engine and transmission I separated the engine and transmission and started the task of cleaning years of oil and road grime build up. I cleaned up the transmission and bellhousing first since I would be reusing it. Then I cleaned up the engine compartment. With a car this old there was a thick build up of leaked oil and transmission grease coating the frame, crossmembers, steering gear, firewall and underside of the cab as well as all wires, hoses and linkages. This will probably be the least fun part of the project but it has to be done otherwise all the new components will just get covered with greasy grime.
I used a paint scraper to scrape off the thickest buildups and then spray Gunk Engine Bright as a degreaser. I used a brush to work the Gunk into the grease and then wiped off the mess with paper shop towels. Most areas were protected from rust by the layer of grease, but in areas that had any rust I brushed it off with wire wheel to make sure there was no serious rust on any structural members. I finished by wiping everything with lacquer thinner and then painted using a special paint that adheres to rust.
The biggest problem I have and one that still remains at this point is the firewall near the brake system. I removed the clutch master cylinder which was apparently leaking and the paint is all corroded on the firewall. The brake lines, speedo cable, steering, accelerator cable and primary wiring from the back of the fuse panel are all located near here and there is no room to work to clean off the firewall and repaint it. This is going to be a challenge.
November 3, 2008 - Ordered the Motor for the Electric VehicleI ordered the electric motor. Of course they are out of stock. Hopefully it will ship next week and will require a week to arrive. So I have two more weekends to continue cleaning the chassis.
November 8, 2008 - Removed the Pickup Bed from the EVI used the engine hoist again to remove the pickup bed from the frame. I neglected to make a plan where to set the pickup bed after it was removed and I bent the sheet metal slightly when I set it down. That was dumb. I removed the gas tank once the pickup bed was removed and siphoned the remaining gasoline. Waiting until now to remove the gas tank made this task much easier. I started cleaning the rust and caked on dirt from the frame and inspected for any damage or deep rust. I painted the newly cleaned parts of the frame with the special rust proofing paint I bought.
November 13, 2008 - Learned about EV BatteriesHad a nice talk with "Craig" in technical support at Trojan Battery Company. He answered several lingering questions I had about batteries and he confirmed that the Trojan T-145 is the best battery for this electric vehicle application. Thanks Craig! Visit the Trojan Battery Company when you get to the point of selecting batteries for your battery project.
November 21, 2008The motor, adapter and coupler all arrived today. Now the real fun begins.
November 24, 2008Over the past couple of days, I started machining the adapter plate to match the transmission. I drilled the first six holes, cut off the end of the transmission input shaft and removed some of the excess metal on the adapter plate. Thanks to Gary for lending me his tools. The right tools really make the job easier. It looks like this now:
November 29, 2008 - Installed the Motor into El Ohmbre the EVYay! I installed the motor today. I was able to do the final assembly of the coupling and the adapter yesterday and I played around to find the best place to attach the engine hoist so the motor/transmission assembly would tilt into place during installation. It went in without a problem. I took a brief video of the process and I'll post it on YouTube. It's not very exciting but this is an important milestone.
December 27, 2008 - The EV Motor Mount Took Some WorkBecause of the holidays and shorter winter days it took me another month to get the front motor mount machined, aligned and installed. I used the engine hoist to align the motor/transmission assembly, slipped on the mount that came from EVA and figured out what modifications where necessary. I had to cut off half of the "dog ears" and re-weld them in a different orientation. Then I refitted it and marked the holes for drilling. I painted it and installed it this weekend.
January 17, 2009 - EV Battery BoxesOnce the motor mount was done, I started building the battery boxes. I decided to build them out of nice plywood and to make the wooden parts first and then build the metal framework that will be used to install them in the truck. My neighbor has a nice table saw and a panel cutter that made cutting the plywood much easier than on my cheap saw. Here are the four finished boxes:
I'm going to try to make the metal framework out of aluminum mostly because I think it will be a lot easier to work with aluminum than with steel. I'll bolt the pieces together rather than weld them. I'll also bolt the metal to the wood boxes which should make them plenty strong. Now, I've got to try to fit these into the truck. I already have a little clearance problem between the inner fenders up front. It will take a little hammering or sheet metal removal to fit.
I'm a litle concerned about my battery box design. Most of the S-10 electric vehicle conversion projects I've followed on the Internet use the same design. This design adds new cross members to replace the factory cross members and then steel tubing running between the new cross members with steel straps hanging down to hold the battery boxes. I've seen so many that are the same, I'm questioning whether my design will work. I didn't feel comfortable removing the factory cross members and I found a way I could all the batteries without removing them. I guess the big question is whether or not they'll be stron enough for actual day to day use.
February 19, 2009 - EV Battery BoxesIt's take over a month to design and build the framework to hold the battery boxes but I'm just about done. I just need to weld in the brackets for the front box and this part is finally done. As I said earlier, I'm concerned about my design but at this point, I'll move forward to the next step and then drive the car to see how the battery boxes survive.
I'm looking forward to laying out the control board and getting started with the actual wiring but first I need to change rear shock absorbers, permanently add the helper springs and paint the battery boxes before final assembly. All the components have been ordered and delivered except the DC/DC Converter, the onboard charger and the ammeter which was out of stock when I ordered it.
March 2, 2009It took a long time to create the framework to hold the wooden battery boxes in place. As I mentioned earlier this is one place where I didn't follow the work others had done on S-10 conversions. I didn't like the idea of removing the factory frame crossmembers, so I designed battery boxes that would install around the factory crossments. My biggest concern at this point is whether my mountings will be strong enough. I'll add picture during the final installation.
March 14, 2009 - Finally Installing the EV ComponentsNow I'm getting to the fun part of the project, installing the components. I laid out the component board, cut all the through holes and drilled all the bolt holes. I installed the bracket in the "engine" compartment with a hinge so it will swing up to give access below. Check out the pictures on the pictures page. I cut the board to the general shape that would fit and then placed the components on the board. I moved them around to give the best spacing and marked their positions. Then I cut the holes, drilled for the mounting bolts, installed the brackets and painted it.
Next step will be to actually start mounting the components and beginning the low voltage wiring. Then I can begin final installation of the battery boxes and load in the batteries. When both of those things are done, I can do the high voltage wiring and start testing. I have a few minor tasks to finish that I've been putting off. The firewall was all scratched up and damaged by some previous engine removal. I need to clean it up a little bit and try to get some paint on it before I do the final install on the component board. I need to get some transmission oil in the transmission and reinstall the driveshaft, shocks and rear helper springs before installing the battery boxes.
April 4, 2009 - Battery Boxes Installed in the EVI was able to complete installation of the battery boxes over the past two weekends. I usually can only work on El Ohmbre on Saturdays and that is also the only day I have to run certain errands.
After completing the painting of the wooden part of the boxes I reinstalled the aluminum framework. I put in a lot of silicon between the metal and the wooden boxes to prevent water from collecting next to the wood. When this was done, I installed the boxes and their aluminum frames into the truck using the support brackets I fabricated earlier. All the holes were drilled when I fitted everything together earlier but nothing fit exactly. Most of the holes were just a tiny bit off and I had to coax everything back together. I used lock washers and "locktite" to make sure the nuts and bolts stay together.
I mentioned earlier that aluminum might not be the best choice of metal to use around lead/acid batteries but it was easiest for me to use. If everything works out well and the aluminum needs to be replaced, I'll replace it with steel. Hopefully, by the time the batteries or battery boxes need to be replaced, I'll be able to use different battery technology and will fabricate different boxes to fit.
April 20, 2009 - High Voltage EV CablesOver the past two weeks, I loaded the batteries into the battery boxes and completed most of the high voltage wiring including the component board. I rented a cable cutter and a giant crimper for the 2/0 cable lugs. I did a few tests during the week and then did the bulk of the work on two Saturdays. I made a jig for two functions. It acted as a guide for stripping the cables to the right length and then it holds the lug for crimping. It actually worked out better than trying to do it with two people.
May 3, 2009 - Doing the Low Voltage EV WiringAll the low voltage wiring has been finished except for the gauges. I should be able to finish these during the week and be ready for a test drive next week. I have a few other mechanical type tasks to complete. I need to re-install the inspection cover on the bell housing, secure the right headlight which is loose, add transmission oil, tighten the parking brake cable, complete the accelerator cable bracket and remove the protective cover on the motor. In addition, I need to carefully test all my wiring and then I should be ready for a test drive.
May 10, 2009 - Yay! Driving an Electric VehicleMark this day in history! After eight months of Saturdays, el ohmbre moved under its own power today. It took all day to work my little punch list but by mid-afternoon, I was ready for a test drive. I got my son to handle the video camera and I backed it down off the ramps and moved slowly up and down the driveway to make sure nothing was arcing, rubbing or other serious problems.
When everything checked out, I drove it up and down the street and then veturned around the block. I stopped regularly to check for anything heating up and everything seemed to stay cool enough. So I ventured a bit farther to a friend's house a block away, then another friend three blocks away. The car ran as well as could be expected for a 24 year old vehicle. It was a little louder than I expected, partly because I haven't reinstalled the shift lever boot so there is basically a hole in the floor. I was happy with the acceleration although I took it very easy on this first test ride.
It was running so well, I went to visit my friend Gary who lent me the use of his tools for this project. Gary lives about a mile away. Once again everything looked good. I got up to about 30 mph, negotiated one small hill and got into third gear briefly but we were going too slow so I went back to second. The biggest problem we encountered all day is a leak in the brake system which was not surprising at all. I had seen it before starting the project but figured there was a 50/50 chance it was coming from the hydralic clutch which was being removed. But it is in the brake system, so I need to fix that.
The final journey was to the grocery store where I discoved that either the door locks don't work, or I don't have the right key for them. My son Other than that one little problem it was perfect initial test run.
May 13, 2009 - Figuring Out the EV ChargingAfter the Saturday test run, I attempted to plug in the charger and didn't have an outlet to fit the locking plug. I discovered the Home Depot also didn't have a matching outlet. I ended up replacing the plug on the charger and started charging from a 110v outlet yesterday. I didn't want to let the charger run unattended the first time, so I stoped the charge after three hours and finished it off tonight. It took about 6 - 7 hours total. The batteries gave off a soft gurgling or boiling sound which I hope is normal. Tonight I noticed a smell of acid possibly. I'll check with the battery guy to see if these are normal. If not, I may have to have the charger adjusted.
June 7, 2009 - Replaced the Pickup BedI had a few friends come over and we put the pickup bed back in place. I'll post some pictures when I get a few minutes to take some. I don't have the tilt bed mechanism worked out yet but I needed to get the pickup bed out of the driveway and I wanted to put it in place anyway to start designing the hinges for the tilt feature. It still fit and I was quite surprised that having it in place makes the ride quieter. I thought it would act as a drum head and make it louder. Took another test drive. I'll add a drive journal here soon.
Now that I have the bed on, I went and borrowed the engine hoist again so I can lift the bed on and off by myself while I work out the tilt mechanism.
June 14, 2009 - Added a TailgateI used the engine hoist and lifted the bed off today so I could inspect the batteries and work on the captured nuts that the bed bolts use to secure the bed in place. They were rusty and I couldn't tighten the bolts last week. I also installed the junkyard tailgate I bought months ago. It fits nicely. Took another test drive with no problems. Except I have some mechanical noise coming from somewhere. Nothing obvious is rubbing or hitting anywhere so must be coming from inside something.
August 1, 2009 - Got the Tilt Bed WorkingI was gone a couple of weekends at the end of June and got back to serious test driving in July. I passed the 400 mile mark today and yesterday I got slightly over 40 miles on one charge. That's the best every. I think it's due to learning how to drive an electric vehicle better.
I also got the hinges installed on the pickup bed so I can tilt the bed to get access to the batteries underneath. I still need some sort of locking mechanism to hold it up and another locking system to hold it in place when it's down. For the down position I plan to use a hood latch. To lock it open, I'll need to design something. I'll post a picture over on the EV Project Pictures page.
My son created a graphic for the tailgate in Photoshop and a friend converted it to Illustrator. I sent it off to a local car wrap graphics place to make the graphic for the tailgate. I'll post that picture too.
August 6, 2009 - California DMV RegistrationLast week I made a couple of trips to the DMV to re-register El Ohmbre as an electric vehicle. The DMV tries to do a good job and they have a very good and complete website but I just couldn't find out how to do it. When I called, they said "just come in and we'll change the title."
Of course I found this difficult to believe and I was right. After two trips, I thought I had all the information and got a "verification" inspection and I was ready. However, they asked for all the receipts and another form. I filled these out and returned today only to find out that no one in the local office could figure out how to do it. They took all my paperwork (including my title) and said they had to send it off to Sacramento.
On the way home, I started to have serious reservations about giving them my title, but at this point, I'll just have to wait a month and see if anything happens.
August 11, 2009 - Driving JournalI passed the 500 mile mark this weekend. I wonder at what point I become an electric vehicle driver? I'm still putting more miles on my gas car because my commute is right at the limit of El Ohmbre's range, but the miles are beginning to balance out. I'm only going into the office three days a week right now for a total of 150 miles and I'm driving the electric car about 30 miles per day three or four days a week for a total of between 90 and 120 miles per week. I started working on a "driving journal" page for this site but so far I haven't found a good way to present the data in an easy to update format. I'll keep working on it.
I went to the junkyard this past weekend and picked up a few small parts I needed. I got the center seatbelt piece that was broken and got it installed so I now have an electric vehicle with three working seatbelts for the first time. I also replaced the one broken headlight rim, so both headlights point where they are supposed to point.
I picked up a hood latch which I plan to modify and use to hold down the pickup bed so I don't need to continue using one of the bolts. It will make tilting a little easier because I won't have to crawl under and remove the bolt to tilt the bed. I still need to design some sort of mechanism to hold it up or I need to buy "gas shocks" that will both hold it in place and make it much easier to lift.
I got my son to create a graphic for the tailgate of El Ohmbre. Below is an "artist's concept" of how it will look when printed and wrapped on the tailgate.
September 17, 2009 - Tailgate GraphicsI just got back from the graphics shop. It looks good. Surprisingly similar to my "artists rendition." I also got the bumper and the "OHMBRE" license plates installed. The bumper has to rotate with the pickup bed when it's raised so it was a little tricky to make a bracket but it works nicely. Here is one picture. Go to the bottom of the Pictures page to see a couple more views.
October 20, 2009 - Converting the Title to Electric at the California DMVThis should probably be a separate page but hopefully I'm coming to the end of this process. I needed to change the state registration of El Ohmbre to reflect the conversion to electric. Otherwise, I would have to get a smog test next year and the car wouldn't pass because all the smog equipment is gone.
In July I drove El Ohmbre to the local California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office hoping to get the title converted from gasoline to electric. I waited in line only to get sent home to bring the title back. I waited in line a second time and was instructed that I needed an inspection. I went through the vehicle inspection process and waited in line again only to be told that I needed to fill out a special vehicle conversion form and bring in ALL my receipts for the conversion.
I made another appointment and brought back the required form and all my documentation. After several hours, no one at the local DMV could figure out how to input the change into the DMV computer system. They took my paperwork and told me it had to be sent to Sacramento to be processed and that I would hear from them in a few weeks.
In early October, after waiting two months with no word, I tried calling but navigating the DMV phone system was impossible so I sent a letter to the Director and was happy to receive a reply in less than two weeks instructing me to make an appointment with a Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) Referee. I called the woman who had written the letter and she was very friendly and helpful and helped me locate a BAR Referee within my range.
Today, I brought El Ohmbre to the referee, showed him my letter, he inspected my vehicle and gave me a Referee Certificate that basically said there was nothing to inspect because the vehicle was "pure electric." I sent a copy of the certificate back to my contact at DMV headquarters and now I'm waiting again to see what happens next. Hopefully, I will receive a new title in the mail shortly and be exempt from smog checks.
October 31, 2009 - El Ohmbre is Officially an Electric Car!Wow! Once I found a good contact at the CA DMV, this didn't take long at all. Today I received the new California Title and next year's registration tags. The woman at DMV was just great. When she received my Referee certificate she realized that there was going to be additional fees due because of California's fiscal crisis and my personalized plates. Rather than send me a letter she called me at home.
I sent the check and within a couple of days I received the title. She explained that the problem I ran into was due to the fact that not many people have done conversions and the local DMV just didn't know the procedure. I'd like to put her name here to thank her but DMV probably wouldn't appreciate that.
Basically, you will need to file a change of motive power form, include all your documentation and get a BAR Referee certificate showing the car is all electric and the process should go well when you apply for a change of title.
February 27, 2010 - February Battery MaintenanceI was doing regular electric vehicle battery maintenance today on my Trojan lead acid batteries and thought I'd post a little update about my electric vehicle conversion project. The batteries seem stronger than ever. Every cell measured at or near the top of the scale for specific gravity. I added about a half gallon of water evenly distributed throughout the cells. A few cells had some light discharge around the caps. I cleaned the tops of all the batteries as recommended with a baking soda and water mixture. In general, everything looked good.
I'm now driving el ohmbre almost every day as my regular commuter vehicle. I avoid driving it when it's raining for a couple of reasons. First, I have never replaced the inner fender protective skirts so water could splash into the "motor compartment." Most importantly though is that I don't have anti-lock brakes and don't want to skid on wet streets. I think next time I do a conversion, I will pick a newer vehicle with power anti-lock brakes.
I get some incredible looks when other drivers realize that el ohmbre is a fully electric vehicle. In parking lots people ask if it's "really electric" and then ask how much gas it uses. I don't feel my range is very good but when I tell people they often do a quick calculation and say something like "hey, I don't drive that far most days - I could drive one of those." Maybe electric cars with get more popular in the future.
March 6, 2010 - Pickup Bed Gas Lifts Finally WorkingI fabricated the pickup bed tilting hinges months ago and operated it manually until early this year. I finally got around to adding some gaslifts in January to assist in lifting the bed and ran into a big problem. The gaslifts put so much stress on the pickup bed which is so old and structurally unsound that the stress caused by the gas lifts bent my hinges and actually bent the pickup bed itself.
The original truck I bought had some obvious structural problems with the pickup bed. The braces were all broken and the last 25% of the pickup bed was bent down at a slight angle from the rest and there were cracks behind both wheel wells. I replaced the broken braces and this wasn't a problem until I added the gas lifts.
I had to replace the hinges with new stronger hinges and added an angle iron bar under the back portion of the bed. I connected the gas lifts to this angel iron and this still wasn't enough to stop the problem. I made a second bracket to create a triangle from near the point where the gas lifts attached to the bed back to the bottom of the hinge brackets so that the hinge bracket couldn't cause the floor of the pickup bed to distort. This appears to have solved the problem. Check out the latest pictures at the bottom of the Picture Page.
I assembled everything today and operated it a few times and the bed still lines up perfectly with the hood latch mechanism that holds the bed down. We'll see how well it holds up over the next few weeks. I may need to reinforce the bed itself some more because it tries to bend a little bit when I pull it back down from the raised position. But it's really nice to be able to raise the bed with no help.
September 12, 2010 - Burned out 110v Charging OutletI've been charging El Ohmbre for over a year on a 20 amp 110v circuit and back in July it failed. When I replaced the outlet the neutral side of the old one was melted and the wires were burned. Check our the picture on the pictures page. I knew I was drawing over 20 amps but this was a surprise to me. An electrician told me the neutral connection was probably loose. I replaced the outlet and it charged fine, but I decided to get a 220v circuit installed. I had three circuits already in the garage and was able to get a 220v outlet with little problem. I've been charging ever since on 220v and everything is good. The car charges faster and I get a bit more range out of the batteries.
I've been driving El Ohmbre to work every day for over a year now with no problems. I have a 12 mile round trip commute and I usually end up doing an errand or two after work. I put on 17 to 20 miles per day normally. I kept a daily log for a long time but finally got bored with that. I'm beginning to think I need to move the guages and put in a CD player. I finally disconnected the wiring harness going to the old engine computer. One of these days I'm going to remove all the old unused wiring and the old computer. I've kept the old wiring because I was thinking I could use some of the old engine guages (Temperature/Charging etc) for some purpose but so far it hasn't really been necessary.
November 9, 2010 - Passed the One Year Commuter MarkIt was one year ago that I began driving El Ohmbre as my primary commuter vehicle. I've now been driving an electric vehicle to work every day for the past year except for the rainy days. Since El Ohmbre has 1,400 pounds of lead/acid batteries and no modern anti-lock braking system, I like to leave it parked when the streets are slick. Luckily here in Southern California we don't get very many rainy days.
December 5, 2010 - Father's 100th BirthdayToday is the 100th anniversary of my father's birth. Unfortunately, he's not around to celebrate but I think of him often. He taught me a lot about cars and started my interest in tinkering around with them when I was just a young boy. He had a long string of Ford Thunderbirds ranging from the 1950's through the 1980's and he was frequently under the hood tweaking something. He loved to tell me about the days of the Model T and the Model A when he was first starting to drive. Too bad he's not around to see my electric vehicle, I'm sure he'd have some good stories about electric vehicles from the last century. Happy Birthday Dad!
December 15, 2010 - Oh No! LADWP and Charging My Electric VehicleAfter 18 months, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) finally figured out how to read and bill the Time of User electric meter they installed in June 2009. Unfortunately, the rate they are charging for the important "base" period when I charge the car is three times higher than they quoted me at the time.
To make matters worse, there is no one at LADWP who understands the Time of Use meter or the rates being charged. I was so encouraged last year to discover that LADWP had a person in charge of EV support but this year he's not there anymore. Hopefully, I'll find the right person who can help me but so far after ten phone calls I'm striking out. Stay tuned for more information.
March 12, 2011 - Batteries Might be DyingI've been driving my EV conversion for almost two years now and charging almost every day. My range has been dropping and I'm afraid my pack of Trojan 145 batteries are dying. I must have around 500 - 600 charges on the batteries and I was under the impression they would last much longer. I need to check my Trojan documentation to research this a bit. Stay tuned.
I still have not gotten a reasonable response from LA DWP about my electricity rate. I'm going to have to write to someone at the top to see if I can get answers.
March 15, 2011 - Tire FailedThe donor car came with some nice tires with plenty of tread. The rear tires were Goodyear trailer tires with a maximum pressure rating of 50 pounds. This was nice because I was able to pump them up to the maximum to reduce rolling resistance.
Unfortunately, the tires must have been old because they started to come apart last weekend. I was doing regular battery maintenance and noticed the tires when I had the pickup bed raised. With over 2,500 pounds of weight on the rear wheels I didn't want to fool around with deteriorating tires so I bought two new tires with the highest weight rating I could find. I take an ongoing evening auto shop class at the local high school, so I mounted and balanced the tires and got them on the car today because I didn't dare drive with the bad tires.
March 25, 2011 - Power Company is Not ResponsiveIt's very intersting. I read at least one article a month in the Los Angeles Times about the new electric vehicles coming out from Nissan, Cheverolet and others. In each of these articles there is at least one quote from someone at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) explaining how helpful the DWP will be to drivers of new electric vehicles. The truth is that I cannot get anyone at all to respond to my questions about my electric bill. I am being charged over twice the rate I was quoted in writing two years ago and no one at DWP seems to understand how to interpret an electric bill on a Time of Use meter and the people in the Time of Use meter department don't know anything about electric vehicle rates or discounts. Very discouraging.
April 27, 2011 - Batteries May Be FinishedAs I near the two year point in the life of my electric vehicle, it looks like the batteries may be about at the end of their useful life. I have three bad battery cells out of total of 60 but the range has been decreasing to the point where I'm going to have to make some decisions. I either need to replace the three bad batteries or replace the entire battery pack with new Trojan T-145 batteries or a different brand of lead/acid batteries. Another alternative would be to make the switch to Lithium Ion batteries.
The Lithium batteries would be much more expensive but they would be much lighter for the same number of amp/hours. As it is, El Ohmbre is pretty heavy. Getting the same power from a third of the weight should give me better pickup and better range. I'll need to do some research before comitting to the expense of Lithium batteries.
May 7, 2011 - Replaced One BatteryI chatted with serveral people on the DIY Electric Car forum and there didn't seem to be a clear consensus on whether or not I can replace a single battery in my pack. Some said no and others said yes. I called the local distributor of Trojan batteries and they seemed to think I could replace a single battery but my performance would be only as good as the worst battery. They suggested that I use one of the used batteries they get back. Of course they didn't have any used Trojan T-145's in stock today.
Since replacing the entire pack will cost $3,000 to $4,000 for lead/acid batteries and since my batteries really should have lasted longer, I decided I would try replacing the one bad battery and see what happens. It turns out that these batteries are sized to be interchangeable so I was able to buy a used 6v deep cycle golf cart battery for $50 and it slipped right into place in my pack. It was a bit shorter but the same cables fit. I plan to bring the two year old T-145 back to the distributor to see if they can "wake up" the bad cell.
I took a brief drive and then checked the surface temperature of the new battery and the batteries on both sides to make sure it wasn't overheating. Then I drove about 10 miles to see how it performed and everything seemed to work OK. I'll completely discharge it later today, charge it overnight and see how it performs tomorrow.
Next Tuesday, May 10, 2011 is the two year anniversary of the first test drive of El Ohmbre.
May 10, 2011 - Happy Two Year Birthday to El Ohmbre My Electric VehicleAccording to my memory, my first test drive was May 10, 2009 so I've been celebrating that day as el ohmbre's birthday. However, in looking back at a 2009 calendar, I see that was a Sunday. My first drive would have been on a Saturday, so I may have the date wrong.
In any case, I've been driving my electric vehicle for two years now without a significant problem. I replaced two old tires, upgraded my garage to 220v for faster and better charging and replaced one battery. That's it. I've driven over 10,000 miles on my daily commute and local errands and it's been just great.
If I had a bit more money and time right now I'd do another electric vehicle for my wife but I'm short on both at the moment. Maybe next year. Happy Birthday El Ohmbre!
June 6, 2011 - California DMV - Round TwoThere is construction on my regular commute so I've been taking the 405 Freeway to work. It takes me ten minutes just to get on the freeway so I decided to apply for a "Clean Air" sticker which will allow me to use the car pool lane to enter the freeway.
I carefully read the requirements on the DMV website and it appears that fully electric cars qualify with the only exception being neighborhood electric vehicles that can't drive at freeway speeds. However, my application came back as rejected and the only reason is "does not qualify." There is no explanation of why it doesn't qualify. I'll call tomorrow to see if I can learn more.
December 27, 2017 - Long Overdue for Battery ReplacementAs luck would have it, as the range of el ohmbre dropped my commute distance also dropped so I was able to continue to use el ohmbre as my daily commuter. For the past few years I have been working from home and using it just for local errands. In 2015, my son drove it daily to commute to high school. I used it to move to our temporary home about six months ago and now its time to move into our new permanent home but el ohmbre needs batteries. I'm researching the options. Right now, getting a used Leaf battery pack from a wreck seems interesting.