Saturday, September 27, 2008

Modifying the Hood and Continuing the Rear Battery Rack

Back in this post, the second picture from the bottom shows where the group-31 batteries interfere with the support strut on the front hood.

I used the hacksaw to make two slits in the hood support around the interference and then used the small sledgehammer to crush the interference flat.

I initially tried to be gentle, but this took far too long and I ended up just bludgeoning the support flat. I suspect that some frustration with the project encouraged me to be more forceful than necessary. There is one minor convex dent in the top of the hood from all this banging, but I'm willing to live with it.

To help even out the support under the batteries in the rear trunk rack, I cut a piece of 1/4" plywood 13" x 36" to sit under the batteries. There are four bolt-heads sticking up, so I covered the bolts with ink from a permanent marker and then tapped the plywood onto the bolt-heads to leave marks where they existed. I could then circle the marks and use a 3/4" spade bit to drill out the wood that would interfere with the bolt heads.

After putting in the sheet of plywood, I loaded the batteries into the rear trunk. Five go in the rack and a sixth one will sit on the passenger side as shown. I've already drilled holes in the angle iron to take vertical pieces of 5/16" all-thread for the battery hold downs. Despite the higher center of gravity from other Civic conversions, I'm psyched to keep the spare tire and still retain a good amount of trunk space for transportation.

Making the hold-downs might take a bit of work since the short edge of these batteries has an interfering piece of plastic. I'll have to cut notches in all the angle iron to navigate this interference. Fortunately, the new cut-off saw should be a bit help in cutting out all these notches.

Tomorrow: dropping the motor back out and (ack) cutting short the tail shaft...

Cutting the Motor Mount and Being Stubborn

Based on the drawing I made yesterday, I pulled out my handy 1/4" plate of steel and tried to fabricate the rear motor mount plate.

After tracing the outline and center-punching the holes, I started to cut out the perimeter with the sabre saw. Having never done this before, it surprised me that it took the better part of half an hour to just make this one cut. Even with a new blade, the sabre saw cuts through 1/4" steel at about 1 mm every four seconds. I know other people have used a plasma torch to make this go faster, but I was rather stubborn in trying to make this project work with just hand tools. I found that the 18 tooth blade cut faster than the 14 tooth blade, but it still went very slowly.

After another hour, I managed to finish cutting the plate outline with the sabre saw and cut the holes. The 3 inch hole in the middle was a bit tricky since I didn't have a drill press and my hand drill kept wanting to bind.

Here's the completed end plate. I'm going to use a 1/4" thick piece of 2" angle iron (5" long) as a connection between this vertical motor plate and the horizontal engine mount on the driver's side.

Up until this morning, I had been cutting all my angle iron (typically 1/8" thick) with a hacksaw. This took more time, but I wanted to prove that I could do this project with simple hand tools. This morning, after fighting with the 1/4" plate steel for the motor mount, I broke down and purchased a cut-off saw from Harbor Freight for $109. This cuts through 1/8" angle iron like butter and will greatly speed my future cuts as well as save my arm muscle.

When undertaking a project of this magnitude, one needs a certain amount of perseverence (aka stubbornness) to keep moving. Sometimes this leads to faulty reasoning like "I can do this entire project with a hacksaw." In short, one needs to strike a balance between stubbornness and using the available resources to ones advantage. I'm learning this balance all the time.

Next up: smashing the hood and roughing out the rear battery rack.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tentative Motor Mount Drawing

I attempted to draw a tentative motor mount plate for the tail end of the Warp9 motor.

Here is the drawing in Google Sketchup (click to enlarge).
I'll be drawing this on a piece of paper today and seeing if it works. The four mounting holes for the end of the motor (5/18" - 18) are at a funny angle, so I may just trace them out and then draw them in later.

Continuing with my theme of using bolts to hold things together, the three holes at the top will interlace with the two holes from the driver-side engine mount. I plan on using beefy grade-8 1/2" bolts for this.

Blockages from the Motor/Transmission

After attaching the motor to the transmission, I attempted to install the whole assembly in the car to find any issues.

One thing I should have done a long time ago was remove the hood. Don't forget to disconnect the washer fluid hose before you remove it. This allows much more engine hoist room and lets more light in when I'm working at night in my tiny garage.

Here's the motor/transmission assembly. I inserted a 1/2" bolt into the mounting hole on the motor and attached the hoisting chain to it with a bolt, two washers and a nut. The other end of the chain attaches to a bolt on the transmission just slightly behind the shaft center. This allows the whole assembly to rise without tilting too much in any direction. I found the particular link on the chain that allows the hoist to raise the assembly in a balanced position and marked that link on the chain with a permanent marker.

I had to orient the motor/transmission assembly on the furniture dolly lengthwise to allow the engine hoist legs to get around it.

After verifying the lift characteristics outside the car, I rolled the furniture dolly under the raised front end of the car and lowered the hoist into the engine compartment to pick it up at the link I marked on the chain previously.

After slowly raising it up, I could rotate the whole assembly on the chain to get it into the correct orientation. After some maneuvering, I was able to get some of the transmission brackets attached.

Whoops! In order to give myself more space to work, I had tie-wrapped the passenger-side drive-shaft joint to the frame to get it out of the way. Now it's wedged above the transmission and I'm unable to lower it back down. After unbolting the transmission brackets and lowering the whole motor/tranny assembly, I was able to move this drive shaft out of the way.

After raising the whole assembly again and bolting in the transmission mounts, I found that the tail shaft on the Warp9 motor hits the chassis on the tail end. I wanted to get the motor in place so I could properly design an end-plate for the Warp9. With the end of the motor so close to the chassis and the tail shaft hitting, this will prove somewhat difficult. I'm debating whether to cut into the chassis (possibly weakening it) or cutting off a significant portion of the tail shaft. I don't really need it except to add an RPM sensor, which only requires about a 1/4" of shaft to attach the magnets to.

Here's a closeup of the tail end of the Warp9 motor. The rear edge is within an inch of the chassis frame, so things are going to be tight. Attaching the rear end support plate is going to be very tricky without removing a good part of the tail shaft.

Since I have to stow the engine hoist and it tends to "sag" over time due to the hydraulics, I put some 2x4 supports under the motor end of things to hold it in place. The transmission mounts are very sturdy and prevent the motor from moving left-to-right and front-to-back, so I just need vertical support. I would have rather used a jack-stand, but I think this will work for the moment as long as I'm careful.

Any votes on whether I should shorten the tail shaft or cut out a small piece of the chassis are welcome. If I cut down the tail shaft, I won't have to upset the structural integrity of the chassis and it will be much easier to bolt on the rear support plate. The downside is that the motor will be less valuable without a working tail-shaft in case I want to re-sell it.

Next up: designing the support plate for the rear end of the motor.

Capturing the Misaligned Holes on the Adapter Plate

Perry Harrington, who manufactures the adapter plates for Electro Automotive, requested that I post some information on the mis-aligned holes in the Civic adapter plate. While I don't have time to take precise measurements, I will attempt to take relevant pictures so that Perry can infer where the holes need to move.

This is the bolt hole on the transmission side just above the throw-out arm for the clutch. The top edge of the picture is parallel with the top edge of the adapter plate. It looks like the adapter plate hole needs to move a few millimeters in the "10 o'clock" direction. I don't feel like drilling out this hole, so I used a 3/8" bolt instead of a 7/16" bolt and it just fit.

This is the hole just above the driver's side drive-shaft on the motor side of the adapter plate. The supporting bolt would not screw in due to mis-alignment. It's very close, but not quite there. If I look closely, it seems like the adapter plate hole needs to move down (6 o-clock direction) about a millimeter. I might just drill this hole a bit larger to let the bolt go in.

Batteries are Here!

I can't believe it! I ordered the batteries on Monday and the delivery guy showed up on Wednesday! I wasn't here, but he came back on Thursday and dropped off the LifeLine group-31 batteries.

Here's the delivery truck with the liftgate.

The battery packaging came in very good condition on a pallet. I didn't have enough space in my 1-car garage to store it, so I removed all the packaging and stored the batteries in their cardboard boxes under the rear of the Civic.

Here's what one battery looks like. I like the Lifeline GPL-31T (now GPL-31MT) because it has a good number of amp-hours for the size (105 Ahr) and has brass terminals with brass bolts to help prevent corrosion. The Peukert factor (1.106) is much lower than similar batteries. The specified cycle life is longer too. These cost a bit more than Optima group-31 batteries, but less than the Odyssey PC2150, so I'll give it a shot.

Here's one of the batteries sitting in the rear trunk battery rack. I still need to add a plywood board to even out the weight distribution, but it looks like they fit well. I'll have to cut notches out of the battery hold-down bars to accomodate the geometry of the battery, but I think it will work out.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Buying batteries

With progress moving forward on the motor/transmission, I took the leap and bought twelve Lifeline GPL-31MT batteries. PowerStride battery had the lowest prices online plus free shipping. They were also gracious enough to give me a 3% discount for ordering 12 batteries. The final cost was $3200.20 and they should be here Friday or Monday. Here's the link to the product.

Let's see if my estimations on the battery rack dimensions turn out to actually fit the batteries...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Attaching the Motor to the Transmission

ElectroAuto instructions continued:

13. Installation of adaptor on motor is complete. Now install the motor/ring/hub assembly on the transmission bell housing. You will need to purchase new bolts of the appropriate size, thread, and length to accommodate your bell housing and the profile plate. Use the original factory locating dowels. If these dowels were not salvageable, order new ones from the dealer for your make of vehicle.

NOTE: Even among vehicles that supposedly have the "same" transmission, there are sometimes minor variations. Your adaptor may seem to have "extra" holes that do not match any on your transmssion. These may be for a slightly different version of the transmission. Or your adaptor may seem to be mission some holes. These holes may not exist on all versions, and are not necessary for structural integrity. The dowel holes are the critical ones for proper alignment. Other holes provide clamping/supporting action for the adaptor against the transmission.

The Warp9 motor was already on the furniture dolly, so I put the transmission up on 2x4s to get it close to the same height as the motor. After some wiggling, the transmission slipped on and the alignment dowels slipped into their holes. The info for ordering the alignment pins, in case you lost them is in this blog post.

With the transmission mated to the motor, I installed the mating bolts. Here is my list of bolts:
  • 1 12mm thick bolt 50mm long (note misaligned hole)
  • 1 8mm thick bolt 45mm long
  • 1 10mm thick bolt 50mm long
  • 4 7/16" thick bolts 3 1/2" long, each with two washers and a nylock(essna) nut (note misaligned hole)
  • 1 3/8" thick bolt 4" long with two washers and a nylock(essna) nut
Note that one of the 7/16" bolts had a mis-aligned hole (see two photos down), so I'll probably have to replace that with a 3/8" bolt. The 12mm thick bolt also had a mis-aligned hole, so I probably won't be able to use that one.

Make sure you bring along the original mounting bolts from the transmission with you to the bolt store to verify the proper threads.

With the motor mated to the transmission, I shifted the transmission to neutral (remember where the "bitch" pin came out of?) and applied 12V successfully. I added a rubber band to the clutch throw-out arm to keep it from vibrating forward and crashing into the flywheel. Normally, the hydraulic clutch would apply the same pressure as the rubber band.

As mentioned in the ElectroAuto notes, not all holes in the plate lined up with the holes on the bell housing. This hole, just above the clutch throw-out arm, was off by a millimeter or two. I plan on drilling this out and putting in a bolt anyway to provide structural integrity. I might just slide in a smaller bolt instead of drilling it out.

The bolt hole just above the output shaft drive was also off by a millimeter, so I might drill that hole out or just leave it be.

The whole assembly is rather difficult to maneuver down into the top of the car, so I jacked up the car a few inches and slid the the motor/tranny assembly (on the furniture dolly) under the front end of the car.

Here's the assembly under the engine compartment, ready to be lifted into place. When I purchased my motor-to-tranny bolts this morning, I forgot to purchase the 1/2" hook-bolt that threads into the Warp9 motor for the engine hoist. I'll head back to get that along with the thinner bolt that I can use for the mis-aligned hole shown two photos above.

Just a quick note about the starter hole on the back of the transmission bell housing. One of the original transmission mounting bolts (the 10mm one, I think) from the motor fits very well into the top starter bolt hole, so don't forget to keep all your bolts. I'll have to manufacture an aluminum plate to cover this later.

Thats all for this weekend. It feels good to make some progress. I hope to get more done soon.


Attaching Flywheel to Warp9 Motor

Here are the instructions provided by Electro Automotive to install the adapter and flywheel to the motor.

1. Separate adapter ring and profile plate. They were bolted together for ease of shipping.

2. Bolt adapter ring to motor with 3/8"-16 allen capscrews provided to 35 ft-lb of torque. (I added blue threadlock too)

3. Bolt adapter profile plate to adapter ring with 1/2" - 13 bolts provided. Torque to 35 ft-lbs. I added blue thread-lock too.

4. Test-fit the key in the bushing (on left) before assembly. It should slide easily. If it does not, rotate it 90 degrees and try again, as one orientation might fit better than the other. If there is a difference, use the fit that slides easily. Insert key on motor shaft (picture above). My shaft key didn't fit in the motor shaft and I had to file down the sides a bit before it went in. Hopefully most folks won't have to do this...

5. Your hub may have an indexing dimple or scribed line on the inner edge, next to the bushing. If you have the indexing mark (mine did), be sure to align the slit in the bushing with the mark. Slide the hub/bushing assembly over the shaft and key. The assembly should move freely on the shaft.
6. Gradually tighten the 10-24 allen-head screws in the hub/bushing assembly (see picture above) until the assembly will move on the shaft only with some slight effort. DO NOT USE ANY LOCTITE ON THESE SCREWS.

7. Mount the flywheel on the hub, using existing flywheel bolts. Tighten just enough to hold the flywheel firmly in place on the hub. (I used two bolts to ease the installation)

8. Move the flywheel/hub assembly until the distance from the face of the flywheel to the face of the adapter is .774" +/- .010" I used a straightedge to extend the face of the flywheel out to the face of the adapter plate to measure this distance with my calipers.

9. Once the spacing is correct, carefully remove the flywheel without disturbing the position of the hub. Tighten the 10-24 allen-head screws in a "star" pattern (criss-crossing to tighten bolts in opposing pairs instead of going from one to the next in a circle). Tighten firmly by hand, but without upper arm strength, as it is possible to snap off these screws. The necessary torque is less than 1 ft-lb.

10. Re-install the flywheel on the hub with red loctite and recheck the magic distance. If the distance is incorrect, determine the amount and direction of error. Remove the flywheel and loosen the allen-head screws about 1/2". Free the hub from the bushing with a sharp rap on the bolts using a brass hammer. Reposition bushing on shaft in the direction and amount to compensate for the distance error. Re-assemble as above.

11. Lock the flywheel from rotation and torque the bolts to the manufacturers specifications. This torque is 87 ft-lbs for the Honda Civic. Since I knocked off the starting teeth from the flywheel, I didn't have anything to hold it steady. Instead i used a piece of angle iron with a hole in one side to hold the flywheel still using two of the clutch plate alignment pins.

12. If your hub has a brass pilot bushing, lube it with a thin layer of molybdenum based grease. I don't believe the Civic has this pilot bushing.

I wanted to make sure the motor spun well with the flywheel installed, so I attached a local armature-to-stator wire (S2 to A1) before attaching a battery. I used Noalox anti-corrosion compound and heat-shrink tubing with integrated heat-glue to keep the connections tight.

After installing the clutch disk and pressure plate (using the centering tool for alignment), I spun up the motor with a the Civic's original 12V battery to make sure it ran in the proper direction. Since the voltage is so low, I didn't worry about over-reving the motor. If I had used 144V, over-revving the motor would be likely.

Next up: attaching the motor to the transmission

Shortening the Front Rack to Remove Blockage

Whew! I think I finally broke some inertia and got moving forward a bit. One thing that helped is that I got an old square box that I can use as a tiny workbench out in the driveway. I can clamp things to it and work without bending over or kneeling on the ground. This makes a huge difference in the ease of my drilling and hack-sawing.

One of the problems I've noticed with the front battery rack is that the side supports extend too far back and interfere with the transmission support and the rear end of the Warp9 motor. I decided to saw them short and adjust the side support struts for the shorter length.

Here is the passenger side end of the front rack. The original version was about three inches longer and it extended under the black transmission support on the right. This would have prevented easy lowering of the transmission/motor assembly. Initially I was concerned that the
bolt head would protrude too far into the rack, but I realized that the two front bolts holding the tow bracket in protrude further, so this wasn't an issue.

Here's the same shortening of the side support for the driver side of the car. The support strut on the left was vertical before and is now slanted to bolt into the shorter side piece.

With the front rack re-designed, I now have to remove the transmission in order to bolt it to the motor and figure out the blockages inside the engine compartment for the whole assembly.

The transmission still had loads of dirt, oil and clutch dust inside of it, so I cleaned it out with Simple Green MAX. I was very surprised at how well this cleaner worked. Just a few sprays and a scrubbing with a wet sponge cleaned most everything out. I avoided using a water hose to prevent water from getting into the transaxle.

After cleaning up the bell housing, I wiped all the goo off the throw-out bearing and arm, re-greased them and put them back in.

Next up: Attaching the flywheel to the motor

Monday, September 15, 2008

Conundrums over Batteries

Ever since I heard the not-so-great cycle lifetime of the Deka 9A31 batteries, I've been scouring the internet to try and find a replacement group-31 AGM battery.

I've added several candidates to the spreadsheet above (click to enlarge) and, at this point, I'm leaning towards the Concorde batteries. They're made for aircraft, have a good Peukert exponent and have a reasonable cycle-life. They're quite a bit more expensive than the other choices, but that cost will be made up for in the lifetime of the battery. The spreadsheet above is also available in the Files section of the Civic-EV Google Group as the file BatteryAnalysis.xls.

It's funny. Every battery dealer I chat with is glad that I'm converting an electric vehicle, but they all tend to say that you have to choose between bad batteries and worse batteries. I've heard that the Odyssey batteries are the best, but they also come with the greatest price, and I don't know if I'm willing to drop $4000 on a pack yet...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Firewall Rack Spacers and Steering Plumbing

Well, things are going slow. I climbed South Sister last weekend and this weekend I'm showing off the electric 914 at the Alternative Energy and Sustainable Living Show in Hillsboro. In the meantime, I've done a few minor things.

I have to remove the transmission to bolt it to the motor, so that involved removing the firewall rack. I could have jacked up the car and lowered the transmission out the bottom, but this is easier for the moment since there are no batteries in the vehicle.

In the process of seeing if I could lower the transmission out the bottom, I found out that my front battery rack side supports are too long and make it very difficult to lower the drivetrain.
If you look at this blog entry, the fourth picture down shows that the side angle iron support makes it really hard to simply lower the transmission mount downward. There's enough sideways room to cut this piece shorter and support it with a diagonal strut without interfering. I guess these are the things that will come up as I go along...

In order to form spacers to support the rear corners of the firewall battery rack, I purchased a piece of 10" galvanized steel pipe. After hack-sawing off the threaded portion, I was able to cut two sleeves 2 3/4" long for the support spacers. This will be a lot better than the all-thread that I originally used to support the firewall rack in this blog entry.

Remember the power steering plumbing we hacked back in this entry to convert the power steering system to manual? I finally found an adapter piece of tubing to make things fit together. All I needed was a piece of 5/16" (inside diameter) fuel line hose about an inch long with an outside diameter of 9/16". With this "adapter," I'm able to make all the tubes and pipes fit snugly together.

Here's the final plumbing setup. I still have to add a bracket to the bolts just to the left of the reservoir to support it properly, but I think the plumbing should work fine now. Of course, the other option was to replace the entire steering rack with a manual version, but I didn't want to take the time or money to do that. Most Civic's have power steering, so I thought this was a good re-use of existing parts, even if it is hackish.

We'll I'm off to the Sustainable Living show for the weekend. I hope to have more time in the upcoming weekends as the weather gets worse and there are less fun things to do outside.