Saturday, September 5, 2009

New Vacuum Pump and Fixed Wiper System

Sorry folks, no pictures today. I'm taking this long weekend to just relax and get some things done around the house while avoiding the crazy Labor Day weekend traffic.

One thing that's really been annoying me about the Civic is that the intermittent wiper setting doesn't work. After taking awhile to pry out the ICU (Integrated Control Unit) mounted on the back of the fuse box, I opened it up and tried some tests with a 12V battery to verify failure. After going to LKQ self-service auto-parts, I lucked out and found a Civic with another ICU in it as well as a grey trim piece I was missing. After shelling out a whopping $6.50 for these salvaged parts, I came home, snapped in the spare ICU and the wiper system started working again. Yay! I'm all ready for the long rainy winter here in Portland.

On a more relevant note to you EV folks, I also spent most of the day replacing my old Gast Vacuum pump and vacuum chamber with an MES 70/6E Swiss-made vacuum pump from MetricMind. I was lucky enough that it fit in the same space as the Gast pump and the vacuum tube from the pump to the brake assist chamber is only about 16" long. The MES pump is MUCH quieter than the Gast system, has a built in one-way valve and much less hysteresis than the Gast system. While it cost more ($315 instead of $285), the price difference wasn't that much.

I just finished my first test drive about 30 minutes ago and I really like this new vacuum pump. It's far quieter than the Gast system and has much more even braking pressure due to the smaller hysteresis. While the MES pump does come on much more often, it's so quiet I can only hear it when the car is completely stopped at a light without much noise going on around me. My initial thoughts are very positive and I recommend this for new people converting EVs.

Now that the intermittent wiper system is fixed and brake vacuum pump is upgraded, I don't plan on doing any more work on the Civic for awhile. I think the next major project (If I don't go out and purchase a Nissan "Leaf" outright) is to upgrade the batteries to lithium-ion types when the AGM lead-acid batteries die. Hopefully that will be two years out.

With the downturn in the economy and factory-made EVs being announced for next year, I've noticed far less EV projects happening these days. If people are doing conversions, they're doing them to older, more "classic" cars. These next few years are going to be quite interesting.
Drop me a comment if you're still working on a Civic EV. It's good to hear what projects are going on.