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Old 08-24-2010, 12:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
bennelson
EV test pilot
 
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Oconomowoc, WI, USA
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Baby on the battery box.

Hey Everyone!

The big news is that my wife and I are expecting our first baby. Expected time of arrival is about Oct. 1, 2010.

I drive an electric car. A converted Geo Metro - originally a four-seater, it was converted to a two-seater by the space and weight demands of the lead acid batteries.

I had removed the back seat, cut a hole in the floor pan under it (where the gasoline tank was) and welded in a box to hold the batteries. I made a plywood cover for the box and left in the original back of the seat so that it more or less still looked pretty stock. While I was taking everything else out, I also removed the seat belt, figuring that it would be one less thing to rattle or fall on my batteries while I was working on them.

Now one of the many changes a baby brings to the modern American's life is the CAR SEAT. No it can't go in front. Yes, it must face the correct direction, and your child has to stay in it well into their teenage years...
Ok, maybe not that long, but it seems like it.

So, here's the big question. Do I stick my baby on my battery box?

The quick and easy answer is - Heck ya!
I would much rather drive the electric car than the gasoline one, and I don't need one more excuse (but the BABY can't ride in the EV...) to drive the gasser.

Of course, now I have to do things right! No more "EV Test-Piloting" with big red buttons hooked to contactors and fraying wires!

This thing now has to be drool and diaper-proof!!!
So, that's how I spent my Sunday.... figuring what I needed to do to safely bolt in a small child to the safety requirements of not just the state, but also my wife. I am sure you can guess which is more strict!

So, here's what I did.
To start with. The battery box cover was never actually bolted down. Nope, it just sat there. I was always taking it on and off, checking voltages, changing batteries, who needs to mess with bolts!?

I figured that bolting down the lid was the first, bare-minimum thing I had to do. Also seatbelts. Seatbelts would be good to have back in.

The trouble with bolting down the lid was that I had nothing to bolt it to. There are no flanges or anything solid or convenient to connect to. However, I did just buy myself a used wire-feed welder....
I dug through my salvage pile and found some 1" angle iron, long enough to make a piece for both the short sides of the battery box if cut in half. After preparing the metal, I clamped it to the battery box and welded it on. (I'm leaving out the hour I spent on disconnecting and removing all 5 batteries in the rear box. Ow, my aching back...)

With a 15"-long metal ear on either end of the box, I now had plenty of room to drill a hole through the metal and the plywood lid. I choose to use a 5/16th" carriage bolt on either end. It's smooth on top, so there's nothing to catch on about the lid.

Also, the batteries originally stuck up just a tad PAST the top of the battery box. I have 1" pink foam insulation around the batteries, including the bottom, to keep them warm in the winter. Since I had all the batteries out, I also removed the bottom hunk o' foam, and replaced it with a double-layer of coroplast. Two layers of coroplast is only 1/4" thick, instead of the 1" foam. (Again, I am using the now famous recycled political sign. Thank you Rep. Kleffisch!)
With the thinner bottom insulation, the battery tops now sit just below the top of the battery box.

Reinstalling the rear seat belts was fairly straight forward. I had to remove the car's rear interior panels to put the retractor back in. The latch for the lap belts was a little trickier. The battery box is a bit taller, and a LOT more stiff than the original seat. Both the clickers reached over the box and wood lid, but just barely.
When I originally removed the back seat belts to make room for the battery box, I made sure not to touch, modify, or remove the seat-belt bolts, just in case I someday needed to reuse them. Today was that day.

Once the batteries were back in (I swapped out the two mis-matched ones while I was at it) and the seat back was in, I put in the lid, and bolted it down. Wow, it will actually pass as a back seat!

All the wiring is neatly tucked away (a first for me....) and nothing can flop around, get loose, and looks fairly baby proof.

You know how people always talk about how they are doing things for future generations? They always talk in very broad terms - "Saving the trees for the children"...etc.
Well, this one really is for the next generation - but in a very specific, real-world way, right now.

This isn't someday. It's about us doing what we can, right now, with what we got.

And for me, that means a car seat in an electric car.

-Ben

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