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Old 08-23-2010, 11:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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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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Old 08-23-2010, 11:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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If it turns out that you have twins, you're screwed.
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Old 08-23-2010, 11:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
EV test pilot
 
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Four seater car.
Me, the wife, twins.

Yes, I would be screwed, but there would still be room in the car for twins.

According to the ultrasound, it's just going to be one girl.

My sister-in-law is going to have twins about a month after though!
That one might require a Nissan Leaf!
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Old 08-24-2010, 11:33 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Congrats!
Post some pics of the new setup if you get a chance and cant wait to see the kid in the car.
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Old 08-24-2010, 08:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
EV test pilot
 
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Electro-Metro - '96 Ben Nelson's "Electro-Metro"
90 day: 129.81 mpg (US)

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My photography software is acting up, otherwise I would already have photos up. I will post some once I get it figured out.
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Old 08-24-2010, 08:16 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I knew it was going to be a girl!!! You and she are going to be outside in the dead of winter outfitting her 12v barbie dreamcar to run on 288v AC, and your wife will be telling you two to come inside.
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Old 08-25-2010, 12:00 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I might have already mentioned this, but my 9 year old keeps talking about helping me to convert a Geo Metro convertible to electric for her first car. I remember a few years ago we told her "you won't get a cell phone until you're 10" because it seemed like such a long time in the future. That's in 4 months.....
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Old 08-25-2010, 07:04 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I don't remember, Ben, does your EV have airbags? If not I would still seat the little one in front whenever possible. Congratulations, by the way. My little girl has just reached the "What's that" / "Can I help?" stage. I love it!!!
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Old 08-25-2010, 12:34 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Congrats Ben! On the little bundle of joy and the refab of the car's backseat...
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Old 08-27-2010, 11:17 AM   #10 (permalink)
EV test pilot
 
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Oconomowoc, WI, USA
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Electric Cycle - '81 Kawasaki KZ440
90 day: 334.6 mpg (US)

S10 - '95 Chevy S10
90 day: 30.48 mpg (US)

Electro-Metro - '96 Ben Nelson's "Electro-Metro"
90 day: 129.81 mpg (US)

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My car has daytime running lights and driver AND passenger airbags.

It is officially the safest car I have ever owned. (Insurance is cheaper than my wife's car....)

If it didn't have airbags, I might just consider having the baby seat in the passenger seat, but that still wouldn't allow for "the whole family" (dear God! I have a "family" now!?!?) to go places all together.

I got my photo software working again, so here's a few pics.


Yep, seat belts are designed to restrain people, even little tiny people in booster seats.


The "clicker" end of the seatbelts re-installed. When I originally put the battery box in, I made sure not to mess with the seat belt bolts, I simply unbolted the seatbelts to get them out of the way. No, the seatbelts don't rub on that metal edge. I added some rubber tube to cover that lip, and the seatbelts go over the top of the plywood cover.



I replaced the 1" thick insulation on the bottom with thinner insulation - in this case, a double layer of political sign. This makes the lid go on securely, without touching the battery terminals.


Here, you can see that angle-iron that I welded onto the ends of the battery box. I drilled a 5/16th hole in both, and painted it. You can also see pink insulation on two of the sides.


The plywood top bolts down with two carriage bolts - one on either side. The only unfinished piece is some sort of trim in front of the battery box, between the floor and the lid. I don't think I have the original seat anymore. I will look for it. Maybe I can make a trim piece from that if it's still around.

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