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Old 01-16-2012, 01:30 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Considering my first EV

I recently picked up a 1990 honda civic hatchback- EF? SI? Something or other.

Anyways, it was really abused by its previous owner, someone I would call a "ricer", who destroyed the engine, put a big tacky tach on the dash (inches from the stock one), and neglected basic maintenance. I'm in the process of trying to get her running again, but due to the cold (I live in Maine) I can't really work much on her.
I've done a head rebuild over the last few days in the basement, but I need to swap out the rings just to get some compression to run.

After all that, however, I'm sure it wont last more than another 15k, since I'm not really willing to do bearings without pulling the engine.


Anyways, after spending some time talking to my brother, it occurred to me that this is a great chance to build an EV- something I've always thought about doing, but never put much thought into doing.
That combined with my new job (which includes more funding and a short commute) means I can start getting serious about this idea.

Let's start with some background:
I love cars, I love tinkering. New job is 3.8 miles driveway to parking garage- which means about 8 miles a day. I'd love my range to be closer to 50, but 10 for starters means lots of chances to tinker around with things.
As for the car, some information from the internet I've dug up:
si- 2,286 lb (1,037 kg)
Power : 108 hp (80.5 kW, 110 ps) @ 5600 rpm
Torque : 100 ft·lbf (13.9 kg/m, 136 Nm) @ 4,800 rpm
Redline : 6500 rpm (USA)
motor weighs 190-230 lbs depending on what is left attached.

This particular car is a 5-speed manual, which the previous owner claims is geared lower than most hondas, but I can tell the engine has never been out- so I'm assuming this is the stock transmission, as well.


Anyways, I figure I'd like to start with sourcing a motor. I do fancy the idea of having the ability to add a nice CV generator to the system to extend range if need be, but I think in the end we're more or less stuck using DC motors.
I've seen a few different pages stumbling around- a geo metro run off a hydraulic motor, a little saturn, etc.

Anyways this is more just introducing myself than asking questions, but I'll be spending the day tomorrow (Supposed to hit 3 below!) reading up on this sort of stuff! Suggestions of places to start definitely welcome, and if this place has classifieds I'll probably be digging around looking for what parts cost.

Heres to finding another forum, hopefully this place is as full of information as I think it is!

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Old 01-16-2012, 11:32 AM   #2 (permalink)
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honda cb125 - '74 Honda CB 125 S1
90 day: 79.71 mpg (US)

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Just to give you an idea of what others have done with their civic hatch backs.
EVAlbum: Search Results

Ken's 1991 Honda Civic

Mike Chancey's 1988 Honda Civic

Bill Crozier's 1987 Honda Civic

And what you get with lithium batteries... Paul Pancella's 1992 Honda Civic

Those civics are all using new motors, used electric forklift motors also work and you might check around to see if there is an electric auto club in your area, people in those clubs tend to collect parts, they also get burned out from projects and sell new parts cheap.

Oddly enough, the civic hatch back is not a common car to convert, I think the main reason is that it's a bit heavier then a geo metro and the civic doesn't tend to have the engine wear out, unless as you found, it was owned by a teenager, but even at that look at what you can get from Car-Part.com--Used Auto Parts Market for a civic engine and you might find it's cheaper to buy a good used one then to rebuild, because of that a lot of civics tend to rust out before they stop running, but a solid body with a dead engine is also the perfect car to convert to electric.
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Old 01-16-2012, 02:06 PM   #3 (permalink)
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thanks for the links!

As expected, used engines for this car start at $500. Oddly enough the guy I got the car from sold it with an extra engine- a real beast of a racing (ricing?) engine that would take some 1500 bucks in parts to shoehorn into this car. I figure if I write off the car I traded for this mess, I might be able to fund the conversion from what that engine sells for On that note, Two of those civics you linked had "conversion costs" listed, both well over 5k! I understand that enough batteries to get any real range will be expensive, and a purpose-built motor is probably a few K on its own, but I don't have unlimited funding for this

It's also funny you mention "owned by a teenager"-- the guy has three years on me, and I've already managed to buy a house.

I'll look around for local EV groups, but since I've only seen one EV on the streets that I know of, I'm not sure I'll find any.

PS: I did a quick search looking for an active IRC channel you folks hang out in- Us older geeks still use it, but I only found a few dead ends. The list feature doesnt seem to work on freenode today- if anyone reading this happens to know of an ecomodder IRC channel, I'd love to find out about it

Last edited by como; 01-16-2012 at 03:05 PM.. Reason: irc note
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Old 01-16-2012, 05:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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OEVA: [ Home ] Oregon Electric Vehicle Association is the Portland Oregon Electric Vehicle Association.

It does take a bit of a budget to put an electric drive train in a vehicle that was designed for a gasoline drive train, but it can be done, 300mpg.org is Ben Nelson's web site where he sells his DVD on building your own electric car, cheap and I'm sure he would love it if you bought one and helped him support his family, otherwise he has most of his video clips on Youtube for free.

But buying a new electric motor for $1,200 to $3,500 is out of budget for some people, that is why I suggested buying a used forklift motor or buying a motor from someone who gave up on their project, both of them are going to be much cheaper then a new motor.
You can also look at the Open Revolt motor speed controller Welcome to PaulandSabrinasEVstuff.com Electric Motor Controllers instead of spending, again, $1,500 to $4,000 for a motor speed controller, that will also help keep your costs down.
Batteries... a few people are lucky enough to find good used batteries, but you often have to work for them, you have to know the right people and then sort out the good from the bad and at that point you are still running on used batteries, but if you are unsure of what you are doing then that might be a good way to go because you can always replace them later with new or better batteries.

But the links to other peoples cars can give you an idea of range, motor size, speed, part layout, battery pack voltage, battery type and sometimes give you an idea of issues that others have had, like Kelly Controllers tend to be a bad investment, they tend to be cheap to buy then destroy expensive parts when they malfunction.
If you look at other peoples EV's and find one that performs about like you need your car to perform you can get an idea of what you might need to do to make your project work for you.

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