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-   -   The Firebrid Hybrid Convertible Project (Prius platform swap) (https://ecomodder.com/forum/showthread.php/firebrid-hybrid-convertible-project-prius-platform-swap-33459.html)

Bill the Engineer 02-09-2016 06:25 AM

The Firebrid Hybrid Convertible Project (Prius platform swap)
 
By request, I'm starting a separate thread to blog the conversion of my 1967 Firebird to a Hybrid by combining it with the running gear and suspension of a 2014 Prius V. More details will follow...

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1499110444
https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1499110444


Bill the Engineer

Xist 02-09-2016 06:51 AM

Awesome project! :)

Daox 02-09-2016 09:16 AM

Sounds very interesting!

MetroMPG 02-09-2016 09:38 AM

Subscribed. This will be good.

Bill the Engineer 02-09-2016 11:17 PM

Time for a quick review:

I first bought the Firebird in July 1979 just after having graduated from college with my engineering degree. My late Dad found it for me, and my grandfather floated me the $750.00 for it until I could get a loan to pay him back. From the start, the Firebird was my second car used mostly for fun on the weekends.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...ate=1523155911
https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...ate=1523155911

Over the years I made many memories in it, including dating my future wife.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...ate=1523155911

It fell out of use after having moved from state to state twice. With 167,000 miles on it, it was pretty tired.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...ate=1523155911

Eventually things started to break down. One day when I tried to start it the front wiring harness fried. (You are not supposed to let the smoke out!)

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...ate=1523155911

Then another move to another state caused me to put the car in storage for a while. As it sat waiting for me to work on it, mice took up residence and caused vast amounts of destruction before I could finally eliminate them (with the willing help of the family cats.)

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...ate=1523155911

I tried twice to begin a regular restoration of the Firebird, but each time I hit major roadblocks. Rotted floor pans, broken suspension parts, rusted and seized engine and other mechanical parts. Basically it was a mess.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...ate=1523155911

I finally got discouraged over the amount of work that it would take to bring the Firebird back to life.

Then one night my wife mentioned off-the-cuff that it was a shame that I couldn't just make it a hybrid like our two daily driver Prii. (Plural of Prius.) Her comment sparked my imagination, and I began to compare the dimensions of the Firebird versus the available hybrids on the market...

(More later...)

Bill the Engineer

Frank Lee 02-10-2016 04:57 PM

I caught one in the act and gave him a ferris wheel ride for the ages by turning it on high:

http://i146.photobucket.com/albums/r...psnmf0uxbl.jpg

I know the War On Everything is quite overused... but when it comes to mice in the vehicles IT IS WAR.

doviatt 02-10-2016 06:03 PM

Frank, You should present that to your Cat. Returning the favor and also showing him you can hunt too.

mcrews 02-10-2016 10:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bill the Engineer (Post 506935)
Time for a quick review:


and I began to compare the dimensions of the Firebird versus the available hybrids on the market...

(More later...)

Bill the Engineer

DONT .....STOP!!!! :eek: MORE NOW!!!!!
:thumbup::D;):p

cRiPpLe_rOoStEr 02-11-2016 05:18 AM

Though hybrids are not really my cup of tea, this project sounds impressive. How are you considering to conciliate all the gadgets in the Prius' instrument cluster with a classical look that would be expected in a good old American ride?

mcrews 02-11-2016 10:34 AM

ps.....Welcome!! :o

Bill the Engineer 02-11-2016 10:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cRiPpLe_rOoStEr (Post 506991)
Though hybrids are not really my cup of tea, this project sounds impressive. How are you considering to conciliate all the gadgets in the Prius' instrument cluster with a classical look that would be expected in a good old American ride?

All will be explained. I am still a working engineer (not retired yet) so my free time is mostly on the weekends. My original plan for the dash had to change, so I will explain that in a post soon too!

Bill the Engineer

Bill the Engineer 02-13-2016 07:22 AM

Continuing with my story...

So, I had decided to investigate what it would take to convert my old rusty Firebird convertible into a hybrid. The initial research was very interesting to say the least.

At first, I thought it might be easy to just drop-in the GM Hybrid system out of the Hybrid Tahoe/Yukon SUV, since it was already a "GM" product with the same front engine / rear drive layout. Then I started looking at the specs and how poorly that system compared to my two Prii. It just seemed to be a lot of effort for not much gain. It's no wonder GM stopped making the hybrid drivetrain on that platform...

Then GM president Mary Barra made those "comments" about how GM was never going to bring back Pontiac and people should get over it. That soured me on anything GM from then forward, so the Volt drivetrain dropped off of my radar... forever.

I next took a tape measure out into my driveway and began to do some basic measurements of my Gen-III Prius to compare to my partially disassembled Firebird in the garage. Hmmm... nearly the same wheelbase (Prius a little shorter)... nearly the same tread width... exactly the same tire diameter...

OK, so if I used the drivetrain out of a Prius family vehicle, things might work out. Now to decide which Prius family vehicle to use.

My research at first took me into the direction of the hardest version to find, the Lexus HS250h. I discovered that the dash gauges were very similar in shape to the Firebird's. I even bough a salvage gauge off of E-pay to make a closer comparison.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...ate=1523158365

The gauges would work, but there was the problem of the shorter wheelbase. I played around with ideas. Making the wheelbase longer by buying two HS250h was too expensive. The adjustment would need to be made by making the front fenders and hood shorter on the Firebird body. Awkward.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...ate=1523158365

I also discovered that the price that a HS250h was bringing in the salvage auctions was way over my budget. The insurance companies have quite a racket going there totalling mildly damaged cars and selling the parts for a profit.

I turned to look at the Gen-III Prius which is the same platform in hatchback form. I would not have the nice instrument cluster that way, but I had hoped that the HS version would connect.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...ate=1523158365

I put in a couple of unsuccessful bids at salvage auctions. No joy, but I did get to know Steve Woodruff, owner of AutoBeYours.com. He runs a Prius-only salvage repair business for mostly Gen-II Prii, although he dabbles in the Prius V wagon too. Steve happened to mention to me that maybe I should consider the Prius V since it has a slightly longer wheelbase. That turned out to be the turning point in the project. I recalculated things based on the Prius V and everything came into focus.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...ate=1523158365
https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...ate=1523158365

Next chapter soon...

Bill the Engineer

California98Civic 02-13-2016 11:32 AM

subscribed.

EDIT: and I hope the plan is to make the passenger compartment and the exterior body as cherry and original as money, time, and love can produce.

Bill the Engineer 02-13-2016 12:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by California98Civic (Post 507181)
subscribed.

EDIT: and I hope the plan is to make the passenger compartment and the exterior body as cherry and original as money, time, and love can produce.

Yes. That is exactly the plan. ;)

user removed 02-13-2016 02:45 PM

My concern is the structural integrity of a unibody vehicle with the roof removed. The original Firebird was unibody with a front subframe with 4 mounting points to the cowl-back unibody of the original car. Very marginal for strength as could easily be demonstrated by lifting the car right at the lower fender mounting points in the front of the rocker panel, and watching the door gaps double in width, when the car was new. (I know, used to adjust the gaps as a part of repair processes).

It will probably take some considerable reinforcing in the rocker panel and transmission tunnel up to and including increasing the actual height of the rockers and tranny tunnel as well as significant cross bracing of those 3 areas to improve torsional rigidity.

You mentioned two prior attempts to restore the original Firebird. I think this project will make a restoration look like a cake walk in retrospect. Estimated time, about 3k hours. Lots of fabrication since no replacement parts will be available.

A tube frame structure similar to the Mercedes 300 SL roadster, integrated into the two existing structures?

Just my 2 cents worth.

regards
mech

Bill the Engineer 02-13-2016 03:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Old Mechanic (Post 507199)
My concern is the structural integrity of a unibody vehicle with the roof removed. The original Firebird was unibody with a front subframe with 4 mounting points to the cowl-back unibody of the original car. Very marginal for strength as could easily be demonstrated by lifting the car right at the lower fender mounting points in the front of the rocker panel, and watching the door gaps double in width, when the car was new. (I know, used to adjust the gaps as a part of repair processes).

It will probably take some considerable reinforcing in the rocker panel and transmission tunnel up to and including increasing the actual height of the rockers and tranny tunnel as well as significant cross bracing of those 3 areas to improve torsional rigidity.

You mentioned two prior attempts to restore the original Firebird. I think this project will make a restoration look like a cake walk in retrospect. Estimated time, about 3k hours. Lots of fabrication since no replacement parts will be available.

A tube frame structure similar to the Mercedes 300 SL roadster, integrated into the two existing structures?

Just my 2 cents worth.

regards
mech

All good point which I will address in future postings. I thought long and hard about the issue of strength and torsional stability. Being a machine design engineer with 35+ years of experience certainly helped. The below photos will be explained later, but lets just say that I have the added strength of both car's rocker panels that will be welded together.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...ate=1523158365
https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...ate=1523158365

Bill the Engineer

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1499153240

mcrews 02-13-2016 11:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bill the Engineer (Post 507203)

holy Crap!!!!!! :eek: VERY NICE!!!!!! :thumbup:

Xist 02-14-2016 02:46 AM

You are not going to drop a Prius body on the Firebird platform? :)

Bill the Engineer 02-14-2016 08:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Xist (Post 507224)
You are not going to drop a Prius body on the Firebird platform? :)

Hmmm. Never crossed my mind...
:rolleyes:

Bill the Engineer

pgfpro 02-14-2016 11:38 AM

WOW!!!

I'm also very interested in how you are going to make the floor pan more rigid?

IMO I would build a tube chassis floor bars and also add pillar foam to the rockers. I would also take some measurements from a stock Prius at the doors aperture (front to rear) and then make some temporary upper bolt in bars to set them to spec.

Very cool project!!!

spacemanspif 02-14-2016 12:10 PM

How does the Prius V do in terms of MPG? While the firebird sheet metal might make for substantial weight reduction, aero might cancel the weight losses. I'm too much of a purist to accept a front wheel drive 1st gen F-body rolling on Prius wheels. I'm all about doing your own thing and would love to see more of a Tesla approach to the car or a giant electric motor strapped to 6spd and the engine bay filled with batteries though.

Bill the Engineer 02-14-2016 12:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pgfpro (Post 507243)
WOW!!!

I'm also very interested in how you are going to make the floor pan more rigid?

IMO I would build a tube chassis floor bars and also add pillar foam to the rockers. I would also take some measurements from a stock Prius at the doors aperture (front to rear) and then make some temporary upper bolt in bars to set them to spec.

Very cool project!!!

Glad you like it! Good questions. Kind-of jumping ahead in the story...

First some diagrams:

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1499123114
https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1499123114
https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1523495913

I have made strategic measured cuts in the Firebird floorpan so that it keys into the Prius V floorpan like a jugsaw puzzle. The transmission tunnel and driver's seat supports will have numerous areas where the two car floorpans are welded together. The Prius V floorpan is unmolested and retains its full strength. The Firebird structure will just add to it. It is easy to see where the white areas protrude into the Firebird's sheetmetal. I am doing a similar thing between the two firewalls and in the rear of the car.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1523496705
https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1523496705
https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1523496705
https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1523496705

Bill the Engineer

Bill the Engineer 02-14-2016 01:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by spacemanspif (Post 507249)
How does the Prius V do in terms of MPG? While the firebird sheet metal might make for substantial weight reduction, aero might cancel the weight losses. I'm too much of a purist to accept a front wheel drive 1st gen F-body rolling on Prius wheels. I'm all about doing your own thing and would love to see more of a Tesla approach to the car or a giant electric motor strapped to 6spd and the engine bay filled with batteries though.

To each their own...

Bill the Engineer

Bill the Engineer 02-14-2016 02:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Old Tele man (Post 507254)
...but, the GM Firebird drive-train does NOT employ "power recovery" regeneration capabilities (wink,wink)!

Do you mean this one? The hunk of rusted iron that hadn't run in years?

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1499110444

BTW, I kept the wheels and tires. I should be able to use them with bolt pattern adapter rings. If not, they make replica Rally-II wheels now that fit over disk brake set-ups and use more modern tires.

Bill the Engineer.

Bill the Engineer 02-14-2016 04:18 PM

Continuing my story, even though I've jumped ahead a bit answering questions...

I had made the decision to use a Prius V as the basis of the conversion of my Firebird to a hybrid.

My friend Steve at AutoBeYours.com was very helpful in my efforts to bid on Prius V's in the salvage auctions, although I never seemed to win. Then one day he told me about a client of his who had a roll-over 2014 Prius V with only 4,500 miles on it. The front of the roof was crushed and the right front suspension damaged. Steve had repaired the suspension and temporarily installed a new windshield, but the roof turned out to be more damage than the client was willing to fix.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1499110444

Since I did not care about the roof damage and other sheetmetal wrinkles, Steve mentioned me to his client. We arranged a visit to the shop in Indiana for me to inspect the car. As expected, it was perfect for my project. It had been sitting in auction lots for almost a year, but with the suspension repaired it still drove line a new car. We came to a three way agreement where I would buy the car from the client, and then Steve bought any of the body and interior parts that I didn't need for the project. We stripped the parts from the car at the shop...

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1523497165

... and loaded the running car shell onto a trailer for the trip home.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1499110444

Once we arrived at my house I DROVE the car into the cul-de-sak across the street using a metal folding chair as the driver's seat.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1499110444

The driver of the trailer bought the old Firebire front end and rear suspension from me and loaded it up for the trip back to Indiana.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1523497355

Once he had left, I drove the Prius V shell into the garage and parked it next to the Firebird's body.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1499110444
https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1499110444

Next chapter: I buy a Sawz-all...

Bill the Engineer

elhigh 02-14-2016 04:49 PM

This is my new favorite thread of all time.

Seeing the V's chassis utterly devoid of interior pinnings puts me in mind of a homebrew pickup truck, like these guys make.

mcrews 02-14-2016 06:57 PM

:thumbup:[B]To moderators........we need a bigger thanks button!!!!!!!! :thumbup:;)

Xist 02-14-2016 07:52 PM

http://www.al-kafala.com/Thank%20You%20Button.png

Elhigh, I would then want to see an aero topper on that Jetta pickup! :)

MetroMPG 02-14-2016 08:22 PM

This thread is too much fun.

elhigh 02-15-2016 07:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Xist (Post 507274)
http://www.al-kafala.com/Thank%20You%20Button.png

Elhigh, I would then want to see an aero topper on that Jetta pickup! :)

I should get off my butt and make one for my truck. It's been dragging around the same cap for 28 - make that 29! - years now, maybe I could fab up something both lighter and sleeker.

Bill the Engineer 02-17-2016 09:58 PM

Forecast for Ohio on Saturday is Sunny and 60F. (Rare for February.) Hoping to get out into the garage!!!

Bill the Engineer

Bill the Engineer 02-20-2016 08:20 PM

Nice day, but boy did I get out of shape over the winter. Surprise of the day is that the front fenders and hood will need to become 9" longer for the Firebird's grill to have clearance in front of the Prius V cooling system.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1523497703

If I slice and dice properly, it shouldn't look too different.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1523497932

Next chapter of the story soon.

Bill the Engineer

Bill the Engineer 02-27-2016 08:02 AM

Big business trip to Canada coming this week, so I'll continue with another chapter of the story before I leave...

So, I had bought the running shell of the 2014 Prius V to use in my project. The disassembled body of the 1967 Firebird convertible was sitting beside it on jack stands in the garage, and I had promised my wife that she could get her Gen-III Prius back into the garage before the snow would fly in late Fall. Time to get to work.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1499110444

There was a lot of preliminary disassembly work on the V.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1523498593
https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...ate=1523498593
https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1523498593


I had planning to do before grabbing the Sawz-all. Fitting the body onto the chassis was going to be a jigsaw puzzle of curved surfaces against curved surfaces.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1523498593

It was clear that the roof and door pillars would need to go, so off they came.

https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1499110444
https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1499110444
https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1499110444
https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1499110444
https://attachments.priuschat.com/at...g?d=1499110444

After one glorious day of Sawz-all work, I drove the chassis back into the garage.

More soon...

Bill the Engineer

elhigh 02-27-2016 01:37 PM

"Drove the chassis." I would be a menace to society, hooning around in a barebones chassis, sitting on a bucket and laughing like a loon.

The Firebird was designed to mount up to a big block V8 so it's probably more than tough enough, but is the conversion to front drive an issue? It wasn't intended to be pulled around by the front but pushed from the rear.

I assume you're selling these cutoff like-new pieces to shops to recoup some of the costs.

Bill the Engineer 02-27-2016 02:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by elhigh (Post 508127)
"Drove the chassis." I would be a menace to society, hooning around in a barebones chassis, sitting on a bucket and laughing like a loon.

The Firebird was designed to mount up to a big block V8 so it's probably more than tough enough, but is the conversion to front drive an issue? It wasn't intended to be pulled around by the front but pushed from the rear.

I assume you're selling these cutoff like-new pieces to shops to recoup some of the costs.

Actually, anybody within driving range of Ohio can come get the rear roof section for free. It's cluttering up too much space and if I don't hear from anyone by the middle of March it will probably get cut up.

https://priuschat.com/media/img_1310...l?d=1499110444

Bill the Engineer

mcrews 02-27-2016 03:34 PM

I sooo enjoy your updates:thumbup::D:thumbup::D;):thumbup:;):thumbup :

benphyr 03-02-2016 07:27 PM

I need to subscribe. Thanks.

HeadlesNorseman 03-03-2016 01:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by elhigh (Post 508127)
"Drove the chassis." I would be a menace to society, hooning around in a barebones chassis, sitting on a bucket and laughing like a loon.

The Firebird was designed to mount up to a big block V8 so it's probably more than tough enough, but is the conversion to front drive an issue? It wasn't intended to be pulled around by the front but pushed from the rear.

I assume you're selling these cutoff like-new pieces to shops to recoup some of the costs.

your thinking of it likes hes putting prius parts onto a firebird. he is making a firebird flavored prius. the sheet metal has naught to do with suspension geometry. it will probably, for all intents and purposes, be much safer and stable than an original live axle fire bird.

This is an awesome project. and just going to throw this out there, you are an engineer. you can move easily moveable parts to the back of the car. the thing cant possibly need a massive ammount of cooling capacity. half of the fun is fitting the bits within the original confines of the body!!

nmz787 03-03-2016 02:01 AM

Very cool!

I also wonder if there isn't some way to make things fit without messing with the fenders (and hood?). Gauges seem like they could be adapted with a small microcontroller and the OBD2 port and any number of output displays (using a servo to move an analog needle, using an OLED graphic display, etc):


(or this slightly larger stepper with higher gear ratio for more precision, if needed)

AndrzejM 03-03-2016 02:31 AM

Amazing project! Subscribed!


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