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Old 01-17-2015, 01:40 PM   #11 (permalink)
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minispeed-Insight - '00 Honda Insight
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Originally Posted by xpedro01 View Post
MINISPEED; From what I have seen of the insides of the leaf, it should be a long time before it wears out. It is built like a truck. Since they are being sold in 34 countries, to make one size fit all requires that they be very tough. The battery case ( which I will not be using) weighs 200 pounds and is pressurized.
I got my leaf by bidding on "SALVAGE NISSAN LEAF" on the internet. On my 4th attempt, I WON. Now I will just need to spend months playing in the garage. My biggest problem, I think, is the axle shafts, as the LEAF is 4 inches wider than the Honda. You may not have that problem with the Mini. Keep researching.
For me "wear out" means the battery degrades to the point that I can't do my 90 mile round trip in the winter without stopping for a 20 min plus charge every day. I'm fine stopping for a charge on the days that it's freakish cold or very windy/snowy as they aren't that often but if I can't make the trip every day in the winter under 1hr 20min then I'll consider it worn out for my needs. I need 80% of the charge to make it with heat on and a safety net most cold days. In -19C I used 80% without heat at 90-95km/hr. I have 120v at work, but it's not officially approved. In the summer I can do round trip on 1 charge. If my wife and I have a third child then we may need something bigger then.

Then I'll factor in the cost of a replacement battery vs. a newer car, and factor in that I really want to transplant the leaf internals to the mini. Seeing your finished project will just make me want to do it even more. I haven't asked at the dealer myself but I have been told by other leaf owners that Nissan Canada doesn't have a battery replacement price like the $5500 US price. Nissan US says it's selling it at a loss and an original first year leaf owner I know here has his battery down to 86% in just under 4 years which is pretty much bang on the Nissan estimate of 80% by 5 years so I don't think they'll be doing replacement batteries at a loss here.

As far as width of the car I'd be willing to run flares and race minis have flares that go out as far as 10 or 12 inches on each side. I would want to do a minimum of 4 but if I need to it's nice to know that I can.

I doubt that the axle shafts will present a big problem, 4 inches, 2 per side, probably a lot less wheel travel on the insight than the leaf so shortening them probably won't be a big deal.

From the outside when I had my leaf and insight parked side by side last night it looked like height was the limiting factor. Of coarse the Nissan will have a 2plus pedestrian safety gap on the hood and I think the top cover can come off as some user have put a second charger there in it's place.

You could also put the drivetrain in the back of the insight!

Welcome to Mini Tec

Originally Posted by Xist View Post
You can fix that!
Oh yes the wheels have already been turning..... I would think that I'd chop the floor and go 100% flat from the rear subframe forward and a flat panel for the rear. Air flow needs through the front would be a lot less and I may be able to cover the full grill or have a small opening with room to vent it to a good place. Nice rear lip or partial kamm back. I would want to avoid a boat tail since I would still want it to look classic. If money wasn't an issue I'd get a pick up frame and add a nice tear drop custom top on the back.


Last edited by minispeed; 01-17-2015 at 01:51 PM..
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Old 01-17-2015, 02:06 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Epic project! I look forward to the results.
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Old 01-20-2015, 10:05 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Very cool project! If my Insight motor ever wears out, this is it's next configuration.

- E*clipse

BTW, you can buy NEW Leaf batteries - I have a set for my EV conversion project.
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Old 04-10-2015, 11:19 AM   #14 (permalink)
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It is April 10, 2015 and I feel I am approaching the half way point on the conversion of putting all the Nissan stuff into the Insight. The 48 cell pack installed differently than I expected. It had to go outside, but behind the seat as shown above. It is now where the gas tank used to be. Because I am 88 and live alone I elected to bolt the remaining 200 pounds of battery in the passenger compartment. My 180 will give a side to side balance and the car will not be side heavy.
The NISSAN floating power train mount fits the Honda ok. Heavy aluminum castings have ready made holes that match the rubber mounts at the back of the leaf and 1/2" x 6" number 8 bolts hold up the rear portion of the floating power train mount.
The 2 front mounts use the same stiff 5" mounts as the rear. For this I fabricated a u shaped hangar of 0.25 x1.5 bar stock that fastens under the mount and goes up over a large frame member that holds the bumper. No aluminum was weakened. I am now ready to lift the power train and attempt to install it. Two very large items lie ahead. One is adapting the axle shafts, and the the monster is wiring. I still have hopes of getting it to run by the end of the summer. My body is very weak, but I really am enjoying it------xpedro01
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Old 04-10-2015, 11:27 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Great to read that this is happening, Tom!

If I lived in your neck of the woods, I'd be there to lend a hand just to watch the progress.
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Old 04-10-2015, 11:43 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Agreed! I would be happy to help If I were a few states closer. Good job on the progress, It sounds like it's starting to take shape. You will have a very enviable ride once you complete this!

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Old 04-10-2015, 12:03 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Thanks for the update! Would it be possible to get some pictures of the work?
Current project: A better alternator delete
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Old 04-10-2015, 12:34 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Looks like an amazing build !
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Old 04-10-2015, 12:37 PM   #19 (permalink)
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"... because I am 88 and live alone..." that line just made you a kind of demigod in my mind. Great work. I can't wait to see how it comes out. The light weight and lower cd and cda should make for greater range. Thanks for the update.
See my car's mod & maintenance thread and my electric bicycle's thread for ongoing projects. I will rebuild Black and Green over decades as parts die, until it becomes a different car of roughly the same shape and color. My minimum fuel economy goal is 55 mpg while averaging posted speed limits. I generally top 60 mpg. See also my Honda manual transmission specs thread.

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Old 04-12-2015, 01:59 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Awesome project! Very inspiring! I'm planning something very similar soon, transplanting a complete Leaf drivetrain into a 1973 Saab Sonett. A bit more quirky, but even lighter and slightly lower CdA than the Gen 1 Insight!

I'll try to start a new thread to discuss, but anyway here's what I've come up with so far in case its of interest in the mean time.

Host vehicle acquired last month, this particular one was converted to a 96V DC electric system back in '90s and is still in drivable working order. It also had quite a bit of restoration work already done, a great head start all around!

Based on some preliminary modeling I've done using the "Excel Dyno" and bringing in some real world measured wheel torque from a Leaf, it could be quite a kick in the pants, in addition to pretty darn efficient. The far right column is the estimated performance of the Leaf drivetrain in the Leaf body copied into the scratch space. Seems relatively accurate from what I gather. The third column from the right shows the estimated performance when transplanted into the Sonett, which should be fairly similar to the Insight I would think. Two big caveats, the way the Leaf is measured probably does not include the controller's torque throttling for the first 1-2 seconds from a stop, and even if you get around that keeping all that torque applied to the pavement in a light FWD vehicle will be challenging to say the least

I've also done some preliminary CAD work to check for fit of the main leaf components as best I could estimate their dimensions:

I'm also pouring through the factory service manuals for the Leaf to try and figure out the minimum set of components that will allow the drive train (with the primary VCM controller still running the show) to be fully functional.

I've started documenting some of those findings in this thread on mynissanleaf, but not getting a whole lot of input there yet. Not sure yet how thrilled they are about the idea of someone chopping one up

I've started watching the salvage auctions and have a friend lined up with a license to buy there, so hopefully I'll have a donor on the way in the next few months.

Look forward to following your progress, and the best of luck!


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