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fsyemogushi 03-15-2012 11:03 AM

Ready to take the plunge!
Hello all

I just recently through a very convoluted series of searches discovered this site after reading BenNelson's excellent instructable on his Electro-Metro. I then read the entire million page post on the vehicle and then read MPaul's entire VW post and have since then gone off and read about several DIY electric conversions. To say that I'm impressed just doesn't quite convey my feelings. To say that I'm inspired is an understatement. This is a project that I feel confident that I can tackle and succeed in, with the right kind of help.

So I've decided that I want to first and foremost find an inexpensive DC motor that can eventually be used as a power plant in an EV. I want to get that part first to really look at how it works and figure out just how much I'm willing to put into this endeavor (read - how much my wife is willing to let me spend on yet another hairbrained project). My thinking is if I can get all the guts of the project (motor, controller, batteries, various contactors and other strange electric necessities that I've never heard of) working outside of an actual vehicle, then find the donor car and put those guts in it I'll have less bugs to work out after the tedious work of hiding all the wires and making it look nice (again not to mention not having a 1.5 ton vehicle sitting around taking up space for the wife to get upset at).

My eventual goal for an EV would be to have a comfortable range of 50 miles with a top sustainable speed of 65 mph. I realize with lead acid that is pretty much at the upper limits of that tech and would need a light pick-up to really make that much weight movable.

I live in the northern Virginia area and those specs are pretty much required to be able to get any kind of real commuting use out of an EV. I believe that if I can find the right pieces at the right prices this can be a very economical way for me to not only reduce my expenses, but to also move forward in my desire to be more independent and less reliant on outside sources of energy. I know you've all heard the many motivations of people who endeavor to undertake this journey so I won't bore you with more platitudes but I am excited at the prospects a project like this entails.

So without causing any more bleeding eyes with an even longer wall of text I will just say howdy and if anyone knows of a good place to find surplus/used forklift motors in the northern Virginia/ DC metro area drop me a line. Thanks and I look forward to updating with progress.

-Brad :thumbup:

MetroMPG 03-15-2012 11:39 AM

Hi Brad - welcome to the forum!

I would start by contacting local forklift sales/service companies in your area. That's what ultimately got Project ForkenSwift going, when a little bird told me that one company had a "forklift graveyard".

Alternatively, are there any EV groups in your neck of the woods? There are almost always components/projects for sale amongst the members.

Lastly: when you ask for a range of 50 miles and a speed of 65 mph, hopefully you don't want both at the same time. :) (You'll not likely do that with lead.)

MetroMPG 03-15-2012 11:40 AM

(PS: Hope you don't mind I moved your intro to the Fossil Fuel Free sub-forum. It'll hit more of the relevant eyeballs here than the general Introductions section.)

fsyemogushi 03-15-2012 01:21 PM

Thanks for the welcome and nope don't mind at all to get moved. And no I don't expect to go 50 miles averaging 65 mph. Simply looking to get good range without sacrificing the ability to get out of trouble if need be. The people around here don't like to drive slowly and by that I mean if you aren't doing 80 in a 65 zone you are gonna get run over!

Thanks for the suggestions and I have no idea if there are any EV clubs in this area. I looked at the map provided by the forums here and there is no one in my immediate area even participating on the boards. I guess I'll have to do some internet searching to see if there are some groups that exist but haven't found this forum yet.


bennelson 03-15-2012 02:40 PM

I'd say you could start gathering up some of the parts, motor, controller, and some other parts.

Save getting the batteries until last. You won't know exactly what you want until you have the vehicle, so you can see how many batteries can physically fit in there and what weight it can take.

What battery charger you need will most likely depend on what you end up with for batteries, so you can hold out on that as well.

I'm a big fan of the Open Revolt controller, as well as any other controller that lets you run a range of voltages. For efficiency and high-speed, high voltage is the way to go, but sometimes low voltage is a good way to test things out and just see how everything works. As long as you have a controller that can handle it, to upgrade you speed and range, you just add more batteries!

Light trucks are a favorite for better-range electric vehicles.

fsyemogushi 03-15-2012 03:10 PM

Wow a celebrity stopped by my thread! I'm totally geeking out! Sorry I guess I'm a little star struck by the famous Ben Nelson! :D Don't mind me I'm just kinda silly (well at least thats what my wife says) Anyhoo thanks for the advice so far.

Yeah I was certainly planning on going with the open revolt controller; besides the fact that it is inexpensive, I think it'll be fun to put something like that together and increase my knowledge of all things electrical. And as far as the batteries my idea at the moment is to hopefully find a marine repair/sales place or some other avenue that would be willing to sell me slightly used batteries at core charge cost. If it can happen to Ben, why not me? :P But I realize that even though the batteries are key and potentially the most expensive part of the project they need to be the last part due to limited shelf life.

I've also been reading about a guy in Utah, John, who when building his EV Toyota pick-up, built his own capacitance charger for a fraction of the cost of commercially available ones so I'm keeping that an open option as well.

So yeah lots to consider and think about. My biggest hurdle right now is I don't have a very large start up fund to work with so finding an electric motor for less than an arm and a leg is important. I know of a shop in town that deals in electric motors, at least that's what it says on their sign out front. So hopefully they can if not provide a cheap one, can point me in the direction of some used forklift motors. Here's to hoping I find something!


nabowen 03-15-2012 10:00 PM

I don't know if a golf cart motor is suitable for your conversion, but metrogolfcars out of Ft. Worth has some take offs out of 2002 and later Club Cars, the label shoes 3.2 horse power 48 volt on Ebay. The bidding starts at $55.00 with BIN at $70.00 with $35.00 freight.

MetroMPG 03-15-2012 11:06 PM

Not really suitable for a highway capable EV. But it might work OK for something very light with a relatively short range (shorter duty cycle).

bennelson 03-15-2012 11:47 PM

The Citicars were just souped up golf-carts. But they weighed less than Geo Metros or anything else, were only two-seaters, and maxed out at about 35 mph.

Get a big forklift motor. Can't go wrong with a forklift motor!

Ryland 03-16-2012 01:37 AM

Take a look at EAA Chapters - Electric Auto Association to see if there is an EAA club near you.
To test a motor a 12v battery should be plenty, I agree that golf cart motors are not good for vehicles that weigh over 1,000 pounds or that you want to go over 35mph, altho the c-cars are not really supped up golf carts... at least I haven't been able to find any golf cart parts that work on either the citi-car or commuti-car, but they do resemble golf cart parts and are golf cart size EV's.

If you do need to drive 50 miles at a time, buy a Diesel or a Honda Insight, diesels are good for long distance driving, EV's are good for those trips that gas engine vehicles don't work well for.

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