Journey to Bremen

Yes, I’m a little late with the Blog Post this week.

We journeyed to Bremen Indiana this past week using “The Legend” a DC-3 we fly all too rarely these days. Pete Malone joined us on this trip to keep me from killing us all as I fly so little these days. The weather was marvelous and we had a great trip in and out in a day.

We got to visit with Kevin and Carey Hines of Special Editions Inc. And we learned a great deal. It was an enormous eye opener for me and it culminates in NEXT week’s video which for a certain segment of our audience will likewise be a kind of earth moving under the feet experience. I’ve had a glimpse of the future, along with the accompanying headaches and interstitial dislocation and disorientation. So if I’m a little unfocused, forgive. Interdimensional travel is hard for me.

Actually these guys are a marvel. They have been producing the same two cars since the early 1980’s and they are in a FRENZY of innovation even as we speak, building a new facility, ponying up for brand new molds, and moving the body/chassis work INTO the U.S. from Sao Paulo Brazil. That’s right, they are IMPORTING jobs from South America.

[jwplayer file=”news101510 – iPhone.m4v” hd.file=”news101510-1280.mov” image=”http://23.21.184.60/evtv-word-press/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/news101510.jpg” streamer=”rtmp://s2v8uso6bi7t47.cloudfront.net/cfx/st” provider=”rtmp” html5_file=”http://media2.ev-tv.me/news101510 – iPhone.m4v” download_file=”http://media2.ev-tv.me/news101510-1280.mov”]

Juxtaposed with this is the image of a badly worn Spyder in the driveway with a sign on the Windshield that says DAD’S 550. Story to tell is that some kids got together and wrestled Dad’s beloved but worn Spyder 550, one of the first Kevin Hines built, out of the garage and shipped it to Bremen for refurb – 30 years later. A birthday present for Dad. YOU’VE GOT TO BE PUTTING ME ON…..

Passion. Excellence. Decades. Generations. You want a testimonial to product excellence? How about some KIDS, (undoubtedly in their thirties and forties and with kids of their own) ponying up to REBUILD a 30 year old car that was a replica THEN when new… for the father, who must have dearly loved the car. I’m crying and slobbering and going on and I haven’t had a drink yet that day and we’re not even INSIDE THE PLANT yet….

And so it goes. They make 125 cars a year. They’ve always made the same two cars. And they are absolutely working like crazy people to improve the whole thing, roll out a new line extension with a gorgeous BECK replica of the Porsche 904, expand to a new facility, bring fiberglass layout in house from South America and have a discussion about their new ELECTRIC line of the SAME vehicles, all at the same time…

Far from a tired old staid company at the end of their long obsolete line, these guys are ENERGIZED with INNOVATION doing classic cars as fast as they can possibly build them for a client base that is so loyal the KIDS AND GRANDKIDS know about them and wouldn’t have a simple paint and interior job that could be done ANYWHERE done ANYWHERE ELSE.

Did I say they were IMPORTING JOBS TO AMERICA???? Who else is doing this?

They are onboard with some changes to the Rickard version of their roller, including some they suggested as well. They’re going to do the rear bumper mod, have ABS boxes built for the rear battery boxes, and do the nasty fiberglass cutout HAL had to do for us. But they also tuned up the rear suspension and suggested a set of Q1 adjustable shock/coil overs for the car.

As to the turnkey electric build…. Carey seems to want it and Dad is kind of leery of it. Both had very cogent reasons for their positions…

The BMS was of course controversial. I claim it is a menace and they claim it’s necessary, although the Duke’s Garage version is currently disabled OVER BMS ISSUES…Duh being more than a car name….

So I don’t know how that’s going to all turn out. But Carey is going to build one for himself to see what’s really involved. The rollers will certainly be available and getting better all the time. And I have suggested a price of $60K for a turnkey car. I would be willing to bet if you called and ordered one, the normal 12 week lead time probably wouldn’t happen, but you’d have a car by spring anyway.

One criticism remains very very valid. The instrumentation we did is just not what’s needed. I knew that. We’re working on it. You can’t read it while driving. You don’t know what it means if you COULD read it. And it’s just generally been the achilles heal of this project from the beginning. We DID get the temp and fuel gauge to work but the real electric car info is just very nearly unavailable even though it’s right in front of you. This has to be addressed.

I guess I think this ultimately is a controller issue. All the information you need is actually IN the controller. Current, rpm, temperature, voltage. They’re all already in there. It needs to be brought out to a display that can be put in a car. All else is vanity. Add a $20 GPS chip and you have speed and miles to go. Why are the controller guys SO lost on this. It’s an obvious upsell and you could have six different display variants for the same data at six different prices. I don’t get it.

Curtis kind of DOES this but it is so lame and so lead acid I can’t believe they even bother….

Great visit. These guys build GREAT American Classics – even if they are Porsche’s. They are more reminiscent of Ferdinand and Fergy Porsche than Porsche itself is. They CAPTURE the essence of small shop hand made cars and clearly there IS an economic niche for such. In fact, they are not the past at all….they are the very essence of the future….

Jack Rickard

http://EVTV.me

16 thoughts on “Journey to Bremen”

  1. concerning instrumentation, last week I drove a Fiat 500 electric conversion operating with an Italian ANSALDO 1H130HG100 AC controller and a simple user friendly readable for old eyes and informative display probbably even based on the original combustion engined Fiats display.

    On the other hand, I’m kind of married to my iPhone, would make a great supplemental display. GPS and gyro and accelerometer and all included. Just make it talk to a controller.
    OBD2 / CAN anyone?

    Certainly a classic looking instrument could also be made (or a round OLED display looking classic).

    Still on my mind (being from overregulated europe) is the EMI issue which doesn’t seem to bother anyone in the US? We have to show compliance with regulation, wich is a rather expensive undertaking for one off converters.

  2. I believe you used a washer above the nordlock washer set in the video. This goes against the recommendation of nordlock. They do not want to have a washer between because it allows the bolt head to turn on the flat washer without engaging the cam lock. The ridges on the nordlock “bite” into the bolt head and force the cam to turn if the bolt begins to rotate out. By using the flat washer on top you have eliminated the cam locking mechanism.

    If I did not see you correctly I apologize, but I just wanted to make sure your viewers understand how the lock mechanism works.

  3. I haven’t worked with it so don’t know if this is possible, but, could you use the Curtis Programming Station software with something like a netbook computer or a laptop to show any various parameters available? I know the 1311 programmer allows you to scroll through a long list of controller input/output information, and can display a number of parameters at once if they fit on the screen.

    JRP3
    JRP3

  4. On the NORDLOCK, guilty but not as charged. No, we don’t put a flat washer under the bolt head. The flat washer goes UNDER the Nordlock on top of the terminal strip. It DOES to small degree defeat the Nordlock concept. But it seems pretty firm.

    The Curtis programmer and software for the PC are somewhat dedicated. But yes, the data stream is certainly available in RS-232 format. My intention eventually is to put a Roving Networks bluetooth adapter on the Curtis 1238 serial port and capture this serial stream for use in a computer and eventually display that data. So many projects, so little time.

    Jack Rickard

  5. With reagard to the instrumentation debate and more there is possibly one important area you can improve and extend the contest. In the mid 90s, early 2000s, there was a great dashboard tool (display & logger) for not only the OEM EVs of the day, but conversions as well.

    It was called EVDash, basically free available application and data logger for the Palm PDA, it sourced the data from Xantrex X10/E-meter via RS232, nowadays it’s known as TBS Pro, similar to the new instrument you recently reviewed, which ought to have the output as well. This is one great important feature, tool, gadget, missing on the conversion scene. Suprisingly, could be used for home PV solar, genset and other projects too!

    The deal is, that the EVDash application for which source code has been kindly provided on the website of its author Peter Ohler, was written for now obsolete/nonexisting platform (+ somehow compiled from a mac). However, these e-meters of various brands but more or less same communication protocol with serial port are still around and used for conversions now and into the future.

    So, lets say, you are again kindly utilizing the leverage of EV TV Me, and put up a special mini-contest for young/veteran software developers, prize offered being certain sum of money or to the topic related sponsored item (emeter or other gadget). With the goal, that they have to rewrite/improve the old EVDash into modern language such as Java(standalone PC, carputers) as well as produce lite version for Java(ME MIDP) for mobile platforms (mobile telephones, communicators). Which are so widespread these days, that everybody can hook it up with no further delay and expense, only some serial ethernet adapter needed etc.

    That would be a real tangible bonus to the community. Obviously, you might check first with Peter Ohler, but I think he would support such activity, the source code is still deposited in the download section.

    You can visit EVDash home website there.

    You can run/test it on Palm emulator to get the feel of it (or grab decade old Palm somewhere), there are still some showcases on youtube or photo galleries.

    Couple of EVDash Videos here.

    Full disclosure, I’m not going to taking part in such contest, but would like to see the day it’s done.

  6. Hey Jack,
    It is time to nit pick your battery connection bit. I am sure that the Brain used the stainless steel brush on the battery cables but it was just not shown on camera. 😉

    A more serious concern is your promotion of Nord Lock washers with no testing to back up your praise. Belleville washers are the industry standard for electrical connections. Build a pack with some Nord Locks (with and without extra flat washers) and some Belleville washers. Use a torque wrench! Then after some use go back and check the connections for tightness, corrosion, heat, and any other criteria you may think appropriate. You blew up the Mini too soon after installing the Nord Locks for any real testing. I want to know what the Nord Locks are like after you use them for a month or two. The company propaganda video is of little interest or use.

    Brad Lindberg
    MNEAA

  7. Brad:

    If company propoganda video showing test data is of little interest or use, why would mine be different or better for your purposes?

    Nord Lock has a video with load cell test data depictecd and reported.

    I have a heavy investement in LiFePo4 cells, and indeed have LOST a cell to loosening connections using the manufacturer recommended and supplied solution.

    You, as I see it, have a negative and critical OPINION along with an appeal to authority referencing an industry standard for electrical connnections. Please cite it and specifically it’s application to LiFePo4 cells at 500 to 1000 amps.

    No testing to back up our praise? What the “F” are you talking about? I’ve got a hundred grand in batteries “under test” at the moment, and our praise that we so eloquently profess on camera is that “SO FAR THIS IS THE BEST WE CAN COME UP WITH – WE’LL KEEP LOOKING AND UPDATE YOU”….

    The Nord Locks are fine after a month or two. We carried the Nord Lock video a month or two AGO and now we’re advocating their use. We’ll be happy to report any further developments. So far, I like them so well we’re using them on almost everything involving a nut or bolt around here.

    Jack Rickard

  8. With reagard to the opensource instrumentation debate (Sept. 10 video) and more there is possibly one important area you can improve and extend the contest. In the mid 90s, early 2000s, there was a great dashboard tool (display & logger) for not only the OEM EVs of the day, but conversions as well.

    It was called EVDash, basically free available application and data logger for the Palm PDA, it sourced the data from Xantrex X10/E-meter via RS232, nowadays it’s known as TBS Pro, similar to the new instrument you recently reviewed, which ought to have the output as well. This is one great important feature, tool, gadget, missing on the conversion scene. Suprisingly, could be used for home PV solar, genset and other projects too!

    The deal is, that the EVDash application for which source code has been kindly provided on the website of its author Peter Ohler, was written for now obsolete/nonexisting platform (+ somehow compiled from a mac to complicate the matter). However, these e-meters of various brands but more or less same communication protocol with serial port are still around and used for conversions now and into the future.

    So, lets say, you are again kindly utilizing the leverage of EV TV, and put up a special mini-contest for young/veteran software developers, prize offered being certain sum of money or to the topic related sponsored item (emeter or other gadget). With the goal, that they have to rewrite/improve the old EVDash into modern cross-platform language such as Java(standalone PC, carputers) as well as produce “lite” version for Java(ME MIDP) for mobile platforms (mobile telephones, communicators). Which are so widespread these days, that everybody can hook it up with no further delay and expense, only some serial ethernet/Wifi/BT dongle adapter needed etc.

    That would be a real tangible bonus to the community. Obviously, you might check first with Peter Ohler, but I think he would support such activity, the source code is still deposited in the download section.

    You can visit EVDash home website there.

    You can run/test it on Palm emulator to get the feel of it (or grab decade old Palm somewhere), there are still some showcases on youtube or photo galleries.

    Couple of EVDash Videos here.

    Full disclosure, I’m not going to take part in such contest, but would like to see the day it’s done.

  9. I want to see an aerodynamic body produced in kit car form; why not something like an Opel Eco Speedster, with its 0.2 drag coefficient, which needed 112 horsepower to do 160 mph, and would get 94 mpg?

    As far as Porsches are concerned, Beck could produce a 550 Coupe, a hardtop version of the Spyder with substantially reduced drag… look up the 550 Coupe on your search engine of choice to see what it looks like. It wouldn’t take a lot of work to make the 550 Spyder into a 550 Coupe, but its drag area would be reduced by 10%. The 550 Spyder is already decent as is, but even it can be improved upon.

    The Beck 904 replica is decent. It has a Cd of 0.33 and a frontal area of about 14 square feet; its drag area is about the same as a 550 Spyder though.

    Another good idea would be a replica of the Alfa Romeo BAT7, with its 0.19 Cd. Imagine only needing 80 horsepower to maintain 140 mph.

    I’ve always been a believer in form following function. A low drag body can dramatically improve range, acceleration at highway speeds, and top speed, for zero compromise. All of these variables are especially important for a sports car placed into a racing environment. This applies to gas and diesel burners too(it’s the ticket to no compromise 70+ mpg highway sports cars).

    Almost all of the kit cars I see on the market, and the vast majority of one-off builds, tend to ignore this factor. It is frustrating, because addressing this could allow some extremely competitive EVs with regard to range, or it could make your battery pack cost go down for a given amount of range with the added bonus of some weight reduction, depending on your preference.

  10. John:

    I tend to agree to a point. I think aerodynamics are important. But my experiences lead me to believe weight is even more important. Carbon Fiber bodies would further the cause far beyond aerodynamics. Aerodynamics come into play primarily at higher speeds. Again, the public perception of what, when, and where they drive just doesn’t match reality. The median drive is 26 miles, and the vast majority of it is at 35 mph.

    I recently had a conversation with FVT. FVT (Future Vehicle Technologies) had a very aerodynamic three wheeler that was an XPrize entry. We featured them on the show several times. It’s a tandem seat three wheeler and very futuristic looking. Not my personal cup of tea, but very sexy.

    They competed in the XPrize. They started life as Fuel Vapor Technologies based on a system to vaporize fuel before burning it for a much cleaner burn and greater fuel efficiency. Their electric aspirations came later.

    And so they were entered as a Hybrid. By the time of the Xprize competition, they could get 200 mpg equivalent on batteries. But since they were entered as a hybrid, they had to undergo an emissions test.

    They failed it of course. Irony of ironies. I guess they hold the uniquely honored position then to have been the first electric car to officially FAIL an emissions test.

    Anyway, they of course have no resources but BIG dreams of being a PRODUCTION LINE car. I corresponded with Todd there this week and asked if they had any plans to at least make the chassis and body available as a kit car.

    He was HEROICALLY offended and assured me that they were “in talks” to get investors so they could begin producing the car.

    Right…… So stand by. The FVT will be available in showrooms near you soon, right next to the Aptera and the Phoenix. These guys KILL me.

    Meanwhile, I think there would be a lot of interest from EV builders in such a chassis. Again, it doesn’t appeal to me very much for the same reasons the Aptera didn’t. But I think it would be appealing and I think you could easily attain freeway speeds and 200 miles on a charge with this frame.

    Jack Rickard

  11. Back to weight. According to Carey Hines, a carbon fiber bodied Speedster is quite possible, particularly after they get their new molds running this spring. It would be approximately 200 lbs lighter than the present car.

    Of course, it comes at a price. An additional $15,000 to $20,000. Recall what I’ve been saying about incremental improvement. We’ll pay it.

    Why? The MOST effective engineering change you can make to an electric car in my estimation is weight reduction. I’m not into throwing out the comforts of upholstery. But a pound saved is better than a kw of power added. What would 200 lbs mean on the Speedster.

    It is currently 2039 lbs loaded with everything. Removing 200 lbs would, assuming I can find space, allow another 16 180 Ah cells and result in the same weight. That is 9590 wH of energy and at 225 wH per mile, that is another 42.6 miles.

    The car will do 100 miles now. But we have a limp mode set at 80% to prevent battery damage and that gives it just a tad over 80 miles in normal driving. Going to carbon fiber would take that to 125 miles while lowering the center of gravity.

    That’s what 200 lbs will do.

    They’re also talking about doing a Roadster D. That’s basically a Speedster with roll up windows. Which add weight but again are a weather convenience.

    So hopefully by spring, we’ll have a windowed carbon fiber version of the Speedster roller to do Speedster Trey. And I think we’ll be able to do a battery safe 115 or 120 miles with less polar moment and lower center of gravity. Of course, the roller will be $40-$45000. And there probably is no market for a $75,000 electric speedster. But who knows.

    So to my way of thinking, aerodynamics are important. But weight is probably three times as important.

    Jack Rickard

  12. At the other end of the spectrum, there exists the very lightweight Corbin Sparrow, weighing in at 1960 lbs. It uses a 156V pack of Optima AGM batteries(585 lbs), gets 25 miles range at 60 mph, and needs 200 Wh/mile to do 60 mph. They also get about 35 miles range at 35 mph. It looks streamlined, but it’s really not.

    By comparison, John Wayland’s “Blue Meanie”, an electric Datsun 1200 that can seat 4, uses a 168V pack of Enersys Genesis XE60 batteries(693 lbs), weighs 2,460 lbs, and at 60 mph only needs 160 Wh/mile while getting 35 miles range at that speed, and about 45 miles range at 35 mph. The car’s drag coefficient is about average for the time period it was made(but with a small frontal area), but it is actually far better than the Sparrow with regard to efficiency, in spite of weighing considerably more.

    On long distance trips, speeds are typically what is encountered on the highway(60+ mph), and at those speeds, a little bit of aerodynamics goes a long way in improving range. Most people who use their car for city only are almost never going to do 100 miles a day driving in the city, but when they drive out of town at highway speeds, aerodynamics is by far the cheapest way to increase range, versus adding a larger capacity battery pack. While I know you hate lead acid(so do I; wish I could afford a better pack up front), the Solectria Sunrise was able to get 100 highway miles range on lead without being an overweight pig, thanks to aerodynamics. You could hypothetically put the same PbA pack from the Sunrise into a custom build with poor aerodynamics(home built Ariel Atom knockoff), that maybe weighs 400 lbs less than the Sunrise, and you’d drop your highway range to 1/2 or less what the Sunrise got.

    Put the same LiFePO4 setup currently in your 356 Speedster Doh into a 550 Spyder instead, you’d get perhaps 150 miles range(or about 120 miles with the limp mode at 80% DoD). 550 Spyders make notoriously efficient conversions, well below 180 Wh/mile. They also have greatly reduced weight over the Speedster, although given the little amount of space available, you probably will not be able to fit a heavier pack in one than your Speedster has(your Speedster has significantly more space for which to place batteries). A carbon fiber 550 Spyder would be wicked… imagine a 1400 lb EV with a 600 lb LiFePO4 pack and the same drive system in the Speedster. Floor it, and *whoooosh*, gone…

    From a performance standpoint, there is absolutely no substitute for weight reduction; no amount of suspension modifications, tires, brakes, weight distribution, or horsepower can ever get around Newton’s laws. There’s a reason that stock Mazda Miatas often beat Ferraris, Aston Martins, and Dodge Vipers on California’s hilly canyon roads, and that is because of the adverse effects of a gradient on a heavy vehicle’s ability to corner, brake, and accelerate. On a flat stretch of road or highway, even with some sharp turns added in, the Miata wouldn’t stand a chance, but throw in 15-20% gradients on narrow, twisty roads, and those $100,000+ supercars cannot compete; in fact, you could very likely organize a race, and predict which cars would win based on their laden weight, independent of all other variables.

    So I understand your point about weight perfectly!

    I can’t wait to see your test results of the Speedster Trey; it is a beautiful kit, and even Speedster Doh must be extremely fun to drive. My conversion is coming along; engine is out and I’m trying to source the parts needed to mate my motor to my transmission. I plan to test it on 12V, then take everything back out, get the body off, and fix the rusted floorboards. The plan is still a 216V/500A PbA setup, although if I regain employment anytime soon, I’ll be saving for a 25+ kWh LiFePO4 pack instead.

  13. The Corbin Sparrow is an interesting comparison. It’s 1980 lbs. Speedster Duh weighs 2039 lbs.

    Not to give away this weeks show, but on the Vantage Van, we went from 775 lbs of batteries to 350 lbs. The front end alignment problems disappeared, and Matt range tested it to 103 miles. We went from a 16 mile range to 103 miles.

    Aerodynamics are indeed important, and I have never taken the otherwise position. But money and effort spent on weight reduction simply produces more spectacular results – and in so many ways.

    The CONCEPT of the original Porsche is about this. They were much smaller, lighter cars with ridiculously smaller engines, and on the track they routinely and consistently beat much larger more powerful cars – over and over and over.

    As to the lead vs lithium debate, it is ONLY a debate in the mind of those who cannot afford the Lithium cells, and only have experience with lead. There is no other case. THere is no other side of the “argument” because the argument has been over for two years.

    You do what you gotta do, and I understand that. But anything you do with lead, will be enormously improved when you upgrade it. Not incrementally improved…. improved to the point it is a DIFFERENT vehicle in ALL respects.

    I was amazed to find on the Vantage web site that they have no lithium option at all even at this late date. It is incredible. The inner edge of these tires are worn BALD while the outer edge still have the new tire form furries on them. This is from inadequate engineering of the front suspension to hold all that weight. With the lithiums, we’re running on the center of the tire.

    Jack

  14. That’s all the more reason I took the time to find a chassis that could handle 700+ lbs of lead, while still being near the same weight it was stock with gasoline, while still having about 1/3 its weight in batteries. Very few cars can do this. I will be measuring my ‘glider’ weight soon. My glider weight estimate sent in with my contest entry is probably 150-200 lbs more than the glider weight actually is, judging from the answers I got from those who have converted Spitfires and GT6s. I should really expect a 1150-1200 lbs or so glider by the looks of things. I refuse to drive a pig, no matter what battery choice I am stuck with.

    The worst aspect about lead with regard to range, moreso than the weight in my opinion, is Peukert’s effect. That is probably why that overweight, unaerodynamic brick of a van only got 16 miles range, when you’d expect 30 miles! Try the same comparison in, say, a Porsche Speedster; the range per unit of battery weight will be more closer to a 5:1 ratio for LiFePO4 vs PbA, than the 15:1 ratio seen in this van. Alan Cocconi’s 336V electric CRX, running on PbA, got 120 miles range at 55 mph in the 1990s, but he was drawing 25A the entire trip to do it!

    There are lead sleds that can run 50 miles on the highway, no problem, but race them down a 1/4 mile drag strip at full throttle 1000A, and they’ll be out of charge in 3-4 runs… or about 1 mile of range. THAT is what makes lead so undesirable in my opinion; if you want to haul ass, you’ll be out of charge in mere seconds. You can draw 5C or more out of those China Aviation LiFePO4 all day long, and still get 90% or more of rated capacity, while with lead you’d be getting less than 20% of the 20 hr AH rating. That particular van requires a high amount of energy to accelerate(in city driving conditions), which makes the battery pack upgrade to LiFePO4 all the more dramatic!

    Remember the GMC G-Van? *shudder* That is how *not* to do an EV.

  15. We HAVE a GMC G-Van John. We know. This particular van had the original batteries replaced with AGMs, and an ADDITIONAL set put in the back. It squats down on the tires like the fat chick in the circus.

    We’re kind of curious what it will do without all that weight. But it’s direct drive also. It does pretty much enshrine everything NOT to do to a car.

    Jack Rickard

Leave a Comment