The Vantage Van, the Speedster and You

This week is a bit of one of those “aha” moments which is what I’m really in this stuff about.

I recently received a kind of strangely critical note from someone with the Minnesota Electric Vehicle Association and consequently visited their site to see what was up in the great north.

What I found was a bit interesting – some active projects, all badly done with lead acid and components from five years ago – and touted in the local press as the very latest developments in electric cars by those “cute” hobbyists, not to be confused with real electric car manufacturers.

At the same time, we had just returned from our visit to Special Editions Inc in Bremen, and I was pawing through our contest entries trying to get a hand on who you guys are and where you are and why you are and so forth.

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At the same time, I’ve been working a bit with Matt Hauber, recently joining us from San Diego. A bright young man with a lot of desire, Matt is just unabashedly enroute to building a business in electric vehicles come hell or high water, and at his own expense flew to Cape Girardeau with one suitcase and a dream to learn about electric cars.

Hmmmm…. I’m kind of a sucker for that sort of thing. I like people with a passion and a mission and I like em better if they are generally pretty smart. Lacking any formal education of any kind in basic electronics and electricity, he faces a daunting challenge. But oh to be young and have your knees work and be able to work all day and all night again….

So I’m a little disoriented this week. The state of the art, in Minnesota at least, is pretty much still taking old junk cars, loading them up with a ton of lead batteries, iota DC-DC converters and auxilliary 12v batteries, aging Zilla controllers, and direct drive issues with differentials.

And in our contest submissions, I see description after description after description of quite advanced projects but a VERY consistent underlayment that shows up in entry after entry after entry – probably as much as 75% of them. “I want to work on electric cars as my life’s WORK.”

Hmmmm. This was a bit of a surprise. I have to tell you I don’t SHARE that dream. I do NOT want to work on electric cars as my life’s work. I like making them. And I guess I’m pretty much committed to doing VIDEOS about them at this point. But actually make cars for a living?

I was about solving MY transportation problem and ending being a VICTIM of the forces of the universe. A personal one man initiative to stop the gasoline right HERE and right NOW. I think it would be a remarkable thing if everyone with the ability and a garage would do the SAME thing. At some number, this becomes a grass roots movement that really will change the world, and in some very cool ways.

I’ve done this before. The Internet.

But oh, I had nearly forgotten. Along the way, somebody poured gasoline on the Internet fire by showing guys with bulletin boards that it was ok to charge for their services and make money by doing it and in the end, how to become an Internet Service Provider or ISP, a term we coined actually, among many others, at Boardwatch Magazine. And many of them did wind up making a living for awhile, and some made millions selling their small companies to larger entities later on.

The dream was to build a global network that acted in many ways as a great equalizer, a force for freedom and democratization.

But yeah, I guess it was kind of cool that a lot of us made a living doing that, and some a fortune by anyone’s account.

Fortunes may come and go, but the memories, ah the memories, they just mostly go….

So. What’s the model? Well let’s start with what is NOT the model.

1. Lead acid is not the model.
2. Junk cars are not the model.
3. Will do Electric Car for Food is not the model.

One of my heroes is Wayne Alexander in Walton Kansas. Many people find this surprising since Wayne does almost EVERYTHING different than I do, so of course I think wrong. The other side of that would be that Wayne thinks about everything I do is all wrong.

But he’s a good workman, very pragmatic, and very devoted to the mission of converting cars. He has adopted the stance that he’ll convert any car for $12500 to a lead acid behemoth that will go down the road sprightly for 30 or 40 miles. He likes to do small pickups, and indeed I agree that’s probably the most practical vehicle for ALL electric conversions.

Check out his web site.

Here’s a news piece on Wayne that will give you a better idea.

So what’s the problem? Well, Wayne is tired and wants to sell his business. Looking it, any wonder.

Wayne doesn’t type a lot. He DOES do a lot. Claims some 147 conversions completed. So he knows how to do them, at least with lead. Here’s the problem. He’ll do ANY car. In the video, you see a VW THING that looked like some of his better work actually.

To do any car anyone brings him, Wayne has a basic set of components he knows and uses, and applies them to different cars as the need arises and demand warrants. The result is he has to engineer EACH car from scratch.

I don’t care HOW similar two cars are. They’re not the same. Things have to be moved around, installed differently, tuned differently, the gearing is different, the battery layout is different, etc. etc. ad nauseum. I’d be tired too. This guy reinvents the wheel, one wheel at a time.

You might eek out a living with this model. And you might even do some nice conversions, particularly if you’ll bail on the lead acid thing. But you can’t make any money and in the end you have no “equity” in your business to sell. The only thing you have to sell is you. And you’ll be REAL tired after engineering 147 different conversions from scratch. I would be ground off about mid-thigh level by now if I was Wayne. Nothing left above the waist, that’s for sure.

If you want a model to get involved with electric cars the model has already been presented – last week. But since it hasn’t apparently sunk in, we’ll just repeat it THIS week. It’s in Bremen.

It’s kind of a specialized world. I can’t take on Discovery Channel head to head. But I can specialize in Electric Vehicles and pretty much kick their ass, on that narrow field of specialization.

Kevin and Carey Hines and Special Edition Inc are probably not going to go head to head with Audi or even Saab. It’s just not a battle they can win. As Porsche aficionados, I don’t know quite how to picture them “competing” with Porsche. Actually they personify the origins of Porsche in ways far beyond what Porsche is today.

They have “specialized” in a very narrow area of two classic Porsche’s, the Spyder 550 and the 1957 Speedster. They are replicas of course, in many ways better than the original vehicle to my way of thinking, not being a purist. And they’ve built up such a clientele over the past 30 years that they churn out 125-150 very nice vehicles per year, really quite CUSTOMIZED vehicles at that. But using the same two basic vehicles. And as best I can tell, they live rather well thank you.

How can this be? It is all about MASS PRODUCTION. Actually I’m stealing that term since you all and most of the automotive world are fixated on it. Picture something like MASS PRODUCTION at the THREE MAN SHOP level. They have to do 2-3 cars per week with a handful of employees. That’s pretty busy.

But the secret is deep discerning knowledge. They KNOW those two vehicles extremely well. Everything about the body. Everything about the paint. Everything about the instrumentation. Everything about all available power plants. Everything about the transmissions. Everything about the suspension and steering. After doing the first two or three thousand cars, they know a lot about them.

Do you want a square hole in the dash for a 7-inch touch screen? No problem. They’ve done that. Special color? No problem. But although they are willing to customize what they know, they aren’t going to build you a 65 Mustang.

Our second electric speedster is frankly light years better than our first. While we were out there we discussed a number of changes to the vehicle that we’ve made in the four or five weeks THEY have had it looking at it. We’re going to change the front battery box layout thanks to Eric Kriss of Krissmotors. He came up with a way to do that eliminating two cable jumpers. I’m embarassed I didn’t see that myself.

We’re going to install the braided EVWORKS cell straps and nordlock washers – depicted in today’s video. We’re changing to a different shock absorber and coil overspring in the rear at Carey’s suggestion. And we’re going to adopt the Toyota Prius inverter cooling pump for the cooling system. It is smaller. It is lighter. It is less expensive. It runs cooler. It uses less electricity.

And so you can refine the design. I could redesign the Speedster every year for the next ten years and I guarentee you I would never get bored, never get tired, never feel ground down, and the car would do nothing but get better and better and better. If anyone cares and buys some, that’s precisely what I’ll do.

This is not stultifying boredom guys. This is how cars evolve and are refined and it is like layers of an onion. The more you peel away, the more layers there are. WHILE WE’RE TALKING, these guys in Bremen, in a 30 year old business, are not bored. They’re working like crazy to move their glass works INTO the U.S. from Brazil. They’re rolling out a new line extension with the Porsche 904. They’re expanding their facility. They are having new molds built. They’re looking at carbon fiber. They’re evaluating an electric version. Far from boredom, they have more going on right now than they can possibly say grace over. They’re ENERGIZED and the younger Hines is clearly having a ball.

So to bring all this to ground, and make it real for Matt Hauber and all the guys in this contest who so painfully WANT to get into this business and make a living at it, the answer is YOU CAN AND YOU NEEDN’T APOLOGIZE. It’s a GOOD dream and we will cheer you on every step of the way. And some of you will make a fortune at it.

And how does competition from the OEM’s play into this? Well the concept is your car has to be different, and in some ways better than theirs, and you have to hand build it and customize it so the buyer is getting great value and a unique car. Duh…

So you need to pick a car. And not just any car. A car you love. Better a car that others can love. And that makes sense as an electric car. And then you start making them. With each car you make, you improve it. After 147 of them, they should start to get to be pretty good. And you should start to have a following. And you continue to refine it down to every nut, bolt, screw, battery compartment, cell heating element, etc. The components available will change for you every year. The batteries will change every year. And you have to learn to select the good stuff for YOUR car. The process doesn’t actually end.

As you do this, the efficiency will increase dramatically. The build time goes down. The component costs go down. You just get better at it as you go.

So quit doing electric cars for food. Do them on purpose. And most of all, get the lead out.

In this video there are a lot of little clues. We convert a Vantage van from lead to LiFePo4. When we do so, we go from 800 lbs of batteries and boxes to about 350 lbs offering twice the power. The result is an easy 100 mile range in a cute little van. Vantage is doing just what we advocate – specializing. But they’re doing it with lead because it brings the price down. It also kills the vehicle.

This is our longest most rambling video ever. If you pay close attention, I think you’ll see why. If you listen casually, you should probably skip it entirely. If you have no interest in a career in EV’s, it’s probably not worth the feature length film length of two hours and ten minutes. If you ARE interested in that, it’s the roadmap that can’t actually fail if done that way…

Jack Rickard

38 thoughts on “The Vantage Van, the Speedster and You”

  1. Hi Jack et al.

    I know EXCATLY how Matt felt when he took the first drive in the GreenVan AFTER he change the battery pack from lead acid to lithium. I felt the same way in my own refurbishment of the battery pack from lead acid to lithium. The car doubled its range and cut 20% of its weight in 20% less space – it was just a whole new car. WAUW – great feeling 🙂


  2. Rev. Rickard,

    I believe. I BELIEVE!

    Seriously though, you must have seen the 1997 movie, “Gattaca.” In its vision of the future, we all drive electric cars, but the cars all have the bodies of classics: Citroen DS convertible, Studebaker Avanti, and the Rover P6. At the time I thought it was a great idea: a standardized electric drive chassis and the classic car body of your choice. I still like it. But if you’re talking about starting a new small business, and you’re going to bet the farm on the success or failure of just one replica car – because you can’t afford to pull molds off half a dozen – how many classic cars are there, besides the Porsche Speedster, that would sell well enough to keep a company alive? The Jaguar E-Type? Split-window Stingray? ’56 porthole T-Bird? Ferrari 250 GTO? Maybe any of those or a dozen other classics, maybe only one. You might tempt me with an exquisite Triumph TR3-A replica, but I’d bet there aren’t 125 others (per year) like me. So I guess I’m saying I really, really like your idea, and I have for a long time, but picking that first model to build will be everything. Of course, starting a business is never a no-risk situation.


  3. Jim:

    No, I have not seen the film. But I’m going to. I never heard of it actually but it sounds very interesting.

    You’ve essentially hit the nail on the head and of course the crux of the matter. What car?

    I don’t know that it even has to be a classic. It has to be a car YOU love enough to embark on such a thing.

    But I would be hesitant about a production car where the OEM could introduce an electric version of their own.

    I look for passsion. THe Mini guys are all passionate about their cars. The Porsche guysa are of course. But een the Smart ForTwo people are a little cultlike in their devotion. MG’s have a group. I’d want something with a forum and an annual meet at the minimum. If the car doesn’t arouse that kind of following, probably not for me.

    There are practical matters. A Speedster is a LOT simpler beast than a Mini Coooper. Ask me how I know……

    A 65 Mustang? A 53 Vette Replica? Actually I can think of dozens where this would work.

    Even things like Corvair’s and Ghias have their following. Talk about a cult and an easy convert, though the restoration could be horrific. VW Microbus – a like new electric version is an automatic winner.

    The form that makes the most sense to me is the Escalade, although obviously a smaller thing would be better. But a full club pickup gives you plenty of room for cells, still room for cargo, and four adults.

    Ultimately, it’s gotta be a car you love and can take pride in. And finding JUST the right car could be difficult….

    Jack Rickard

  4. Well, the biggest problem isn’t the conversion. That’s relatively straightforward, particularly after the third or fifth one.

    No, the biggest problem is the restoration. I don’t think a car can be restored in less than 200-300 hours. That’s an easy resto, too, not a rusty Porsche or anything with a trashed interior. The P&I model from aircraft doesn’t really work on cars, because cars are actually MUCH more complicated than airplanes to paint, with trim, bumpers, wipers, windows in the doors, and they have nothing but fiddly bits all over the interior that are hard to deal with, etc. etc. etc. Refreshing all that crap costs a fortune in time, and in many cases in parts as well.

    I think there are some later model cars that would make nice EVs, and could be done economically, but they must be carefully cherry-picked for quality gliders. You probably can’t paint the car or restore the interior and stay afloat on the conversion. There is a way to do this with used OEM cars, but you would have to be really clever and committed to a single model over the long haul. I’m working on it; I’ll keep you posted…

    So the kit/component cars are most likely where the action is for doing this. There are component ’57 T-birds, early ‘vettes, and of course the Cobra, all of which seem to make sense. The English actually are miles ahead of us on small kit cars, and have been banging them out for everything from the original Mini to the Fiat Uno for half a century.

    The VW kit car form factor is attractive at first blush, but there are problems… First, the VW pan just isn’t up to a quality (cowl-shake-free) conversion, so you’re into a California tube-frame and a whole bunch of new parts. Second, the bodies are now 40 or so years old, and they have all kinds of issues. Its just so much work!

    The only VW kit car that was made in enough numbers to actually consider a limited run was the Bradley GT II. The glass for these cars is now something like $3000 for 10 windshields, must buy 10, and they had plenty of structural problems with the original lead sled EV versions. They’re greenhouses inside and are going to need A/C, but they’re also oddly handsome and it might work. You can still find these in mint unbuilt condition, too, decades after they were made. Strange…

    If I had to pick a horse, it would be the Cobra. Great chassis, hugely popular and widely available. You could probably even get one of the manufacturers to do a limited amount of EV-specific edition work like Special Editions is considering. Its still a toy, though, which has good and bad points.

    Anyway, I hear you, Jack and you’re right on. I was in a 3-man ISP with 70 modems hangin’ off a T1, making housecalls to troubleshoot Trumpet Winsock, so I know that drill a little, but this is different. It needs to be more coordinated.

    The guys who want to do this for a living can’t all die on the first one. They should start with a speedster or two. Then they need a pickup. Then they need a small 4 door sedan. They also need a business model and franchise-quality support. Most of them are great with their hands and lousy with a spreadsheet or an activity plan. I think it would be great to turn 100 or 500 of these guys up at the same time, with a little guidance on what to do and some well-developed blueprints for their first model or two or three. That’s your army, Jack.

    I have this tiger by the tail.


  5. It seems to bee easyer to get an electric car on the road in US than in europe.
    Our VW New Beetle conversion is almost done but now the inspection starts and that’s the great barrier!
    But we will go through this and than convert the next! I have come to enjoy and if everything goes in the right direction, I can imagine to built it (or similar) in a small “mass” production business.
    At least, the Bank needs to be convinced 😉
    If that doesn’t work, I’ll build the next one for my own passion.

    So I am not already a member of your army, Jack.
    It seems, you had recruited an officer 😉

  6. Hi Jack,
    Love the show, entered the contest, you never know I may get lucky.
    As far as choosing a car, I think you are absolutely correct, pick one you love. For myself I have my own design, but not many can do that.

  7. Regarding torque requirements for the battery cells, this from Jason at CALB:

    It’s pleasant to see your letter. Hope you had a nice weekend.

    I am sorry for we have no specification about this. But don’t worry, here is the our engineers’ offical answer for your reference.
    40~60Ah 9Nm(bolts M6*16)
    100~240Ah 20Nm(bolts M8*16)
    400Ah 60Nm(bolts M14*16)
    Pleaes burnish the bolts, nuts and screw tightly when installing batteries for better transmitting electric current.

    Hope it can help you. Please feel free to contact me for any info, I will try my best to do what I can do.

    This indicates 20 newton meters for the cells we use from CALB or 14.75 ft lbs. I would call it 15 ft lbs myself.

    Jack Rickard

  8. Tom:

    Yes, it’s different. Also it’s the same. Instead of lots of customers accessing one server, you are rebuilding the server over and over again for a very few customers. But the oppotunity level is the same. And as you say, some will thrive and some will die. It’s not automatic. But it can be done and it can be done by a LOT of people.

    Building a business is never easy. Building one in a mature commodity industry is nearly impossible. The frontier of opportunity is where new disruptive technologies are in play. WE’re in play. HUGE opportunity. Will everyone succeed? No.

    But many will.

    Jack Rickard

  9. Michael:

    The reiterative process again. Yes, you have much more stringent inspection criteria. But that serves as a barrier to your competition. Once you get through it a few times, and the same inspectors keep seeing the same car, you will find things get easier for YOU, but not for anyone seeking to do the same thing.

    Yes, there are officers in the army. We treasure them.

    Jack Rickard

  10. Those torque figures are interesting. At 20 Nm, they’re less than the NordLock website lists for typical tightening of this size fastener and corresponding Nordlock washer system:

    That suggests several of things to me:

    First, the terminals are soft and despite their apparent tolerance of serious hand-tightening, you need to be pretty careful with them if you’re used to snugging up similar-sized bolts in steel threads.

    Second, its no surprise that these bolts are loosening. In addition to the thermal cycling, they just aren’t designed to be as tight as the fasteners are typically installed to produce sufficient clamping loads to stay tight.

    Third, it would seem a thread lubricant is indicated. What that does is increase the clamping load forces for the same torque on the fastener. NordLock makes a good one, apparently, but there are many choices. I like anti-seize compounds, both the aluminum and copper formulations.

    Since the current isn’t going through the threads anyway, it seems like a good idea both to increase clamping force produced by your limited tightening range, and to help prevent galling of the soft post material. Tighten to the same 20Nm.

    Lastly, and as silly as it seems, I suggest actually doing this with a torque wrench, and in two steps. (put both fasteners per strap on finger tight, then torque to 15Nm with the wrench, then finally to 20Nm.)

    These are far and away the most critical fasteners on the car. Its worth doing them up with precision. That way, at the very least you will know what you are getting and whether the materials and technique are sufficient to solve the problem. You can also experiment with these values in a clear and repeatable way.

    Just a thought…


  11. Hi Jack And Tom !
    I installed NordLock on my Renault (TS LFP 160ah M8x20mm)about a month ago. I talked to an expert in fastening and got several suggestions on how to do the best. He said that i coulf probably go to about 20-25Nm in torque. I had one Cell that had became a pure short so i could actually try the max torque of the terminals and I got that to about 25-26nm before they loosend. So I took the precaution of going to 18Nm as installation torque.
    That expert told me to insert helicoils or similar, prefferably with locking funtion, to get a better torque possibillity. And also reducing the bolt size from m8 to m6 and putting the helicoil in the bottom of the original thread in the terminal would give a better max torque for the bolt. He said that the distance between the underside of the bolthead to the first thread or the terminal should preferrably be 3 times the diameter of the bolt to get the best possible torque.

    Best Regards

  12. Very interesting, and some great information there.

    So you’ve been told that the ideal distance between the bottom of the bolt head and the first engaged thread is 3x the bolt diameter. I haven’t heard that, but it makes sense to me. This region is the “yield zone” where the bolt is stretching to provide the clamping force. This won’t result in the best possible “torque” but rather in the highest clamping force at the given torque setting. The bolt is a spring, and apparently for steel bolts this spring works the best when its about 3 times longer than its diameter. Shorter and you’re overstressing the metal; longer and you have to overtighten (torque) the fastener to produce the clamping force. All very logical.

    A little less logical is using a Helicoil in teh terminal to drop the bolt diameter. This would effectively increase the ratio of clamping force to bolt tightness (torque,) tending to make the bolt more resistant to loosening, but whether it would actually increase the clamping force is pretty uncertain. The big question is whether its worth doing, because inserting Helicoils is a ton of work and has its disadvantages, too.

    In this application, the bolts are subject to such thermal cycling that the NordLock washer (or Belleville or whatever you use) is really the source of their staying securely fastened. So long as the clamping force achieved at 20Nm or whatever you choose is sufficient to meet the washer’s design spec for tightness, I don’t think it matters that the clamping force is lower as a function of the yield strength of the bolt than would be ideal. So dropping to 6mm bolts and getting them “fully sprung” is probably not necessary, and I wouldn’t try it until I was satisfied that the lock washer system couldn’t be made to work reliably with the 8mm bolts.

    Remember, the surface area of the underside of the head of the bolt, and thereby the washer diameter, is contributing to the quality of the electrical connection. I wouldn’t reduce that if I didn’t have to, particularly if it was a lot of work, which fitting Helicoils is.

    The question for you is- are the NordLocks enstalled a month ago holding without backing out? How do you measure and know that?

    This subject is incredibly important, and has the potential to contribute to a maintenance-free battery pack, which could change a lot for pack placement and packaging. We already know that so long as the batteries are undercharged and never overdischarged that they need nothing, maybe an occasional metering. With remote instrumentation they would need nothing at all. If the terminal bolts can truly be made to stay fast indefinitely, then the batteries become zero maintenance. (I know the Pb old-timers will never believe it, but its likely that these batteries could be be installed and not touched again for YEARS.)

    Now I can sink them into the floor of my mid-size GM station wagon without worry- from rocker to rocker and under the seats and carpeting, where I don’t need to get to them unless I have a problem. That gives me the entire interior of the car back, and puts the weight right where I want it, as well as keeping everyone out of the HV wiring. Smaller cars could use underbody battery cradles like the US Electricar Prizm or G-Van, where the batteries are out of sight and can safely be forgotten. Cool…

    So are those connections staying tight, and at what torque and thread preparation?


  13. Jack, I’m very interested in using the Nord-Locks and braided straps on my car. It just makes good sense. I have a question for you though.

    Based on the price you’d quoted, I think it was 45 cents per terminal, for the Nord-Lock washers, that would indicate you’re using the zinc plated ones versus the stainless steel. Unless you’ve found a much cheaper supplier, that is. The cheapest price I could find for the stainless steel is around $22 for 10 pairs.

    If you are using the zinc plated washers, are you concerned about yet another dissimilar metal being introduced into the mix? I’m not familiar enough with the properties of zinc, is it relatively stable like the tin-silver alloy used for plating copper?

    By the way, if you ever decide to make forms to produce body panels for an MGA, count me in. That and the Austin Healey 3000 are two of the most beautiful little roadsters to ever come out of Britain.

    Thanks, Tim

  14. Hi Jack,

    I learned alot following your videos, thank you, I’m sorry you propagated some hate towards oil producing arab nations, we are facing the same financial problems as everybody, plus we have bigger problems than rising prices! Regardless to that i will assume that it was unintentional.

    I was wondering why you never considered converting a mercedes A-class or B-class it was originally designed to be an electric car with the sandwich chassis design EG: , this is why it use to roll over when the first a-class was designed and had to get some tuning to its suspension. Also if you don’t mind i would like to know your perspective on magnetic motors or generators,


  15. Greetings from England!
    Hello Jack, the crew and everybody who contributes here.

    Terminal bolts.
    Come on Jack! You know how aeroplanes stop shaking their bits off! 🙂

    Considered wirelocking pairs of bolts across each strap?

    This might serve several useful purposes:
    Stops loosening.
    Can be cheap providing you will happily invest in or drill the bolt heads.
    Will not interfere with any other form of retention so it would be better for reliability and routine inspection.

    And lastly, the bit that I think would be most fun; Serves as a fuse wire if the strap is loose!
    I would consider painting the wire with something that would discolour — or smell a lot if it became too warm.

    Found some wirelocking examples for you guys:

    Some things I must add. If one does take this approach, buy good locking wire pliers. I prefer 9″ because its what I’m used to playing with. You will not need another pair of pliers for anything again. ($20-$30 on ebay).
    Cover your eyes and batteries while working! Especially if you can bleed. Pain hurts and bodily damage is debilitating.
    Don’t tug the stainless steel wire straight because unlike string it will snap.
    Lastly, the cut end; don’t leave it sharp. You’ll only end up bleeding all over your batteries as mentioned above. Fold the wire end round and under. Preferably back into the exit hole of the bolt if you can.

    If you think my suggestion is a goer Jack, I would be honoured if you make it visual. 😉

  16. Khalaf:

    I’m not certain anything I do or say is quite “unintentional”. I would note that we send an inordinate amount of our ducats to oil producing nations, and get little in the way of love in return.

    “I’m sorry you propagated some hate towards oil producing arab nations, we are facing the same financial problems as everybody, plus we have bigger problems than rising prices! “

    As to having the same financial problems we do, you say you want me to show you how to convert a Mercedes A class or B class??

    This is too good to be real. Where you from really pardner….Little Rock??? This is a joke, right?

    My first clue was the reference to magnetic motors. I class them with the hydrogen electrolysis crowd along with the guys who wear copper foil helmets to prevent us from listening in on their thoughts….

    We’re all here just waiting til the mother ship returns…..

    Jack Rickard

  17. Andjj:

    I spent a lot of my youth with a pair of twisted wire pliers strapped to my hip my friend. I don’t want them anywhere near my batteries.

    My idea of fun is to get down in a battery compartment, in close quarters, with 9 inches of wire pliers and two feet of stainless, and start waving it around.

    PLEASE take care of yourself and do this very carefully if you must do it at all. I’ll stay with the Nord Locks thank you. I’m committed to the EV dream. BUt not THAT committed.

    Jack RIckard

  18. Jack,

    No I’m not asking you to show me how to convert an A-class, I’m saying these kind of chassises are a very important element to simplify conversions that wasn’t given much consideration.

    And about the magnetic motor i tried it on a small scale and it does work !


  19. And we don’t get your inordinate amount of ducats because we don’t sell OUR OIL to your country we sell it to Japan, the oil you buy comes from Iraq and other countries that didn’t hurt you in any way.


  20. Andjj:

    I don’t think wire locking would work very well anyway…

    The purpose of wiring up fasteners isn’t really to keep them tight; its to retain fasteners that have loosened and want to work themselves out completely. Its quite possible, given the heavy thermal cycling and dissimilar metals involved, that a wired terminal bolt could become dangerously loose despite the wiring as a retention device.

    The problem with terminal fasteners becomes critical long before they are in a position to unscrew, which is actually the point at which the wiring becomes effective. The terminal fastener goes critical when the clamping force on the jumper/washer stack drops to the point that corrosion and resistance in the connection go up. From there its a self-energizing runaway process, and it might all be very easily produced under a carefully wired bolt.

    Since terminal bolt wiring is also, as Jack points out, a damned dangerous thing to be doing around pack voltage and dozens of bare terminals, it probably isn’t worth a live installation test. I wouldn’t safety wire terminals on a car unless it was a demonstrated effective way to hold resistance down in a terminal connection over time- in the lab or on someone else’s car. That’s the game here, not losing the terminal fastener on the highway…


  21. @Tom:
    Hi, I haven’t checked the torque yet. But I will soon. (I have to add battery heating so I need to open the battery boxes and lift all the batteris out of the boxes to put the heaters in.)
    But I used 18 Nm of torque on the M8 bolts and just WD40 for lube. I know it is not actually the torque that is important but the clampening force as you state it, but I’m not native in english and cannot translate all the terms as good as I would like, into english. But your summary of my statement above is pretty much exactly what I wanted to say, but I just did not spell it out that well. Just to add to you interpetation: the expert I talked to said that the ratio between diameter and bolthead -> first engaged thread would be best OVER 1:3, so if I could get it up to about 3 would be good.

    Best Regards

  22. I used Sanchem’s NO-OX-ID A Special electrical grease on my threads and contact surfaces after polishing them. A very thin layer rubbed into the surface, the tube will probably last my lifetime.
    I’ve had no loose bolts or discolored strapping after 8 months and about 4K miles in a stiff suspension Fiero. I torqued with a “calibrated hand” using a straight handled driver as opposed to a ratchet to avoid over tightening.


  23. I wouldn’t use WD-40.

    It isn’t particularly good at protecting metal-to-metal surfaces from wear and galling. Its actually a water displacement and corrosion inhibiting treatment that has been found to have dozens of other applications, from loosening rusted fasteners to cleaning metal contacts. Assembly lubrication isn’t one of those applications.

    You have lots of good thread lube choices in addition to the Sanchem A Special, although that looks like a winner, JRP3.

    There’s the NordLock teflon-based GTP600 stuff, molybdenum disulfide-based lubes that have been around forever, as well as bearing grease and even motor oil. I like the copper-based anti-seize compounds. The copper is for a sacrificial metal in shear, BTW, not for conductance.

    Anyway, the point is almost anything called “lube, grease, or oil” would be better than WD-40 for this purpose. JRP3’s looks to be among the best, right up there with Noalox…


  24. The following is from Nord-Locks website. Page seven of “Bolted” issue #1

    Can I use other washers
    with Nord-Lock?
    Q: Can I put another washer under
    a Nord-Lock washer?
    A: It is recommendable to use Nord-
    Lock washers directly on the mat-
    ing surface. An additional washer
    can only be used with Nord-Lock
    if the underlying washer is locked
    in place. Nord-Lock washers only
    lock and prevent rotation in the ad-
    joining surfaces. If the underlying
    washer is not firmly locked in place,
    rotation may still occur (see Fig 3),
    resulting in considerable loss of
    clamp load. Insufficient clamp load,
    in turn, can lead to fatigue failures.
    Also note that extra washers mean
    more settlements, which results in
    increased loss of clamp load.
    In applications where the mat-
    ing surface is too hard for Nord-
    Lock washers to obtain the nec-
    essary impression marks, a softer
    underlying washer can be used to
    create these marks. However, it is
    crucial to make it impossible for the
    underlying washer to rotate. This
    can be achieved using a washer that
    is large enough to be secured with
    two bolts, for example.

    Brad Lindberg
    Overly Critical Minnesota Viewer

  25. Re-wirelocking.
    Hello again Jack and Tom (Alvary).
    Thanks for your input, I respect your points of view but I would take assembly procedures from a very different angle.

    Certainly, if one is going to wirelock with poor access and unable to cover the other contacts then I totally agree. Been there, just like you Jack 🙂

    Old radio hams used to say: “Volts jolts but Mils kills”. We can’t overstate safety enough just to keep this hobby or business safe from our Gov’ts.

    Whats more, wirelocking before timely re-torquing the connections would be silly.

    Good wirelocking will snap if a 1/2″ (12mm?) head unscrews more than an 1/8 turn. Loss of torque is irrelevant with properly fitted nordlocks.

    Tom, very good point about dissimilar metals over and inside the battery contacts. Aluminium oxide is one of the most effective insulators known to man and the combination of copper straps and aluminium terminals bother me more than a little bit….. Its put me off.
    The days of really good sacrificial pastes like JC5A (Cadmium in a tube) are gone. So have half the people who used it. H&S ensure we are now stuck with antioxidant pastes which also come with issues.

    Jacks use of Stainless bolts is much better but here in cool and soggy England I would hope my major investment would be sealed in a dessicated box. If the drive train lasts 20 years but the car lasts ten, at best.. It would be nice to make the drive train modular and easily pluggable into ones latest and greatest venture.

    Those Nordlocks are a keeper in my book but I would skip adding the flat washer in favour of marine grade (316 stainless) hex flange bolts with a broad head. Many I have seen (bi-hex) came with a grip impressed under the head.

    But like anything. These things have a price…

  26. Well, we shot most of it Friday. I’ve got enough for two shows. And it’s a mess.

    But I think I got it all sorted out this Sunday morning. Unfortunately, it typically takes about 16 hours to render. So probably not available till sometime in the AM on Monday.

    We do some coverage of the Mini mountings and coupler. We found a bit of damage and have redesigned some of it. New clutch.

    Biggest bit is about the new controller, a Rinehart Motion Systems unit that we’re already gushing over.

    Pushing the vantage van stuff to next week. 103 miles per charge is the bottom line there.

    So it’s coming. I’m just a little slow.

    Jack Rickard

  27. Jack,
    Have you spoken to Rinehart about possibly doing a higher power controller for the HEPVS motors? Higher voltage to stretch the torque curve out further and higher peak amps for more torque could really unlock some potential in these motors, and we wouldn’t have to keep waiting around for Curtis to do something.


  28. You know, I haven’t discussed it with them. But we do talk about it on this week’s show a little bit. Here’s the issue. The Curtis will do 550 amps but is limited to 130v hard limit.

    The Rinehart comes in two flavors. The practical one is the 100-360v model. It will do higher voltages and your motor will as well. But it is limited to about 400A peak and 300 continuous.

    130 X 550 is a theoretical peak of 71500 watts. More likely at a safer 120v you’re looking at 66kw and with voltage sag, mine is more like 60kw.

    To get there at 300 amps, we have to be up around 240v. With sag, more like 260v. That’s 75-80 cells. To get that in a car, I would have to go to 100AH cells instead of 180, which is ok because the 300 or 400 is still in spec.

    So for me, it’s not just a new controller, it’s also a new battery pack.

    You can move the pieces around, but it’s kind of hard to get them to change the game.

    The reason the Rinehart can do 100kw is that it can go much higher in voltage – 360v. Believe it or not, I actually have to drop 4 cells in the Mini to get within spec. It is NOT a stronger controller than the TIMS600. But it’s in English. ANd they’re in Oregon. And it is a much better package. Not nearly the configuration options, but the first take is it looks like a good box, with some oddities.

    More on all that in this week’s show.

    Curtis is supposed to have a 650 Amp version by the end of this year. That would do me a lot more good in the Speedster. And they are TALKING about a 144v version though I’ve been warned it’s all just chit chat at this stage. But that’s up over 90 kw and about half again as powerful as what we have.

    Frankly, I like the Curtis. BUt then I’m not a NEDRA guy. BUt it is certainly for smaller cars, and you have to get your gearing right.

    Jack Rickard

  29. I agree that the Curtis is a nice unit, I’d just like a little more. Seems to be a big jump to go above 500 amps in an AC controller, IGBT’s get expensive above that I guess. I didn’t realize Rinehart was even lower amps than the Curtis. EVnetics has talked about doing an AC controller, 500 amps and 300+ volts, but the 500 amps would be continuous I believe. I’ve been pressuring Jeff to give us higher momentary peak amps but he seems resistant, not trusting the software to cutback the current I suppose.


  30. An AC Soliton would be nice. You can rob Peter, and you CAN pay Paul, but there’s no free lunch. I am not attracted to 300v myself. I like things in the 120-200v range but 300 is doable. As you increase in voltage, you must decrease in amperage. There just isn’t anything in the “infinite power” category.

    Finding the right mix is hard. But a 200v 1000a or a 300v 600A would be nice. If he can do 340 at 1000, I don’t see why 200 at 1000 would be a problem. It’s three times more IGBT’s, but it seems you can get $4000-$6000 for such a thing in real terms from real people. $6000 for a three phase built like the Soliton1? Sign me up….

    Jack Rickard

  31. Jack I just watched your latest show and as usual I think you have hit close to the mark with your thoughts on peak oil and electrical cars.

    You made the comment that the USA can not raise the taxes on gasoline, and while I agree $4/gal was a major contributor to the recession. But what if the USA announced a $.10/gal increasing by $.1/year over 5-10 years? That would signal to the american public that cheap gas IS gone FOREVER, it will help transform fuel economy to a critical buying need and help put wind behind the sails of the EV industry. I agree a sharp increase in the cost of the gasoline will hurt the economy but a small but rising tax would help raise money for infrastructure improvements and let people know the future will be different before we hit the wall.

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