Shorter and LIghter – Should Jenny Craig be Part of EVTV?

Somebody called to see if I would be around this week. My response, unfortunately so. You see, I always wanted to be a tall. But it was the whim of genetics and my own proclivity for good food that decreed I should be a ROUND forever.

A short show this week. And I like that. Somehow, we’ve crept up to two and a half hours. This is longer than a feature length film by nearly an hour. We’re going to try to shorten things up. We’ve reached the limit and I’m spending most of the weekend editing video.

This week, we do a little bit of news, and show a test of our Netgain Warp11HV motor prior to installation. We also mount our Tremec TKO600 transmission.

The transmission mount is a little more free form than I like. The Cobra came a bit blank. There was a cross bar under the car, which turns out to be in the wrong place, and a hole cut for the shifter – almost in the wrong place. The rest of the transmission mounting is just sort of left up to us.

We bought a low profile mount for the rear – just a block of polyurethane to shock mount it really. We had a local race car guy build us a little brace for it. We’ll have to cutout the existing brace and lower it so the drive shaft can clear.

Danny, the race car builder, suggested we could save 100 lbs by replacing the third member on the differential with an aluminum one. But when we checked with his supplier, he said he didn’t have one for THAT Ford 9 inch. Apparently a Ford 9 inch differential covers a multitude of sins.

For the front of the transmission, we fashioned two small brackets that bolt to the bell housing and a pair of Mazda RX7 polyurethane shock mounts we found on eBay for $77.

We’ll install the motor to the bell housing and fashion a similar plate/mount for the front of the motor with another pair of these shock mounts.

Hopefully, the drive train will then be pretty securely mounted aft, middle, and foreword. We’ll need to have a drive shaft made specifically for the vehicle of course.

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The convention draws closer. Brain has devised a 20 booth vendor floor and I understand they’ve signed four at this point. We’re quite pleased that Special Editions Inc. will be bringing a Beck roller to show. We’ve used several of these in the past and they just make a great platform for a simple electric vehicle conversion. Best of all, they are truly head turners.

I came out of the local Schnucks grocery store with some cheap Champagne and cheese and crackers headed in a hurry to a hastily thrown together bridge game, since I managed to get the video up by Saturday afternoon this week. There were eight people gathered round the Beck Speedster we call Part Duh in the parking lot. They were marveling over the car and had twenty questions about it. Understand they did not even know it was electric. Just the iconic shape of the car still works 54 years after it was introduced. We have no Porsche badging on it. We have the moon eye hub caps. It isn’t a Porsche. It says Porsche nowhere on it. They truly had NO idea what it was. But they were instantly drawn to the car.

I did note that it was electric drive and pointed to the very subtle ELECTRIC emblem we had made to match the small SPEEDSTER gold emblem on the front fender. And they more or less went berserk.

Brain had a similar adventure last week when he took the Spyder 550 to a car show in Sikeston. He came back with a SECOND place trophy. I don’t know what THAT was about. But he returned with a sunburn as the attendees wouldn’t let him step away from the car for about four hours. They Spyder is particularly good at these events as you can open it up like a clam and display all the componentry almost like it was layed out on a workbench.

It goes slowly, but we are working with Special Editions on a special frame for a Beck Speedster. This will be quite a departure in a number of ways. I like rack and pinion steering for example. And independent rear suspension. But there is talk of turning the axle around for a mid-engine version, which would free us for more room in the rear for batteries. Best of all, we are going to have it done of aluminum, which should shave a couple of hundred pounds off the weight. I’ve always liked the Beck Speedsters because they have a frame under them sufficient to mount a Ford F150 instead of the usual VW pan. But in truth, it IS overbuilt and overweight for our needs.

And this next week we should receive a set of running gear for the Spyder we are trying out that will eventually be part of the next Speedster build. Airkeweld makes an aluminum cross drilled rotor and they can put any hat on it we want – I think we got 5 x 4.5. We already have a set of Weld lightweight aluminum wheels for it. For the front we can use the Wildewood aluminum calipers as well but for the rear they do not make such with a parking brake on it. We have to have a parking brake. They are much more important on an electric car.

On the Spyder this will be a particular advantage. Duane had some 911 wheels on the car he liked but this required an adapter that sets out the wheels an inch or so. As a result, the front end has to be jacked up so the wheels clear the body. All in all not to my taste. So the new running gear and wheels will let us get the wheels back inside and the front end down – while saving about 150 pounds on an already light car. As this is almost entirely unsprung weight that goes away, I’m looking for GREAT things by way of improved handling with the front end down where we want it and this weight savings.

If any of it works, that system will be migrated to the new Beck aluminum frame and we should save somewhere between 300-400 lbs overall. This is actually an incredible amount. Speedster Part Duh weighs 2035 lbs now and could be down to 1650 or so eventually. All of this BEFORE we take on the body at some time in the future.

It also has passed little notice but the DOT has now approved polycarbonate windshields. I like glass. But the weight savings here too are substantial. And I already did have to replace the windshield on Duh because of a flying rock. None of that with polycarbonate. Yes, they haze. But there are now very effective polishes you can use to clarify polycarbonate more or less endlessly. We’ve used them on the Lear 24D for years. If they are good enough for a Mach 0.78 jet, they should be sufficient for a Speedster.

And it really is about weight. I was enormously validated when Brian ran both the Spyder and the Redux in the autocross at Carlisle. It was NOT close and it was repeated several times. The lap is about 30 seconds and the Spyder, with much lower power and acceleration, just killed Redux by 3 seconds every time – 10% of the course.

This of course was PRECISELY the lesson learned in 1955 with the introduction of the Spyder on the racing scene of the day. It was much less powerful than any of its competitors, yet it won every race it finished that year.

With an internal combustion engine, the cost of these weight savings simply don’t make much economic sense. For an electric car, they quite do. And as a result, we’re finding common ground with the race car guys.

We have developed a fondness for the Michelin Energy Saver All Season tire. This tire has the lowest rolling resistance of any tire on the market. Unfortunately, it appears it is not ON the market. They are sold out NATIONALLY on this tire. No estimate on restock dates. You cannot get them. That’s going to slow our thunder on the Spyder.

Fortunately, we already HAVE a set of them on some lightweight Weld wheels for the Cobra. And we’re going to do an interesting experiment there. Not only do the Michelin’s feature a lower rolling resistance, but our total weight on the Weld wheels/tires is 31 lbs each. The existing wheels and tires that came on the car were 42 lbs on the front and 48 lbs on the rear. We save 22 lbs on the front and 34 lbs on the rear for 56 lbs total going to these lighter tires/wheels. So we are going to do a range comparison on the car by running say 100Ah exactly on each set and noting the mileage covered in those 100Ah. I think it will be significant – more than you think. Maybe 5 or 6%.

All these sorts of things are quite cumulative. An LED tail light bulb here and a tire there, it all adds up. And it all counts in the end car.

Not to mention the weight of the driver…. there was a solid reason that Brain drove both cars at Carlisle.

Jack Rickard

29 thoughts on “Shorter and LIghter – Should Jenny Craig be Part of EVTV?”

  1. The company with the polycarbonate glass you want is Percy’s High Performance. They are a couple hours away from you in Camdenton, MO.

    The product is Speedglas, a polycarbonate with a super hard, super slick coating that makes it the hands-down choice in applications where its available. They have three thicknesses- 1/8, 3/16 and 1/4 inch. They also have .093 for side windows, but that’s drag-racing thin.

    Most of the replacement windows and windshields they do are flat sheets that you bend to match the frame while installing, but they also have molded windshields for a variety of cars that are commonly raced. Flat sheet would be fine for the open Porsches you have, but the screens are pretty small, so the weight savings will be modest, maybe equivalent to one 200Ah cell. Still, every bit helps.

    This speedglas coating is so hard and smooth it has to be ground off in order to get windshield sealant or the special urethane they recommend to glue it in. Fascinating stuff:

    I’ve seen it on a couple of track cars. Not a picnic to install, but it is 50-70% lighter than glass, which on a Honda can be 35lbs off the top half of the car if you do it all.

    As for taking 147-150lbs off of the spyder’s hub/brakes/wheel/tire package, that will be interesting to see. Taking 35lbs off of each rear corner and 40 off of each front seems unlikely if the car already has disk brakes and relatively light wheels. I know the billet hubs and aluminum disks are light, and the Wilwood single-pots are featherweight, but 40lbs in each corner? Keep the scale nearby.

    BTW, the Fuchs 911 forged aluminum wheels Duane apparently put on the Spyder are considered about the lightest available, at something like 12-14lbs depending on width. With no weight savings to be found there, or on tires, really, (the big reduction on the Cobra tires was changing the size, not the type of tire,) those airkewld hub/rotor packs had better be something amazing.

  2. I liked that 25 cent gas tax idea. To my mind the perfect time to introduce it was a while back when the retail price had collapsed. If implemented at this time it might have prevented some of the rebound in consumption, and added much needed copper to the coffers.

    I think though, some sort of allowance — a full or partial exemption — should be made for commercial vehicles so as not to hugely impact the cost of transportation of goods and hurt the broader economy.

  3. Motorcycle Helmet visors have been scratch proof for a good while now. They don’t fade, go yellow or anything untoward over the years.

    Who is going to be the first brave designer that creates a mobile structure from a moulded poly-carbonate and foam sandwich? Like a pair of plastic baths welded together. Now that would be stiff, strong, insulated, pre-coloured and super light with all areas for main windows, lights etc. all internal. No sealing required.

    This window allowance is great news because hopefully the EU will follow suit and it will really open up the specials market. Especially for the super slip streamed specials.

    All taxation stifles the economy. No exception. The trick is to stifle the economy with no come-back from those who don’t like us.

  4. Well, I wasn’t going to go so far as to predict what I think WOULD actually happen to the price of gasoline as it will cause a firestorm. But the speculative part of the oil market would collapse on announcement. Even though the “tax” starts out at 25 cents, the writing is on the wall and the price of oil would drop to $30 per barrel in the first week. This tax would essentially CUT the cost of fuel for the first five years. But the worldwide demand is growing exponentially, peak oil is probably very real, and within five years the price will have climbed back and beyond. But for a couple of years, I think it would actually cut the legs out of the oil market.

    Jack Rickard

  5. I like this new focus on weight reduction a lot. or perhaps I should say I hate it since you don’t like agreeing with me 🙂
    I like what I’m hearing about alu chassis, wheels and even lightening the fiberglass. the windshield wouldn’t be my first place to look for weight but if the product is available and it works and you save weight then I’m all for the experiment.
    maybe you could keep one of the speedsters to the old philosophy and only rewamp the one so you have a contrast of what is gained.

    as the final piece to a fully lightened speedster I’d suggest a 100kg pack of A123 20Ah cells, even though you pay a premium because A123 marketeers are morons, it is a relatively small pack so the bleeding is manageable by your standards.
    how much battery weight do you have in the duh now? 200kg? the 100kg A123 will probably give you the same range as before lightening and you get another 100kg weight reduction. it’s magic.

    and we know the A123s have the power with only 100kg. it might have 4x the power as before despite half the weight.
    Brian can run next to the car, he weighs too much 🙂

    btw I read a disgusting interview with head of mercedes R&D the other day. he boasts that noone matches mercedes innovation. I could have sworn they were a little behind on EVs but what do I know. he also said that the combustion engine will be the mainstay of cars for decades still.
    let’s make that douche a liar.

  6. Dan:

    As always, lost and thrashing about in the weeds. The concept of weight reduction is to increase the percentage of the car mass devoted to batteries. Yes, obviously the batteries are the heavy things and so we could lose a LOT of weight by not only going to a more expensive battery, but by eliminating them entirely. This brings us in full concert with the copper foil helmet crowd. Duh.

    Evolution from race car to street car. No, I don’t think that was the point I was trying to make, although I understand the confusion. I’m more in the camp of creature comforts. But what do I gain from a glass vs polycarbonate windshield (and they can be surprisingly heavy). How much creature comfort is in a solid steel cross drilled brake disk over an aluminum brake disk, particularly when I’m using Regen to brake most of the time?

    My point was that in making component selection choices for racing, the economics are somewhat different than for production cars – almost entirely due to weight. In racing, performance comes from building in lightness, increasing the power to weight ratio. So an aluminum rotor, continuing the example, might be worth twice as much as the steel one because it is lighter.

    We SHARE some degree of compatibility with the racing crowd. In electric cars, it is not increased performance necessarily but range. We’re not so much interested in available POWER to weight as we are to available energy STORAGE to weight. If I have a 10kWh pack and use 300 wH per mile, I get 33.33 miles of range. If I can reduce weight to reduce my wH per mile to 200, my range goes to 50 miles.

    Obviously this holds true at higher pack sizes. A 30kw pack gets me 100 miles, and if I do the same weight reduction/wH per mile gig I get to 150 mile range instead of 100.

    And so the economic choices we would entertain for electric car design would probably more closely resemble those of the race community, and so that is probably where we would also find those parts. They are impractically expensive for repair of OEM vehicles, but economically viable for racing – and for electric cars as well in SOME cases.

    As we ran into on the Cobra, they are not IDENTICAL communities. Dan just couldn’t imagine why I would want an external clutch slave cylinder over a smaller, lighter, simpler, internal slave cylinder. In racing, swapping one of those out on failure is a no brainer. For an electric car owner, it’s pretty ugly. Fluid all over the clutch. Pull motor at least and maybe transmission to swap it out. In Dan’s world, that’s trivial. In ours, it’s a pain in the ass.

    So on maintenance issues we diverge sharply. We actually went through this clutch discussion TWICE and I forgot what the reasoning was when confronted the second time. Mike Fortis was very good about explaining it to us AGAIN.

    Jack Rickard

  7. Well, sort of. The goals are a little different, because the road EV doesn’t need the performance the racer is after.

    Take the brakes. Racers would go with 4 pot calipers, which are still lighter than a Ghia caliper, but have tons more stopping power. On an EV you want the lightest single pot caliper you can get away with, which for a lightened car with regen would be the minimum spec on the VW chassis, not a “racing” caliper. Jack’s also talking about aluminum rotors, which might even be lighter than super-pricey carbon, but are marginal for durability and would not interest a racer other than maybe a drag racer.

    The racing community is where the lightweight parts are that need to be sourced, but an EV doesn’t really need racing parts.

    The problem on the VW is its a pretty elegant design that’s fairly light as manufactured. A drum brake front end from the 1940s is actually lighter than a disc setup from twenty years later. Huge weight savings just aren’t there aside from the main body and chassis; only incremental ones that are seriously expensive to collect, as you basically have to replace everything on the car with something 20-40% lighter. There are some good places to look, though:

    1. Going from a beam to a strut (Superbeetle) front end, which saves a fair amount of weight and gets you R&P steering. It also gets you the notoriously finicky SB front suspension, which shimmys when worn, or out of adjustment, or equipped with the wrong tires or offset, or maybe just because…

    2. Going from torsion to coilover rear. This requires a Kafer bar and maybe some new rear arms, but its the hot setup for these cars. It will cost you some component room above the gearbox, though, and big bucks.

    3. A-arm front end conversion. Excellent suspension upgrade, but may not save any weight. I can’t seem to find out from any of the three mfrs of these kits I have found if the units are actually lighter than a VW beam. I actually doubt it, particularly after you add all the steel structure they need to the pan to mount up. $3k+.

    4. Bespoke replacement chassis. That’s what Special Editions is doing in Aluminum for the Rickard Edition Speedster EV. No one is doing it for the standard wheelbase Type 1 or 3 VW chassis, but there are steel tube chassis available that might be lighter than a VW pan (especially if they were designed as a-arm front and coilover rear to start) and are certainly stiffer and stronger than any pan.

    5. Interior. Carpets can be replaced with Ozite. Replacing vinyl and leather with cloth saves interior weight. C5 Corvette seats are said to be some of the lightest available, and there are always fiberglass buckets at about 10lbs each.

    After that, weight reduction is a painstaking process of looking at every big and small thing and making it lighter. Everything can be lighter- dashboard, pedals, steering wheel & column, handles, covers, latches, etc…

    Too often, I see conversions where the weight savings removing the ICE is blown with heavy angle iron, steel and diamond plate going back in the car to hold EV components. This is probably because it was available and strong, but its way too heavy for the application. The key is to have a weight budget for the project, and always be conscious of what everything on, and going onto the car weighs, from wiring to tubing and fasteners. It is so worth being obsessive about it during the conversion stage, because light cars don’t just happen- it takes consistent attention to detail to get there- but the payback is real and forever.

  8. Jack – bearing in mind the anomalous watt-hours per-mile figure for the Illuminati 7, it might be that for maximum range reducing aerodynamic drag matters more than reducing weight. I’d like to suggest an experiment to verify or disprove this hypothesis:

    1. Do a few coast-down tests on each of your EVs. This should enable anyone with a sharp pencil to do an approximate estimate of aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance for the vehicle. For the open cars you could do it top-up and top-down.

    2. Get an intern to drive each of them to a point say) 80 miles away using a reasonable target cruising speed (say 65) and measure the watt-hours per mile.

    3. Publish the results on-line and invite crowd-sourced proposals for improvements to your current rule of thumb (watt-hours per mile equals 10% of weight in lbs )

    Not perfect but better than the data we currently have.

  9. Rolling resistance makes a linear deceleration. Air resistance performs to the square law. So a simple push test with your bath scales will sort the RR out. Then one can subtract that linear figure from the rate of deceleration for air resistance.

    OOPS! sorry, I fell asleep thinking of all the other variables…

    WH/speed graph anyone?

    Nah! forget it. Just get the weight down with with sensible financial constraints and the minimum number of cells for it’s maximum expected run. It’s what I’m working to.

  10. One of the illuminati’s tricks is actually ceramic bearings.

    I used to think air resistance was all. No more. The Mini Cooper does 0.85 Ah per mile at 80 miles an hour and about 1.10 Ah per mile in town. We run at a much lower RPM believe it or not at 80 mph due to the very high gearing. It’s the only think I can think of. But does bear more testing.

    Yes, the aero factor could be determined more easily with the range test. If we could find a substantive route where we could do it at 20 mph, 30 mph, 40 mph 50 mph 60 mph and 70 mph continuous speeds in the same gear without any stops or speed variations, this would show aero very well.

    I’ll think about that. To do all that you almost have to have no other cars around. I don’t want to build a test track….

    Jack Rickard

  11. Oh wow, I didn’t know the Mini was doing quite that well. And there’s very little aerodynamic about the Mini, it’s pretty boxy.

    I know you guys are busy bees and I hate to suggest something that would add to the load, but…

    I think your site needs a repository of test results. “Rickard’s Review,” so to speak. You’ve tested so many different products over the years. The idea of trying to find a specific test you’ve done by scanning through every single video is a little nuts.

    A project for the interns perhaps?

  12. Hey guys, Jack is not the only one in town here that should be stepping up to the plate to do some testing. He already has his hands quite full. If I had the tools I’d test too. I am sure there are quite a few of you guys that should be. From my vantage point it seem as though there are many but maybe it is not as many as it sounds like. Maybe the pot is not nearly as full as it seems.

    (Dr. Righteous, The idea of trying to find a specific test you’ve done by scanning through every single video is a little nuts. )

    (A project for the interns perhaps?) Perhaps a perfect project for you! I second the motion. Well it looks like the job is yours. 🙂 A small price to pay for the information you have gleaned from Jacks work.


  13. @ Dr. Righteous:

    Scanning through the videos IS a pain. That is why, building on Eric Kriss’s work, I created the Index Site. There is a Beta Search Tool that I put into the site that works decently.

    There are plans to improve the tool extensively after I have the time. I am also going to build a database of all of the parts used in the show. It is quite extensive and informative. It all takes time.

    I am a little short on time due to a transitional period with moving. The time I do have to spare is used managing the existing Index, the Contest, and the EVCCON signups etc. But I WILL get to it.

    For EV cars, as with any car, weight reduction is not the silver bullet. It is the combination of things that is the ticket.

    Rolling Resistance + Weight Reduction + Aerodynamics = Total performance

    The Illuminati SEVEN car has very excellent aerodynamics. Once the heavy car is rolling then that part of the equation has been reduced in significance if the aerodynamics are very good. They drove the whole way at a fixed speed to Jack’s shop.

    This provided a constant, steady drain on the batteries with reduced drag due to excellent aerodynamics. With stop-and-go situations the weight becomes a very significant part of the equation. By taking a solid approach to a balanced equation you should be able to create a very nice EV with comfortable range.

    That being said, I have never built an EV or a car for that matter, so my statements are merely conjecture.


  14. Chirstopher

    A parts database would be fantastic. What are your ideas on the layout?


    Did you ever update the owner’s manual for the Speedster part duh? And did you ever do another owner’s manual for any of the other cars? I thought the one I read was very well written, and educational.


  15. Apologies for a bit of hi-jacking here.

    Too hot in the workshop. Considered whitewashing the black roof and going on an early morning shift just for the comfort factor in summer?
    If I was Jack or Brian I would consider mixing it with Craig Vetter who had another ride-out competition based on fuel cost per mile. A 104 mile run on real roads in Lexington Ohio this time.

    Here for the first time sports cars took part. Redux or many of the X-prize cars could be game for this and ought to win!

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