The Art of Driving the Aircraft Carrier.

Our longest show ever. One reason is Speedster Nippon. We like to do builds week by week in a kind of plodding fashion matching our weekly publishing schedule. In this case, we are under some pressure to complete this build by November 1 and we do want to ship it to Japan at least in
time for a December car show. Fortunately, our new Shop Meister, Jesse Hale, is just phenomenal at getting things done. My main problem is this guy tries to read my mind and gets out ahead of me. There are hundreds of little decisions on any build, and it is difficult to communicate them all in one brain dump. In this weeks show we note a clearance problem on our hydraulic brake transducer. As it turns out, they are available in 1/8th NPT as well as 1/4 so I think we can replace it and eliminate the adapter. This would require we rebleed the brakes AGAIN but will almost certainly eliminate the clearance problem. But Jesse had forged ahead connecting up the wiring to the transducer. That will have to be done over again.

Hard to complain about a kid that is getting TOO MUCH done on a car build – so much so that it causes problems. But for video purposes, we did a LOT on the Speedster in a little over a week. We need to. BUt if we are to show it in any useful detail, it gets to be a bit much for a single show. Yes, I can push some video off to the next week. But this builds up too and the world is moving very quickly. My experience with pushing things off is that they KEEP getting pushed off until they are irrelevant. If it’s not important enough for this weeks show, it’s not important enough for ANY show.

The guys in Japan report they have demonstrated Speedster Duh for the press there and to RAVE reviews. That it is the finest built electric car they have seen and driven. These are journalists that have ONLY really ever driven FACTORY BUILT electric cars. That’s the mark they are comparing to. We also heard from an automotive repair shop that did work on the car to qualify it for Japanese roads. Again, they voluntarily contacted me with the admonition that it was the best built electric car they had ever seen, and could we help them do the same thing to a Miata.

I lived in Japan for several years, albeit on a U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier. But I had an apartment in town and learned a great deal of the culture. Their business structure is of large corporations with lots of workers cooperating in a very teamlike fashion and that is considered a very good trait there. Rogue entrepreneurs are just not part of the culture. But we have kind of hooked up with one with a career as a serial entrepreneur with some success. He and his childhood chum, who lives here in California, have teamed up with this idea of marketing a retro classic electric car in Tokyo. From what I know of Tokyo traffic (30 years ago), Speedster Duh would go 150 miles on a charge there. It’s very urban. And small cars are a plus.

I of course have no feel for marketing in Japan and never did. And my experience would have little applicability 30 years later in any event. But these guys are virtually revolutionaries in adopting American guerilla entrepreneurial marketing techniques.

And of course I don’t like to pass out “NO’s” so when asked if we could produce them in small numbers I avowed that it could be done. My fear at this point is that they will return from Tokyo with 10 or 12 immediate orders for the car. I’m not sure we can get rollers in those numbers timely, and I would need a half dozen Jesse Hale’s to actually perform this act.

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I’ve heard so many tales from enthusiasts newly aggrieved of the electric car fever and hell bent for taking over the world with it regardless of realities, that I considered this possibility quite remote. But in truth, Speedster Duh was my overhwelming favorite and my daily driver for a reason. It was the best car we’ve ever done to my way of thinking. Not the car with the longest range. Not the fastest or the quickest car we’ve done. Not the most luxurious or comfortable car we’ve done. BUt on balance, all the way around and by feel, the best and really it isn’t even a close call. It’s pretty, it’s sporty, and it is very elegantly balanced in the sum total of tradeoffs and choices. It is just a joy to drive. There IS a little transition from a gasoline powered version, mostly with the odd combination of clutch and regenerative braking. But this takes about a DAY to become accustomed to. After that, it is just a different driving experience and in all respects delightful.

We are working on another iteration of that and taking advantage of every opportunity to improve it. Mostly in very subtle ways. But I think we are going to achieve a new level with Speedster Nippon.

So ok Jack, you’re putting a pretty heavy bit of lung into that horn of yours you are blowing. What’s the point? Beyond explaining a bit of a longish video you will find challenging to download, the world is starting to shift in our direction in very distinct ways that will effect you very directly.

Let me regress to my youth once again. I was on the USS Midway. This is an aircraft carrier with 3000 guys on it. I don’t like crowds. Two thirds of the crew worked during the day, and one third at night. For nearly four years I rose at 6:00PM and began my day, which actually went on all night. To this day, I have no biological clock in the normal sense. One night, I went up on the bridge of the boat, and was shocked to find a lone third class petty officer driving the ship in a room by himself. A lonely job at night. I just assumed there were a dozen officers up there keenly strategizing on every movement of the massive ship. To find a kid younger than myself as the only one driving a ship with 3000 souls on board in the night was a bit of an eye opener. Kind of like the Obama Administration driving our economy.

In any event, I had a cup of coffee with him with an eye toward keeping him awake. Incredibly, he offered me a turn at the wheel. I accepted and he admonished me to maintain a steady course of 320 degrees. Since the thing had a compass the size of a washtub right in front of me, how hard could that be. But within a few minutes, it crept to 322. So I turned the wheel. Nothing happened. 323 degrees. So I turned the wheel some more. 324 degrees. So I turned the wheel some more. 323 degrees. 322 degrees. 321 degrees. That’s better. 320 degrees. 319 degrees. 318 degrees and accelerating. 316. 312. Whoops. Turn the wheel back to the right. 310. Further to the right. 309. Finally 310. 314. 318. 322. 325. You get the idea. I looked out the back of the boat, and there as a perfect S shaped trail. Some drunk driving an aircraft carrier. Forunately in low traffic in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The kid straightened me out and let me try again. On the third try I kind of gave up and let him back on the wheel while I got us both a cup of coffee, something I was competently trained to accomplish without terrifying all whales and fish worldwide.

The world is like that. You can change it, but it has a terrific understeering problem. Years of effort show up years later. But this week I kind of got a glimpse of the future, and things are very slowly coming around on the horizon and moving directly toward us.

I kind of knew, from my admittedly biased experience with the development of the Internet, that these large corporations were not going to accomplish quite what they claimed and you thought. I predicted this nearly three years ago and have held to that mark patiently every week since then. I think most of our viewers just humored me on this one, assuming it was one area where I just didn’t know what I was talking about. Actually I do. It’s not a guess. It’s deep knowledge paid for in flesh and blood. But the lens of our media and communications is such that large corporations have become very adept at “spinning the message” and saturating the airwaves with the story they want told. The problem is, it has been a confusing and inconsistent tale because of their deeply ingrained and visceral lack of feel for any part of this pending world revolution, and mark my words – nothing less.

I also had a positively mystical exchange with a college Professor purporting knowledge of Lithium ionic batteries. After a condescending exchange where he attempted to get me set straight on what was what, which he failed miserably, he retreated to pathetic appeals to authority revealing an averarching awe of large corporations and their WalMart sized testing facilities, notably at GM, and the BILLIONS they spend on battery research and the THOUSANDS of cycling machines and all the deep, though secret, knowledge they have obtained on these topics. I, on the other hand, wanted to put eight cells in two styrofoam coolers and charge and discharge them a lot. I admit this looks bad. But I’m smirking at the same time. I’m not lost dazed and confused. I’ve BEEN to the mountain. It is not what you think. It’s not what he thinks. Once you’ve been in the gut of the beast, you have no awe. You get two coolers and get started. It is great to be 57 and it NOT all by mystery. I worked in HUGE corporations for 25 years. In government. In government contractors. I was building the machine that the Wizard was manipulating behind the curtain. I have as a result no awe of Wizards – nor of curtains. I know how to make the smoke. Forgive the double entendre. It is a great feeling. I know where innovation comes from. I know where knowledge comes from. And indeed it sometimes DOES come from Universities believe it or not. Which was why I bothered to correspond with him. I kind of thought I could accelerate the process by GIVING him some batteries and funds, and if he could marshall some students and coolers, we could make some hay here. As it turns out, he’s too ” busy.”

Why then, if a University Professor toiling away in a salt mine like 12 hour work week is too busy, am I not too busy working 100 hours a week? He has a total belief system based on what I happen to know is total bullshit. That’s the difference. And on any given topic, in this case the effect of heat on cycle life, they have about a 50% chance of being right in their analysis. As heat DOES hasten entropy, maybe 55%. I can get those odds from a pocketful of pennies. And he’s willing to not only buy into it, but pass this misinformation on to our children. That’s HOW myths perpetrate. When presented with such an idea, STOP, QUESTION, and TEST. If its true, it will show up soon enough. And the process of replicating the work will deepen your knowledge of it from “I read” to “I saw with my own eyes.”

More to the point, a thing can be true but be irrelevant in a practical sense. It’s all a matter of degree. If heat reduces cycle life by 4%, I’m not going to spend a lot on cooling. If 14%, maybe. At 24% yeah. If fast charging reduces cycle life, I don’t want to fast charge right? Well again, it’s kind of a practical matter. If it reduces cycle life by 4%, Im in a BIG hurry. If 14%, I’m in a little bit of a hurry. At 24%, I’ve got all night to charge anyway. And so we have knowledge. And we have knowledge in context. And so not only cannot I rely on GM’S results, I can’t even rely on their ability to ask the right question. Or to derive answers relevant to me. Or to recognize and answer to a question when it presents itself. I’m distrustful in this way.

Let me repeat again. GM and Nissan are not simply going to tool up, print 150,000 electric cars a year, sell them to rave reviews, and spool that up to 10 million. Technological change is a VERY complex beast and mostly so because it is only PARTLY technological. There was no magic in hooking up networking worldwide. The phone company already had our voicees mostly digital in 64kbps channels when we STARTED. The issue is product availability and mostly ACCULTURATION of the consumer population that they might WANT an Internet connection. When they were $2000 per month for a connection, not many did I can assure you. But some of us sprang for it. C’est Moi Lancelot.

A viewer informs me this week that he was offered, and accepted, a Nissan Leaf at a lease price of $69 per month. Leaf’s are going begging. Chevy is shouting success at 2800 volts per month, as opposed to the measly 25,000 Chevy Cruz’s they sell per month. From 20 yards, you can’t throw a cat between the two cars and get it to land on the ground. A123 announced their bankruptcy this week. EnerDel months ago. Fisker continues to rake in investor money on a not only obviously but rather horribly failed car. Toyota has announced they don’t see electric cars in their future after all. Nissan faces a class action lawsuit on range issues. Think. Wheego. Aptera. Phoenix. Azure Dynamics. Coda. What happened to the Ford Focus? iMiev? Now even the briliant TEsla is starting to stumble. Owners and reservationists are incensed over this $600 per year “maintenance fee” to maintain your warranty. The 5000 cars by yeae’s end isn’t happening. They’ve had to do another IPO. Reservations are being cancelled in large numbers. And the car is frankly over $100 grand – not $55,000.

What’s working? AMP. Via. Small conversion shops. And what action there is with the Cadillac ELR and continued devotion to the Volt is all about demonstrating CAFE standards in California. It is all about Obama’s 54 mpg mandate.

Here’s a little bit about this mandate. The fleet average is now up to 23.3 mpg. A 54 mpg fleet average is JUST ABSURD. The government has estimated it will cost $3000 per car when fully implemented. In order to reach 54 mpg you either get to pay $60,000 more for the car, or learn to settle for little bitty gasoline powered cars. When the American people discover this, the 54 gallon thing goes away. And with it, the devotion of these OEM’s to electric cars. Now who killed the electric car the SECOND time?

Ironically, and in fact identically, the current Volt and Leaf owners are by and large ECSTATIC with their automobiles. They just love them. OVerwhelmingly. Is this the hugest DISCONNECT in all of history? How can thousands of people LOVE electric cars, and millions not care AT ALL about electric cars, all at the same moment.

Well there is the different strokes for different folks theory. But it just doesn’t quite band-aid this disconnect.

As I’ve said from the beginning, to drive an electric car is to want one. But the value proposition is very difficult. Ergo, I see a decade of dawning awareness, driven one driver at a time, one car at a time, one day at a time. This is NOT as depressing as it sounds. It doesn’t have to reach EVERYBODy. There is a “tipping point” phenomenon in such things where at about 10-12% of the population, a concept “flashes over.” 40,000 cars out of two years sales of probably 25 million in the U.S. doesn’t quite qualify. But we are getting there. It is 40,000 more than we had. And the Toyoto hybrid gig is introductory. People DO get the feel. The Volt hybrid IS introductory. The VOLT owners quickly DO get it. It’s not the range extender part that is cool. It’s the electric part.

Meanwhile the DIY movement has been roundly discounted, dismissed, and just dissed at every opportunity by the OEM’s, the government, bankrupt battery manufacturers, and the press. But inch by inch, more builds. And MUCH better builds. EVCCON 2012 was an eye opener. I literally was ashamed to open the hood of my Escalade with my crazy wiring running everywhere. We had real CRAFTSMEN showing up with gorgeous cars. Eric Kriss, who was at EVCCON 2011 but was very pregnant with grandchild for 2012 is doing a Saab Sonnet that is just unbelievably gorgeous. Fred Behning’s MG TD is just a huge step up from his Bugeye Sprite – which has been sold and is being upgraded to CALB CA cells as well. I see SEMA. I see the future.

I do not see the elimination of OEM efforts. Or the world going to all custom cars. But the prow of the ship has steered in our direction and I think you will see dawning awareness that people keep on building gorgeous desireable custom cars with electric drive. That racing is altered by electric cars. And that the plublic will gradually come around to the obvious advantages of electric cars. As the price of gasoline rises, that interest will intensify. But the quest will always be for a better car at a more attrative price. The Tesla will be much like the LIsa or the NeXT Cube. Courageous, but overpriced. And the iPhone of the electric car will remain “out there” for a decade to come.

Meanwhile I see a growing market for components, tools, and techniques enabling individuals to convert beloved and desirable cars to electric drive. And that represents tremendous opportunity.

George Hamstra wanted to do a “business session” at EVCCON. What he did was an entrepreneur session on the EV space. I almost asked that this cup pass my lips at this time. It is so INCENDIARY that I kind of fear the results. I’m excited about them. But there is heartbreak in this as well. Having done this with bulletin boards and Internet Service providers, halfway through his introduction I knew we were in deep deep trouble. But there was nothing to be done but go with the flow. I’ve since had a DOZEN e-mails from people absolutely CHARGED with this who are hell bent for turning their lives upside down to go become a player in this space. Like a train wreck, this is terribly terribly exciting but not something you really want to be responsible for. His admonition that this was dangerous, like getting licquored up, playing with some high voltage, and going for a drive was too little too late. Nobody remembers that part. They got a glimpse of the future with themselves working hard at something they really loved and believed in. Now how can I pour cold water on THAT.

So we have a dozen people KNOWN to come out of that session hell bent on doing it. And more quietly pondering the implications. Oddly, the world follows desire. This kind of spark tends to find tinder. They will start buying and selling and trading with each other, and before it’s over
there will be a full blown on fire industry in components, displays, software, and every kind of accessory for DIY electric vehicles. ANd I say vehicles. The session before was about boats. I’ve personally crafted the world’s LOUDEST electric vehicle in the John Deere lawn mower. Bicycles and motorcycles are already part of it. It’s going to be a revolution.

And no, rather than pour cold water on it, I have to in good conscious encourage it. And I believe that right at this moment, the world is slowly coming across the horizon and directly AT you and your plans. It could be an absolutely WILD ride before it is over.

And if you do well, ten or twelve years from now I am confident that CAFE or no CAFE, $10 gasoline or $2 gasoline, the move to universal electric drive for personal mobility will be seen as a growing and global phenomenon. Because in the end, it is about personal satisfaction, and the EV grin. And if you haven’t felt that, you have much before you.

Never MIND the fact that I have the ONLY Cadillac Escalade EXT Electric Drive vehicle on the planet – and GM STILL managed to issue a recall on it and make it stick.

Jack Rickard

62 thoughts on “The Art of Driving the Aircraft Carrier.”

  1. I have to be honest. At EVCCON when Jack asked who wants to go home and start an EV business. I was not one that raised my hand. My wife was even a little irritated in that I did not raise my hand.

    I ran my own business for 15 years. I have also been involved with starting a few other companies. So, I kind of know how hard it is to be what Jack calls a player. He says you are a player or an employee. I kind of disagree with this all of nothing approach. I would NOT classify myself as a player or an employee. I am more of a Maverick or Rouge. I just like to be different. I think you can be both an employee and some type of player. David Kernzel comes to mind…

    The more I think about it, the more likely I am to start some type of EV business. I am not 100% sure I want to quite my current Job and start one, but then again I am not sure I want to keep my current job either. I guess my point is dont ruine you financial life over your passon for EV’s. Jack had to recently kill a wild idea that I have been kicking around…(probably a good thing)

    I suspect that I am going to build a boat of some type as soon as I get the EVThing running. I could see a small business building these boats and or a kit with an unfinished hull for the DYI guys. However, I am not sure it could pay the bills so to speak….

  2. Hi Jack, My experiences with battery temperature are pretty much like yours. When ever I did battery testing on the bench, the highest increase in temperature was about 7 deg C. Now that I have cell boards on my 114 batteries in my car, I not only read the volts but also the temperature at about 1 cm above each battery. The batteries are in sealed steel boxes (not water tight) and the maximum temperature of any battery is about 10 deg c above ambient, so I don’t take to much notice of it normally.
    When the shunts are operating, the battery box temperature can rise a bit more than this, but I will be stopping shunting shortly.
    The other comment I have is that when the temperature of the batteries is about 15 deg C the pack voltage drops to about 305V on maximum acceleration, and when the temperature is about 30 deg C the pack voltage only falls to about 315V.
    The only temperature protection I would consider, is if my local ambient temperature frequently went over 40 deg c, I would put forced ventilation into the boxes

  3. michel bertrand

    hello Jack and Richard. As if you guys don`t have enough to do, You will probably think that i`m evil when I say this,…But ,how would you feel about another conversion package contest? This could be a raffle ticket type contest that we could purchase on your site, spread over a few months and involve most if not all your viewers. Revenue generated could pay for the the dragstrip prizes at EVCCON 2013???. Maybe have weekly updates like those telethon type thermometers on an easel (something cheezy). You have probably thought of this before, but it`s worth a shot!
    Thankyou in advance for indulging the idea of a devoted, isane,ev lunatic like myself. P.S. AC-50s are so cool !!

  4. Hello Jack & Richard,

    Starting to get cold here in CT, will try and race into the 9’s this Saturday @ Lebanon Valley Dragway in NY if the rain holds out.
    I have added an additional module to up the voltage to compensate the battery sag @ 4000amps.

    I see no talk about A123 going bankrupt? Seems JCI (which I owned stock when I had money) is buying up most of their assets.
    “Johnson Controls plans to acquire A123’s automotive business assets, including its facilities in Livonia and Romulus, Michigan. The Milwaukee-based company also will obtain A123’s cathode powder plant in China and its equity interest in Shanghai Advanced Traction Battery Systems Co., A123’s joint venture with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. ”
    I kinda think this is a great step for American Lithium Battery production. JCI has been trying to buy their way into lithium production for over a year with a deal with Saft that went poof. This A123 buyout is their golden goose egg in my opinion. Hope to see new JCI lithium batteries on the market soon!


    Ron Adamowicz

  5. Your segment on adapting the AC50 to a transmission was hugely timely for me. I’m working with a machinist on our adapter and you answered a number of questions and helped me understand what good looked like.

    1. John (or anyone else in the know..), where exactly was the segment about AC50 and transmission? Long shows are nice but they are a biatch to find interesting bits again afterwards…

  6. Walter – and anyone else interested – the raw test data from my first two test series are available for download from In the spirit of good scientific practice the raw results are as written by the rig complete with gaps and glitches caused by Pachube communication errors. In both cases there is some summary data in Excel format with pretty graphs.

    , it is possible to use As with any statistical data as a drunk uses a lampost (for support rather than illumination). May the wisdom of crowds extract from it more useful conclusions that I have been able to draw.

    1. Doh: Last para should have read:

      “It is possible to use any statistical data as a drunk uses a lampost (for support rather than illumination). May the wisdom of crowds use these data to extract more useful conclusions that I have been able to draw.”

    2. Hi John,
      I loved your report this week and the data you showed. My car with 36 of the 130AH CALB SE series cells has been on the road for almost a year and over 4000 mi. now and I’ve attempted to make a similar trace plot of cell voltages during the final hour or so of the charge cycle for a small sampling of cells.

      It is a biased sampling as I was sure to include cells known to be at the extremes. As this graph shows though there can be vastly different behaviors between cells as they near the end of charge in the same battery pack. Notice that the traces are aligned to the charge termination point and that the transition point from CC to CV phase don’t align perfectly. This is due to the fact that each trace was measured during a different charge event as measurements were taken with a single data logging DMM but the behaviour and trends are representative of any single charge cycle.

      Also I measured the post charge resting voltage for the entire pack 24h after charge completion. All cells measured 3.337V +- 0.001V or stated another way the measured voltage of all cells only varied by 0.06%. I don’t know about you but I still get excited when I see numbers like this.

      Even though the end of charging can look a little wild at the individual cell level and even though this behaviour can change every time you charge based on things like temperature and charge current, as long as you aren’t messing around with what the cells want to do naturally (and of course as long as you’re not damaging them at the top or bottom) they will all get to the same charged end point reliably and repeatedly.

      This is pretty much what I took away from your video this week. I’d be very interested though to see the same test repeated with all 8 cells on the shunts. Were you still taking 7Ah out of the cells during this test?

      Being an engineer(I like to think my more OCD like qualities are a result of training and not a personal failing), one of the things I was constantly thinking about during my build was designing for inspection and what those inspection intervals should be. For the batteries, I’ll admit I was like madman with a voltmeter the first few times charging keeping an eye on everything and collecting data but it helped me learn a lot about my batteries. Today my inspection interval for batteries is every 2 months and hopefully soon I’ll have the confidence to reduce this to every 3 or 4 months. I check the physical connections every other inspection and I check voltages of all the cells during the last 10 minutes of a charge cycle. If I observe a cell over 3.65V during this inspection I take a little juice out with my trusty 0.1 Ohm power resistor. Honestly I’ve only had to drain cells maybe 6-8 times in the past year.

      Looking at your data for the shunted cells also got me thinking about inspections. How in the world could you have caught the cell that undervolted in a real situation until that event happened?

      1. I might suggest that you can avoid all that by undercharging your cells slightly. Try charging to 3.55 or even 3.50 v X number of cells as a target voltage. Most of what you are watching and worrying about kind of disappears. And you give up about two blocks of range in exchange
        for long battery life.
        It is perhaps not widely known that this is an option for both Tesla and Leaf owners – to not fully charge their packs. For Volt owners, it’s not even an option. They get to use 10.5 kWh out of a 16.5 kWh pack and it both undercharges them and underdischarges them.

        This gives GM the warm fuzzy feeling that they will last until the warranty expires. I suspect they will.

        Jack Rickard

      2. Just caught this John – looks very interesting and pretty much exactly the pattern I observed viz the cells staying together until shortly before top of charge and then a kind of starburst where the voltages diverge all at once. Many thanks for taking the time and trouble to do that.

        Mild OCD is good in pilots, engineers and doctors. Your perspective on inspection is good. I’m hoping that my BMS will be my son going round the battery boxes with a voltmeter: about every second outing initially and declining to twice a year. I’ve designed my packs so that they that the top one can be easily lifted out as a unit with an engine crane (overcentre catches)

  7. A couple of unrelated questions which I thought I’d still ask here since this seems to be the most informative and reliable forum on these topics.

    Regarding connecting cells in parallel. If I have a several cells that I’d like to hook up in parallel fashion what do you think would happen if I were to assemble them in packs of 25 connected in series and then parallel these packs? Would the power draw be equally distributed or would I end up in a situation where the pack nearest to the controller, (the shortest wires) gets emptied and perhaps even drawn below good voltages before the other packs further away would be empty?

    What if I used cells of different capacity in this scenario? If some of the packs were say 40 Ah and others 60 Ah would they balance between each other or could there be trouble?

    What about putting cells of different Ah capacity in parallel and then connecting them in series? For example 40Ah+60Ah in parallel with 25 of these pairs in series. Would that work ok?

    And a completely different question on motors. I got hold of two old Thrige-Titan TTL-200C DC motors made in Denmark. The factory has been long closed and the manufacturer no longer has any records on these motors. Luckily the brushes are hardly used on the other and mint on the other so I know their sizes, but the motor advance is the big question. They have an adjustment for it, but how would I go about measuring what the advance is now and what it should be to get maximum efficiency at whatever rpm seems to work for the motors?

    Thanks! -jake

    1. Hi Jarkko
      I would like to know what is written on the name plate ?

      But basically you need to have the brushes holder to stand neutral sone.
      It is not so problematic. Normally, it is marked with a small notch or paint. If not low because your own markup:

      First The engine must not be connected to anything menanisk.
      Second You must hve a revolution counter
      3rd A stable power supply, you can use a battery pack.
      4th a good voltmeter

      Connect the motor with + & – so it run about 1/3 of max rpm. notes your voltage down precist ligledes your speed, stop the engine and swap + & – so the engine driving the opposite way around, adjust volts into to what it was at first run. Now, your speed should be the same as before. If it is not, you can adjust the brush holder to fit, but beware it is sensitive, be sure to tighten all the bolts on the brush bridge as it will change your reslutat if you do not.
      If it is an engine with separate field be sure that the voltage must also be the same.

      As I remember it, you’re from finland, so if you want to change carbon brushes you can contact CARBEX in sweden. I would think they have carbon brushes type and data sheet of the motor.

      For further information about the motor, I can talk to some of my business partners, they might hold info on the motors?


      1. Allan,

        Thank you for the reply. You can see a picture of the nameplate in this blog post of mine:

        I have a laser tachometer being shipped to me right now so I will try your method once I get it and am back at the garage. I assume I can find out the neutral position this way?

        I am in Finland, yes, so a Swedish supplier would work. Luckily I have two sets of brushes so hopefully it will take while before I need new ones.

        1. Interestingly the second motor I have looks identical (except for the shaft length and key), but it doesn’t have a nameplate on it. I guess to make sure it’s also a series motor and not something else I can measure the resistance of the coils to see if they are identical as well.

          1. Hi Jarkko
            Nice set of motors !
            Now I’m just curious ….
            What will you mount the motors in?

            Motor for each front wheel or a motor to both front wheels and a motor for both rear or both motors in parallel?

            What you have is a motor in insulation class H which is 180 ° C continuous so your engines can tolerate some heat.

            As a starting point, I think the two engines are the same but set them up in a test rig and let them run parallel and compare them current, voltage and speed are the same.

            That one engine has no keyway has not much to say, but remember if you made ​​a keyway you must balance the otherwise it will shake.
            If you send it to balance so get it done as Q2 is more than fine.

            just a bit outside the topic
            one is forced to take into account where people are in the world, I would also like to have participated in EVCON, but it is far away and gets pretty expensive before you’re back home. Access ticket is the least of the cost, perhaps Jack would make an in-depth DVD with what was going on EVCON that people could buy. I know that Jack wants people to see everything on his side is free but altarnativet to no EVCON next year, I thought it’s ok.

            I would also like to buy in Jack store, but here comes the shipping and 25% VAT and further import duty on top of the amount. So when I buy locally (GB) something that is in jacks shop, I feel a bit like a parasite

            just a bit outside the topic.
            one is forced to take into account where people are in the world, I would also like to have participated in EVCON, but it is far away and gets pretty expensive before you’re back home. Access ticket is the least of the cost, perhaps Jack would make an in-depth DVD with what was going on EVCON that people could buy. I know that Jack wants people to see everything on his side for free but altarnativet to no EVCON next year, I think it’s a good idea.

            I would also like to buy stuff in Jack store, but here comes the shipping cost and 25% VAT and further import duty on top of the amount. So when I buy locally (DK) something that is in jacks shop, I feel a bit like a parasite. Maybe I should just donate some $ on his account and sleep well at night.

    2. Jarkko,

      The problem with building series packs first then paralleling would pertain to BMS and charging. The BMS identifies and controllers each cell, starting in parallel allows you to build as many cells in P which can be considered one cell to the BMS. If you were to connect all cells in series then parallel the strings you would need balance wires or a BMS board on each cell. I highly recommend connecting in parallel first then connect in series. I would never mix batteries with different AH, this will cause a problem when charging your pack.

      Ron Adamowicz

      1. I will not be doing any cell level stuff. I will bottom balance all cells and charge to a set voltage. That’s all. If I do any monitoring it’s total voltage and battery box temperature only. Temperature is quite important since we go from around -25 to 25 Celsius here so I will need to warm the boxes when it gets cold.

    3. Jarkko:

      The individual cells are already in parallel. About 400 cells all in parallel and pressed together into one box. There is no difficulty paralleling cells.

      There is also no difficulty in parallelling strings. They can be of different AH capacities and it will make absolutely no difference. In some cases, you can even parallel strings from different chemistries and manufacturers with very little problem. They do need to be very similiar in voltage as strings.

      Ron’s admonition about battery management systems may be true. Since we do not use them, I wouldn’t know. But we’ve actually experimented with A123 cells in parallel with sky energy cells in strings and it all sorts itself out quite nicely.

      Jack Rickard

  8. Allan,

    I will see if a single motor connected to the car’s original clutch and 5-speed manual transmission works. The car is a 1997 Citroën Xsara with curb weight of about 1200 kg. The original engine was 1.8 liter straight 4 with 81 kW of power.

    1. I’m sorry for my partially double post, it went if too fast even though it took a long time to write it SORRY …

      It sounds exciting with your Citroën. I have 21 Kw motor as Pek Power and the 16 kW continuous, my Renault is limited to 95 km per hour and I can run around. 190 km on one charge, with 42 160Ah bottom balanced batteries.
      They are charged with more than 200 AH.
      It is not an acceleration rate that is to be shouting about, but it follows the traffic fine.

      It is only temperature and sparks at the komutatoren and field winding which limit how much you can pull out of the engine, however, it becomes less effective when you get beyond 72 V or 220 A.
      but as a starting point should your engine also be at max load rather than idling. it will give you a good patina and long life to your carbon brushes. a rule of thumb saying “1mm wear on a carbon brush correspond to completed distance equivalent to once around the earth”

      I have no gear in the car, so I would assume that it probably be ok 12.6 Kw

      Good luck with your car, remember to set images into your web page.

      Remember if I can help with engine data, then just say so 🙂


      1. Thanks, Allan. I’ll add images whenever there is visible progress. 🙂 Sounds like you have a pretty similar setup although with a little more voltage. You’re getting very good mileage (around 132Wh/km by my calculation?). I wasn’t expecting to get away with much less than 200Wh/km (1350kg 3000lbs 300Wh/mi – Jack’s 1:10 rule of thumb). The brushes on the motor with the nameplate seem to be worn to match the commutator already so it may be good to go. On the other there’s only a slight worn patch in the middle of the brush. Perhaps I’ll post some brush images on the blog for the brush fanatics. 😉

        Like Grumpy I too am very concerned over the EU legislation which is making conversions of even slightly modern cars impossible. The 1997 Xsara was the newest I could find I could start working on with some confidence that it might pass the “MOT” inspection. It’s going to be a family car so having ABS, airbags and at least 3 stars on NCAP is a must. One can always convert old Beetles and whatnot, but they are a dying breed and not exactly with creature comforts or security. Kit cars as they are in the States simply do not exist in Europe (afaik). There is a rumour of a east European EV kit, but I’lld believe it when I see it.

        1. Hi
          Yes. your calculation is not wrong, it is eco drive 🙂 if I floor pedal all the time and it is in the city, I have approx. 150 – 160 KM.

          Yes …. You are right again. I would like to convert a BMW 318 in 2010 – 11, but it is quite hopeless. DK require an EMC test and it gives no guarantee that the car will pass MOT inspection. A emc test costs around $ 17500.
          EU rules is totally stupid. I have found a GERMAN web page which has some concept cars of Newer date. they have made a Fiat 500 and a Smart Roadster two slightly newer cars but still far from family cars. But there is also a long trip from Finland to Germany.

          last week, for the first time ever, I drove 70km in one run. It’s great not having to worry about if the batteries die out within the next 20 sec. (I had lead acid batterie in the car in early 2000) and I saw some shows with Jack and the missed Brian (not because I want to offend anyone or stepping on anybody’s toes, I just miss Brian) The broadcasts made ​​me retry. So all honor goes to Jack for his battery tests and to show what can go wrong during charging and discharging.

          PS : look forward to se your picture 🙂


  9. Being in Europe/ UK we have never been wed to the big V8 and Lazy engines. Over the last few years we have shifted dramatically to high power (100+bhp now heading over200Bhp) diesels which readily reach mid 60s to the gallon. (Ours is 4.54 ltrs against your 3.8). I do think 54mpg is a bit over enthusiastic. For us fuel costs are high at 2.1 dollars a litre, so moves towards Electric are also more interesting on a cost saving basis.
    We drive two EVs doing about 10,000 miles each per year, work and back. For 4 years we have used Citroen Berlingos, which are now off the road with terminal Nicad failures. SO for the moment we are using two converted smart cars with Lithiums. The one with no BMS works well the one with the BMS has much less range. Both with 24 cell 160ah Thunderskys. We lend them out at any opportunity and people are stunned at how they can manage with a vehicle doing about 40 miles max per charge. Its just a way of thinking and planning ahead. For us the cost of parts is much greater than the US, and Cells being the worst of all, I need 54 160AH cells for each of my Berlingos, and this will pay for its self over a 5 year ownership. as well as giving me an incresed range to about 80miles.
    The charging infrastructure is increasing here, but with a number of providers all with different access systems and now charging models. Most only provide the std UK 13amp 240v power outlets. A leaf / MIEV cost equivalent of about $45k with the Volt ./ amperra at about $50k Govt giving about $7.5k in new purchase subsidy.
    The EU legislation is a growing problem with there currently being a proposal (driven by the big manufacturers) to make any vehicle modifications illegal. This is being fought, but it will totally kill all conversion options if it ever gets through the European Law.

    1. EU regulation on converting existing cars to full electric drive may be tough but certainly not impossible. At least 3 conversion shops here in Holland can provide kits that have succesfully passed the UN/ECE directive # 10 (EMC) and # 100 (safety) with their modern (Smart) or classic car (2CV Citroen) conversions, with well known motors and controllers in the EV DIY world.
      And legislation on the way to make conversions impossible in Europe? I am curious where that news comes from…

      1. It’s not that it’s impossible, but it’s being made hard and expensive plus you need to have (at least in Finland) electrician’s license to go above 120 VDC. It’s much easier to make things difficult than it is to ban them completely. A ban is easier to fight than multitude of requirements. Add to that the fact (again at least in Finland) anything above 120 VDC is union work and you need to file a report to the national Safety and Chemicals Agency before you can repair high voltage electric vehicles.

  10. Jack, Thanks for the compliment on the TD. I confess I had a lot of help on this one. When I got it back from Pro Automotive it was literally a brand new roller not unlike the Speedsters you’ve done, very clean and accessible. I also had Rebirth Auto mate the adapter and flywheel to the motor and take care of balancing the clutch pack. The total time doing the conversion, wiring and installing the 12 volt systems, interior, windshield and trim was about three weeks. It helped that I was using many components that were reclaimed from the eBugeye, so there was no puzzle about how to fit it all together.

    I think what makes it stand out from the last build is that all the batteries are hidden and nearly all the wiring is captured in split loom. Of course painting the under hood area in black makes all the imperfections disappear.

    Thanks for your ongoing inspiration and information. EVCCON has been a joy both years, and equally important, provided a deadline to reach so the projects actually get finished.

  11. Jack, I like the idea of a dyno. I don’t know how tied you are to the idea of driving an electric load such as a generator but I had an idea. I have looked into building a small motorcycle dyno and there are several diy sites online that can help with this. It is quit simple, basically you have a drum of a specific weight and it’s rotational speed and timing is monitored with a sensor and feed into a pc program. The way it all works is the program is given the weight of the drum and and the program measures the rpm and the amount of time it takes to get to a rpm to calculate the the amount of power. Instead of driving the drum with the rear wheel of a motorcycle an electric motor can be tied to it to spin it up. A chain or cog belt could be used. To get your power back into the batteries a generator could be driven from the drum and be turned on once the dyno pull is made to put the power back into the batteries. I guess your 60% number would likely be really close. This is something that would do what you want measuring the power of the motors and not cost a ton of money. Here is a web site with info of a guy that built one for a bike:
    maybe that will be some help.

  12. I was very concerned to hear a report on the BBC “Today” radio programme this morning that a British company was “making petrol from air”. “Today” is a highly respected programme that frequently interviews prime ministers and the like and is widely listened to by opinion formers. There is so much FUD (fear uncertainty and doubt) in the area of energy and transport fuels, that I would have expected a respected programme like “Today” to have dug a bit deeper before reporting a press release strapline without reading the text.

    For AFS (Air Fuel Synthesis) are not making petrol from air. They are making it from methanol. Their claim to carbon neutrality is that the methanol is created by hydrolysing water using electricity from wind turbines.

    This is utter claptrap. It can be done but it is not even remotely scalable. It is also stupidly inefficient. Why not use the electricity directly in electric vehicles with 80 – 90% efficiency rather than convert it into petrol only to incur Carnot cycle losses burning it in cars at between 5% and 30% efficiency? To add insult to injury, none of the elements are new: the Germans made synthetic petrol in WW2. Electrolysis of water may have occurred a couple of thousand years ago in what is now Iraq.

    1. I hear you John. There is so much misinformation out there it makes you want to cry. You experiments have shown to a reasonable level of accuracy that many of the myths surrounding how Li batteries behave are wrong, but I still hear them repeated all of the time.

      The press and government never seems to get it right here in the U.S. either.

      Here in the US we convert corn to Ethanol, Unfortunately no one points out the simple fact that it takes nearly a gallon of diesel to make a gallon of Ethanol when you figure in the fuel needed to plow, plant, harvest, and transport the corn. This does not even include the several kwHr needed to actually distil the product or the kwHr needed to make the Diesel.

      It makes absolutely no sense from an engineering or environmental stand point. It would not even be economically feasible if it was not for government farm subsidies…

        1. Absolutely Andy. Jean Ziegler of the UN described first gen (crop based) biofuels as a crime against humanity. I agree. It puts SUV drivers in the same dinner queue as the wretched of the earth. One tank of ethanol is said (I haven’t checked the numbers) to equate to feeding a child for one year. A nasty horrid thing from a western society that seems to value environmental political correctness more than morality.

          And if we persevere and prevail we get to see biofuels kicked into touch, AS WELL as asthmatics able to breath in city centres and oil staying in the ground so out grandchildren can still fly the Atalantic.

          I’m just off out to the garage…

      1. As one who has made quite a bit of ethanol, once you HAVE the corn, it takes more natural gas to cook it down and ferment it, then distill it, than it has energy IN it once you are done.

        That said, all is not lost. If you put it in a charred oak barrel for a year, and then drink it. You tend to forget the purpose of the original experiment entirely.


    2. John,
      You know what I think of the BBC. Here is proof.
      I have read this website ( ) and managed to hang on to their utterly boring claptrap of a video on youtube
      ( ) almost half way until I was almost driven crazy from hearing those famous memes of the half-witted, ad nauseum. Get on and knock yourself out.
      It’s a pyramid scam claiming (Carbon) money for wind turbines plus secondary public funds for making the fuel while offering 25% conversion efficiency at best which means a claim for erecting four wind turbines to make one useful one to produce the fuel.
      The UK as we know, due to gross public mismanagement is now heading for a severe energy deficiency due to mass importation of useless people, taxation diverted to pay for unwanted jobs, taxation to pay for “green”, allowing all our national assets that ensures our security to fall into disrepair and buying off every possible means of informed protest like the unions, intellectual bodies and “scientists” under the “progressive” banner.
      Those whipping boys make me want to puke.

    3. I agree John. It is all a distraction. Just like the claim that liquid nitrogen will be driving our cars. Claptrap!
      Someone is worried about the fact that the masses might quite like the idea of driving around on sunshine produced on their own roof.

        1. I see more movement to go to AC fast charge , In Europe with three phase service available everywhere, and cars from oem trying fo get avantage of this , there is option on several cars, Smart for two electric, Renaut Fluense electric to take avantage from three phase high power.
          The current standart J1772/ IEC 61851 allows charging at three phase and 63A this at 400V is about 43 kW of power

          1. With commercially made ev’s all being three phase of some sort with similar voltages the difference between charging and driving is…….?.
            French ev’s recharge on three phase with these:-
            I’ve seen adaptor leads to j1772 with Zerocarbonworld in the UK.
            Not sure if the Elcon 8KW charger due to the high load is single or three phase; can anyone say?

  13. Thank you for the show today. Once again your timing is uncanny – battery boxes and bottom balancing are very much on the menu for us.

    One question Jack – in your experience if you just string CALB cells together out of the shipping crate and then discharge the pack, how close are they to being bottomed balanced? The battery testing I’ve done makes me suspect that they would be close but I wonder whether you have tried it?

    1. John:

      They arrive charged to approximately 60% SOC or 40% DOD. We used to install them and take them down to 3.00v by driving. Then use the heater to take them down to 2.75v. Then add or subtract.

      Now we usually just do it cell by cell when we install in the car.

      Jack Rickard

      1. Sorry Jack, but I have to share that my experience with the delivery of grey cells we got from you do not match that expectation. We discharged in sets of 6 till the first hit 2.8v then took each down individually to 2.65. Most were within 6ah of each other, but a handful did not match that and If I recall correctly, there was about 20ah between the most and least full from the factory. I apologize for not having specifics at the moment. I’ll get the google doc shared and linked to shortly.
        Bottom line is that I would be hesitant to strap up more than a handful at a time for the initial bottoming.

  14. PowerLab 8 is just a wonderful product. I finally found the right combination for charging and discharging the large format cells. But I wanted to add that when you do your discharge you can actually discharge exactly like you charge with a CC/CV algorithm. So you CAN take your cells down to 2.75 volts and it will do so and hold that 2.7 volts to a very low amperage. Just like charging. It takes a bit longer but pretty much allows you to not have to go back over the cells later to trim them up. I did find a tiny bit on a couple cells but it pretty much held nearly at like 2.79 volts after they all settled out. I like it. I am using my large solar back up batteries for my power. Gobbs of AH’s available and can do a whole pack with out worry of overcharging the lead lunker. In my experience with the lead acid vs the lithium, even the worst of the older LiFePO4 chemistry is way better than the best of the lead acid or NiMH or NiCADs.

    1. Hi Peter,
      I agree that the powerlab is a great tool. I’ve been reconditioning some spare battery pack nimh stick modules for my Honda civic hybrid.cycling them with my powerlab greatly improved their capacity.

  15. Paul Sanguinetti

    I’ve been following the process of bottom balancing and there is something I don’t understand. Since batteries of all sizes are just cells configured in series and parallel connections, why can’t you just connect all your cells in parallel and bottom balance them together at the same time? I know they’d all have to start out relatively the same voltage to avoid a spark when connected, but at about 3 volts would that really be a significant issue? After a fairly short interval wouldn’t all cells soon rest at the same voltage?

    As far as turning EV into a business, some of us old farts just like working on cars and I for one don’t fancy the idea of having to deal with customers.

    1. Paul:

      You are quite correct, you could put all cells in parallel. It would be a massive strap up job. But worse, it doesn’t save much. You still have to take them down to 2.75 volts. The voltage differences up on the flat part of the curve aren’t great enough to actually adjust the SOC much.

      I’m picturing a 5000 AH battery bleeding it down to 2.75 volts from 60% SOC. It would take about 3 weeks. But yes, it could be done.

      A lot of people just want to work on a project. We have some local hot rod/ Corvette guys that have had something on the rack for over 30 years.

      But you would be surprised at the number of viewers that see themselves making a living in the EV space somehow.

  16. Maury Markowitz

    “The government has estimated it will cost $3000 per car when fully implemented. In order to reach 54 mpg you either get to pay $60,000 more for the car, or learn to settle for little bitty gasoline powered cars.”

    I get 54.5 mph in my Civic Hybrid. It’s hardly “little bitty” (surprisingly portly in fact) and it certainly doesn’t cost $60,000.

    Frankly I think Toyota’s the smart one… the Camry Hybrid is about $1000 more than the base gasoline model here in Canuckistan. It gets 45 to 50 without too much trouble, and they use NiMH and no plug in. A switch to LiIon and an offboard charger and I suspect they’d hit CAFE with no other changes. Why bother with an all electric in the short term?

    So the $3000 per car sounds roughly right to me, or maybe a little on the high side. People happily drop that much on idiot features like nav systems and a moon roof, so frankly I don’t think this is a real problem. Not that they won’t complain about it…

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