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The Conversion

My brother, Nathan, and I have always been fascinated by EVs (Electric Vehicles). He's hooked on hybrids, while I've always liked straight battery power. He's a mechanic, I'm a computer scientist with a mathematical bent. It all started coming together when my 1990 Geo Prizm Hatchback started to act like it would make a good conversion car: the engine was starting to burn oil, the power steering started to leak, and the rack needed to be replaced. I fixed a leak that was flooding my trunk every time it rained, and we were ready to go.

Then I got rear-ended. The place that fixed the car did a poor job, so the leak came back. After that, I wouldn't trust the frame. And Nathan decided to move to Reno, NV.

Were we deterred? Hell, no. Over the (sensible) objections of our wife and girlfriend, we decided to make a go of it anyway, with Nathan doing all the hard work in Reno and me supervising from Orlando. Then he could come visit for some occasion, and tow the EV along.

This is the story of our "long-distance" conversion.

The Birth of an EV
EV Requirements and Budget Before Nathan left, we decided exactly what the EV would have to do. From that, we made a cost estimate.
Getting the Parts We started by assembling our own conversion kit.
The Victim Donor Car That Oldsmobile was ugly. We found something better.
Motor Mods We had to adjust the motor for its new home; that included new brush timing. And would someone please verify the state of the motor parts?
The Tranny From Hell We just wanted to change the transmission oil, really. This is one of the funniest things I've ever read. Rated Y7 for some cursing.
Fill Tube A very nice solution to the "polished" fill plug.
Adapter Trouble A swarm of bad luck set in right about there, including delays for the adaptor.
Adding the Heater Yes, this is Florida. Yes, I still want a heater.
Where's the Adapter? In rhyme.
The Adapter Arrives! I always thought it was a myth!
The Batteries are Here! The big purchase! The big, heavy purchase. Oh, I hope these all fit.
Family Fun We start trying to install batteries, and find a way for the kids to help out.
Frustrating Weeks There's only one big thing left to do, and then a bunch of little stuff. So why can't I get anything done?
Baby Steps Okay, I'm making progress. SLOWLY. I do make sparks, twice. That earns me the nickname "Spark Lad" on the EV list.
Birth, Backwards, Blood We get it to run... backwards. And we've got a minor but messy injury to boot.
First Drive, Red Tape At last, I've got a working EV! But will it be legal?
Not Done Yet I took the kids to school on their first day in the EV. But that, and subsequent test drives, only reveal problems that I have to fix.
Barely Legal We fight the Red Tape Monster again. I actually let my wife take the first drive in my LEGAL electric vehicle.
Tales of an EV Owner
You Call That a Disaster? THIS is a Disaster! The story of my life: I've legally owned it for less than a week before I destroy it.
The Aftermath Not every disaster brings recovery. But they all bring investigations. Whose fault is it? How bad is it? What were we thinking? Would it be best to just quit now?
Our First Assessment So how broken is it? VERY broken. NOW is it bad enough to quit?
How NOT to Pack a Motor I packed the broken motor to ship to Jim. The box was torn to shreds on arrival, although the motor was undamaged. Heck, it's a big hunk of metal.
The Hiatus is Over! Haven't done much with the car lately, but that's all about to change. We did some light work, ending the hiatus and preparing for more difficult tasks in the future.
Accessing the Inaccessible I now know that I'll need to check these batteries regularly, at least while they break in. Too bad they're stuffed under the car where nothing can reach them.
Rebuilt Motor Jim Husted of Hi-Torque Electric did a great job on my motor! Now the real work can begin!
Wiring Diagram I developed this wiring diagram. It is meant to be reasonably complete. Please critique it, keeping in mind that I An Not An Engineer, so the symbology is probabaly incorrect.