At last, the Silent E moves! Just a few quick runs around the block, with charging in between, to break in the batteries. Then on to the tax collector -- to fight the Red Tape Monster.
First things first: the drive was awesome. Every converter says they have problems on that first drive, and I did, too. But it was still awesome.
The biggest problem, which will not be solved, was the whistle at very low acceleration. That's a characteristic of the Curtis 1231C controllers, and I'll just have to live with it until I can afford a Zilla. And then until Otmar can get around to building one; I understand he's swamped. But the noise went away as I pressed the pedal. As we went around the block, it was a quiet, smooth ride. Just fantastic.
The second disturbance in my force was the vacuum pump. Maybe I'll get a muffler. Or a bigger reservoir. Or something. It's just too loud, and it comes on every time I even touch the brake.
The small crowd of family onhand to witness the event were excited as we pulled in. We pulled into the garage and reviewed the big stuff from the test drive: a grinding noise as we hit high RPMs, a stink coming from the motor, and the extremely stiff steering wheel. We figured out the other stuff later, but the steering problem is either going to require a pump or a manual rack, which runs $423 from the dealer. Meanwhile, I'm going to get really strong pushing that thing around.
I let Nathan drive for the second run, and he took all the kids out. They enjoyed it quite a bit, but the motor stench was even worse when we pulled in.
After another half-hour recharge, we took it out for the real test: to the DMV! Only two miles there, but the farthest run of the day. Nathan and my middle daughter, Melissa, came with me.
We actually got to try it over some speed bumps, which was nice. It showed us that the suspension was functioning within expected limits. The bump wasn't too hard, and everything seemed to work well. But as we pulled away, the car gave three lurches and stopped dead. The meter dropped to 50V.
Nightmare. This is exactly the kind of embarrasment I was afraid of. The meter slowly dropped to 1V. We looked around, trying to find the short, but couldn't see anything. I noticed one of the motor terminals was loose, but there were no scorch or burn marks. We discovered we hadn't brought a voltmeter. I called Eri and asked her to bring us some tools.
Then Nathan lifted a battery cover and discovered that one of the terminals had come off. Sure enough, it was scorched and melted. Amazingly, we were 50 feet away from a garage. When I explained that my electric car had popped a terminal, and could I please borrow some wrenches, one of them immediately took interest. He was impressed, calling it "crazy" multiple times. He even got his boss out to have a look. The boss thought "the future" was converting cars. By the time Eri showed up, we had tightened everything down and were ready to drive off.
On the way to the DMV, the high-end rattle was gone. The stink was dissapating. Everything was smooter than ever. We believe the loose motor bolt was causing all the motor problems: the spark probably sounded like a rattle, and the mephitic odor was probably the dip-on insulation burning off.
That was the end of the smooth ride, though. At the DMV, I handed over my signed title. They said they also wanted a bill of sale. The web site says I only need a signed title. I don't have anything like that. They said I needed to get one. A handwritten note would be fine. I briefly considered forging one; after all, where's the ethical problem in forging a document with accurate information? But that's a federal crime, and I have no desire to lose my clearance, among the other dire consequences.
I had no bill of sale, or anything like it, in my glove box. I tried the end run: what if the I can't contact the original owner? Them: you have to. Me: what if he's dead? Final Answer: better hope he's not.
I eventually headed on home, after getting the VIN verification form done. Now I don't need to have the vehicle physically there. A phone search failed to turn up the owner on the title, a Dan Lindberg. But we hadn't bought it from him anyway. We bought it from his daughter, for whom he had pre-signed the title. Thankfully, my brother's girlfriend Amy remembered the name of the girl he bought it from: Amber Rubarth. She's a pop vocalist with a website.
Paging Amber Rubarth. Amber Rubarth, please pick up the white courtesy phone. Email me some bill of sale so I can legally get to work!
So, the Red Tape Monster has defeated me for today. Tomorrow I think I'll try a different office; maybe the guy there won't require the bill of sale.