In the past three weeks, I've had a total of 8 viable hours to work on the EV. I used six of them. You wouldn't think it would take so long; all that's left is putting the batteries back in, then wiring it all together. But then, you're not working in a hot garage in Florida.

This weekend, I used both Friday afternoon and all day Sunday to work on the car. I didn't get as much accomplished as I had hoped; the heat is just exhausting. My wife was afraid I was going to die from dehydration.

New, Improved Access Holes

In the earlier six hours, I managed to make most of the waiting decisions and implement them. In particular, the access holes have been bothering me. I found I could cut the driver's side access hole about four times bigger without compromising anything, so I did. It's now big enough to insert my whole hand, allowing me to reach at least one of the concealed batteries.

Of course, that begs the question: could changing the battery placement allow me to reach both batteries? I'll mostly just want to look at their regulator lights and occasionally check their voltages with a probe. I pushed a couple of batteries around to test it out, and decided that moving the two rear batteries up against the driver's side would, in fact, make them both accessible enough for my purposes. Of course, I'd have to cut new wires for the four those batteries used.

Rear Pack Config

I did it anyway. In the interests of better safety, I used my sabre saw (a thoughtful gift from my wife last hurricane season) to cut two spacers from a piece of scrap 3/4" plywood. The old coroplast side spacers will be used to separate them vertically, providing some bracing at both top and bottom. I kept the original coroplast length spacer, but I moved it from the back to the middle. That finished up the six hours' work. I also removed the terminal covers from the inside terminals, so I wouldn't have to reach around them when I tried to measure voltage.

Newly Reinstalled Pack
It's not a working day without an injury.

Friday, I installed the rear pack, in its new configuration. I only shocked myself once, by leaning my sweaty arm across some exposed terminals. The pack is tight: the batteries don't just fall into place, they need to be added in the largest available space and moved to the correct location. If you thought, "That implies the last battery will be quite difficult to get in or out," move to the head of the class. That's how I got the pictured blood blister. Thankfully, that was the biggest injury of the day.

Unfortunately, when I put in that "keystone" battery, I didn't use the battery handle. That meant I couldn't get it back out. Rather than leaving this problem until I was stranded, late at night, on a busy highway with no shoulder, hot and exhausted, in the rain, I decided to deal with it immediately. That way I was only hot and exhausted. I jiggled it around, levering up a corner at a time, pushing the other batteries, carefully avoiding crushing my fingers. The handle slipped into the first side easily, but the second side was a half-hour ordeal, with several false starts. I eventually removed and reinserted the battery, just to make sure the handle was secure.

When I wired everything up, only one regulator showed a red light. This makes me worry. It's on the #2 battery, tucked halfway under the seat on the passenger's side. I can reach the terminals, but the regulators are harder. I eventually got the negative terminal disconnected and reconnected, but it's still red. This worries me because I had charged all the batteries individually just a month ago, and the red light means "undervoltage". I checked all the connections again. I'm concerned I charged it backwards and reversed a cell or something. I'm reserving judgement until the first group charge.

Saturday, I timed the year's last swim meet. It was incredibly hot and uncomfortable. I was exhausted by the time we got home. I couldn't even play video games, let alone work on the car.

Sunday, I went to work early. I bolted the charger back down and threaded the Regbus wire through the rear seat to the #1 battery regulator. I went out and bought some bolts to hold on the motor wires. I took the family out to lunch. I hooked up the motor wires, discovering that I haven't documented the proper connections; I resolved to update my wiring diagram and add additional diagrams with more details. I deduced the appropriate connections; we'll see if it runs backwards again.

The A/C compressor pulley was right next to the A2 motor connector, so I moved that whole assembly over about an inch (what a pain). I put the 12-volt accessory battery back in, which involved removing the battery tray bolts, so the battery hold-down could be inserted (a literally incredible pain: why in the world do we need FOUR BOLTS to hold on the BATTERY TRAY? The TIRES get four bolts! And why can't the tie-down rod simply be inserted without removing the tray in the first place?).

After I pried the battery tie-down into place, I put the well-labeled wires on their connetions. I wish we had labeled all the wires a little better, but I think I can figure everything out. I considered putting the four remaining main batteries back in. But that would be foolhardy, since there were still unconnected wires behind their rack. One of them went to the heater relay, which wasn't immediately apparent. I finally found it, dangling; I discovered that one of the heater wires had pulled itself out of its crimp-on connector, but I didn't have any more. So I spent about half an hour trying to un-crimp this one. I succeeded, well enough: after all, there are three wires going to the heater anyway, so this one isn't exactly critical. I also decided that the heater relay got its power from the adjacent main contactor, and that I had therefore installed it backwards. I rerouted the power wire to connect them.

The heater relay was shaky, so I got Melissa to hold the bolt tops while I tightened them from under the car. She's really interested in riding the EV to school on the first day.

I was exhausted, and running out of time, because the swim team end-of-year pool party was coming up. It took me 15 minutes to reconnect the heater relay wire, which we had simply cut, with a crimp-on straight connector. That's when I realized how tired I was. I mean, the encroaching darkness wasn't helping, but 15 minutes to crimp two wires together? Please.

I thought I would drown at the party, but it was actually quite refreshing. And I'm getting closer. School starts next week, and my car might actually be driveable. I just need to finish the connections, put in the main pack batteries, and put on new wheels. I can make it. I know I can.