• The EVDL consistently says that mixing old and new batteries is a bad idea. These might be considered new, but with the discharge damage, I'm not so sure. After all, I built the car for electricity's reliability; I don't want to be constantly checking and maintaining batteries.

    So I decided to take the two stinkers out. Rather than leave empty spaces, I decided to move the two inaccessible batteries into their places. Sunday I rewired everything for the new battery configuration, keeping as much of the old wire as possible in case I ever decide to go back to 144V. I also fixed a problem with the ground connector for my main contactors: the small screw that was both acting as ground and holding the accessory tray to the battery box had sheared off. I drilled two new holes and inserted screws, each slightly larger than the original ground screw.

    Of course, that still leaves empty spaces where the inaccessible batteries were. And I don't want batteries sliding around in the unlikely event that I ever get into trouble.

    That ought to hold 'em

    So I built a brace to hold the batteries in place. It fits nicely into the trapezoidal area where the inaccessible batteries used to live. The six remaining batteries in the back box should fit nicely in the 13.5" x 29" box remaining. (The trapezoid is 21" long on its shorter side, and has a 10" base, in case you were wondering.) At 6" tall, the brace fits just under the battery lids, so any impact will lie completely on the base instead of knocking a lid off.

    Thanks to my friend Jerran's help, the whole thing was done in an hour or so. We used screws I had lying around and some 3/4" plywood scrap left over from when I made a bottom for Tatiana's bed. It's not perfect, but it's functional.

    Not much left to do! I need to refill the tranny, put on the wheels, and... oh, yeah... put the batteries back in. Oh, I should probably recalibrate my E-Meter and charger, too. But then I'm ready to go. I hope to make my historic second first ride on July 4th. My country will declare its independence at the same time my car does.

  • I've been subscribed to Republican fund-raising newsletters for some time now. I suppose that's what happens when you write to your senator, asking him nicely to stop effing things up. Maybe it was from the petition I signed, or the survey I filled out.

    Usually they're fear-mongering claptrap. "Those tax-and-spend Democrats are trying to create a filibuster-proof supermajority in the Congress so they can give eleventy-seven QUAZILLION DOLLARS to the terrorists, and they'll succeed in their mad plan to DESTROY AMERICA if you don't donate $60 to the Republican party now!" Sometimes it's about how everybody can see right through {Democratic candidate}'s misguided / idiotic / self-serving / money-grubbing rhetoric, but our upstanding Republican hero needs my money to get elected in {completely unrelated state}.

    They sent me a doozy this time, and I just had to share (their emphasis, not mine; and I also like the way that their emphasis stopped just short of "nuclear". They want me to pay attention to the words they think I want to hear, not the ones that might turn me off):

    We Republicans believe the key to our future is sensible exploration of our own oil resources and an expanded commitment to alternative forms of energy, like nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal and hydrogen power.

    Just like President Bush has been actively opposing for the past eight years! I especially like how they're letting the solar tax incentive expire this year; that should expand our commitment to alternative forms of energy. I'm also fond of the big tax breaks they gave SUVs, and the way they changed it a few years ago to include the biggest cars ever made, but exclude hybrids. Oh, yeah! The way that converting to an electric car has NO incentives is motivating, too!

    I'm sure their perfectly sane plan to drill for oil off the coast of Florida will have gas prices down to practically nothing soon. Wait, what? It won't produce any oil for at least 7 years, the only oil we've ever found is low-grade, and we don't have enough refineries to do anything with it? Money well spent!

    But surely McCain's $300 million battery prize shows the necessary commitment. What's that? The batteries exist already, but a single oil company holds the patent and won't let anyone produce batteries useful for anything bigger than a flashlight? Give 'em the reward, they deserve it!

    It's almost like the Republicans are trying to throw the race. And that makes me nervous; I mean, we know there's a huge mess to be cleaned up, but this could indicate that there's a huge bomb hidden somewhere in the middle of it, just waiting for the next president to find it.

    Meanwhile, my electric car is crippled for lack of affordable batteries. I guess we'd better start drilling for oil off the coast!

  • My wife turns... um... another year older today! We would've liked to have a day of celebration, but there's work, and kids, and friends in dire need of assistance. But that won't stop me from wishing her a happy birthday immediately!

    I'm taking a half-day, and we hope to watch WALL-E this afternoon. For dinner, we've planned a garlic party with a friend of ours.

    Happy birthday, Eri! I love you!

  • Sulfated Terminal

    Well, I took them out of the car so I could weigh them and see if any had been venting. I found out I don't have a scale that accurate.

    Deathly Hollow?
    Completely damaged everything around it

    I also found out that one of my two stinkers has a corroded terminal. There's sulfur dust all over it. The terminal and the connector were sulfated together; I had to hit it with a hammer to get it loose, and when I did, I stripped the outer layer of the terminal off. (Pictures posted 2008-07-02.)

    So now I need to make a decision: I can bet the batteries have had such light use that they're close to new and replace the stinkers with new ones, or I can remove the two stinkers. My car will lose a little range (more than the 1/6th you'd expect, because they'll all be working harder, and when batteries work harder they work for less time), but I don't need much.

    My controller will go down to as few as 8 batteries, but my DC/DC converter is skirting the lower end of its range at 10 batteries.

    Decisions, decisions...

  • One reason I haven't been posting much lately is that I've been trying to get my batteries charged. When one started blinking, I stopped charging, measured all the batteries, and drained them a bit: about 1A for 10 or 15 minutes, so 0.25AH. I figured I'd be draining the full one and allowing everybody to get a good charge when I started again.

    A post on the EVDL told me I was killing my batteries again by draining them before they were full.

    Now I've been charging at 0.5A - 1A for more than a week. Whenever the voltage stays constant for 8 or 10 hours, I turn off the car for a day or so and start again. There has been progress: now 7 batteries are blinking, one has charged high enough to turn off its red 'undervoltage' light but doesn't blink (that one really concerns me), and my voltage has stabilized at 167.0 while charging.

    So I turned the charger off. This morning the pack read 143.0V. While that may sound close to fully charged, it really ought to be reading about 156V.

    My plan is to let hit them with as much current as I can until the first one starts to blink. To prevent gassing, I'll then turn down the current to 1A. I hope this shakes loose whatever sulphation is causing my problem.

    Continue reading "Judebert's EV Conversion Diary: Serial Battericide"