110: Sunday 31st January 2010

I took the power steering pump off again. The plan is to modify the pipework and use the Citroen pump and reservoir as this is the correct pump for the motor. This might not be as powerful as the Probe pump, but it should not overload the motor. I am not fussy about the steering so long as it is comfortable to drive. My old Fiesta has no power steering and I am sure this will be better even with a smaller pump. The main difference is that the Citroen pump is designed to work from a 12v motor compared to the Probe pump that is designed to be belt driven by an engine. I took the banjo connection of the pump and removed the connector that the banjo fixed to on the pump. The Citroen pump has a threaded connection directly to the pump. I was hoping the connector from the Probe pump would go straight into the thread on the Citroen pump, but it was not to be. I now need to get an adapter or have a short pipe made. I then set about changing the heater. I decided there were a couple of niggly jobs I wanted to do with the heater controls before I stripped the interior out of the car. First was to make the heater relay so that it would only work when the blower was on. I decided to try to figure out why the engine module connection that works from fan positions 3 & 4 was not working before. I stripped the blower control switch right down to the contacts. I realised that the connection was direct to ground from positions 3 & 4. I can only assume that where I was picking up the connection at the other end of a loom something was not right there. I know that this special engine connection only went to the engine controller and since this has been removed I just cut the wire and gave myself enough to connect just behind the heater control panel. I put the switch back together and connected the blower connection to the heater relay and it now works o.k. I also wired this in series with the spare button on the panel, so both connections have to be made in order for the heater to work. The button had an LED indicator on it and that was not working either. I checked through the circuit and found that my original assumption about the connections were wrong and I picked up a supply and tried running through some resistors to make the indicator work. It did and I tried some different resistors to get the brightness about the same as the others on the panel. I then disconnected everything and took the panel into the garage to solder it all in place properly. I then rewired it all back in the car. Now the indicator comes on when the both switches are closed i.e. the fan is on position 3 or 4 and the button is latched in, with the ignition key in position 2. At last some progress. I intend to now take the interior out to get the heater core out of the heater box and replace it with the new 120v core. Hopefully I will get my brake calipers back this week, so I can fit these on, bleed it all, and get it back on its wheels. Just the power steering problem to solve then and it will be ready to put in for and Engineers report and MOT test.

109: Saturday 30th January 2010

I now have the replacement DC-DC converter and the 120v ceramic heater core. The DC-DC converter is an updated version directly from the manufacturer, but the case is slightly wider than the one I had before and this means that I need to make a new bracket as this does not fit in the battery hold down bracket anymore. My friend in America has sent me the heater core, but he also kept all the wiring and switches intact and sent it all to me connected, so I can match the wiring to what I already have. It looks about the same size as the 240v one that it will be replacing. Today I was trying to get the power steering working properly. I bled the pump by adding some fluid and working the steering from side to side. This made little difference and the motor was running very slow and getting hot like it was on load all the time even when the steering was not being used. I took the system off the car in case the pipework was stressed where I have moved the pump several times. I slackened and refitted it all back together. I ran the pump on the bench with a battery and then it was fast and ran freely. I put the system back on the car and bled it again, but it was still very slow once the air had gurgled through. The fuses blew this time too. I ran it with a jump cable and it ran slowly still. I am concerned about the amount of load on the motor.

108: Sunday 24th January 2010

No football training on Saturday as my daughter was ill, but every time I went to do something I started coughing again. Rubbish week! Today I felt a bit better, but still coughing a bit, I decided to push on and get some work done. First job to check out the power steering cooler pipe. I jacked the front of the car up, got my lead light and no sooner had I got on the floor to look, it started raining. I got out my rain cover and set it all up just in time for the rain to stop, go figure! The cooler pipe was absolutely rotten. I found that to renew this I will need to remove the front bumper. For now I re-routed the pipes and by-passed the cooler. I put the last of the fluid that I had into the reservoir, but it was not enough to fill it. It was too late in the day to get some more as the shops were then shut. Next job to replace the brake vacuum pump. When I took the vac pump off I realised how difficult it was to get to the nuts from under the brackets, as I had to remove the Anderson connector from the bracket. When I put the pump back, I put the bolts through from underneath and fixed them with a nut so there were 4 threads sticking up for the pump to drop on to. This was much easier to fit going back on. I re-fitted the Anderson connector and connected up the pipes to the vac pump. I had the vacuum gauge on the T piece and linked out the vacuum switch connection to see how much vacuum was being pulled. This was now pulling down to 20 inches mercury (0.065 MPa). The old pump would only pull 15 inches mercury this is the minimum needed for a good brake. So I removed the vacuum gauge and fitted the vacuum switch to the T piece and wired the switch connections. When I powered this up, the pump ran for about 15 seconds then cut-out as expected. When I pressed the brake pedal it took about 3 seconds to recharge the brakes. The switch is set to come on when the vacuum drops below 15 inches mercury and go off when 20 inches mercury is reached. This is what is happening. I routed everything and secured the pipe clips then had a quick run up-and-down the drive and the brakes feel really good (especially since the rear brakes are worn out). I also switched on the power steering and the for the first time I was able to get back on the driveway in one go as I could actually steer the car. I believe the 12v battery is dead or dying as it is not holding a charge. The power steering pump has quite a heavy current demand on the 12v system when the car is stationary. I will try this again when I have it topped-up with fluid. Finally I turned the car round and jacked up the back end of the car. I then removed the rear brake discs, pads and calipers. I will be putting new discs and pads on the rear. I had new ones on the front not so long ago. I am having the calipers checked to see if they are serviceable. The left caliper had the hand brake jammed on for quite some time. I hope it can be released or else I will need to replace the calipers as a pair. This is an expense I can do without, but there can be no compromise on the brakes. I shall receive the DC-DC converter on Friday. I got a friend in America to buy me a ceramic heater and send it to me. I should receive this some time this week. Next weekend I will need to remove the interior to get to the heater again, so I can fit the new heater ceramic core. The reason I had to get a friend to send me one was because I cannot buy 120v ceramic core in this country (for a reasonable price) and what I can get is a 240v ceramic core or a 110v infra-red heater, but this would melt the heater box. The 240v heater I have now just does not give enough heat when connected to 120v. I worked this out to be 375 watts, but with the new heater I should get about 1500 watts of heat. This should be nice and toasty, but more importantly it will keep the windscreen clear. After this I just need to get the windscreen replaced and I am all done. I can feel it getting closer now.

107: Wednesday 20th January 2010

Not much happening at the moment as I am off sick again. I went to the doctors yesterday and I have a chest infection. I picked up the prescription antibiotics and now trying to shake it off. I think this is because of the flu that I had a couple of weeks ago. Hope to be better by the weekend as I have lots planned. I am so close to getting this on the road now. I am still not going to rush anything at the last hurdle. I found out some more about the process of getting it all legal in the U.K. This is what I have discovered; once you believe you have the vehicle roadworthy, then you need insurance and to get this you need an engineers report. Not all insurance companies ask for this, but you will be paying extra for the sake of a simple report. You need to find an Engineer that is ministry qualified (such as an MOT tester) and they write a short report stating that they have examined the vehicle and found the conversion from a petrol engine to battery powered electric motor to have been carried out to a satisfactory standard for use on the road. Send a copy of this to the insurance company, then you can drive the car to a test station for the MOT test. It will need to be tested as a petrol car and not produce any emissions. Then a trip to your nearest DVLA office where you que up to be seen so that you can get your log book changed to electric and hence the taxation class changes. You will need to take any paperwork with you including invoices for the motor etc and any other information about the work done. The more information you take, then the less likely it will be that a further inspection is required. Hopefully then you can go back in the waiting room to get your new "Free" tax disc. It will be interesting to find out how much of this exists in my reality as nothing seems to go exactly to plan.

106: Sunday 17th January 2010

Today I fitted the 240v inlet plug for the chargers. I had to make 2 aluminium brackets to use the holes from the old fuel filler neck that I removed yesterday. It all fits nicely behind the fuel flap and shuts o.k. One problem I was having was that the fuel flap release was getting stuck in. You can see the little black plastic pin here in the photo. I took the mechanism out, stripped it down and re-drilled the hole that the pin goes through and it works perfect now. I understand this is a common problem on Ford Probes, but not this one now. I drilled a hole through to the trunk space for the cable and connected it up. I put some some tape round the wire to stop it chafing. I shall squirt some silicon sealer in there another time to seal it and stop any movement. Likewise with the gap at the side of the inlet plug.
Next I cut the battery tray strap bracket down a bit as this was clashing with the trim inside the trunk on the sides. I then fitted the trims, fitted the battery tray, loaded the batteries and connected them. The battery tray is fine now and there is a good 1/2 inch clearance each side to the trim panels.
Finally I cut the board that sits on the spare and the carpet to fit in with the battery tray. I got the replacement battery and now I have 10 good batteries. I also picked up some more battery caps and tubing etc. for the venting. I set the controller back to 120v and gave it a little try. Wow it really has got some get-up-and-go now. Unfortunately it doesn't stop so well. I changed the pipework around for the vacuum pump for the brakes and put a gauge on the other side of the check valve. Now the gauge was reading 15 inches Mercury (0.045 MPa). That is about the minimum needed for braking. It was much sharper with the pump running, but still lacking what I had before. My supplier in China has sent me a new pump, so hopefully that will all be up-and-running soon. All I need to do in the back now is make the strap to hold the batteries down. I have some angle iron left for this. Of course this will get a coat of fire engine red Hammerite.

105: Saturday 16th January 2010

It is actually Sunday morning that I am writing this blog because I wanted to show that we do have sunshine sometimes.... I shall write another later at the end of the day.
Back to Saturday, I finally got round to removing the fuel tank (Hurrah!). It was hard work as all the bolts were awkward to get to and tightened by Arnie's big brother. I did manage to get just over a gallon of fuel out of the tank, so that will keep the Jeep going a bit longer. The pile below is what came off including the fuel tank, exhaust heat shields and the last of the exhaust pipe.
This shows how tight the bolts were. I bent the end of my socket extension, so that is now consigned to the scrap heap. Next job to fit the power inlet plug and put the interior back together in the rear of the car.

104: Thursday 14th January 2010

Today I borrowed a vacuum gauge and found that the pump is only pulling down to 8 inches of mercury (0.027MPa). It needs to be pulling nearly 3 times this to reach the turn-off limit of the vacuum switch. I tried taking the pipes off and connecting the gauge directly to the pump, but it was the same reading. I have emailed my supplier in China and now I shall wait for a reply. I also managed to secure a couple of free sample pressure switches that are adjustable from a UK firm. So now I feel like its 3 steps backwards. I am getting frustrated from this. I need to focus on another snag to hopefully solve something.

103: Wednesday 13th January 2010

I picked up my replacement vacuum switch from the post depot today. Came home and fitted it, but it does not cut the vacuum pump? Either the switch is no good or the pipes have a small leak. I had a little drive and the brakes are pulling well with the vacuum pump running, so I am not sure there is anything wrong with the vacuum switch. I think I need to get hold of a vacuum gauge so I can see just how much it is pulling. I disconnected one of the pipes after the pump had been running and there was a big whoosh as the vacuum was released. Also the brakes work fine. So I must be getting a good vacuum. One step forward 2 steps back. I am going to get a replacement battery on Friday, so I will be back up to 120v and the indicator and motor controller can work correctly again. I have also been notified that the replacement DC-DC converter is on its way to me. I expect this will arrive next week.

102: Sunday 10th January 2010

I tried out some different configurations today. I programmed the controller to 96v and moved over to just 8 batteries. The controller was still complaining of low battery voltage. I put my tester across the batteries and found 99v? So then I ran the tester on the programmer and that was only registering 83.7v, weird. So I hooked the 9th battery back in and tested at 111v and the programmer showed 97v and stopped complaining. This would do for a test run. I shall call the people at Zapi tomorrow and find out why there is a big difference with the battery voltage that the controller is registering. The next problem was that my 12v battery was flat, so the 120v line contactor would not operate. I bypassed the control with a short loop of wire and it clicked in, but as soon as I removed the wire link, it dropped out again. I rigged up a bypass switch so I could do a test run. I changed some settings on the controller and now the motor runs up to a proper speed. Quick run up and down the drive and all is well with the drive system again (I did a wheelspin in the snow - cool). At the moment I cannot charge the main battery bank as the charger only charges at 120v and I have a duff battery. I shall call the battery yard tomorrow to confirm a date to swap over the duff one for a good one. So now I am in limbo again. I am waiting for a new battery, a replacement DC-DC converter (that will stop the 12v system going flat) and the vacuum switch for the brakes. Once I have all these bits then I can have everything running as I expected. I shall keep the bypass switch as this will kick in the DC-DC converter when it arrives if the 12v battery is flat, then it should maintain the 12v, so I can switch out the bypass again. I shall also install a 12v charger to keep the auxiliary battery topped up when I am charging the car. Now if the weather improves I can remove the fuel tank and install the mains inlet plug in the fuel flap. So still a few jobs I can do. I didn't fancy laying under the car in the snow though! Flu seems to have died down a bit now, so it's back to work tomorrow.

101: Saturday 9th January 2010

There's one thing you can rely on with British weather, and that is that if you make plans that depend on good weather then it will be bad. As you can see from the photo, there is still snow and there is still more coming. I received an email from the alternative energy store to say that they are waiting to receive a replacement DLS 55 DC-DC converter from Iota and will email me again when they have it to arrange for the shipping. I am now looking into AC drives to see how much I can get a system up and running for. The big advantages with AC is the motors can run a lot faster with a constant torque across the range, there are no brushes on the motor and they lend themselves to regen braking. All this can improve the range of the batteries and allow a fixed ratio transmission like a simple differential for a single motor system so no transmission losses through a gearbox. This also simplifies the mechanical system and allows more space for batteries. There are some neat compact AC motors out there too. The disadvantages are that to get the high speed requires higher voltages and hence more batteries, although the current does not need to be so high with a higher voltage. Much higher power rated motors are available. The cost of AC system seems to be a lot higher, but I thought the same about DC until I started shopping around.

100: Friday 8th January 2010

Unfortunately I have not been able to do anything for the last few days for two reasons; I am off work sick with flu and just starting to get better, and the car is covered in snow. However I could not really do a test drive with the snow on the roads as it is extremely slippery. I had confirmation from Iota that they are shipping a replacement DLS 55 DC-DC converter to the alternative energy store who will forward it to me. That should then bolster up the 12v so the PAS pump can run and all the other 12v equipment. The guy at Iota did suggest that I could try replacing the internal fuse as there was a remote possibility that the back emf from the 120v line contactor was the reason it blew, but he could not be sure. There is a resistor inside that has the wire cut, but this is deliberate as the same circuit board is used for more than one type of converter. I hope the snow can go away tomorrow so I can have some time to do some testing.

99: Wednesday 6th January 2010

I've been off sick for the last couple of days. I did try a couple of drives back and forward up and down my drive. First attempt and I heard a crackling noise from the rear batteries and some horrible gurgling noises from the PAS pump. I checked the batteries and found one to be just 10v. Closer inspection found a split in the case, so this battery was dead. I changed the connections so only 9 batteries were in circuit and the driving was much better, but because the voltage was now much lower, the controller started complaining about low battery level and was cutting out, this was to be expected. I spent some time on-line chasing up the parts I needed. I can get a replacement battery as the recyclers still had some, cool. I need to call them again to arrange delivery etc. The DC-DC converter; I contacted the on-line store where I got it from and they suggested I contact the manufacturers tech support. I did this and they have agreed to replace the unit, but can only ship to a USA address. I contacted the on-line store again and gave them the contact name at the manufacturer and they will get it and ship it to me. I got some power steering fluid for the PAS pump and it took nearly a whole litre to top it up. I checked underneath the car and found a leak in the cooler pipe at the front of the car. That's another job to fix. I was wrong about the heater control and it works exactly as expected, but where the fan was not running and I was switching it on and off, I misread what was happening. I checked the controls and found them to be o.k., but there is no heat coming from this or it is such a small amount that it is not enough to de-mist the screen. It is possible that the overheat has tripped, but it won't go back. I will need to strip the interior out again at some point and fix this. I contacted the Zapi controller supplier and asked if I can run the controller at a lower voltage to do some proper test drives. They explained how to do this with the programmer. I need to get a good charge in the 12v battery to run the PAS pump and I should be able to have proper test drive. hopefully more than just a few yards. I got confirmation from China that they had the money for my new vacuum switch for the brakes and this has been dispatched. Two of the gearbox bolts were too long and I had ordered some new ones and they have now arrived, so now all the bolts can be fitted. So there is the basic snag list. Nothing impossible or too expensive to fix. I am going to try some spring assisters in the rear springs as it is sitting really low. These are cheap, so if this does not work then it is no big loss and I will go for new heavy duty springs. So I have not achieved anything in particular in the last couple of days, but a number of actions in place so I can progress as the parts arrive.

98: Sunday 3rd January 2010

Got an early start with painting the rest of the rear battery tray. I still need to make the hold down bar to go across the top of the batteries. The photo shows the tray all painted, but I had to wait about 3 hours before I could touch it. So I went shopping for a few bits with my wife and then I went and got some gear oil and put it in the gearbox. Still had to wait for the paint, so I fixed the head lamp that had a broken screw on the top plate. I drilled this out and put a nut and bolt in. Now it sits nice and flush with the body when the headlamps are down.
Once the paint was dry my wife and I loaded the batteries in the trunk then I connected them together with copper straps. I made the two ends for the cables and connected these too. With the Anderson connector separated I checked the voltage on the terminals and checked that there was only a trace voltage and high resistance to the body of the car. All o.k. there. I connected the Anderson connector and checked the system voltage again, it was about 124v. So the batteries were only about half charged. I tried the key to bring the controller on and the discharge indicator lit up, but when I click the key round to the third position to bring in the 120v line contactor, the controller ancillary fuse blew. It was a 10A fuse, so I replaced this with a 13A one and it did not blow this time. With the wheels still off the ground, I moved the throttle lever and the motor then ran. I then put the gearbox into first gear and watched the wheels turn backwards. I isolated the supply and swapped the armature connections to the motor, then it went forward. As all the voltages were low, the PAS pump was not running and I still need a vacuum switch for the brakes. I took it down onto the wheels and gave it a little run, but it was almost impossible to drive without power steering. Also The heater wasn't working so the screen was misting up and I couldn't see where I was going. Fortunately I had only gone a few yards on my driveway, so I just took it back and parked up. I am pleased that it drives, but I have some snagging to do. I found the DC-DC converter was not working and the heater switch works opposite, so off is on and on is off. After tracing this there was a funny smell, but this was just some dust on the heater and when I put the blower on the this cleared through the vents into the car, lovely! Still quite a bit to do, but I have had a quick test drive.

97: Saturday 2nd January 2010

Today's distraction was a pub lunch and measure for a suit for my friends wedding in August. Before I went off I managed to get the angle iron cut for the rear battery trays and one piece welded. I came back bloated and measured (about 3 sizes too big by my reckoning) and got stuck in again. I got the frame finished off, put riv nuts in the car to take the frame and added the hold down straps. I will have to raise the frame slightly with spacers so I can get the spare wheel out of the trunk (it's one of those silly "get you home" ones). My wife is painting the bottom of the frame as I am typing, so tomorrow I can paint the top first thing in the morning. When that is dry I can mount the batteries, connect them and then give it all a quick try. Still need to take out the fuel tank and mount the incoming power plug for the charger. So not much left to do now. I will post some pictures tomorrow.

96: Friday 1st January 2010

Today's distraction was a family visit to the in-laws. When we got back I set about routing the power cables through the car. I managed to lift up the existing looms and poke the cables down below them inside the carpet by the doors. I haven't got any photos today as it would just show the cables not showing. However that suggests I did a good job. It all took a lot of squeezing and heaving to persuade the panels to fit back on. There may be some slight bulges that weren't there before, but they don't notice. The seat belts were tricky to get past, so I tied the cables to the seat belt brackets to make sure they would never snag or restrict them in any way. It took me a good few hours to get everything in and through to the trunk area. Now it is all trimmed and the cables are where they need to be. I came in for dinner and had a visit from a neighbour for a new year drink. By this time everything was freezing up outside and my cold is still quite bad, so I called it a night. Happy new year to all....