285: Monday 31st August 2015

After getting the motor back on I was wanting some more instruments. I ordered this circuit from ZEVA in Australia some time ago that is specifically for driving normal car gauges. I used an existing bolt hole to mount the circuit.
It took me about an hour to find the best spot taking into account that it needed to be away from any splashes, need to be able to access the trimmers to adjust the settings and be able to pass the main power cable through the sensor. I also needed to provide a 12v supply to the circuit and feeds for the gauges.
The circuit is the plus version that drives the car fuel gauge, but this plus version also drives the rev counter showing Amps x 100, so my rev counter was reading 0 to 800 amps. So far I've only hit 700 Amps for a fraction of a second.
The photos show the circuit, the mounting position and it's location in the car respectively. It is behind the main connector and one of the headlamps. The area was dry and it has been raining hard recently, so it is all good. I shall make a cover for it as well. The rev counter works really well and reads a little bit lower than the JLD 404, but the fuel gauge doesn't work in a linear way. That may be because the original fuel gauge sender was perhaps logarithmic instead of linear so what I get is the gauge, when full, drops very quickly at first and slows down as more capacity is used. It will take some getting used to, but I Like the idea of a simple gauge to check capacity so I can monitor overall voltage on the JLD 404 and eventually on the battery monitor circuit. That's one of my next jobs, to connect the battery monitor circuit back up so I can view groups of 4 batteries, then add some more analogue measurement boards to give me all 38 batteries. At least now all the batteries are together in the trunk, so wiring them all in will be easier. Then a posh cover for the batteries to top off the trunk.

284: Friday 28th August 2015

Much better this week. I got the Jeep on the road so I had some wheels. I got a replacement battery for free as it was still quite new. That meant I could give my wife her Focus back. Still need to fix the axle on the Jeep though. On the Probatron I had my motor commutator skimmed and it was still noisy, so I had new bearings fitted and a shim to push the armature away from the brush boxes. Spent this afternoon getting the motor back on and the arcing noise has gone and the motor is performing like new. It is an absolute joy to drive again. I feel so relieved to have him back on the road. The charger with its mods was working fine and I can finally put my first charge into the Lithium battery pack. Now I can determine the range with some test drives. The JLD 404 will be my gauge as I haven't fitted the gauge driver circuit yet. I have ordered a rear license plate as the current one looks terrible where the screws have rusted and it has stained the plate.

283: Sunday 24th August 2015

The last 2 weeks have been up and down. First I got to run with Lithium batteries. The batteries I had before were weak and I had damaged 2 recently leaving me stuck at the roadside, so I had to be careful with my driving and not load the batteries too much. During the last few months I have been getting motor noises. I have had clicking from the brushes, howling from the bearings and crackling from arcing. All of these are bad noises. After dressing the commutator with a comm stick and fitting new brushes the clicking got quieter, but the arcing was still there.
I took the motor off again and had a local company lined up to repair it. They estimated one price, but then came back with a figure over £1000 and that was almost as much as a new motor. I asked for it back and was asked to pay £250 for testing and told this was to cover re-assembly etc. I got back the motor in bits with a broken taperlock hub and bush, and 1 brush and some brush springs missing. I eventually got all the bits back. I didn't pay any money to them. I then went to a long established motor rewinders who had the commutator skimmed for a reasonable price and advised that it may not cure the arcing, but to try it to see what needs doing next. I re-assembled the motor and the clicking is almost non-existent due to the professional skimming, but the brush box was arcing onto the side of the armature. This appeared to be due to the bearings as the armature was shifted over. I shall be looking to get a spacer fitted with new bearing to ensure there is always a good gap between the brush boxes and the armature.
I could see when I pushed the armature, there was no arcing. I am not sure if this will cure the arcing under full load, but I suspect it is a good candidate for the cause. When the bearings were re-assembled onto the commutator a circlip was missed off and when I re-assembled the motor there was no bearing noise. When I was seeing the arcing I thought it was due to the bearing moving because there was no circlip, so I pulled the bearing off again, fitted it into the end plate with the circlip and fitted this back onto the armature. The armature was then close to the brush boxes, I struck the end of the shaft to push further into the bearing and the gap was then good. When I ran the motor, the howling had returned and when I turned it by hand it was possible to feel a rumbling in the bearings. I suspect this is where the howling is coming from, so I shall now get new bearings fitted and a spacer on the rear bearing to resist any lateral shift of the armature towards the brush boxes. This is a problem if I used the clutch pedal as it pushes against the flywheel and hence the motor shaft. The spacer only needs to be about 2mm, so a nice thick washer will do just fine.
At the same time I have been trying to fix my wife's Jeep Grand Cherokee that has a noisy front axle. I took the axle off and inspected the differential. I saw a load of slack in the pinion gears, but no damage. In doing this I found the right wheel bearing had a horrible grumbling feel to it. I ordered a new hub and a socket for the hub nut, changed it over and spent half of today putting the axle back on the car. I took it for a drive and the noise is still there. Also the battery was dead so I had to get a jump and this did not take a charge. So now I need to use my wife's Ford Focus to get to work. I came into this weekend hoping to get 2 cars back on the road, and came out of it with none. So I fitted the new lights I got to the back of the Probatron and I am happy that something has gone to plan.
I am looking forward to getting the motor working right so I can continue with my upgrades and get the body ready for paint again. I am getting close now to where I want the Probatron to be. Oh and a new license plate.

282: Thursday 6th August 2015

I had this week off work (and next week) so that I could do some upgrades indoors and get the Lithium batteries in and working in the Probatron. I spent time yesterday finishing of the connectors. They needed to be drilled and ground to remove burrs. Today I made the hold down bars, mounted the batteries and connected them together. Tomorrow I shall switch the connections from the old batteries and give it a run on Lithium for the first time. I sent my Zivan NG3 charger back on Friday to have the processor changed so it can charge Lithium and to have a disable link added so I can use my JLD404 to cut the charger if the voltage gets too high. After that I want to revert my instrument cluster back to original and add the gauge driver circuit I got from ZEVA in Australia. This will make my fuel gauge show state of charge and the rev counter show instantaneous Amps x 100.

281: Monday 15th June 2015

Spent the last couple of weeks getting the battery rack prepared to take the lithium batteries. First attempt bowed a lot due to only having flat steel bar to support the batteries. I had an idea this would happen, but it was much worse than I expected. I welded some angle to the underside of the flat bars and it is good and strong now.
Mounted everything up and loaded the batteries on. They were a good snug fit and needed "persuading" to get the last battery in. I have painted the rack and welded a couple more brackets on to hold it down as it was resting on them before and was causing a rattle when driving. Now to load the rack back in the car, bolt it down then make a load of connector strips from the copper bar I have. I also need to make the hold down straps to go across the top. I shall use some 25mm angle (5mm thick) to hold the batteries down. I had to get smaller section than the 40mm used on the rack so that it can run between the terminals without any possibility of touching and causing a short circuit anywhere. I shall also use the tie downs to carry some trunking to run wires for the battery monitoring system. Still loads to do.

280: Saturday 30th May 2015

Spent last weekend and a few hours during the week trying to get the racks made for the lithium batteries to go in the trunk. I shall sell off the lead acid batteries to people doing solar projects and alike. It's quite a tight fit, but I can get all 38 batteries in one place. This will make the loading more balanced. Once I have removed the lead acid batteries from the front I can use the space for the hydraulic suspension pump accumulators and valves etc. Also started getting noises from my motor again. When I release the throttle pedal I get regen braking. It is possibly a stuck relay, but this was disabled to reduce arcing on the motor brushes. I shall replace the brushes and try to figure out where the logic is failing on the regen control. Sparky has been on the road and electric for over 5 years now. We have completed 15000 miles of electric driving. Apart from the batteries, I have had to repair the motor when the brushes wore out and damaged the commutator. Otherwise it has been really reliable.

279: Tuesday 7th April 2015

I took an extra couple of days off on top of the Easter Break to give myself a 6 day run at getting the Lithium batteries mounted in the trunk. Unfortunately just before Easter I had been suffering with gout in my left knee and then flu. At the end of the break I had just managed to move the existing batteries in the trunk to rearmost allowing space to mount the new batteries at the same time. They just fit for height with the tailgate shut.
I also made a sample connector for the new battery pack. This gives me a template for making the rest. I bought 4 strips of copper 3x 15x 900mm. I drilled the holes at M10 for M8 bolts allowing for expansion and movement. The small bolt in the middle is for the battery monitoring system. This will monitor groups of 4 batteries initially. I shall work with Ray to introduce more boards and increase the monitoring to all 38 batteries.

278: Sunday 8th March 2015

Today I fitted my JLD 404 Intelligent Ah meter. I sacrificed another air vent in the centre dash alongside the battery voltage monitoring system. The combination of the 2 will enable easy monitoring of the battery condition, and capacity and usage. The JLD 404 in particular enables watching amps in and out of the battery pack. I bought this to monitor my new Lithium battery pack when I get it mounted and connected. You can see a small gap under the meter, but this is because I need to get the proper clips to secure dash panel properly. When it is pushed in the fit is really good. A bit of tweaking in the next few days shall get it fitting just right. I have some configurations to enter as the amp values are not right at the moment. The voltage levels shown are a bit lower than that shown by the motor controller programming module, but I expected this as I had a normal voltmeter on there before and saw the same, so I have confidence in the values. The programmer has loads of smoothing and algorithms applied to the voltage, whereas the JLD 404 provides a direct instantaneous reading. 

I also put some black silicon adhesive under my rear side window as it was 'floppy', stuck solid now. I clamped it for a good 4 hrs or so to make sure it was stuck good. Result was good.

277: Thursday 26th February 2015

Today I received new batteries. 38 x CALB 180Ah giving a 21.6kWh pack. I have ordered a JLD 404 to monitor the amp hours in and out and I need to send my charger back to have a new microprocessor put in so I can select Lithium. The microprocessor I have at the moment only has charging curves for Lead Acid batteries. I also need to make new racking, lots to do now.

276: Saturday 7th February 2015

It's been nearly 3 months since my last post and since then I have found a couple of new sources for recycled batteries and I now have a set of 10 lead acid batteries that I like and 9 spares, so I should be o.k. for a while. I was chatting on Facebook in the Ford Probe group and Danny ze dog showed me some front lights he had made. I was most impressed with the actual LED strips and he pointed me to the place I can get them. The strips are 2 colours in one strip (white and orange) so ideal for the side light units on the probe. I also was approached by a man called Duncan who lives near me in a pub car park as I pulled in. He was fascinated with my car as he has 6 Ford Probes himself. His wife has a pink one! Apparently my car is a legend in Ford Probe Clubs and forums.
The picture above shows the white element and below shows the orange. If you connect both then the orange takes priority and the white comes back on after about half of a second from when the orange goes off. That works well for the indicators and side lights. These strips are bright enough that I don't need the main lights to drive around lit streets. What I have on the Probatron right now was the previous attempt where I glued 63 white LEDs along the top and 63 orange LEDs along the bottom. 3 white LEDs have stopped working on one side and it looks like the car has a tooth missing. The white had a slight violet tinge to it and was nowhere near as bright as these strips even though they were ultra bright LED types. I got new lenses from Duncan and the new strips from Ali-express (china). The strips are actually nearly twice as long, but I cut them to fit. You get 2 strips in the order too, one for each side so that is just what I needed.