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It IS Friday, and I’m just now blogging LAST Friday’s show, which I have to do in a hurry so I can film THIS Friday’s show, so it isn’t so late that it becomes NEXT Friday. Brain started this Friday thing.

We have gone from standing around summarizing things with no parts to work with to having four projects in the air at the same time.

This week, we received our motor for the Cobra (no wait, that’s THIS Friday’s show which I haven’t filmed yet).

We also received our 400Ah Winston batteries from China after a loooonnnnggggg wait. We actually have a good bit of the Cadillac done , it’s just strewn about the shop and none of it is in the car.

Arnulf Larrsgard deposited two vehicles with us in shutting down his efforts to convert cars for Norway. It would appear that since the fire on the Pearl of Scandinavia ferry, Norway has BANNED all conversions. The only electric cars allowed to come IN to the country are OEM electrics. No idea how this effects personal conversions IN Norway yet. But Arnulf’s plans to make them in Davenport Iowa and import them to Norway have been legislated out of existence.

We consequently have inhereited a Ford Edge and a Chrysler Town and Country. The Chrysler doesn’t even have a motor and controller since apparently Arnulf was scammed out of a small fortune by Richard Hartfield of Altantic EV or some such. It does have some Thundersky batteries that have never been hooked up to a motor.

The Ford Edge runs. But it is atrocious. Originally converted by Paul LIddle in West Palm Beach, it didn’t get any better in Iowa either. The batteries are not in boxes, but rather lead acid style racks that lip over the battery edge. Oh, they’re secure. But the rack is about 1/8 inch from the terminals. The DC-DC converter was actually resting touching one of the terminal straps. A box underneath was faced FORWARD with the terminals open to the elements – beneath the car. The TBS Expert Pro was disconnected and they had lost 10 cells already trying to power that.

The vehicle is massively heavy at 4600 lbs. It uses a Soliton1 and Netgain Warp 11 to drive a Ford automatic. Apparently no effort to change the shift points on the transmission so it hunts and slams at random. The Soliton was one of the early beta models – red annodize in fact and the software was last updated in 2009.

The cutoff switch is a loop of 1/0 in an Anderson plug under the hood. And the thing uses about 575 wH to move a mile. A 300 v battery pack the width of a single Thundersky 90Ah. It doesn’t quite fit our design scheme if you know what I mean.

We’re adding a second string of 90’s, lowering the voltage to 250, losing one of the undercarriage racks, repositioning some things. I don’t know what we’ll do about the transmission.

But it seats four. Has plenty of cargo. The Soliton idles the motor well and it has great air conditioning and heat. And the radio works. But the cell voltages were everywhere and balancing the now 144 cells has been a little bit distracting.

We are actively working on the Cobra battery boxes at the same time. We had a local fabricator make us up three for hte Cobra and one for the Ford Edge and he missed by exactly 1/4 inch all around – very consistently in EVERY dimension. So those had to be redone.

Most frustrating of all is the Mini Cooper Clubman Electric. We are using the Rinehart Motion Systems controller. We are trying to get a hydraulic pressure transducer to work with this controller to control regenerative braking. Actually it works pretty well. But anytime we have it connected, it causes the controller to fault out. Doesn’t matter if we are in the proper brake mode or not, just CONNECTING the transducer causes a random fault of various types at 3500-5000 rpm. Below 3500 rpm it works and indeed the brakes modulate regen very well and it is most pleasant to stop the car now.

But the controller shuts down randomly at anything above 3500 rpm. I THOUGHT I had it fixed with some aluminum foil on a noise issue. Apparently not.

We had used a wire braid shield on this, but ot put it on, we had to disconnect the phase cables from the controller. In doing so, we shorted one of the outputs so that when we fired it up, we fried the controller with a loud pop.

But unlike the TIMS600, we do have a bit of support. I can e-mail Rinehart at any time and usually get a response pretty quickly – and they are in Oregon. So we sent the controller back for repair and they had it back to us in LESS than a week. Having a support function is a big deal for us after our ordeal with European component suppliers who are simply useless.

But we got the controller back and wired it up with the shielded cable. We STILL have the IDENTICAL problem we started with.

But I did put the controller in and out three times – which has gotten to be a pretty arduous task. I read their HV connection document thoroughly and it appeared to imply that the steel gland nuts should have a proper ground and that this somehow grounded the shield on the cables. I took the thing apart and examined it carefully and came to the conclusion that there was NO WAY that shield would ever contact the case or make ground. There was a plastic capsule from the gland nut shrouding the copper foil taped ends of the braid, and they jammed into a phenolic stop that cannot conduct anything.

When I mentioned it to them, they responded that my controller has the EARLY gland nut design, and that they have NEW gland nuts that ground the shield. Clearly this is an ongoing and developing problem. IT has been about six months since we’ve had the controller, and already we are an EARLY model.

Why they did not replace the gland nuts when they rebuilt the whole power section AND replaced the controller board rather escapes me. But they did overnight me the new gland nuts, and if I get a day sometime in the next six months, I guess we’ll go through this whole thing again.

Meanwhile, we drive the car using the brake light switch to control the regen.

Worse, I DID ground the OTHER end of the braid and it didn’t appear to have any effect on the problem. I now again do not believe noise is the cause of the problem. But I don’t know what is. And they cannot reproduce it at their facility. Impasse.

We did add a season switch to our cooling/heating system so that the controller and motor provide heat in winter, and in summer use the radiator and fan for cooling. It’s manual. And it’s not daughter friendlly. But it works.

Anne Kloppenborg and company visited this week from Amsterdam and brought some Dutch Gin with them. We had a famous time talking EV’s and drinking gin.

We also did an interesting experiment where we compared the voltage of the newly received Winston 400AH cells to some cells I had still in the original unopened box that were manufactured October 11, 2008. The voltages were within three THOUSANDTHS of a volt between all of them. I have said it many times, there IS no “self discharge” shuttle mechanism in this cell chemistry. IT’s not just that it doesn’t perform this lead acid feat of legerdemain, it CANNOT because it has no such internal shuttle mechanism to support it. Without self discharge, you cannot have cell drift. And that is the final peg that the BMS guys all scurried off to to hang the BMS hat on. I think we’ve finally found a way to debunk that. But I have no doubt we’ll continue to hear it chanted and quoted on into the night forever.

In any event, you have seen it with your own eyes. There is no “proper care” for these batteries in storage. These have seen temperatures well over 100F and down to 0F through three seasons with no humidity control. The boxes were covered in dust and looked as if insects had been at them. They have been in no particular orientation. All I can say is they were never rained on or flooded. And they come out of the box within a couple THOUSANDS of a volt of each other and a brand new battery.

ANd so all of the THEORIES about all that are no longer interesting to me. We’ve done this with CALB cells and now THundersky’s – both aged in the barrel room of your local illicit distiller for years of careful aging. They should taste great. But in fact, they are just batteries. They do not apparently self discharge at all.


Jack Rickard