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Exciting days. Brain did a marvelous job of getting the front of the Cadillac back on and the new condenser fan installed. We had a bit of a problem with the left front turn signal that required a trip to the dealer for a new bit of harness about a foot long, but that wasn’t too hard.

This week I’m winging it without Brain. We received the eCobra and a bizarre message from Paul in Taiwan. He’s sending the eCobra and a half finished version Brian was working on to Oregon to have some one else finish the second car. We’re kind of buried here so we’ll not be able to pursue it. But we will replace the DC-DC converter and get it running again and he does want it shown at EVCCON.

We shot Thursday and Friday some information about our heater and a little air conditioning primer. It has already been rather well received. But over the weekend I have kind of pieced together the plexiglass top to our battery box and the tonneau covers of the bed and the truck looks sharp. I’m actually having difficulty LOCATING the rear window – kind of the task for this morning.

But over teh weekend I actually drove the beast around town as my main ride. I have to say, I am extraordinarily pleased with myself. I never get over the fact that after working on a car for in this case a year or two, that it can actually move at all. But I did all my normal driving this weekend and even took it about eight miles down Interstate 55 to the airport and it ran very nicely.

All the action is in the latter half of the accelertor pedal and so I’m having to put a bit of foot pressure to it – and then it takes off. I think I’m going to use HP Tuners to remap the whole accelerator/power curve a bit more aggressively. IT seems very conservative. I guess it was really pretty much like that with the gas engine too. But now I can change it. And so we are going to change it for “feel”.

Of course at 7200 lbs (I think – we should weigh this beast). It just floats down the freeway. The acceleration is good. It moves fairly smoothly though at times, and kind of random times at that, the motor spins up 1000 rpm in a big lag between 2nd and 3rd gear. I can adjust to that, and indeed quickly learned to anticipate this shift and just let up on the pedal very slightly during that shift which made it go quite away. Hopefully I can find some way to do this in HP tuners but I’m not sure the ECU doesn’t nornally cut power during this shift. Not sure just how to remedy it completely.

Beyond a certain perception of sluggishness in the first half of the pedal and this 2n3/3rd shift, there was kind of busy action in the higher gears. Seemed to- move around a lot up and down between 5th and 6th. THAT we can certainly address in HP Tuners.

As to the EV grin. At this point, I have done a number of cars. There remains a lot to be done with the Elescalade and I have a worried eye on every twitch and every noise and every movement of the meter. But I guess Sunday afternoon and I finally broke down and smiled all over town. I was cruisin baby in my big black Cadillac and digging it.

Over the years I’ve suffered a problem deriving from the fact that I’m an excellent cook, and my wife is even better. Our social life with friends mostly derives around food and unfortunately several of them are truly gourmet class cooks. And this is the part of the day I spend with my wife. She’s a huge baseball fan and at the end of the day, we gather in the kitchen, stir something up and watch the Cardinals. Believe it or not I am just absolutely NOT a big baseball fan. But I’m kind of forced to watch this very slow moving game with her and after awhile you do get to know who the players are and how it’s coming.

But the net effect is that I’m no longer young and pretty, and in fact, border on the grossly obese category at 285 pounds. Carrying all that, I’m not as lithe as I once was either. So getting into and out of all these itty bitty cars is a bit of work. The Cadillac Escalade is kind of high, and I have to climb up into it. But as you can see, it’s a big car with a big door and an enormous seat that is both heated AND cooled with air conditioning routed through tiny holes int the upholstery. You sit up quite high of course with superb viisbility in all directions. ANd of course as a Cadillac it has actually stupid luxuries built in. The steering wheel is heated for example. The pedals can be adjusted electrically fore and aft with a button press. The cigarette lighter works. Two enormous cup holders. An armrest/storage compartment the size of a laptop desk. And acres of dash board to hold enything you might want to array there. The seat is wide, deep, and tall and of course six way power.

The result is a very comfortable car for a big guy. I sit up high, lord and master of the universe as I idle down the road typically at 22 miles per hour.

I recently received my notice from Tesla to firm up my order and did indeed fill it all out – $101,000 when it is all done for my long awaited Model S. Then came the message to electronically “sign” my order. I’ve hesitated.

First, it appears they are simply not going to get the Model S far enough in production to put number 2875 on the ground for EVCCON – now less than a month away. Second, it IS a hundred grand. But playing into this decision – I’ve GOT a very comfortable five passenger heated cooled car now – the Escalade. And while it won’t go 300 miles, I just don’t need to.

It also wont’ go zero to 60 in 4.5 seconds. Don’t need that either. I’m confident that when we get it shifting smoothly enough to try it, the 7.5 second 0-60, even at 7200 lbs, is actually going to be there or a near miss. More performance than I need to idle around town at 22 miles per hour.

So far the motors are running so cool they don’t register on the Engine Coolant Temperature gage. I may have to recheck the gage in fact. We had it working earlier. And the dual motors pull the car very strongly if you put the pedal to it.

Bottom line, I may just not need a Model S. Tesla has kind of rudely quit talking to us about the show. I’m sure they’re up to their ass over this production ramp up, but the girl we were talking to I’m guessing was not given to much sheet metal work anyway. And I sure do like driving this Cadillac.

So yeah, this weekend the EV grin finally arrived. And I’m driving with more confidence. I did blow two fuses in my GE Wattstation at home. They were ordinary 40A BUSS fuses and I drove out to Lowes for a pair of 60 Amp versions. Got it back together and charging. Of course the Manzanita can do 75 amps, but even at 50 it was warming the substantial GE cord. I turned it down to 40 amps and it charged well.

Averaging, it appears to use just barely over 5 Ah per mile. At 185volts, that’s about 925 wH per mile. We’re at LEAST at 7500 lbs with me in the car. That’s about a 12.3 ratio instead of 10:1. So it would appear to my eye that the automatic transmission and all these blowers have thrown our rule of thumb off a bit. We would expect 750 wH per mile. We’ll do more testing of course and in a more scientific fashion. But it takes a lot of power to move this hog. With a 76kWh pack, that implies a max range of about 82 miles and a safe 80% range of about 66 miles. I’ll take it. Actually for my use its way overkill.

This project puts me in a frame of mind to consider a Ford F150. They have announced a new aluminum body version of this truck that is purported to be lighter of course for fuel economy. The FORD F150 has been the top selling vehicle worldwide every year since it was introduced. I’m thinking a single 11 inch and Soliton WOULD make it move. If we can crack the ECU issues on that, and I can’t imagine why we couldn’t, this could be done. And a 200Ah pack would then get us perhaps 40-50 miles max range. Perhaps $25,000 in parts and a new truck would do it. I think there would be a market for such. At least around here. We’re kind of the heartland of pickup trucks.

In any event, I’m just bouncing up and down over the Escalade. My kind of car. Now rolling and driving well. A long and expensive journey that I was assured by so many of our ever optimistic viewers would end in disaster. We’re in cleanup mode. Air conditioning. Heating. Tidythings up. Etc. Meanwhile it’s already taken over as my daily driver.

Saturday, Nabil Henke and his father John came down and spent the afternoon with me. He was picking up 50 brand spanking new CA100FI cells and an assortment of bit parts. Nabil wants to play in the conversion space but lacks funding to set up shop or even do his own car – which is in kind of slow motion progress. But he found a guy who owns both a brand new Leaf and an older Porsche 944 lead acid conversion with a Zilla controller. He’s worked a deal to upgrade this Porsche to the new CA cells. And so he has his first conversion job – without actually ever completing a car himself. Highly unusual. But he’s very intelligent and has been following our progress closely. My advice, – give the guy the ride of his life. By extracting 1200 lbs of lead and replacing them with 350 lbs of lithium and tidying up a few things, I think he very much can. And success is in the nature of these cells. As the man has driven his Porsche a lot, starting at 35 mile range and within 3 years diminishing to nothing, grossly, and in my eyes OBSCENELY overweight, that has been his experience with this car. If Nabil can devise secure mounting for these cells and get them charging properly, it’s almost an automatic win by virtue of the nature of the cells. The car will then drive like a PORSCHE instead of a concrete truck. The range will go much higher even using the 100Ah cells, and they’ll last essentially forever if Nabil can wire up the JLD so you can’t overdischarge the car. When the guy drives it, he just isn’t going to believe it after a lead acid Odyssey experience.

He intends to bring the car to show to EVCCON along with the client and his wife. Should be a good time for all. A guy with a conversion and a Leaf has to be one of us anyway.

And so that is two guys, Henke and Hauber, that have basically had the dream of having a conversion shop and gone and sold someone on DOING a conversion, performed it, and became a conversion shop in a very real sense, with no resources really to do all that. When I tell people to go just DO their dreams, they assume I don’t know what I’m talking about, and that I just don’t have any sympathy or understanding of how lacking in resource they are and how debilitating that can be.

Let me first say, it is unlikely for anyone on this forum to have a clue the limited means I started life with. And with four years in Asia and most specifically the Phillippine Islands, where I found my first wife, I think I have a view and understanding and comprehension of poverty in a way that it would just be very special for any of you to be able to relate to. Along the way, it’s true I picked up about 40 million dollars, ran that up to 100 million, and then lost 90% of it. That leaves me with as wide a spectrum of “resource” experience as anyone I know or have heard of.

In any event, along the way I’e encountered thousands of individuals working away at jobs they actually loathed, trying to pay the utility bills and survive until their ship came in. I should be more sympathetic, but it is very hard for me to be. In their poverty, they have so very MUCH more resource at their disposal, than the true poverty I have seen and lived amongst, that it’s hard for me not to be irritated. We are so wealthy we can run pure clean potable drinkable water out on the ground and not bother to shut the spigot off because we are busy washing our car? Or use it to water our grass? To where we spend money and energy to adjust the TEMPERATURE of where we live or where we keep our food? I cannot adequately express what this would look like from the outside looking in. You just will not be able to share this picture with me.

I also happen to know something else that maybe you CAN picture. After a certain limited number of serial years, if you live LONG enough, you will most likely wind up all alone in a white room, full of white people, dressed in white clothes, all anxiously and very kindly inquiring about how you feel and trying to determine some WAY some HOW to work in one final billable procedure for the government to reimburse them for before you pass from this earth. You might mention to them THEN that you indeed paid EVERY damn utility bill you ever received IN FULL. It will certainly make an impression.

Heart attack survivors are generally all over this message.

Now, in the time you have left, it is very nice to have a dream. Something you wnat to do to be useful, to make a mark, to AFFECT the world for the better. And to glean your daily bowl of gruel from. If you already have one, my advice, and I’ve repeated this in all directions with very poor success, is to go DO it. You will not starve to death first suffering the pangs of hunger as your very flesh wastes away to bare bone skeletal remains. Live your dreams as if you may be dead tomorrow morning. But you DO have the rest of today.

For those with an ear to hear.

Last night, we had our Rickard house open Sunday Dinner, which normally includes an array of everyone at an enormous round table I bought years ago. We celebrated the 87th birthday of Alberta Sides, an African American woman of some accomplished years. I leaned over and asked her quite directly what was the ONE thing she had learned in 87 years that she MOST valued. Her answer was immediate, with the obvious expectation that I would not really accept it. And that was GRATITUDE. She had learned to awaken each morning and thank the Lord for the day before her and the days behind her and the joyful experiences of her life.

Actually I do accept it. In my view, a conversation with an 87 year old of any intellect talking to a 57 year old, even of considerable genius, is akin to a person discussing the complexities of their marital relations with their cat. That 30 years is an enormous gap I can’t bridge for probably another, oh say, 30 years. But in trying to be a very smart cat, I was listening closely. And I do accept the answer. And so today, I’m going to practice being GRATEFUL. Not that I understand it entirely…

My dream as that the entire world move toward electromagnetic drive for their personal transportation, giving up NOTHING and having a better transportation experience from 1/6th the energy. I will likely die without ever seeing all of that come to fruition. But we’re not going to worry about utility bills in the interim. And today, TODAY I am going to do my very best effort at making all that come to pass.

On the odd off chance, that you share that dream in even a small way, I would urge you to motion in all due haste.

Ironically, on their drive home to Iowa, the Henkes’ RAN OUT OF GAS on the side of the road. THat’s in their unlimited range ICE vehicle. While waiting for AAA to bring them some gasoline, they thoughtfully put on their emergency flashers. And by the time they had added a couple of gallons to the tank, the flashers had run down their 12v battery to the point it would not start the car…. with 50 CA100FI cells in the back end of it.

Oh welll……..even living the dream, some days are indeed better than others….

Jack Rickard