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This week’s video is a might portly, at three hours and twelve minutes, after the fashion of the editor and producer.
But it covers a bit of ground. Damien, Anne, and the EVTV crew here all seemed to land on the topic of connecting your motor to your transmission this week, with various strategies and levels of success.

I’ve always thought this was an unnecessarily difficult part of a custom electric car. Mating the motor to the transmission. It doesn’t appear to be improving as the simple “eight inch ADC” format now has expanded to include the splined format of the Siemens and UQM Powerphase motors. This always seems to involve some custom machine work. But it is somewhat unavoidable. Not only are there a variety of motors, but of course there has always been a variety of transmissions.

At first glance, something like the eGearDrive would appear to make this all easier. But that is somewhat limited then in choice and there are a suspicious number of our eGearDrive sales going to fix Azure Dynamics eTransit Connects. As there were only 286 sold, and none are over about 3 years old, I find that surprising. We’ve yet to do an actual build with an eGearDrive.

As most of you well know, I favor using the transmission that came with the car. Why is that?

First, I view the transmission as the most highly evolved piece of equipment on a car. They have been a problem since the 1880’s. And they are improved continously. Today’s transmissions are nothing short of marvels. I’m particularly fond of Getrag manual transmissions.

We actually try to keep cars as “stock” as possible. That is an astounding assertion from a guy dedicated to eviscerating all gasoline driven cars worldwide to make them electric. But the problem is that with each “unique” item we put on the vehicle, we have a future potential maintenance problem obtaining the parts. If I put an eGearDrive in a vehicle, I have to have some assurance that in the future I can get parts for eGearDrives or at least a replacement for the entire eGearDrive.

At this point, most eGearDrives have gone into the cars of bankrupt car manufacturers, Azure Dynamics and Coda spring to mind. Borg Warner has moved manufacturing to Beijing just recently. And I’m not seeing a lot of them snapped up by other OEM’s. Borg Warner’s devotion to continuing the product at all I would rate questionable.

But if I convert a 1962 Metropolitan to electric drive, and keep the stock transmission, I’m actually assured of an almost limitless supply of repair or replacement parts. This is kind of astounding in that no one on earth actually makes that transmission and hasn’t for fifty years. But the 95,000 Metropolitans out there, along with a strong cult following and a company that actually specializes in procuring or refurbishing parts for the Metropolitan would imply that I can get that transmission for the next 100 years.

Never mind the venerable VW bug tranny. Literally millions of them and such a cult following market that there are several companies out there that rebuild them to such an extent, that they are essentially manufacturing them from available parts. In the year 2355, when we are all driving maglev air cars, you will STILL be able to order a VW tranny and have it arrive in a week.

Another example is the Cadillac Escalade. We had a custom motor made by splicing two 11 inch Netgain motors onto a single shaft. If it goes bad, we’ll have to replace it of course. I have no fear. There will be some version of a Warfield 11 inch available forever. And putting two of them on the same shaft is not precisely an act of magic.

But I freaked OUT over the serpentine belt on our custom front plate that drives the steering and brake hydraulic pump and the air conditioner compressor. Why? It is a totally stock belt. But if it went bad, how would I know what belt to replace it with? I actually had the part number ENGRAVED on the aluminum plate so I would have it handy. And the FIRST time we had to replace it, guess what? Total chaos and confusion. We STILL couldn’t figure it out.

So one precept I would offer to anyone converting a vehicle is to MINIMIZE the number of unique parts in teh build. You can get motors and if you have to replace the existing motor with something else, who cares? It’s nothing. Same with controllers, chargers, and batteries. The adapter and coupler actually rarely fail. They were custom machined the first time and would likely be so the second.

But if you put one little fuse in that is rare or unusual or no longer made, you can disable your car for the lack of a fuse. Or a belt. Or whatever.

So we like STOCK transmissions and running gear on our cars because they are easy to identify and procure into the future.

And therein lies a tale.

When I was somewhat younger and prettier, television was a big deal. We had a 21 inch Admiral black and white set and all five of us kids fought bitterly over which of the two available channels we were going to watch. Imagine my deep and utter disappointment each year when the announcer at the beginning of the “Wizard of Oz” assured us that there was NOTHING wrong with our tv set. The first half of the Wizard of Oz was black and white on purpose. But during the second half, we could see it in glorious technicolor. Each year, I waited hopefully and expectantly for that second half. And each year, I was crushed with disappointment and blinded with rage when the show ended entirely and I had not seen even a single second of glorious technicolor. It was black and white all through the movie. And it was still black and white after the movie was over. It seems I was just destined to live in a black and white world all my life. And this may have been when the first seeds of distrust in large corporations and entities began. They had LIED to me. I sat glued to the set, but there was no color. He had promised. And he had ASSURED me that it was NOT my tv set that was the problem.


Finally, one day WHILE I was watching, the entire picture collapsed to a shiny blue dot in the center of the screen. Heretofore it was true that I had to constantly adjust the verticle hold or the picture would slide up the screen faster and faster. And it was true that we had a small pair of vice grips used to change the channel, which we did every few minutes swapping back and forth between channel 12 (KFVS here in Cape Girardeau) and channel 6 (Paducah – 60 miles to the east).

But this was it. NO TV.

Fortunately, within a day a TV “repair man” came to our door with a whole belt full of tools. He clambered in behind the TV and pulled off the rear panel. He probed and prodded and finally announced that we would indeed need a new flyback. He went out to his truck and brought one in. Changed it and fired up the set. It was back. I guess I was hoping for some color finally, but it was not to be. He adjusted a few things, and departed.

Yes, in those days, we had appliance “repair men” who actually came to your house and fixed such things.

A decade later, they were gone. You had to pretty much take your TV to the shop to get anyone to work on them.

And a few years later, they were gone entirely.

Today, you can buy televisions. You can watch televisions. But if they break, a little bit or a total failure, you pretty much buy another. There are a handful of TV repair shops left in the entire nation, which is odd because they can’t get that part for your model anyway. So I’m not sure what they fix. But it isn’t TV.

Oddly you CAN mostly fix personal computers. The parts making up a PC are essentially a commodity with ever lower prices. I’m currently ordering some USB Flash Drives to include with the GEVCU so the new owners will have the Arduino software and some update software and some other stuff to do future upgrades on their GEVCU hardware. In the last blog I expressed amazement that you could buy an SD microcard that would hold 128GB of data for just $112. One of our viewers immediately noted that I was behind the times as they had 256 GB cards available as well.

So I don’t know what’s happened in two weeks, but apparently not only is the 128GB card no longer CHEAP at $112, but it’s starting to look like a SCAM. I’m talking with the Chinese about purchasing 100 of these little USB thumb drives for $9.88 each.

How much do THEY hold? Well, apparently 1 TERABYTE. Is that a misprint. Some Chinglish translation problem? No. You can get thumb drives with the latest USB 3.0 that does a couple hundred megabytes a second transfer at capacities up to and now including 1 TERABYTE.

In 1991, consumer grade, 1 gigabyte (1/1000 TB) disk drives were available for US$2699 and two years later prices for this capacity had dropped to US$1499. By 1995, 1 GB drives could be purchased for US$849.

2007: 1 terabyte hard disk costs US$370
2010: 2 terabyte hard disk costs US$200
2012: 4 terabyte hard disk US$450 (Hitachi, largest available in consumer market), 1 terabyte hard disk US$100
2013: 4 terabyte hard disk US$179, 3 terabyte hard disk $129, 2 terabyte hard disk $100, 1 terabyte hard disk US$80
2013: 4 terabyte hard disk US$150, 3 terabyte hard disk $129, 2 terabyte hard disk $90, 1 terabyte hard disk US$60

And yes, this week and apparently for about 1 week only, you can buy 1 terabyte thumb drives on a keychain for $9.88. BUT YOU MUST ACT QUICKLY. If you wait more than a week or two the price could fall further yet.

CPUs? Memory? Optical drives? Power supplies? Cases? Get on Egghead. You can build an entire computer from piece parts OR replace any part in any personal computer, PC, Mac, Linux, whatever with a generic that works essentially identically. And the prices for all these are in free fall.

But a good TV is $2000. And you can’t buy ANY part for it. PERHAPS the remote on the grey market. Each design is proprietary. Under warranty they simply swap em out. And there is no such thing as repair.

And that’s a good thing – for TV makers. Otherwise, they would be as cheap as computers. Wait a minute. Future rush. What just happened. How can you buy a COMPUTER for less than a TV????? In 1960, computers were a million dollars and a TV was $125. Today the TV is $2000 and the computer is $600.

The TV is “proprietary” and non-repairable. People who don’t even know anything about personal computers can easily add a hard drive or even replace a memory stick. And those parts are trivially available.

For the vast majority of Americans, who cannot afford airplanes and/or boats, the automobile is the second largest purchase they will ever make after their house.

And traditionally, automobiles have always been repairable with not only a cornucopia of parts eagerly sold by the automobile manufacturers, but literally hundreds if not thousands of companies making “third party” parts for the same cars. And the deep knowledge needed to repair those vehicles actually went beyond the dealership with hundreds of thousands of independent garages and gas stations (yes they used to FIX cars there – not just Big Gulps). You could learn how to fix automobiles by purchasing repair manuals – both from the manufacturers and/or from other publishers and there were a dozen publishers who specialized in automobile repair manuals.

As I recall, country western singer Johnny Cash actually built a car one piece at a time, using pieces he took home in his lunch box from his job at an autombile plant.

For over a century, hundreds of thousands of car owners simply chose not to face the expense at the auto dealers and changed their own oil, filters, belts, and along the way became more knowledgeable about how to repair their car. Brakes actually got easier with the disk brakes and pads. But many people did all the repair work on their cars after the warranty expired.

But in the last few years, a number of car manufacturers have begun treating their “technology” as “their intellectual property” and guarding it against being common knowledge among the great unwashed. And you will find that oddly enough, repairs at dealerships such as BMW and Mercedes Benz, who are somewhat famous for this, are significantly higher in cost than at a Ford or GM dealership.

In this week’s video, we talk about a couple of wannabe Tesloids who bought wrecked Tesla Model S’s in an attempt to get into a Tesla at somewhat less than the $107,000 I paid. Tesla, the only source of parts for these cars, not only DECLINES to sell them the parts, but has a new wrinkle to offer. They can simply telephone the car and DISABLE it. And AFTER announcing he was going to “open source” the Tesla, Elon Musk apparently has hired a software security expert from Apple who has recruited 20 or 30 “hackers” to help them “secure” their system from “attack”. ALL of this mind you, and they assure us they will NOT ever back off from this, in the name of YOUR SAFETY.


My safety? Hey, that’s great. Where in the hell were you guys in 1971 when Dad slammed the Dodge pickup hood on my goddamned hand while we were working on it????

There is no issue of safety here at ALL. And there are NO issues of litigation. There is no recorded CASE EVER of anyone making modifications to their own car that later resulted in a lawsuit against the automaker. But there have been some HUGE lawsuits against automakers. Virtually ALL of them had nothing to do with design errors or vehicle defects you will be astounded to learn. ALL of them, from the Pinto incendiary gas tank to the Toyoto accelerator pedal to the GM ignition switch, ALL OF THEM involved corporations who had hundreds and in some cases THOUSANDS of reports of vehicle defects KNOWN and known unquestionably to cause individuals to DIE, and who then did NOTHING about it for periods of time ranging usually from one to ten YEARS – solely based on the expense. These are individuals, human beings within corporate structures who made active DECISIONS to bury information and stall off providing a solution for multiple YEARS while more people died from DEFECTIVE automobiles that repeatedly and predictably failed at exactly the same point – killing other people in tragic accidents. THAT is the “litigation risk” my friends and there isn’t any other. The reason for the huge awards is that a jury of 12 people of even George Carlin’s estimate of average intelligence were so enraged by the obvious and demonstrated EVIL of the parties involved that their only question in the lawsuit was what kind of number for the award would be considered REALLY BIG. Cause these SOBs are going to pay.

If I modified a Tesla by putting in two cup holders, and later ran into a school with failed brakes and wiped out 1250 little darlings, Tesla might have a liability problem, but it would not be the cupholders.

And if I TOTALLY modified a Tesla and REMOVED the brakes because I wanted to mount an explosive STEAM CALLIOPE on the front, and hit the same school and wiped em out again, Tesla really has ZERO liability. No lawyer would bring a case against them. Because it would not only be thrown out, but the lawyer would lose serious commitas among the lawyer guys. It wasn’t Tesla’s car. It was mine. And I had so seriously modified it, that anything Tesla had or had not done really wouldn’t have any bearing. When the calliope exploded, that was what caused most of the damage. Nobody is going to hold Tesla responsible. I might lose everything. But even though Tesla is the obvious deep pockets here, the connection is just too thin.

So there simply ARE NOT any safety issues in providing information or parts about car repair. And there are simply NOT any legal issues or exposure either. And indeed, you can watch the Wizard of Oz for the next 300 years on a black and white TV and it isn’t EVER going to show up in color for you. No matter what the man says.

But imagine what a FANTASTIC world it would be for carmakers if cars simply were not repairable? And if parts and information on their repair were UNOBTAINIUM. Better yet, if anyone even TRIES to repair or use the car after the warranty period, they could simply send the car a text message to TURN IT OFF.

Disposable cars. Throw away cars. You buy one, and if something goes wrong with it you send it to the recycler and buy another. And in this way, within just a few years, just as computers became less expensive than televisions, houses can be less expensive than cars.

There is something deeply sinister and deeply tragic that happens to people who come to run large corporate entities. I don’t know what it is about it, but they become so confused they don’t know right from wrong or up from down, leading to the eternal damnation of their immortal soul to the fires of hell. I know I don’t want to run one.

But it is invariably the same. The see no win/win situations. If offered the opportunity to take advantage of their position of power to get just a bit more from their own customer base, they will lunge at it every time. And if at any time they are faced with a decision between making it right or covering it up, they cover it up like catscat.

I would ask that you join me in fighting this whenever and wherever found. We will develop the tools necessary to hack these cars to death and take advantage of every opportunity to free their “intellectual property.” Once you sell the car, the rights to access the intellectual property go with it.

We would also advocate immediate “right to repair” laws applied universally through all 50 states via Federal legislation to require both parts and information adequate to make effective repairs from anyone selling any model of automobile within the borders of the country.

I frankly don’t give a shit about ISIS terrorists. They don’t scare me at all. But Tesla does. The increasingly computerized automobile poses a direct threat and this seems to be accentuated with the advent of the electric car.

And I would leave you with one sort of shocking thought. What if the automobile dealers have a point after all???

This means war. And we’re talking boots on the ground…