As the wheel turns...

Well, well, well...where to begin. Last episode I had set out in search of welding cable on a Saturday. I found some 1/0 cable (which is smaller, go figure) and some so-so lugs, both good enough to finish the wiring temporarily and get some testing going and that is just what I did, with an order for real wires & lugs into EVAmerica.

Once that was wired up I did a few more pre-flight checks and then nudged the accelerator: contactors clacked shut and then opened back up right away and the Zapi programming console shows an error. Dang. Get out the schematics, thumb through the Zapi manual, try to figure it out.

An hour later and no progress, all signs point to the controller. I send off mail to Mitchell Oates, another Zapi owner, and Gary Flo, the fellow I bought it from. Mitch sends back some suggestions, but nothing changes. Finally I re-program the Zapi and re-wire it (per the manual) for Standard Traction. This bypasses the BFR contactor. Lo and behold everything works! I nudge the accelerator (potbox) and the wheel starts spinning, stop nudging and the wheel stops: both very good signs!

More troubleshooting, more mail back and forth, still no word on the controller problem OR what my options are (can I get it fixed?). Gary sends me the email of the Zapi US distributor, a Mr. Conklin, so this past weekend I send him some mail...no response yet.

The good news is that it does work in Standard Traction mode, in fact Faith and I took a short drive down the road and back. A very nervous ride on my part, but she seemed to enjoy it. One thing that caught me off guard and I don't remember reading about anywhere is that the motor STUNK just like burnt electronics! Scared me to death. After a little checking around I found out that this is a normal symptom while a new motor gets broken in.

Thoughts about the test drive? Well, it was quiet and noisy. The motor is pretty darn quiet, kind of like coasting down a hill with the gas engine off. It was noisy cause I still have holes in the trunk and no back seats installed. It was cool to step on the, uh, accelerator and just find yourself moving. Even cooler to flip the Forward/Reverse switch and have it come to a stop and start going in the opposite direction: without letting off on the accelerator! Granted I was going pretty slow. I don't know how this acts at higher speeds or how programable it is. That's all I can say for now, it was a short drive and I was to excited to fully enjoy it.

The test drive was last Wednesday, late Wednesday night my office had a direct hit by lightning (a high energy day!). It came two days before our product release and wiped out all but one computer: let's just say it has been interesting...

I'm going to try to resolve my Zapi troubles with Gary or Mr. Conklin. Other things on my to-do list:

  • Get some pictures!!!
  • Heavier duty coil springs on the back (it's riding a little low)
  • Weld some battery hold down brackets, front and back (and then return the welder)
  • Finish wiring the motor current ammeter
  • Install the charger (on order)
  • Fabricate/Install battery box covers & exhaust fan for back
  • Pretty up the wiring
  • Replace the windshield
  • Misc. touchup stuff, put odds and ends back together (back seat, etc..)


© Copyright 1995-2002 Jerry Halstead