2002 Update

I was in town (Lebanon, NH) the other day and stopped to pick up a paper on the way back home. On the way back to the car a guy walked by and said "Electric Vehicle? You put that sticker there as a joke, right?" He's probably one of the few that has read the faded and scratched bumper sticker and probably the first person in six years who said anything about it to me. I responded that not only was it an electric car, but he just had to take a look, at which point I popped the hood and blew his mind. After all this time I just take it for granted that I have an electric car and, I guess, assume that everyone has stumbled across these pages and knows all about it. Kind of a stupid conclusion, I admit, and based on this one guy's reaction there are probably others who would be interested in hearing about it. I'm not sure how I'll spread the word, maybe send an article to the local paper?

It's been a few years since my last post and not only do I owe you folks an update, but I've decided to redo the whole layout. I've put in some easier navigation, printable versions of each page (so you don't have to waste paper on extraneous stuff), and I've fixed up a few of the broken links.

I had given some consideration to doing more with the older pages, maybe take out embarassing sections, improve the grammar and try to smooth out some of the flow. But as I looked over it I came to realize that this is the way it happened and, for good or bad, it ought to stay that way.

I'm happy to say that we are still using the EV almost every day. Beyond a few fixes here and there, which I'll explain later, the design hasn't changed at all and there haven't been any major problems or expenses. A few years ago I donated the big, bulky Bycan charger to a local school which needed a charger for thier converted VW bus, Helios the Heron. I donated a set of batteries to the Hanover High School EV team for the EV that they've been putting together. I've also taken my EV in to show to the class and talk to the team members about it.

bad battery cell

Over the past six years I've replaced the batteries twice. The first set of Trojan SCS225's lasted around three years despite some of my earlier mistakes. I then made the mistake of trying out some slightly cheaper commercial batteries. I think they were Interstate deep cycle boat/trolling batteries from a local Kmart or Walmart. The price was five to ten bucks cheaper per battery but after about a year in use they started losing range drastically. Now I'm back to Trojan SCS225's and it's about a year and a half with them. Last week while watering the pack I found one of the batteries with an almost bone dry cell (compared to the others which were only down a little bit of water) and that the cell was shot. Not sure why it cooked itself like that, but I've since installed a replacement and hope for another year or two off of the pack.

bad fuse holder

Another thing that I noticed the other day was the fuse holder for the car heater circuit is melting itself down. It's a 20 or 30 amp holder, but the heater only draws about 13 amps. Maybe dissimilar metals and/or dirt and moisture from the elements is causing the contacts to increase in resistance over time?


Sometime near the end of the first battery pack's life I bought a Solartech Canpulse unit. This unit turns on at around 155vdc and puts high frequency pulses into the battery circuit, presumably to help deter sulfation. To be honest I can't tell if has helped or not. It didn't remarkably revive the first pack's life and certainly didn't seem to do anything with the second pack. We'll see how it works on the current pack, since I can then compare directly with the first SCS225 pack that lasted three years.

Probably the biggest problem I've had in the last six years happened just this last fall. We started noticing a grinding sound and finally I brought the EV into the garage and took the frontend apart and yanked the motor. No easy task, that's for sure. What had happened was the lockscrew attaching the drive plate adaptor to the motor had worked it's way loose and rubbed up against the face of the motor, heating things up and causing the motor bearing to go. This was completely my fault. Bob Batson's assembly manual has a great section on attaching the motor and adaptor and, probably in my excitement, I completely skipped the part about drilling a small dimple into the driveshaft so the setscrew would be kept from moving horizontally. A local motor rebuilder replaced the eight dollar bearing and charged about twenty bucks in labor. This time I followed the instructions and HOPEFULLY it's the last time I have to pull the motor.

And that's about it for the last six years. In all of our commuting with the EV we've racked up about fifteen thousand miles, most of it on five or ten mile errands. In that same period we've retired two gas powered vehicles, both worn out and rusting away.

Before I close this out I thought I'd compile some of the popular questions I get when people find out we have an electric car:

QuestionMy Answer
How far can you go on a charge? Probably thirty to thirty-five miles. Since we live on a hill and it's a mile uphill I tend to not let things get too uncertain. The furthest I've ever gone was about 28 miles. Most of our commuting is a 10 to 15 mile round trip. Range drops as much as 30% in the winter.
How fast can it go? I've had it up to 75mph no problem and for the short section of interstate that I occasionally drive I'm typically going 65mph with everyone else.
Why don't you put a windmill on top so you can generate power while you drive? A former co-worker had the best response to this perpetual energy question: "I'm worried that it will keep generating more and more energy until it melts itself down!"
Do you use regenerative braking? (or some form of this question) Nope. My first controller which had regen self-destructed. Since then I've looked into making a homemade regen setup, but when I sat down and thought about it I realized that when it really counts I can't use regen (going down that long hill with a fully charged pack). If I lived in an inverted configuration to what we have now, then maybe, but it really is a lot of extra complexity for a little gain.
What do you do for heat in the winter? I drive close behind an SUV and bask in the 80% or so of waste heat that they put off. Just kidding, I have a ceramic heater which runs off of the batteries and consumes some of my range, but not enough to matter for the type of driving we do.
How do you get it inspected? Same as everyone else. Same registration and everything. The only difference is that New Hampshire makes you pay more for state tax, since they aren't collecting any tax money from us (the EV that is) at the gas pump.
How much does it cost to charge it? It's around twenty or thirty cents to charge, depending on how far we've gone. A few years ago, when gas was $1.30 a gallon and I was commuting round trip 12 miles each day I calculated that based on the cost of the electricity used and the miles driven we were getting the equivalent of 50 miles per gallon. Since then the electric rates have gone up some and of course gas prices are all over the place.
Don't electric cars pollute more because the electricity is made by coal fired power plants? Yes, no, maybe? The nice thing about centralized generation is that it's easier (theoretically...I'm no politician) to get one power plant to reduce it's emissions as opposed to trying to keep the emissions low on millions and millions of cars. There's another point that should be considered: I can buy electric power that's wholely or partially generated by more ecological means OR I can buy wind/hydro/solar generators and produce my own. In all of the years I've been on this planet I haven't seen anyone produce their own gasoline or even have a choice about where it's dug up.

Next: 2005 Update



Printable Page

Conversion Homepage
EV Resources
Jerry's Weblog

eMail Jerry

 · The Prototype
 · EV Ingredients
 · Big, greasy fun
 · Paperwork
 · Battery musings
 · EV Controllers
 · Motor Installation
 · More Guts!
 · Wire heads unite!
 · Parts, Trade Show
 · Battery Box Build
 · Meters and Heaters
 · A battery of boxes
 · It's a Control Thing
 · Dash it all...
 · Zapi Schematic
 · Battery Wiring
 · Heavy Metal
 · 2d vs 3d
 · Woodwork 101
 · Car Wiring
 · Piles of Plans
 · Juggling
 · Wired tools
 · Tube and Wire
 · I'm still here...
 · Vacuum Pump
 · Fab land
 · Lot's of Devils
 · More Metal
 · Upper Body Workout
 · As the wheel turns...
 · License to drive!
 · Back in the Trunk
 · Batts & Brackets
 · Stupendo Goo!
 · Street Legal
 · Zapped!
 · Double Drat!
 · Break in the Storm
 · Hello, Curtis!
 · Hello, World!
 · Ground Hogs
 · Price of Change
 · The End?
»  2002 Update  «
 · 2005 Update

© Copyright 1995-2002 Jerry Halstead