Electric Vogue

This blog documents the conversion of a 1965 Humber (Singer) Vogue to a fully electric vehicle. The intention is to power the electric car (EV) with an 11kW(modified), 3 phase industrial AC motor, controlled by an industry standard Variable Speed Drive (VSD) or Inverter. To be able to produce the 400 volts phase to phase the VSD will need about 600 VDC of batteries. This conversion has been helped enormously by the contributors to the AEVA forums: http://forums.aeva.asn.au/forums/

Friday, March 7, 2014

Energy Usage per Month

I have noticed that the Vogue's range has increased during summer so I entered the AH used and the distance traveled for each time the car was charged since I started routinely driving the Vogue back in April 2013 (I keep a log). The data was entered in a spreadsheet divided into columns of months.
I then simply divided the AH used by the distance and averaged these values for each month.
The range line (purple) is that figure divided into 16 - my pack is 20AH and 16 is 80% of the pack's AH capacity.

The result. (In Australia the hottest months are January/February - coldest is around June/July).
Energy usage per kilometer may be on the way back up as it gets colder down under.
(Edit: Graph updated March 20th 2014 showing Range/month)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Seat Diaphragm failed AGAIN!

The driver seat base diaphragm has torn out completely along the rear edge.
It only lasted a few months since I replaced it here.
So I will be installing webbing on the weekend.
It wasn't too tight this time - loose if anything - but obviously something about the application doesn't suit the TR6 seat diaphragms.

I'll document the lengths etc. when I install the webbing - it's a cheaper way to go and will be a better result as the webbing will give slightly rather than tearing like the rubber diaphragms.

Some pics - this first picture is from last time.
Last time it tore at the sides.

This time it simply ripped out two of the three metal anchors along the rear of the diaphragm. My feeling is that they are just not well made. The metal anchor strip was VERY close to the edge of the rubber and one of them just slid out.

I have packing material under the seat right now (stopping the upholstery from being under strain) so I couldn't get a picture but I did remove these from the aluminium strip that sits next to the seat frame. The one on the left has no rubber attached to speak of - the rubber just slid off either side of the metal.

BTW I weigh 81kg - it's not me!
More to come...

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hot Weather Driving

Someone asked me last week how the Vogue was coping with the hot weather.
"Disturbingly well" I answered.
There was only 4 days where I didn't drive the Vogue - it was 40 degrees C or over all four days (see previous post).

Last week it was high 30's but I drove the Vogue anyway. I have kind of decided that a predicted temperature of 40 degrees C or over is the only time I'll leave it at home in the shade.

Meanwhile the "disturbingly well" comment was because the range is well up on my winter range. It's generally 85 km to 80% DOD and sometimes hitting 90 km. Keep in mind that I made it through winter with no heater so this is the battery pack temperature causing the change.
The line out of Blade Runner haunts me: "the candle that burns twice as bright burns for half as long".

If the pack degradation due to temperature is inversely proportional to the range increase (not likely - nothing is ever that simple) then it's not so bad but it really would be nice to have shaded parking at work!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Not driving the Vogue this week - too hot.

This week in Melbourne we are looking at four consecutive days in the range 39 to 43 degrees C - The forecast.today is 43 degrees C. Tuesday to Friday goes 43, 39, 41, 40.
Since I do not have under cover parking at work, I decided to not have the Vogue roast in the sun for the week and have swapped it into the garage. There, it should at least stay below 35 degrees C and keep the battery temperatures the same as ambient air rather than the 50 odd degrres they would get to under the bonnet (and in the boot) if it were in the sun.

My daughter is away so I'm driving her car. I didn't drive the Vogue Monday either but that was because the Super Snipe - our caravan tow car, has just had an automatic transmission service (complete with some fluid leak fixes) and I wanted to drive a few kilometers before we commit to dragging the caravan around the state with it.

So the Vogue is in the garage with the two completely redundant drip trays under it while the Snipe sits in the carport hopefully not leaking either.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Warmer Weather - better Range

I think I have mentioned before but with the warmer weather my range has increased by around 10km.
The Vogue measures remaining range by figuring how far you have travelled on what fraction of the battery pack's capacity - then calculating how far you can go based on the remaining capacity. All this is done assuming only 80% of the pack capacity is available. It does this 3 times a second so the remaining range moves around a lot based on how you are driving. This technique would not work well in a commercial EV where people got an initial reading of a 33 km range after travelling 600 meters to the top of their street's hill (as I do almost every morning) - then the range esimate changed with every take off (as it does).

At just under the 10 km mark on my way to work I get a very optimistic indication. I only get a few seconds to take this picture before the lights go green and I missed a great picture few days ago in this spot where it was 91 km remaining range - a total of just over 100 km with 80% DOD.

It doesn't last long though. About 2 km later, after a substantail climb at 70 to 80 km/h, it is usually down to 72 km remaining. By the time I get to work it's around 77 km remaining (Range) after 15 km travelled (TRP). The trip home is always worse and I'm arriving home lately with 31 km travelled and about 54 km remaining range. The Vogue has a 12 kw/hr pack (20 AH at 600 VDC) and all dashboard calculations are performed assuming only 9.6 kw/hr (actually 16 AH) is available.

A note or two about comments - I really like getting them. I have to moderate what comments get published - currently I publish everything. You can leave me comments privately or publicly though. If you like, you can leave a comment and just mention that you don't want it published, "don't publish this John", and I won't.

To leave a comment just click on the "No comments" (or "'n' comments") at the bottom of any post.
Next line down from this one...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Leading up to Christmas

Nothing much to report. I'm driving the Vogue every day and have passed 4200km of electric driving.
I have purchased a new set of rear shock absorbers (new, old stock Monroe 12-0060 - yes eBay) and will hopefully get them installed during the Christmas to new year break - plus a review/refresh of all rear-end suspension rubber components

I'll also make some time to further investigate the vibration issue that is still present - less intrusive but still there.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Is That a Humber?

I had to drop William (son) off at and end-of-year dinner at a bistro connected to a pub last night.
I drove all the way up to the bistro entrance, passed a balcony about 1 meter off the ground were 3 or 4 guys were sitting having an ale or two (or three).

As William got out of the Vogue one of them called out to him "Is that a Humber". William just looked back over his shoulder and said "yes". As he walked away I rolled down my window and gave the standard speil "It's a 1965 Humber Vogue but it's a bit different". They just nodded - then I said "It's a battery powered car - electric". They nodded again. "See" I said and accelerated forward a couple of meters, "no noise - no petrol engine". They collectively dropped their jaws and I could see that that was the end of the discussion - so I drove off. I didn't see their faces but William told me later that they just looked - didn't talk - just looked as I drove away.

That's my fix for another week.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Driver's seat diaphragm replaced


My new seat diaphragm arrived during the week so on Saturday (yesterday) I removed the drivers seat and checked out the old seat diaphragm.
 As suspected (from feeling under the seat) the diaphragm had given way on the side closer to the centre of the car.
Due to the fact that it was torn, I had little trouble removing it and proceeded to install the new one.
Oh oh! The new one was too big. Not excessive but enough that it didn't support the foam. It appeared to be about 20mm larger.

Old diaphragm front-to-back hole-hole measurement.
 New diaphragm front-to-back hole-hole measurement.
 Old diaphragm side-to-sidehole-hole measurement. Followed by the new one.
So about 20mm.

I kind of spat the dummy at this point and considered giving up on the diaphragms and using the webbing I had ordered in case the diaphragm didn't work out.

Then I noticed that the clips that were supplied last time were larger than the standard Vogue ones. I had to use the Vogue ones to hold the aluminium pieces to the seat frame (that allowed me to use the smaller TR6 diaphragms).

The clips used last time were about 28mm to the inside of the hole. the Vogue ones were 20mm.
The new diaphragm didn't come with clips.
So I got inventive and disappeared into the garage, emerging with a bag of 2.8mm nails.
They were VERY difficult to bend so I think they'll stay bent.

I made 11 - only needed 10.
Then I measured the hole-hole dimensions in the seat again and used suitably size clips. I hadn't bent them perfectly - they ranged from 19 to 22mm so I arranged them largest to smallest and selected appropriately.

The diaphragm took some getting in as I worked from the underside without removing any foam or fabric but once in, it fit nicely. About 10mm stretch in each direction. The previous one had 19 and 12mm stretch - maybe too much - the 19 was side to side where it tore.
The seat is back in the car . I forgot to take the "after" picture but it looks pretty much like when I originally did it except that the diaphragm covers slightly more of the foam - which is good.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Last Charger Inline Fuseholder Replaced

I was about 1km into my trip to work this morning when the battery alarm went off.
Pack #3 in the boot (trunk) had it's indicator LED out so I bypassed the pack and continued to work - I wasn't even late.
At work I bypassed the VERY LAST of the inline fuseholders. Pack #3 was the last one and it visually had been looking OK (easy to see in the boot behind the polycarbonate partition) - but is wasn't - the fuse had melted it's way out through the end of the fuseholder. (For the full story click "fuse" in the Labels area on the right hand side of the blog pages - or click here.)

I was a little suspicious this morning when I saw (on the smartmeter web interface) that the chargers hadn't peaked at 2.7kW at 1AM. House load is about 250-300W so I normally see a minimum of 3.1kW.

(The mouse was hovering over the first bar for 1AM.)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

New Seat Diaphragm Ordered

I ordered a new seat diaphragm from the UK yesterday. I'll fit that and see how it goes before trying the webbing. Meanwhile it appears OK to drive with the seat supported by packing material in the torn section.

View from the back of the seat.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A few minor Niggles

The Vogue has been going well except that a few minor problems have emerged - most have been dealt with.

Charger failure
The charger for pack #8 failed about 2 weeks ago and I used a spare for a few days. It was a real pain opening the bonnet each night to plug the spare in - I swapped it out permanently for one of my two spares last week. Unusually for me, I managed to repair the faulty charger. One of the two main switch transistors had failed - completely short circuited. I replaced it with one from an old not-working PC power supply. Slightly higher voltage rating but otherwise same specs. It's now my second spare charger.

Seat diaphragm failed
The front driver seat diaphragm has torn. I used TR6 seat diaphragms and made up some aluminium pieces to get the tension correct. It has torn on the side where there are two clips. I am deliberating whether to get another diaphragm from the UK (none in Australia any more), or use webbing similar to how I did the seat backs.
At the moment I have some foam packaging material rammed under the torn section to support the seat so that the foam and/or upholstery don't get damaged. I did plan to pull the seat out yesterday but it was too wet and cold outside and I had other stuff in the house that needed attention. I'll try to get to it on Saturday. At the moment we are travelling to central Victoria every Sunday to visit my Aunt who is in hospital.

I'm still hanging out for some spare time over the Christmas break so that I can catch up on some of the outstanding Vogue issues - suspension squeaks and thumps etc - oh and the driveline vibration.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Rear View Mirror Success

The rear view mirror appears to be stuck on quite thoroughly this time.

When I first got the mirror kit it came with three types of mounting - two plastic and one metal. I used the supplied silicone adhesive to stick one of the plastic mounts to the windscreen but next morning it just came away from the plastic as soon as I adjusted the mirror. Next came the double sides Bear tape - good for three months, then the stuff from work - two months, then some pads I bought off UK eBay - 10 seconds (I didn't even bother to leave it on once I realised how "spungy" the mounting was).

So finally I cleaned up the metal mount and windscreen with enamal thinners and used the last of the silicone adhesive that was supplied with the mirror (put a hole in the small tube to get it out from the bottom). I left it there for 48 hours - held on with a piece of duct tape (see previous post).

It seems quite solid and doesn't shake nearly as much as with the double sided tape methods.
It's not as big as it looks in this picture - it's a 200mm wide mirror - about normal for a modern car.
(That's William getting a pick-up)

I was very close to punching the three holes in the headlining and going back to the little narrow standard Vogue mirror...glad I didn't. This mirror gives me a much better idea of what is going on around me.

Oh - the brake master cylinder appears to have stopped leaking. It looks like the one-drip-per day was the last of the brake fluid seeping out of the pipe-fitting's thread. A tissue was totally dry when I wiped around and under the fitting last night.

Monday, October 21, 2013

New Master Cylinder Installed

My "new" Master cylinder is installed and I'm back driving the Vogue this week. It took a huge amount of time to bleed the brakes - does anyone have a trick? The drivers side brake caliper was forward and straight down from the M/C and I think the air wanted to come back up the line all the time. Anyway we got it done.

I had to file back the flare on the brake pipe fitting as it would not clamp the in-built olive on the end of the pipe - the pipe would still rotate. It was also stopping the fitting going into the brake master cylinder easily. I got it to the point where it clamped OK but when I got to work there was a a tell-take drip on the pipe. I'm not sure I dare tighten it up any more. I'm ready to hand it to a brake shop to fix that one (it stopped leaking - see next post).

Shiny new(ish) Brake Master Cylinder.

I also stuck the rear view mirror back onto the windscreen with silicone adhesive - we'll see how that goes!

Yes, it's raining in Melbourne again!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Flare Nut Spanner worked a Treat!

The Master Cylinder (M/C) brake line took about 30 seconds to loosen with the flare nut spanner. I did the inevitable bruised knuckle as it let go. I removed the brake line from the M/C and the four-way brake line distributor as it was only about 200mm away.
(Old picture taken during conversion)

I have cleaned up the threads and the line itself ready for re-installation.
I haven't put the new M/C in yet because I took the opportunity the clean up the firewall where the M/C mounts and repaint it. I now have to wait for my bruised right thumb to get a bit better (totally another story) before I put it all back together again. Brake lines cross-thread easily so I don't want to mess it up now. I'll pick a day with good weather later this week (it's gone all wintery again here) and go home from work a bit early to get it done.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Brake Master Cylinder Problem

A problem noted back at the start of the year (see point 2) with the Vogue's brakes came home to roost last week. We were not careful enough when bleeding the brakes when I changed the brake light switch and allowed the piston to be sent all the way into the cylinder. It's a known issue in older cars. The piston encounters parts of the cylinder that hasn't been used for 48 years and tends to sieze. (The trick apparently is to place a block of wood under the brake pedal when bleeding the brakes to stop this from happening.)

Anyway, the brake pedal has been a little reluctant to return fully for a while now and the problem has reached the unsafe stage (no leaks - just internal in the M/C).

I found my spare master cylinder under the house and dropped it in to a recommended repair place last week. They have re-sleeved it in stainless steel and done a total restore. I picked it up yesterday.

The old Master Cylinder (taken during conversion). It's about the oldest, ugliest looking thing under the bonnet.

Now the sticking point. CRC soaked and all, I could not loosen the brake line going to the Master cylinder. It's thoroughly rusted in. So based on some classic car forum advice (Rover I think), I just bought this:

It's a Flare Nut spanner (wrench) - 3/8" and 7/16" AF.
Ideal for difficult pipe fitting - like brake lines.
We'll see how it goes...
The fitting is soaking in CRC56 as I type.

It's kind of ironic that we are having a little petrol (gasoline) delivery crisis in Victoria right now and my EV is off the road due to a siezed pipe fitting.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

EV work sidetracked by Home Renovations

I'm back driving the Vogue daily (since Monday) after my slight scare with the battery pack (which is working fine now).
I'm trying to track down another BMS for the battery packs as I do not have a spare. If a BMS dies for some reason it will put me off the road. The problem is that the BMS in my packs (WL086-05) is not available any more. The closest thing to them is a 16 cell BMS from EV-Power at 120mm x 90mm and I only have about 110mm x 90mm room in the pack.
At least I know where to get one now and there is a chance I can slice 10mm off it in the power FET area. I hope I never have to find out but it's best to plan.

Anyway - house renovations.
In the last few weeks I have demolished a built-in wardrobe pair in our main bedroom. By built-in I mean it. It was part of the original house framing even to the point where two of the ceiling bearers didn't make it to a load supporting wall instead being secured to the wardrobe framing (I extended them). The reason for it's removal was that in a house with 2.7M ceilings, the wardrobe was only 2M high. The remaining 700mm above the pair of wardrobes (on a 4M wide wall) was roof space. There were two wardrobes, each 1.5M wide with a dressing table that we didn't use in the middle. Add to that - they were only 450mm deep - most are at least 550mm deep. A real waste of space.

I also had to patch the floor. Fortunately the tongue and groove boards that formed a shelf in the wardrobe were actually floorboards (the white ones in the picture).

So I removed the whole lot and re-plasterboarded the area.

Since taking this picture I have done the first "mud" and tape coat.

The new wardrobe get installed in early October and they will trim the cornice and skirting boards to the correct dimensions to butt against it.

So I have two more coats of "mud" then we have to get the area painted.
Plus other stuff...

Demolition in progress - a tad blurry - sorry.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pack #5 Fixed and ready for Car.

I temporarily plugged the relevant parts of the BMS into the pack last night and charged it while the pack was still open and I could measure the cell voltages.
The cells were so perfectly balanced that the charger current died off at 59VDC with around 3.68V across each cell pair - so no balancing required.
I did  a quick test of the BMS monitoring (my opto-coupler mods) and it checked out.
The BMS is fine - no damage.
After now leaving the pack open for 24 hours or more to thoroughly dry out, I re-assembled the pack last night but it was too wet and rainy to bother putting it back in the car.

I'll put it back in tonight or tomorrow morning.

Astute readers my notice that this pack is identified as Pack #10. That's because, way back when I had problems with controller switching coupling from the motor leads into pack #10 in the engine bay, I swapped packs #5 and #10 - just in case.
It remains an annoying facit of always having to note which pack #5 or #10 I am dealing with in my pack notes.

If I ever have to pull the faraday cage off Pack #5 (engine bay - see), I'll shield Pack #10 (the one shown above) more elegantly and swap the packs back to their rightful positions.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pack problem caused by Water

As soon as I got home from work last night I yanked Pack #5 from the boot (trunk), took it inside and pulled it apart. There was a little bit of water on it and a few drops on the tray but I kind of ignored them until I got the pack apart - a little water dribbled out but I still wasn't sure that it didn't get on the pack when I was removing it (boot lid was very wet). I checked all cells and all measured 3.27V per cell - no variation. So the cells were OK. I proceeded to remove the bottom of the pack enclosure - now it was obvious.

Most of the bottom cover was covered in a thin film of water with a patch about the size of a matchbox (50mm x 40mm) that had green tinged foam/slime around it - that's where the BMS's daughter board was sitting in the pool of water!
BMS daugher board circled in red. (Daughter board appears to be so they can use the same BMS for 12 or 16 cells systems. They add four more cell handlers on the little board.)

Unfortunately my sense of WRONGness was so great I instantly wiped it all up - then remembered that I should have taken a picture - oh well.

I removed the BMS board and cleaned it with genclean (PCB cleaning stuff) then resoldered any suspect looking pins (a couple of Molex pins looked like they had corroded slightly), then gave the board a coat of clear laquer.

OK - so where did the water come from.
Some while back I crowed about how the Vogue was fine charging in the rain because the charger inlet (located IMMEDIATELY above this water soaked pack) had a "moat" that went to a drain hose. Well the 48 year old drain hose had cracked even more than when I re-installed it and was leaking every time I charged in the rain. Also, any water that got under the unsealed cover while driving went down the drain hole/hose.

The charger inlet, "moat" and drain hole in question.

I cut the bad end off the hose and ran the hose in a straighter line (no fuel tank to go around).
View inside the boot.

This old picture shows where Pack #5 is mounted with respect to the charger inlet. It's the one sitting alone on the left under the contactor/fuse box.

I haven't tested the BMS board yet to see if it still works - fingers crossed.
I'll try to get the pack back together tonight - it's still in the state of the first picture in this post.

When I re-install the pack (assuming the BMS is OK) I will put a temporary cover over the pack and check it regularly for a while.
I am still amazed that the water had got into the pack enclosure so easily. The three packs under the front of the car (engine bay) have been sealed with waterproof gaffa tape but now I wonder about them as well. At least their orientation would not have the BMS board at the bottom of the pack like this one.

...and yes, I am very embarrassed.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Battery Pack Problem

I didn't drive the Vogue today. When I started it the battery monitoring system instantly sounded an alarm. A quick check showed Pack #5 in the boot (trunk) had it's indicator light off. I re-connected the charging lead but it's internal BMS switched off the charger path straight away. I took my daughter's car to work.
I'll check it out when I get home.
I have a sneaky suspicioun that I just had my first cell failure in active use (later edit - wrong - they are fine). Unfortunately my packs will tend to kill two cells at a time due the the two-parallel nature of the system.
At may be that my 65km on Friday night has pushed some week cells into failure (nope - see next post). I did have two cells fail while in storage - a couple of years ago now (and to date they are the ONLY two).
I'll post the results...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Longish trip and Wombats

Last Saturday I had to drive 27km down to Chelsea and back and it was interesting. I got to my destination with 54km remaining range which was fine (total 81km). On the way home the total reduced to around 77km. Each time I stopped from 70km/h I gained around 1.5km then when I accelerated back up to 70km/h I lost around 2km.

The interesting bit was when someone in front of me had a brain freeze and caused me to do a faster stop than I would have liked - so I had to use mechanical brakes. I lost just under 2km range when I took off again having not got it back from regen first. So from that point on the trip plus remaining range at at 75km.
All this is measured to 80% DOD on a 12kW/h pack. The more you start/stop - the more regen. is important. I can't imagine it being anywhere near as much fun driving an EV with no regenerative braking - I rely on it.

On other matters. We had four Wombats visit work today. One of our engineers and his wife look after wildlife and they currently have a plethora of Wombats.

Jacob had a hold of a naughty Wombat.

When Wei tried to have a hold he just wanted to get away. A VERY naughty Wombat.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Suddently the sun broke through.....

Even Gaia likes EVs.
This was the view as I left work and walked up to the eVogue on Friday late-afternoon.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

2000 Kilometers as an EV

The Vogue Odometer passed 2000km on the weekend.
This picture was taken later in the week.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Rear Windscreen Sealed - back driving the Vogue

I finally got to the Vogue on Sunday afternoon and sealed up the rear windscreen glass-to-rubber interface. It took a whole 15 minutes. I drove the Super Snipe to work Monday (yesterday) as I don't like to put it away after only running it for a few minutes (rust out exhaust) - so I swapped cars as soon as I got home. With my wife's car and daughters car - and my two, it's not that easy to change over the Vogue and Super Snipe to/from the garage. Most times I have to move three cars (anyone seen "The Castle"?). I'm back in the Vogue today. It will be raining off and on for most of this week so I'll keep an eye on the rear windscreen.

The accelerometer arrived (eBay) yesterday and I had a quick play - it looks like it will do quite nicely. I had to decide whether to keep the Vogue in the garage for another week so I could do the axle stand thing or drive it this week. Based on my poor track record last week (nothing but the rear windscreen done) I decided to drive it. I have to make up a little bit of electronics to trigger the LED strobe from the accelerometer anyway so we'll see how I go with that!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Vogue off the road for a few days

I'll be driving a dinosaur to work today. It doesn't slow down all by itself - I have to press the brake pedal. Then the engine keeps running even though I have stopped. Going down a big hill, instead of adding to my range, It drops brake pad powder on the road and heats up the brake disks and drums. Acceleration is weird - it loses torque in stages (gear changes). All truly archaic.
Yes, I'll drive the Super Snipe to work today.
Why? Do I have more distance to travel than the EV can manage today? Is there an electrical malfunction with the Vogue?

Nope. The rear window leaked with the massive rain we have had over a past week. I noticed it yesterday in the work car park - the rear window was foggy on the left hand side so I investigated.

When we installed all the glass in the Vogue I took counsel that having a velour headliner might be a problem if any water got under the rubber seals - so I was very careful to use Butyl Mastic between the seals and the bodywork. The seal to glass interface - not so careful. I did the corners, but not across the bottom

The front is fine but the rear window is leaking where the glass goes into the rubber seal. It's no problem to fix but I have to dry it out and clean it before sealing it with Mastic - so it's out of the rain in the garage today.

I have circled in red where the water leaked in. It was quite easy to see water seeping over the top of the rubber seal on the inside. I'll remove the rear parcel shelf mat and board and dry them out as well. 
This will also give me a chance to work on the Vogue at night next week. I might even get the heater back in. If my accelerometer arrives early next week I'l try to get my home-balancing system working as well.

I also have a new configuration to put in the controller that is different enough that I should put the car on stands to try it. The new config has more ramp elements to make regen cut-off at 1km/h gentle and some other refinements.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

First step toward building an on-vehicle Tailshaft Balancer

I alluded to this in my previous post and I realised that I should elaborate on my intentions regards tailshaft balancing.
The final straw of getting help with the tailshaft issue came after I rang a Ford service manager and enquired into on-vehicle tailshaft balancing. I had read on a couple of Ford forums that some Fords required the final tailshaft balance to be done on the vehicle.
The service manager was very helpful and pointed out that the balance is done in conjuction with a diagnostic tool that plugs into the car's ECU (that's not what I thought but he was adamant that it only worked with Fords). No hope there.

So, I have bought one of these off eBay. It's a three axis acceleometer with analogue outputs.

It claims to be highly sensitive. (So is our dog [the rag stealer] but she hasn't helped. She's only allowed on the bed if she has just been washed and someone is sick - special times).

I'll be making up some simple electronics to detect one of the output signals and flash a high-intensity LED at some repeatable point. It then should be a matter of:
  1. Secure the accelerometer board to the motor frame.
  2. Shine the LED at the tailshaft
  3. Run the car on axle stands
Of course nothing is ever simple so I'll start by looking at the signals on a CRO and seeing what I've got.

I'll use hose clamps initially and place one on the tailshaft to deliberately mis-balance it so I can calibrate it all.

Then the whole shebang should tell me where to place the balance weight. From there it's should be just a matter of varying the weight to minimise the vibration.

I make a big effort to blog this as I go, success or not!

On other matters - we had a really nice storm last night and the Vogue was the last car home so had to be charged in the pouring rain. No problems. The plug was dry when I unplugged the EV "special" extension cord. In fact I was more concerned about leaks in my new rubber seals (windows, doors) throughout the car - also no problems (hmmm - see later posts).

Monday, August 5, 2013

This week's economy

Figures for week ending 2nd August 2013
Monday: 8.34 AH for 39.42 km => 127 Wh/km
Tuesday: 6.36 AH for 30.84 km => 124 Wh/km
Wednesday: 8.94 AH for 40.4 km => 133 Wh/km
Thursday: 8.37 AH for 36.38 km => 138 Wh/km
Friday: 9.24 AH for 42.84 km => 129 Wh/km

All battery to wheel.
I increased the available regen torque to 45% of forward torque this weekend.
I doubt it will make much difference but may slightly increase my overall trip speed as I can slow down faster.
We'll see.
Still waiting on my eBay accelerometer so I can do my own on-vehicle tailshaft balance.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Only One Fuseholder Remains - Economy Figures

I didn't post it at the time, but last Tuesday night I removed three of the last four inline charger fuseholders. I have one left and it's only there because I ran out of 4mm black heatshrink and it was the only one that looked to be in perfect condition. I'll do it as soon as the heatshrink (from eBay) arrives. With the fuseholders gone the Vogue was completely trouble free for the commutes last week.

Figures for week ending 26th July 2013
Monday: 8.84 AH for 39.2 km => 135 Wh/km
Tuesday: 6.68 AH for 31.9 km => 126 Wh/km
Wednesday: 7.20 AH for 33.6 km => 129 Wh/km
Thursday: 9.81 AH for 43.4 km => 136 Wh/km
Friday: 9.38 AH for 42.9 km => 131 Wh/km

(All battery to wheel)

As a curiosity, I usually make it to work at about 3 AH consumed - that's around 1800 Wh making the economy about 120 Wh/km (my record so far is 2.8 AH). The trip home is a lot worse and I have generally racked up over 6.6 AH by the time the round trip is completed. The difference in altitude is about 20 meters so doesn't explain it - but driving style does. Going to work I am generally not hassled by any other drivers so I can accelerate slowly and slow down at my leisure taking full advantage of regen braking. Driving home is a relentless wrestle with other road users to use as much regen as possible but not get in their way. The nett result is that driving home is less efficient. Accelerating up hills costs a heap of capacity.

My observation is that not many drivers are in a hurry to get to work, but most road users are in a hurry to get home.

I could improve this situation with more regen. At the moment it peaks around 25 Amps (battery) which is 1.25C. Headway (battery manufacturer) recommend a continuous charge current of of 1C (20A) and maximum continuous charge of 2C (40A). Perhaps I'm being too conservative. I really haven't had much time to mess around with configuration in the past few weeks.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Banana shaped fuseholders

I mentioned a post or so ago that some of the inline charger fuseholders have melted out of shape a fair bit.
This one is on Pack #5 in the boot. It hasn't failed yet - amazing! (The large flat heatshrink bit houses the two 3A heatsunk diodes that isolate the charger from the pack and the lower black wire and clump are the inline fuseholder.)

I only have three of these inline fuseholder left in the car - out of 12.

Pack #9 gave a low voltage alert about 800 Meters from home last night. I gently eased the car home and sure enough, the fuseholder had failed and Pack #9 hadn't charged much the night before.

It was 44.3 V unloaded and charged up fine with a clip-lead replacing the fuseholder.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Economy figures for last week

It's actually been interesting driving the car in these colder months without a heater. The economy is slightly worse than when it's warmer and we can't blame the heater!

Figures for week ending 19th July 2013
Monday: 5.89 AH for 24.8 km => 142.5 Wh/km
Tuesday: 6.78 Ah for 30.6 km => 133 Wh/km
Wednesday: 10.34 AH for 44 km => 141 Wh/km
Thursday: 7.62 AH for 34.25 km => 133.4 Wh/km
Friday: 7.61 AH for 31.7 km => 144 Wh/km
*Friday after at-work charge: 12.6 AH for 50.67 km => 149 Wh/km

As usual all figures are battery to wheel.
I didn't really have to charge at work on Fiday but I had a Chiropractor appointment in the morning then I chose to do the running around on Friday night in the Vogue. It's two trips to Doncaster and back and the big hill takes it's toll. So much for "the most I have driven in the last few years during weekday is 58 km".

Last "under the car" fuseholder bypassed

I didn't get to play around with the tailshaft this weekend but I did manage to crawl around under a slightly raised car and bypass the last of the hard-to-get-at fuseholders (in series with chargers). This was the one attached to pack #10 that I mentioned in the previous post. There are now only six of the unreliable fuseholders left and none of them are hard to get at.

One of the fuseholders in the boot still works but the heat has bent it like a banana.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Three more fuseholders bypassed

I spent about an hour and a half under the front of the car last night squeezing my hands up beside the inner front guard to cut out two of the offending fuseholders (packs #11 and #12), substitute a length of wire, and heatshrink the whole lot. The time was mainly spent trying to line up two pieces of wire (several times) with only one hand (tried many clips etc.) and solder with the other - while scrunched up in strange positions.

I also did the same treatment to pack #8 in the Engine Bay.
Pack #10 inline charger fuseholder is also about to fail. It's the hardest pack to get at without removing the top battery tray so I'm hoping it will hold on a week or so as I will be removing that tray to change the heater blower soon. It's marginal - if you rattle the charger wire while charging, the charger cuts back to balance mode - sigh.

So, fully charged again,  Il drove the Vogue to work today.

Vibration wise. I have now driven the car for a couple of days and the vibration is only a little bit better than it was with the M8 bolts holding the front flange in (allowing the spigot to be centered). While 90 km/h is possible, it feels the the motor bearings won't survive long. It's going to be a wet, cold weekend so I hope that I both get the time, and the enthusiasm to brave the cold and check it out further. I have my hose-clamps ready.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Timer waits for no-one - Neither do inline fuses!

I didn't drive the Vogue today - there were too many obstacles.
Firstly, last night I plugged into my wall timer and checked that is was set to auto - only to find that it had stopped entirely. The timer is a Chinese copy of the TP8A16, 16A 240 VAC timer.

It was designed to come apart, so come apart it did!
The 1.2V, 80mA/h NiMh button battery had EXPLODED.

I removed the cell and checked out the rest of the board - it appeared fine after a little cleanup.
A quick reverse engineer and I discovered that they use the battery as a 1.4 volt regulator. Without the battery there is about 6 volts at that point. The electronics doesn't like that so it didn't work. When I turned off the 240VAC, it worked for a few seconds as the voltage went down through the acceptable region. So the electonics was probably OK (amazing).

I removed the exploded cell and substituted two diodes in series where the battery used to be. It all worked fine. It only lasted about 5 seconds after mains disconnect but that would do for the night.

At least they used a 16 A relay.

I went out to the car at around 6:45AM this morning to check all was well (timer was set to start at 5AM and finish at 8AM) - but all was not well. I charge at 3 Amps and needed 6.6AH - so a bit over 2 hours required.

Battery pack #12 was indicating finished charging - all the rest were still charging as they should have been.
I checked pack #12 and it certainly wasn't fully charged - another inline fuseholder! I should have had them all changed out by now - oh well. previous fuseholder failure

Pack #12 is under the controller tray and hard to get at so I'll take my daughter's car as she is not due home until Thursday and I have to give it a full tank and wash it anyway.
That way the Vogue is also in the carport for some wiring surgery tonight. I'll try to bypass all three fuseholders under the engine bay without removing the controller tray. I'll see how I go...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Tailshaft on again

Well the tailshaft is back in the car.
The balancing folk identified that the spigot on the front flange of the tailshaft and the "cup" in the coupler did not perfectly match. To quote Jeff, "any movement is too much". They changed the flange on the front of the tailshaft then balanced the whole lot together.
(I suspect that the flange was imperial and someone machined the coupler to a metric size believing that the flange was metric.)
The front flange holes now comfortably fit the M10 bolts (butchering gone).

It's a lot bit better - but it's still not perfect. At 90 km/h on the tollway it wasn't scary - but it wasn't comfortable either - still a lot of tailshaft speed vibration.

I didn't put it on stands to test it as I had very little time, but I hope to do an axle stand test maybe be next weekend.
My plans is to:
1. Record the vibration audio again just because I am not sure that it's vibrating at tailshaft speed - it feels double that.
2. Try my SS hoseclamp at 45deg increments.
3. Try dampening out the front motor cradle (with my hands) and see how much that is contributing.

I drove to work with about 4.5km of my 15km drive on the tollway this morning at around 90 to 95km/h (traffic speed in left lane) and the Vogue used almost the identical amount of power as when I drive to work via slow backroads. I backed into my parking spot with a reading of 3.14 AH. That's about 125 Wh/km battery to wheel. Wind was practically non-existant - the BOM site also showed almost no doppler wind reading. Current consumption at speed was quite modest. So the Vogue CD isn't awful at all.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Another place - another blog - Refugees

I don't normally introduce anything to this blog that isn't related to electric cars but sometimes there are exceptions. My daughter, Tammy, is in Geneva at the moment doing a unit at the Murdoch University on International Refugee law. This post is a must read for Australians - in my opinion.

A link to her whole blog:

I'm still awaiting my tailshaft's return.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tailshaft and Coupler at the Balancer

The tailshaft (driveshaft) and motor coupler are out of the car again and at the balancers.
They are going to thoroughly check out the mating between the two and balance them as a set.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

More Heater Woes

I have good news and bad news.

Good news #1 is that I know that I can drive for at least 25 minutes withOUT the DC-DCs running into my 9AH 12V battery. In the daytime anyway.

Good new #2 is that I now also know that the NS syle BS88 16A offset blade industrial fuses that feed +300V and -300V into the Heater and DC-DC, simultaneuously blow and safely disconnect the 600VDC from both the afore-mentioned. When replaced with 20A (that's all I had) they safely blew again. (I crushed one in a vise after it blew and the sand had nicely fused to break the Arc).

The bad news.
My heater stopped again rather dramatically. It had worked for about 3 days then one morning last week - no heat. After about 12 minutes of driving I decided that the 12V turn indicators were a fraction slow and pulled over to check the 12V battery - 12.0 volts - not good. There was no power to the DC-DCs. Neither +300V or -300V - which surprised me.

So I went back home because I wasn't carrying spares or even a screwdriver.

I disconnected the heater (funny that), replaced the fuses and DC-DC was back again. 13.6V on 12V battery.

While live (car on) I reconnected the heater -300V all OK, then +300V SPLAT - BUUMPH! Both 20A fuses blew at once.

So I have the heater controller out again. The IGBT AND the Fast recovery diode across the Ceramic element have shorted. It also blew a bit of track off my PCB.

Is PWM controlling a ceramic heater element that hard?
The bottom of my control board. I have circled the missing bit of track. The missing track used to connect the fast recovery diode across the heater element.
After a heap of discussion on the AEVA forums we have finally concluded that ceramic heater elements have very high capacitance. That's why they are not suited to PWM control. The power IGBT is switching into something close to a short circuit at normal switching rates.

In other news, somewhere last week the Vogue passed 1100kM as an electric vehicle.
I'm not driving it this week (or late last week) due to 1 degree C temperatures on Melbourne mornings.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Checking it's been Charged

I have a 15A timer on the wall of the carport to set my charge time and I don't use any kind of watt/hour meter to measure charge - and the car itself can't measure charge. So my primary method of checking if the Vogue charged during th night is the Energy Easy website which links to our electricity Smartmeter.

Here is what I see when I log in each morning.
 The Vogue starts charging at 2AM currently and is generally finished by about 4:30AM. The peak at 6:30AM is our bathroom towel rail turning on. The website is very useful as one morning a few weeks ago I logged on to find no peak at 2AM. The previous night I had checked all chargers by switching the timer to On, then pressed the button again to switch to Auto On and instead switched it to Off. Now I know to press it twice and also check the display.

No Problem Charging in the Rain

The Vogue was the last of three cars into our single lane driveway last night. I took the opportunity to measure up the shortest reasonable length of extension cord that would make it from the mains timer in the carport to the car and cut down my 25 meter Bunnings cord to 12 meters. I haven't blogged it yet, but the socket end now has a custom "shroud" on it that covers the Vogue fuel inlet nicely. Water is directed via a lttle moat through a tube to underneath the car. That's the original system. Anyway, it charged with no problem and this morning when I unplugged the cord from the car the pug was dry. The hinged fuel cover was another matter but a quick dry with a towel helped before closing it - I'll make up a plastic "sock" of some sort for that - no biggy.

As I left it last night.

I added this next photo to this post on the 29th July. The white part of the socket is a $2.50 plumbing fitting cut to size and glued on so that is extends about 3mm past the end of the extension cord's socket. Since the Vogue's plug is elevated above the "moat" by the same amount, it forms a splashproof connection. You can see the drain hole which goes via a plastic hose in the boot (the original) down through to under the car. I have now charged several time in pouring rain with no water at all getting under the socket.

That's not my 150K Ohm resistor - it's in the original sealed socket! The socket has a pathetic little red LED that is barely visible when the power is on.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Tail of Two Flanges - The Tailshaft saga

Reading back over the blog when I first installed the tail shaft I kind of skipped over some of the messing around I had to do to get it fitted.
One of the reasons I didn't blog all of it was that it seemed like a criticism of the guys that made the coupler and tailshaft and the problems were sorted out pretty quickly - but maybe they weren't after all.

Here is the whole story.
The first ever time I installed the tailshaft, it took me a longer time than I would have thought possible to realise that the four bolts that hold the front tailshaft flange to the motor coupler didn't actually line up. The holes in the motor coupler, while being the correct Pitch Circle Diameter (PCD), were arranged equidistantly around the circle. The universal joint flange on the front of the tailshaft was arranged as a rectangle. This is pretty standard for universal joint (UJ) flanges - at least with cars that I have played with.

This picture isn't of mine but shows what I mean. The two holes on the right are closer than the two holes across the top.

That being the case, the first drive of the Vogue had the front of the tailshaft being held to the coupler with two M8 bolts 180 degrees from each other as all four bolts could not be fitted.

Obviously I wasn't going to leave it that way, so before the second drive I removed the coupler and tailshaft and took them back to the guys that made them and they added some holes and tapped them out to M10. (The original M8 tapped holes were left alone).
When I got it all back and managed to find some fine thread M10 bolts of the correct length, I took another huge period of time under the car before I decoded that there was no way I could get these standard hex bolts in past the universal joint ears (the bits jutting out that hold the cups). So a day or two later I bought some M10 Allen head machine screws.

Again I messed around for an hour or so trying to get these in with no success. They fitted through the tailshaft (UJ) front flange OK but would not all thread into the motor coupler when I offered it up. At some point I realised that the tailshaft flange holes were imperial 3/8 inch - that's 9.525mm.
So I pulled the tailshaft out completely, held the tailshaft as best I could in my workmate, and hand drilled the holes out to 10mm - the biggest drill I had. I cleaned up the facing side of the flange with a 1/2 inch drill bit and ensured there were no burrs.

Once the holes were drilled out, I could almost get all the bolts in by hand. Importantly I could now place the tailshaft flange on the coupler flange, mate the spigots up (the 60mm diameter sections used to correctly locate the flanges) and insert and tighten the bolts up. There was always one or two bolts that I had to pull in with the Allen key the last 6mm or so but it all looked correct.

I explained this to the guys that made ther tailshaft and coupler but they weren't too concerned and have had the tailshaft back twice since then.

So now we are up to this week.
When I picked up the tailshaft on Monday night, it was explained that the balance was fine and they hadn't changed much. It fitted it Tuesday night and it behaved pretty much the same way as before. However, this time I had arranged a system were I could control the motor speed while lying under the car so could have a "play" without having to ask someone else for help controlling the speed. What I found was, even though earlier tests showed the front of the tailshaft rotating without excessive runout, that was not the case on the slip yoke. The UJ flange rotated true but the inner part of the slip yoke did not.
I whittled a chunk of wood and tried moving the UJ centers in their housings (in the direction that would remove the runout) - no give at all (they were properly installed and very good).

For some reason I decided to remove the four M10 bolts and track down the two M8 bolts and washers that I had used on the first drive.
Once I had the tailshaft bolted to the coupler with only two M8 bolts, there was an immediate and substantial improvement. I made a further slight improvement by loosening the bolts and using the tiny bit of play in the spigot to move the mating flanges in a direction that would help.

That's how I drove it today - a lot better. Not perfect yet, but better.

It appears that there is a concentricity problem in the front slip-yoke and UJ combination at the front.
If the tailshaft is being held by the front flange during balancing I would think it would be balanced out.
So we know what it is, the front end of the tailshaft involving the slip-yolk and universal joint - now to fix it completely.

A note here. I measured runout months ago and concluded that the tailshaft was fine. The closest I can normally get to the front of the tailshaft is about 300mm from the front, and it's a lot better at that point. I've got a lot braver with rotating machinery (while still being careful) over the time. A whole lot of factors have conspired to create this problem and make it hard to track down. My inexperience hasn't helped.

Edit: Some changes made for clarity thanks to comments from AEVA forum member weber.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Tailshaft returns

It's back. I'll try to get it on tonight. I need the car mobile for Thursday.

I picked it up yesterday afternoon but there was no great hurry to re-fit it as Jeff from Precision Balancing indicated that there was no significant change (I also cooked dinner last night amongst other things so time ran short). We may have come up with a way to do an on-site balance of the whole drive train while the car is on stands. I'll post when I have more info.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Tailshaft's away - with the Heater Blower I'll play

The tailshaft is out of the Vogue again and with Precision Balancing. The short story is that I have eliminated everything except the tailshaft. I suspect the slip-yoke and front Universal Joint. I'm hoping they can balance the whole lot as a unit.

While I await the return of the tailshaft, I have turned my attention to a noisy heater fan/blower. When I painted the blower and housing I actually didn't quite know how the get it apart fully - I also didn't know if I had a viable spare so I wasn't too choosy. Having found another one under the house, I totally stripped it apart, de-rusted where required, primed and painted it. The bushes in the motor in this one appear to be quite good - not worn and rumbly like the one in the car presently.

I have re-attached the motor in this picture. It's ready to go together again and have the foam fitted to seal the inlet and outlet gaps.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Wedges Installed - Problem persists

I finished installing the two degree wedges on both sides of the car on Sunday afternoon.

This is the front - about 4 to 5mm lift.

This is the rear of the axle perch.

The underside - just 'cause I took the picture.
The differential flange and the motor coupling flange are now within about 0.3 of a degree of each other.

....and the result. Absolutely no change at all!

We even locked the motor speed to 60 km/h to remove any doubt about speed variation and placed a big block of wood under the rear of the motor mount and jacked the car up about 15mm - no change.

I repeated a previous test and jacked under the middle of the motor cradle (the fan end of the motor) - no change in vibration. This stumps me. How can it be that taking so much load on the jack doesn't at least dampen the vibration?

I don't believe I have ever in my life put more effort into a problem with so little return.

So I am faced with a choice now of whether to give up on universal joints and have the tailshaft remade with CVs or persists in trying to find the reason for this vibration. Going the CV route doesn't automatically gaurantee a cure.

Suggestions from mechanically minded folk are very welcome but if you want to comment, please could you read the posts on vibration so we don't revisit older discussions too much (that isn't to say I haven't missed something).

I'm currently trying to ascertain what sized tube wall was used in the new tailshaft.