Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cycles and Winterizing

Sunday was another EV Build Day of the Milwaukee Electric Car Club.

It turned out that we had great weather. Sunny, and about as warm as can be expected for October in Wisconsin.

Of course, it also means that some of us are thinking about what we need to do for our EVs for the winter.

I have already noticed my battery voltage dropping extra quick in my homebuilt Electric Geo Metro. Lead-Acid batteries just don't like being cold, as most drivers have noticed trying to crank their starters in the winter.

So, I spent a little time with a few parts I had kicking around from the home improvement store. I measured my battery box, and cut a one-inch-thick chunk of pink foam insulation to that size. Then I used a router to carve a serpentine path in the foam, so that I could push heat tape down into it. This is a product used to wrap pipes that could otherwise freeze, or put on the edge of your roof to keep ice from forming. It has a thermostat built right in to it.

One of our other members was also working on trying to add some insulation to the batteries in his electric S-10 pickup truck. Unfortunately, there wasn't much room between the batteries and supports to squeeze insulation in there, so he went on to work on his Pak-Trakker instead.

The real fun of the day was working on Chris' motorcycle.

Already, the motor is mounted in with a custom Mr. Speed adapter to the driveshaft of the cycle. That's right! It's a shaft cycle! You don't see too many of those in the EV flavor!

Todays work was figuring where to put the batteries. Because the frame itself is fairly large, it sure makes the job of battery location easier. Still, it's never easy to fit big square batteries into curved spaces. Chris and Rich welded in the first battery tray directly next to motor. Another battery could fit in FRONT of the motor, but only if it were turned and stuck out a bit funny.

Instead, we used a bottle jack to spread the front down tubes just a tad, so the battery would fit cross-wise. Then the second battery tray was trimmed to fit (Chris with the grinder again!) so it could be welded in place.

The cycle has been a really fun project to work on, with pretty much all the parts donated, and all of us doing what we can, when we can. I can't wait until we work on the body for the cycle. I'm sure it will get pretty crazy with LED back-lighting and interesting shapes.

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