Monday, September 04, 2006

Better Digs

"Hey, does that car float??" Slacker in front of Hardee's

I almost choked when the guy asked me this. For some reason he thought it was an old "Amphi-Car", a tiny boat/car built in the '60's.

I told him "I doubt it since it has 1200 lbs. of lead in it". I left him there with a confused look on his face and went in to get the holiest of holies....the Mushroom and Swiss Thickburger, hold the fries. The Hardee's isn't really close to my house. I eliminate my guilt of wasting gas on a stupid cheeseburger because hey- I ain't burning any gas.

Anyway...after not parking at the county garage for 5 or 6 months, I figure they've forgotten all about me and my specially reserved parking spot and I don't feel like dealing with these petty little garage queens. The new Metro parking structure is cleaner, and totally unmanned. You swipe a "speedpass" card to pay and exit. I called the parking manager and left a detailed message requesting permission to plug in and that he call me.

He never did but I'm plugging in and no one seems to care. The garage is nice and the EV is protected and ready to go when I get back from work.

2,223 miles logged so far.

The learning curve

"Aren't you going to sell it?"- Co-worker

As the months went by, and the EV sat idle I did think about it. The problem is, people would expect me to give it away since it didn't work and I wasn't exactly sure how serious the damage was. Well I'm not a quitter and I wasn't going to just give it away.

Now it's early August. After spending some quality time and money on the Delorean, I turned my attention back to the EV. My parts guy told me that brush springs were not listed as a part but the entire brush holder assembly, complete with springs is. The cost was only $113.00. I figure it's a safe gamble so he ordered it and a set of brushes.

His suppliers operate on a "whenever" business schedule so it took some time for the parts to arrive in the mail. I opened the package and the brush holder was....different. Totally different springs. It looked too small. This can't be right I groaned.

On Friday, a buddy came over and helped me remove the motor. We made special note of what cables went to which lugs on the motor. took 20 minutes and we barely got dirty. Try that with a gasoline engine. In my basement, we examined the motor and took some pictures.

Next, we figured out how to take the end-cap off where the motor brushes are. This took about 10 minutes. The brush holder is attached to the inside of the motor cap. 2 of 4 springs had snapped. The brushes were ruined. The metal frame that holds the brushes was melted in places. It could be salvaged if necessary but the springs...where would I get the perfect tension and length of spring?

We took some more pictures and then I unscrewed the 4 screws that hold the brush holder assembly to the end cap and removed it. I positioned the new, wierd brush holder and lo and behold- it fit perfectly. It just uses a different style of spring to hold the brush in.

Sigh...are you kidding? The new brushes I just got are the OLD style. The pigtail is in the wrong place and the little metal spring-hook itsn't necessary anymore and it's just in the way..or it will be when the brushes wear to a certain length. I called my parts guy again and emailed him pictures with a detailed explanation of the problem. New style brushes are on the way. I cut the hook off of the old-style brushes and moved the pigtail out of the way of the spring and used them anyway. I'd keep the new-style brushes on hand as spares for when these wore out....hopefully in about 10 years.

I drove down to Rexel bought another circuit breaker for the charger to replace the one I cannabilized for the house A/C and installed it. The next Thursday my buddy came back over and we reinstalled the motor. Again, it only took 20 minutes or so. Done right? Not quite-

I attached the armatures 180 degrees out...backwards. The motor ran backwards. I had 3 reverse gears and one forward gear. Shit. We crawled back underneath and I removed the end-cap and swapped the armature wires on the brush holder assembly and we put it all back together. This took about 15 minutes. Now it all works fine.

I paid:

$113.00 for the holder assembly
$56.00 for the replacement old-style brushes
$56.00 for the new-style brushes
$117.00 for a new, higher amperage contactor (not related to my original problem)
Total: $342.00.

$225.00 if you don't include the contactor. I bought it because the original contatctor is only rated for 100 amps. When I drive the vehicle, I draw up to 400 amps through it. It gets HOT so I bought a tougher one.

Considering I would have lost a LOT of money if I sold it broken, this is a bargain. I've been driving it for a month now with no problems. Since then, gasoline has ranged from $3.17/gallon and fell to $2.79/gallon.

I don't really care. The price of gasoline is so volatile these days that I'm still way ahead of the game.

Forced Hiatus

"It's a nothing part 'till you ain't got one" - Firefly

The county parking garage manager allocated me a permenant parking spot in front of an electrical outlet so I could charge up while I'm at work. He assured me that the maintenance staff would be directed not to unplug me. No extra money was necessary. I commuted by EV to the Metro rail station every day for about a month.

Unfortunately a catastrophic failure of the motor brush holder assembly put a total halt to my electric commuting. One morning, just a few hundred yards from home, one of the 25 year old brush tension springs broke. The sparks broke yet another spring. I limped it home and the light show of sparks from underneath the EV was impressive to say the least.

The commutator was scored from the arcing and the heat. The new brushes that should last ten years wore down in a matter of minutes. The motor brush holder was nearly turned to slag. I was very disheartened because the motor is 25 years old and parts are not widely available. I called my parts guy and told him I need springs or a brush holder or perhaps a compatible replacement motor and he began making the rounds of his suppliers.

In the meantime, I topped off the charge and rolled the EV to an always unused parking spot in my townhouse complex.

To add insult to injury, in late May, my home air-conditioning self-destructed and it also ate the circuit breaker in the house breaker panel. Rather than repair the old, inefficient A/C again and again, I had the whole thing replaced with a top-of-the line system. We had to cannablize the EV charger circuit breaker and install it in place of the A/C breaker.

In the intermediate months, I let the EV guru hunt for parts and I drove the DeLorean. I overhauled the front suspension, replaced the radiator and installed a transmission seal. As a Sirius satellite radio stock holder I outfitted the DeLorean with a radio and now I get all the '80's music I can handle.

I'll post pics of the slagged parts when I get a chance.