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Electric vehicle conversion

 
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As we're brainstoring the higher levels of the Metalworking badge, we came up with doing an electric car conversion.  But alas, it's more than just a metalworking project.  We decided to split it between the Metalworking, Tool Care and Electricity badges.  So by doing it you'd get some points towards each badge.

An initial attempt at the requirements for the BB would be:
- Needs to be street legal
- Needs to hit 60mph
- Needs a 30 mile range
- Need a ton of photos/video of the project underway
- Need a video of the vehicle driving

An initial guess as to the time needed to do a conversion.  This is tremendously simplified:
Metalworking (welding, machining, bending) - 80 hours
Electricity (connections, installing motor/batteries/parts, controls) - 160 hours
Tool Care (removing engine/gas tank, configuring pedals) - 80 hours

Questions:
  • Other requirements we should add?
  • Are the hours even remotely close?  Too high, too low?  Keep in mind that the investigation, research and purchasing of components isn't included, this is just work time with dirty hands

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    steward
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    i think it should be 40 miles of range.

    As we are actively moving a lot of the wood and iron badge stuff over to a points system, I would like to propose these points:

    Metalworking (welding, machining, bending) - 35 points
    Electricity (connections, installing motor/batteries/parts, controls) - 40 points
    Tool Care (removing engine/gas tank, configuring pedals) - 30 points

    I am choosing these points based on the idea that some people will find a perfect marriage between a very specific model of car and a kit for converting that car.   And others will have to do the conversion the old school way.



     
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    May I add that it be a 40 mile bare minimum range?

    I think Paul’s remark is dead on, but 40 miles might actually be kinda minimal for some.

    Just my 2 cents,

    Eric
     
    Eric Hanson
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    I am not certain if it belongs here, but might there be an option for an off road utility electric vehicle?  I was thinking something along the lines of an electrical Polaris Ranger or a John Deere Gator?

    Eric
     
    Eric Hanson
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    Ok Mike,

    So I just got done reading the whole thread and not just Paul’s part.  

    I suppose that your timeline seems like a good place to start, but it will be interesting to see how this matches with actual practice.  I mean the time line seems reasonable enough, but then these things always seem to take more time than expected.

    Like Paul, the range is a bit concerning to me.  Complicating things more, I would ask “what range at what speed?”  I mean a 50+ mile range at 30 mph might be only 20 miles (maybe less) at 60mph.  Maybe make a way to work that part in?

    Would there be any storage/occupancy requirements?  Does it need a trunk or bed?  Are two seats enough?

    Should there be any attempt to document the total cost?

    I will try to add as I can come up with more ideas.

    Eric
     
    Eric Hanson
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    Would the range be based on a very flat, paved road with no/minimal hills?  Would it be straight with no starts or stops?

    Argh!  The range issue is killing me right now.  I agree with Paul that 40 miles seems like a bare minimum to me, but range is going to mean vastly different things in vastly different contexts.

    I don’t know how to find an equalizer for all the different factors that affect range.  It’s incredibly important to do so, I just don’t know how to get there.

    Sorry if this complicated things,

    Eric
     
    Mike Haasl
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    I think, in general, Otis will be impressed by anyone making a road worthy electric vehicle.  I also don't think anyone will make an electric vehicle just for this BB.  They'll be making one for their own purposes and submitting it to get the BB as a bonus.

    So I'm thinking the range and mph and any other criteria are just there to make sure the vehicle is decent enough to meet Otis's standards.  If you take an old jeep and rig up batteries to a couple alternators so it can drive you to the mailbox and back, he won't be very impressed.  

    My personal thought is that 20-30 miles of range is enough and if you need more to get your errands done, just make one with more range.  And if you're in the mountains or it's hot and that's hard on batteries, then you'd need more batteries to get to 20-30 miles.  I would want it to be at a decent speed (45+).  In a perfect world we'd copy the governments road conditions for when manufacturers rate their own car's range.  But that's a bit overkill for a BB.

    As for other vehicles, I'm thinking we'll do BBs for bike conversions, golf cart conversions, tractors and the like.  I'm not positive but that's where my head's at.
     
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    Watching the various van conversions on YouTube, I've wondered if a hybrid van with an electric engine and propane/CNG generator would be doable. A small generator running at peak efficiency paired with a smaller battery acting as a power cache would theoretically provide great range with minimal fuel and emissions. You could tap the propane for heat and cooking fuel too. An old step van would provide room to work with and plenty of roof space for solar panels. Probably way too complex to be practical but I thought I'd throw it out here for you mechanically inclined people. Same principle works for cars of course but maybe easier to start large?

    https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/ was my favorite site when I was researching electrics. He's not doing engines but there's great stuff about batteries and such.
     
    Mike Haasl
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    Good question Brian.  So basically a propane/electric hybrid van.  My guess is that in Paul's version of permaculture he wouldn't want to rely on propane or CNG much.  With that sort of a vehicle, the fossil fuel generates all the power, the batteries just store and release the energy to improve efficiency.  If I'm understanding you correctly that is...

    The nice thing about the full electric conversions are that you get the power from the sun, wind, microhydro or the grid.  Hopefully the grid is more efficient at producing it than we would be with a propane generator or car engine running gasoline...
     
    Brian Stretch
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    Pretty much. It would address the range issues others have mentioned. No reason you couldn't run electric only on short distances. Hybrids seem like the most flexible approach until battery tech improves but hybrid adds complexity and reduces reliability. It sounds like you're sticking to use cases that are short range only for this project? That's... wise. Though if some lunatic manages to build a propane/electric hybrid van they're going to get a ridiculous number of YouTube views .

    This page used 34kWh to travel 100 miles for their example electric vehicle, so even if you could cram a kilowatt of solar panels on it... meh.
    https://afdc.energy.gov/fuels/electricity_charging_home.html
     
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    this sounds like a fun project!  i agree with paul, a longer range and perhaps less speed would be nice especially for the ranch vehicle.  60 mph is pretty darn fast: that's 20 km over the speed limit here :)  i build stuff and i think 100 hrs should be allocated to fabrication.  is this a challenge or?  what is a BB?  truthfully i've always wanted to do an EV conversion, and i do have an electric forklift motor here, which i saved for the occasion.    cost of batteries is the only reason why i haven't yet done an EV conversion...  sounds like build/fab are both into "metalworking and tool care"  so if you add those into 80 + 80 = 160 hrs fabrication time that sounds better, i guess i missed the "tool care" allowance.  sounds like a fun project or challenge...?  
     
    Mike Haasl
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    Hi John, it's not really a challenge, but it's part of the PEP program.  Read more about it Here.  It's a list of experiences/skills that you can prove (BBs) and then earn badges.  Like the badge icons beneath my posts.  

    It should be a great project.  Hopefully we get the rules/requirements challenging enough so that it isn't impossible but yet it's impressive when you're done.
     
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