©1995 Mark Parthe
After working with the EV club at the college where I am employed and attending two years of the Tour de Sol (TdS), it was time to build an EV the way I wanted. I decided that my goal would be to enter the TdS for 1993. It was September and I didn't even have a vehicle to convert yet. Seven months to build one from scratch—a challenge I could not resist.
Ever want to convert a vehicle to electric power? You don't have to be a genius. Just have a few friends with tools and a garage with heat. Add a little magic and whalla... The idea for my own EV started out in Boston at the beginning of Tour de Sol 92. I saw Bob Matson's converted Dodge D50. After several weeks of looking, I found an 84 Dodge D50. It was dirty and engineless but seemed to have only mild rust. $300 later it was in my driveway. I decided to name the project Genesis, as it was my first true conversion.
From Oct 92 to Feb 93, the truck was stripped down to its last bolt. The cab and box were removed from the frame. At that time, I decided to keep the overall looks as stock as possible. The box and cab rust turned out to be much worse than I'd anticipated. The damage was way beyond just a little bondo and paint. My best friend, Mike Maxa offered his new $2000 MIG welder for the duration of the project. I'd never MIG welded before but after an hour or so, I had it down pat. The driver's floor had to be completely replaced along with the rocker panels and some of the box floor. A low-mileage, rust free D50 was found at a salvage yard and became the donor vehicle for parts. The gas filler door was closed in, and all the box seams were MIGed closed and filled. Various custom work was done such as sunroof, rollpan and license plate recessed into the tailgate. After four hundred hours, the two pieces were headed to my brother-in-law's body shop for filling and paint.
While the box and cab were at the shop, I sandblasted the frame. I added three extra leaves in each rear spring and MIG welded the battery holders to the frame. Finally, I painted the whole mess with special frame paint.
After talking with other EV owners, I decided to keep the factory clutch and pressure plate. I have since driven cars with and without a clutch, and a car with a clutch wins hands down for drivability. ASolar Car Corp adapter plate/coupler was modified and fitted to the D50's smaller transmission. We set the tranny in a cradle with the front spline shaft sticking up. The adapter plate was set on the tranny and leveled. A needle and thread helped us find the motor shaft's center. A little drilling and cutting here and there, whalla ... instant (15 hours) motor mount for the 9 inch Advanced DC motor. Freerunning showed no vibration up to 4000 rpm. With the help of four friends, the motor/tranny unit was carried out of the basement and set in the frame. Factory motor mounts were used. The motor was secured in the frame with a cradle style mount. Torque is controlled with an arm mounted to the top of the tranny. The other end is mounted to the frame via a rubber compression mount. This arrangement has proved to be completely trouble free.
I made no modifications to the brakes. They have handled the extra weight without undue stress. A vacuum pump from Solar Car Corp provides suction for the booster. The vacuum cylinder provided with the pump was way too ugly to use, so 30 feet of braided Coca-Cola fountain hose were placed under the cab to run between the pump and the brake booster. It weighs a few ounces and has worked quite well. I can get six pedal pumps before the pump kicks in. It looks nice, too.
In order to service the batteries under the pick-up's box, I needed a lift system. Hydraulics were too heavy, so I fitted a set of airshocks to the frame 28 inches from the rear hinge point. The shocks have an 8-inch stroke and cost about $90 for a set. This gave the box a four
Below: Five of the batteries, along with the electric motor, regen generator, brake booster, and 12 V aux battery, are housed under the hood. The box (w/ meter on the top plate) contains the electronics.
Left: The electronics bay contains all fuses, relays, and control circuits. The pulse charger is on the right fender. Air lift pump is located lower right. Right: Aclose-up of the pick-up box lift air shocks. The 12 V batteries pictured here have been replaced with higher capacity, 6-volt Trojan T145s.
foot lift at the front. Asmall air compressor from a Buick Riviera was installed under the hood to supply air to the shocks. The whole system weighs only 10 pounds. This system proved to work extremely well. It takes about a minute to lift the box from full down to full up. A safety prop rod is used whenever I'm under the box working.
On the advice of an EV conversion company, I purchased eleven US 1450, 12 Volt deep cycle batteries. Bench testing showed 62 minutes at 75 Amps. BAT fluid was added to them, but I really didn't see any change in performance. There was no time to change to larger capacity 6 Volt batteries. I put in the lower capacity 12 Volt batteries. Even with gentle driving, I only got about 35 miles' range. 12 Volt batteries are fine for light cars, but don't cut it for trucks. They just don't have the capacity needed for good performance in heavier vehicles.
It was now the first week in March and the cab had just come back from being painted. I started the wiring in the second week of March and it took six weeks of evenings to complete it. I used nothing special in the wiring, except I made and installed a circuit for the factory tachometer. I used an auxiliary 12 Volt battery charged by two solar panels to provide the truck's 12 VDC systems with power. The motor batteries were
Below: Genesis awaits its turn on the fourth day of the Tour de Sol
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