This section has a lot of pictures, so you can learn by seeing. Regardless of the vehicle you want to convert, what you see here will give you some guidance and ideas.
The engine has been removed and the compartment has been cleaned using mineral spirits and degreaser. After cleaning, the frame was primed with a zinc primer and painted black.
Note the motor mount that is bolted in place above the cross member awaiting the motor.
This close-up of the motor mount shows that it is suspended between two rubber engine mounts. Later, these engine mounts ripped almost immediately. I replaced the rubber with metal tangs welded to the rubber mount bases. There is no reason to mount the electric motor on rubber – there is no vibration. Mount your electric motor solidly.
Mount Close Up
This shows the metal tangs/flanges welded to the original rubber mount base. I chiseled the rubber off and burned it with a torch to clean the metal base of all remaining rubber.
It’s time to install the motor. I made a strong wooden frame with the electric winch on top. A hand operated control made it easy to maneuver the motor into place.
Note that the motor has the motor-to-transmission adapter housing installed and the clutch assembly is in place.
Finished Motor Compartment
There’s a lot to see in the photo to the right.
First, notice the large bolt on the top of the motor, just above and right of the motor information plate. This bolt goes through a short metal tab that is welded to the top motor mount strap. The bolt and tab prevents the motor and transmission from twisting from the enormous motor torque.
Front and center you will see my old oil pan. It now serves as a debris shield to deflect rain that comes in the front of the vehicle and prevents it from getting into the motor brushes without blocking airflow.
Top left is the variable resistor and micro switch assembly, which is mechanically connected to the ‘gas’ pedal via a flexible cable. The variable resistor tells the controller how much current to feed to the motor. The controller is just to the left and above the motor, mounted on a 5/16” thick aluminum plate. Both the motor and the controller run cool, barely above body temperature.
To the right and above the motor is my homemade battery charger. As an electronics engineer, I was able to design and build this to save about $1000 or so. I also designed and built the 12-V charger, not shown in this picture. The charger is kept separated from the main battery bank as a safety measure, in case a small amount of hydrogen is released from the batteries during charge. Now don’t get all excited about that statement. Unless the batteries are charged at too high of a voltage (7.2 V per battery or higher), the hydrogen that is released will be immediately reabsorbed inside the battery and will not escape into the air. Still, a good idea to separate electronics from batteries.
The gray box, top center mounted to the firewall, contains the heavy-duty contactor that passes the heavy current to the controller when it is energized. The control circuitry and the micro switch control the heavy-duty contactor.
Original Controller: Curtis model 1231C-8601, 96-144VDC, 500 Amps max, 0 to 5 k/ohm input
Speed Control w/micro switch: Curtis PB-6
Motor: Advanced DC 9.1", shaft each end, 203-06-4001A
This is my 2nd generation 'Power Wheel' controller that replaced the Curtis.
This is my commercial version 'Power Wheel' controller package - the EVH-PWX16.
Sales of this controller and all products on this Web site have been suspended.
Click here for explanation.
Speed Control Installation
This photo shows how I installed the speed control (PB-6) made by Curtis. Installation was very simple. I added a piece of aluminum angle on the right with a larger flat piece screwed on to capture the accelerator cable sleeve. A piece of scrap iron flat stock was used to mount the control to the remaining plastic plenum for the airco evaporator. Note the added return assist spring that helps pull the control arm back and elevates the gas pedal. A crimp-on closed wire terminal was used to connect the accelerator cable to the control arm with a lose bolt and acorn nut. You can see the three micro switch terminals with attached wires. See the Wiring Diagrams page for details.
Original battery bank - 16 batteries
New battery bank - 24 batteries - October 31, 2008
24 batteries installed to allow 153 V, 500 A testing and calibrating of EVH-PWX16 controllers (when I was selling them)
I purchased a small welding machine, a 14” cutoff saw and an angle grinder to do the metal work. The metal stock is 1½” by 1/8” think steel angle and some flat stock. The rack is securely bolted to the frame on each side and holds two rows of eight batteries. Locating the batteries here, behind the cab, provided near perfect balance on all four wheels.
The gray box hanging on the right side of the battery rack is a makeshift fuse box. It contains a 600 A fuse, but 400 A would have been fine. I drilled some holes for venting in the plastic electrical box.
Note the flat-stock strapping across the top of the rack between the batteries. These straps are bolted on with self-locking acorn nuts. Holding the batteries securely in place is very important to prevent additional damage and injury in an accident.
If you look closely, you'll notice the terminal lugs connected to the terminals with a wing nut. I have replaced the terminal lugs with terminal clamps for much better contact and to avoid terminal melt-down. I melted 3 terminals before changing to post clamps.
New Battery Bank
The entire battery bank was replaced on October 31, 2008, increasing the number of batteries to 24. Normally, only 20 batteries are needed for a light truck conversion.
WHY DID YOU PUT ALL OF YOUR BATTERIES BEHIND THE CAB AND NONE UNDER THE HOOD?
I did this because I wanted a lot of elbow room under the hood to install and remove EVH-PWX16 controllers to test and calibrate them before sending the out to customers. I didn't want to be reaching and stretching around batteries.
WHY DID YOU NOT PUT THE BATTERIES DOWN AROUND THE FRAME TO SAVE BED SPACE?
My choice. I wanted to easily see and reach all batteries for quick and easy servicing. They stay clean there too. I wanted to get rid of the 320 lb. bed and make a lighter one with a special enclosure for the batteries.
ISN'T YOUR CENTER OF GRAVITY TOO HIGH AND TOO FAR BACK?
Too high? No. There is no handling problem at all. I usually turn corners at less than 30 mph. Weight distributed too much to the rear? Yes. There is more weight on the back than I would like, however, it has not affected handling at all. I may move 4 batteries under the hood in the future.
I removed the original bed, sandblasted the frame, primed it and painted it. As you can see, it looks fresh from the factory.
Note the new-bed rails that I added to provide a firm and flat foundation for the new bed.
Also, notice the extensions (shackles) I added to the leaf springs and the air shocks to gain height. This combination gives me the front-to-rear height balance that I wanted.
The original bed weighed 320 pounds. Using aluminum framing and ABS plastic sheathing, I was able to reduce that weight and provide a nice compartment for the batteries. Aluminum sheathing can be used as well. 90-degree angle plates and angle brackets give the new bed excellent rigidity. Self-drilling screws make the frame work easy.
The ABS sheathing was attached using countersunk stainless-steel #8 sheet-metal screws. The ABS sheathing can be painted with standard auto paint if you desire.
Bed detail and additional photos are available for $19.95. Mail your check made out to EVhelp, LLC - 5215 NE 14th Court - Ocala, FL 34479
Here she is! The taillights and side running lights are very bright LED assemblies purchased from the local auto parts store. I added fog lights to the rear, just under the bumper on each side, for backup lights. For additional safety, I placed a 12-V beeper under the rear bumper that activates when I set the transmission into reverse – a courtesy to parking lot pedestrians.
The total conversion time was about 4 months, which included most evenings, most weekends and about 7 vacation days. My total cost including the truck was about $10,000, which included tinkering, research and development.
The truck is very maneuverable and fun to drive. It still has its power ABS brakes and cabin air bags. The DMV had no problems with it because it is basically the same vehicle with a different source of power.
Insuring this vehicle was no problem either. I kept the same insurance company and they didn't care when I told them about the conversion. They wouldn't give me a discount either. :-)