Friday, November 28, 2008

Rear Trunk Battery Rack

The trunk battery rack is quite simple with two 1.5" angle iron and two 1.5" square tubing. Tim's instructions describe where to drill the holes to bolt down the square tubing. First I cut two 18" long square tubing for each side and put 3/8" bolts 2.5" long through the tubing into the car. These are capped off with nylock nuts and lock washers.

This is the drivers side support.
Passengers side support.

Both supports.
Next was to cut the angle iron to span across the tubing, one next to the rear seats in the back end of the trunk and the other towards the other end (rear of the car). The spacing between the angle iron is the length of the batteries. I only bolted the forward angle iron (near rear seats) and will wait to attach the rear piece once I have selected the batteries.

Front Battery Rack

Before I can mount the motor and transmission into the car I need to fabricate the front battery rack. It's much easier to put in the front rack without the motor/transmission. This is to ensure the rack and motor/transmission do not interfere and gives me more room to make the rack. I am following Tim Kutscha's blog, and his open source ev kit,, see it for detailed instructions.

Before beginning I highly recommend buying a good set of drill bits. I started this project using an old set I've had for years, mostly used for wood and plastic. Those bits quickly turned into dull metal sticks. I bought a nice set of cobalt bits and life is good again.

I am making the rack out of 2", 1.5" angle iron and 1" wide flat steel which I purchased from my local building supplier. The plan is to cut the 1.5" angle iron to 7" long, drill bolt holes and bolt to the front two tow hooks. The flat steel piece will be used as a vertical support. The 2" angle iron provides an anchor for the flat steel. The picture below is on the driver's side.

This is done on both sides of the cars.

Once the two side supports are in place I cut 1.5" angle iron to span the width, approximately 35 inches. I drilled holes and used 5/16" bolts with nylok nuts. These are spaced to the width of the batteries. Since I have not chosen a battery yet I only drilled and bolted the most forward angle iron. I'll wait to drill the holes for the other angle iron.

Various other pictures of the rack in progress.

Much more room without the engine.

Mating the Motor/Clutch Assembly to the Transmission

The big day arrived.....for me. Mating up the motor to the transmission. I started with the motor laying horizontal on the furniture dolly and tried to bring the transmission and motor together. That didn't work by myself. I could not get the transmission shaft through the bushing in the flywheel lined up properly. So I decide to turn the motor vertically and drop the transmission down on it. Use the tranny weight to help me get things mated. That did the trick. See picture below.
Various other pictures. You can see how quickly my garage gets junky.

Here's the assembly turned back horizontal. You can see the bolts are installed and torqued. I used nylok nuts on all the through bolts.
Next up is the front battery racks.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Installing the Adapter Plate and Clutch

I've been a little slack updating this blog as I progress on the car. I'll try to keep up so as not to get too far behind. Next step was attaching the adapter plate to the transmission. Electro auto sent detailed instructions to do this and it was very straight forward. Below is the first piece, a spacer ring bolted onto the motor.

Next the bell housing plate bolts to the spacer ring.

Here is the clutch flyweel. You can't see it but there is a coupler bolted onto the motor shaft and split tapered collar with a keyway. The coupler has six threaded holes for the flywheel bolts. These are the same bolts that came with the original clutch but I bought a new flywheel from the local autoparts store. My original was trashed. Noticed the teeth ring for the starter is missing from the flywheel. It was pressed on so I just used a hammer and nail punch. Popped right off. It is this stage where the spacing between the bell housing plate you see here and the front face of the flywheel is critical, called the magic number. You have to leave the bolts on the coupler lose, slide the flywheel assembly until the critical distance is achieved....0.774 +/- 0.010 inches for 1994 Honda Civic. If you were converting a different car you would need to measure that distance before removing the flywheel from the engine.

Well the first time I moved the flywheel to the correct distance, unbolted the flywheel, tightened the coupler bolts, reattached the flyweel the distance was off. Must have moved at some point. Once the coupler with the split ring is tightened it's difficult to remove. Flywheel puller would be ideal, I didn't have one and after much prying with screwdrivers and cursing I used two flat bar nail pullers and off it came.....smashing my thumb. I'm sure most people who are 'back yard' mechanics know the picture below. That blue spot on your nail when you hit it on something. Takes months to grow out. Here's mine. You can see it at the base of my thumb nail. Awesome!

After I torqued and loctite (red) the six flywheel bolts I attached the pressure plate and wear plate to the transmission. You can see the alignment tool sticking out. Be sure to save all your original clutch bolts because the local auto parts store does not carry them. They are metric, fine thread with twelve point heads. Can only find at your Honda dealer. Luckily I still had mine.

Next up mating the motor/clutch assembly to the transmission.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Adapter Plate

After 8 weeks I finally received the adapter plate from electro automotive . It's specifically for a Gen 5 Honda civic S20 Transmission. It looks pretty good. Most of the holes seem to line up with the bell housing but I'll find out for sure when I try to mount it.

As you can see from the picture below the idea is to mate up the electric motor to the original transmission.

When I bought the car the transmission had been removed and I lost the mounting bolts. I recommend trying your best to keep these bolts. With the adapter plate some become through bolts that require washers and nuts but others thread into the transmission. The problem is these are automotive grade (10.9 hardened) metric fine thread bolts with varying lengths. Not something you will find at home depot or general hardware stores. I made a drawing and measured depths of the holes as best as I could then went to a fastener company called Fastenal. They only had metric hardened bolts with regular thread, which was good enough for the through bolts. The others I ordered online from Tacoma Screw.

Hopefully these will work and I can start to attach the motor and transmission. I also borrowed a hydraulic engine hoist from a coworker. Next up mating the motor and transmission.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Motor

From my point of view there are five main parts needed.
  1. Electric motor
  2. Motor controller
  3. Adapter plate
  4. Batteries
  5. Battery charger

Before I continue I will say up front I am going with DC power. There are advantages to AC; regenerative breaking, higher efficiency, but the complexity and cost go up as well. Plus I live in South Florida, no hills so regen will not give much back. Maybe my next conversion. :)

These items require some planning up front because the selections you make drive the design of your conversion. From my reading most people said the longest part of converting a car to electric is waiting for your parts. So far I must agree. Once the glider was here I started researching motors and it really came down to two; Advanced DC 203-06-4001 and the Netgain Warp9. Either one would have worked fine but the members of the evdl talked very highly of the Warp9 motor. So that was my choice. I went through a local ev converter up in Ft. Pierce, Grassroots EV, owned by Steve Clunn. Ordering parts locally keeps the money in the community and Steve can provide help, and I'm going to need help!

8 weeks later and ta-da! Here's the UPS freight delivery truck.

Here is the crate in my garage. It was packed very well by Netgain.

And there it is.
Close up view. Notice the masking tape with the words 'Clock Wise'. Honda motors rotate cw instead of ccw as most other cars. I had Netgain advanced the time to make it rotate opposite.

Next up, the adapter plate.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Well I finally did it. I started my electric vehicle conversion project. It's been a long time coming. I read Mike Brown's 'Convert it' book and 'Build your own electric vehicle' by Bob Brant. Both are very good books and worth reading before starting out. I also spent way too much time reading the electric vehicle discussion list ( So much information and so many helpful people that I'm sure I will be using their expertise very soon. Probably the thing that got me to finally pull the trigger was reading Tim Kutscha web blog of his Porche and now his Open Source Honda Civic conversion, Thanks Tim for that extra last push to get started. I initially was open to any glider. I was kicking around using a buddies 1997 Saab convertible. He claimed one more large repair bill and he was donating it. But it's a heavy car, I could find only one other Saab on the evalbum ( and the convertible top makes the trunk very small. Plus it was running fine and I didn't want to wait too long. After casually mentioning it at lunch at my office, in reality I talk about it all the time, another friend said his family owns a huge salvage yard in Miami. Any car I want they could get it. Well that changes everything. Instead of looking through Craig's list or want ads I had to pick a car right away. I chose a 5th generation Honda Civic for my glider. They are plentiful, lot's of spare parts and they have been converted many times. I plan on using Tim's open source conversion project as my guide. Two weeks later I get the call and my buddy sends these pictures. Here she is at the salvage yard. Aint she a beauty.
So I pulled the trigger. Since the gas motor was useless I got $300 off the price, it was a running car. I paid $598 dollars, minus $2 in change I found under the seats. Here they bring her out. I also want to say thanks to my friend Alex and to his family who owns MOP Auto Parts in Miami. Super nice family! I can't tell you how invaluable it will be to have a salvage yard at my disposal for spare parts. There's Alex checking out the car.
Remember I had them pull the engine out for me? Here's a shot under the hood. What's missing? There's no transmission!
We found it. It was in the trunk along with the axles, two extra jacks and a bottle of orange juice.

Here's one of the MOP guys removing the steering column to remove the steering locking mechanism. The key got lost. No sense waiting around, we wanted to bring it home. I had a key made the following week. Here she is sitting in my driveway. I'm waiting for the HOA to send a letter stating no junk cars in your driveway. Little do they know...muhahahhahahaaa (insert evil laugh). Notice on the window the Spanish words 'No Tocar'. For now that is her name, means 'hands off' or 'do not take'. It will do for now.