Mentally started this project about a year ago, but this is my first blog entry. Been studying the whole greentech thing for my whole life (or rather since my 5th grade science class), and much more so in the past few years as the technology, policy and finances approach a critical mass which will allow the entire green-tech industry to expand dramatically. (It would appear that it’s finally going to happen). In any case, one chapter of that will be the conversion of the world’s car fleet to electric, and a small part of that will be the actual conversion of existing gas vehicles to electric. At some point, I decided to try this myself to get some first hand experience with the concept, and also to have a fun project.

So, I’ve actually done a lot up to this point even though the truck in my garage still contains a large Internal Combustion Engine (ICE). I will try to enumerate. Again this goes back about a year:

  1. Research.. Did a ton of web surfing to collect existing info on the subject. People have been converting their vehicles to electric for a long time and so the technology has advanced quite a bit. This research went on for many months as I toyed with the idea of doing a conversion myself. Once the dog days of summer were past, I thought it would be a good idea to finish the conversion before winter arrived, but it’s getting cold and I’m running way behind.
  2. Purchased the book “Build You Own Electric Vehicle. Second Edition”. (The first and second edition were 15 years apart so make sure you get the 2nd edition). Actually, I purchased 3 copies. One was for my brother-in-law (Vern) who is a factory trained GM mechanic and therefore an invaluable resource and consultant. The other was going to be for whoever I could get interested enough in the project to help out in case I needed a second pair of hands.
  3. Rent garage. Live in an apartment with an attached garage. The garage next to mine was empty so decided to include it on my lease. Now I live in an apartment with an attached two-car garage. There is a door between them.
  4. Find vehicle to convert. Monitored cars.com and other websites to find a vehicle. From my research, it appeared that the Chevrolet S10 truck is probably one of the “easiest” vehicles to convert so I searched for one of those. As it turns out, the majority of the S10 trucks are automatics and I needed a manual drive, so it wasn’t easy to find one. Eventually found one about an hour away at Deacon Jones in Princeton N.C.. It’s sunny yellow with 81K. It took a week for Vern and I to coordinate so that we could drive over to check-out the truck. Vern looked it over and test drove it to make sure the transmission and suspension was in good shape, and I drove it home. On the way home, after some lunch, it started to rain and I discovered the windshield wipers had a problem. Classic Murphy’s Law. As we were considering the limited options,  an electrical worker drove up in a van to work on a nearby electrical widget. We borrowed a wrench and fixed the wipers (not sure what is the appropriate metaphor for that).
  5. Purchase electric motor etc. One of my themes is to follow the path of least resistance, and that would include purchasing an electric conversion “kit”.. which is a set of parts selected by someone with experience who has proved that all the parts work and play together. There are several companies out there which sell conversion kits. I chose Electric Vehicles of America because they have been around a while, and are located on the same side of the country as me, and were referenced several times in the book I read. I exchanged email and phone calls with them to determine exactly what I needed (which I will enumerate in a future entry). Even though it’s a “kit”, there are still several decisions to be made and options to be selected. After many months of research, I only had a small number of remaining decisions, and I still have a couple more, including that whole “battery” thing. tbd.
  6. Pick up parts. The parts (which weighed about 300 lbs) were delivered to a receiving station a few miles away and I picked them up there (fortunately I now own a truck). They placed the parts in the truck using a fork-lift. When I got home, I noticed that I didn’t have a fork-lift. Two of the boxes contained a bunch of parts, but the motor was 175 lbs of dead weight in a fairly small wooden box, and I wasn’t sure how to get it off the truck. Seems like it should be easy, however, didn’t want to drop it, and didn’t want to strain or break anything (plenty of time for that later). Eventually, I pushed the motor onto a chair which had a hydraulic lift, and lowered it about half way to the floor. From there, I pushed the motor off the chair onto a stack of flattened boxes. From there, I could just slide it down to my garage floor. Apparently, I need to buy an engine hoist.
  7. Purchase additional tools. Already own most of the required tool box tools, but this project was going to require an entire list of additional tools, so went to Lowes on the Friday after thanksgiving. The first thing I looked at was “drills”. I’ve actually never bought a drill, and so even though I had googled to find out about drill features, I was still surprised by the large selection of drills mounted at the display station. As I stood there looking at all the drills, a young blonde girl who worked there, asked if she could help me (what are the chances of that!!). Turns out she was very knowledgeable about the entire Lowes inventory and ended up helping me select a drill, as well as all the items on my entire list. She was also very knowledgeable about greentech in general. A very pleasant experience.
  8. Remove engine (or not).. At the moment I’m trying to find someone to remove the engine for me. I could potentially do this myself (and that could still happen), but its a big, dirty and somewhat dangerous task, and I would much rather pay someone else to do it, and let them keep the ICE and all its attached subsystems. At the moment, I’m surprised that I’m having trouble finding someone to do this work for me. The recession must be over, at least in my little town.

So that is where I am. More soon..