In order to connect the electric motor to the existing transmission, I had to drill 6 holes in a thick aluminum plate that match the holes in the transmission. To tell the truth, I have never even owned a drill until the one I bought for this project and so my first project using my very own drill will be 6 holes in a 1/2″ thick slab of aluminum.. So, like everything else I ever do, I googled it and read all about drilling aluminum. Apparently, there is a magic combination of pressure, speed and cutting oil type and quantity that will make the process go quickly and smoothly, and the trick will be to find those magic quantities.

So.. I have a co-worker friend named Stefan who actually spends most of his time in Colorado, although he works out of our office in Chapel Hill (I work with many engineers located all over the country so that is actually not uncommon). In any case, Stefan was around the office last week and was very interested in the whole electric conversion concept and was very positive to the idea of helping out. So I signed him up for the Tuesday and Wednesday evenings before xmas. Stefan turned out to be yet another project savior for me, because I wasn’t going to try to drill those 6 holes by myself.

Here is a pic of Stefan drilling one of the holes.. and I just now noticed that he is NOT WEARING his SAFETY GLASSES!! I can’t believe I didn’t notice that at the time! Hell, I’m holding the camera and I’m sure I’m wearing mine. I’m going to put this picture up in my garage with a caption about wearing your SAFETY GLASSES along with a google hit count for “drilling cornea emergency room” (48600). In conclusion..  always wear your SAFETY GLASSES!! Jeez..

So Stefan was the first to figure out the magic combination of pressure and speed for drilling aluminum. I will post an actual video once I figure out the easy way to do that.

In any case, it took about 3 hours and 2 fully charged batteries to drill those 6 holes. That would be 40 minutes on the first hole and 10 minutes on the last hole as we slowly gathered clues about what we were doing. One time consuming problem was that the shavings would get clogged with the bit and hinder the cutting. After trying about 6 different methods for fixing that, we figured out that a standard vacuum cleaner would collect all the shavings with no problem (genius I tell you). Also, I’m betting that I spent around 10 minutes total time with the drill in reverse until I memorized all the obvious clues for that state (I’m going with the concept of an expert being someone that has made every mistake that is possible to make in a given domain).

Transmissions are not to be trusted! We drained all the fluid from the transmission when it was removed from the vehicle and an hour later it was dripping on the floor at Ray’s garage. When Stefan and I took it off the back of the truck a week later, we stood it up in a bucket just to be sure. It seemed to be empty so we put it on a cart and wheeled it to the work area. Once we got to the work area, I turned my back for just a second, and when I turned back, there was a short stream of transmission fluid on my garage floor in the work area. I now have a cardboard and shop towel bib for my transmission, but I’m sure it will find a way to leak on my floor again. Transmissions are not to be trusted.