08. April 2007

Not much progress last year! I got distracted by volunteer work for the Department of Peace campaign and taking care of my Mother's final months. Now the pressure is on to finish. The tent has been through two Oregon winters and threatens to come apart in the next wind-storm. My son wants to take the Subaru to college, so my goal is to get this frame rolling this summer and start the body work.

Dashboard layout: This photo is of the initial installation of gauges and switches, before wiring took place. The speedometer is from a bicycle, using a sensor on the rear sprocket, much cheaper than a tach on the motor. 

It was easier than I thought it would be to drill holes in the rear sprocket for the magnet, and there was a ready-made mount in a handy location for the sensor. I am hoping the distance to the readout on the dash is not too great for the impulse to reach it. 

I tried to fit a plastic junkyard manifold for the defogger to the dashboard, but it just wouldn't fit very well, so I improvised one out of coated nylon and sewed Velcro tape onto its edge so that I could attach it to the frame around the fan/heater units. What you are seeing here is the underside of the upper face of the dashboard, with the vent holes for the windshield visible through the large opening of the manifold.

The mating Velcro strips to the defogger manifold are stapled to the frame around the fan/heater units. I bought two 10-amp dash-mounted window defoggers for their heater cores, and two computer fans to push the air. The original plan was to use a VW bug blower, but it was huge, heavy, and too much air.

Easier to see the heater core in this close-up.

Getting the motorcycle tail lights mounted made the 12-volt electrical system have a focus, that when they lit up we would be really getting somewhere. 

I had fun selecting narrow enough lights to do this, hoping to give the vehicle greater visibility. The center red strip of mini lights will be wired to the brakes. 

For the brake light switch, I was very pleased that I just happened to have a piece of heavy strap metal with just the right size holes that I could bend and mount onto an existing hole in the brake pedal frame. The "pot box" (potentiometer, throttle) worked into the space nicely with the front edge mounted to the steel frame, and the rear edge mounted to the wood floor with some light angle-brackets. 

Under the dash, the inertia switch will break the electrical circuits as the result of any hard impacts, for safety. The charger for the batteries is plugged directly into the recoiling extension cord which will go to any handy 110-volt AC outlet. The fuse block is directly between the 12-volt auxiliary battery and the ignition switch, and provides protection to the 12-volt wiring. (The first time I plugged in the extension cord, it began to smoke from the amperage flowing through the wires packed together in a small space, so that was the end of that experiment!)

On the right is the step-down converter to get 12 volts from the 72-volt system and keep the auxiliary battery charged while the vehicle is in operation. It is mounted on an aluminum plate to dissipate heat. The food-storage box on the left is an improvised enclosure to prevent sparks or molten metal igniting any possible hydrogen gas from the batteries just below. Inside the box is the main contactor which energizes the 72-volt propulsion system, on the right. Next to it is a 300-amp fuse. The lugs for the cable are in place to help me configure the wiring layout inside this box, because the number 2 welding cable needs some room to make bends between connections. 

This set-screw clamps down on the flat side of the torsion bars through a ring that rotates inside the tubular beam, and the slot in the beam needed to be cut a second time to allow greater rotation to support the extra weight of the batteries. The fellow who welded in the adjuster assumed the set screw encountered the EDGES of the torsion bars, not their flat side, so it was ninety degrees too low, and the car frame was about two inches off the ground after the batteries were installed. The second attempt improved things, bringing it up to 4 inches, but it was obvious I would need air shocks to get to the target, a 7-inch ride height. 

I left the torsion bars extended for this photo so you could see them. For the second time, I struggled with re-installing, with latex gloves, the greasy torsion bars. The bars had to be slipped in one at a time in a specific order, and then the swing-arms (also known as "turkey legs") of the front suspension had to be "persuaded" to fit over the ends of the torsion bars. 

I hired a Marine veteran who had worked on cars since a small boy, Aaron, to complete the 12-volt system, something that I may have been able to do myself with protracted study and struggle. He made it look professional, suggested several improvements to my design, and did it all in 5 days, with his handy-dandy, butane-powered soldering iron. 

Aaron salvaged looms of wire from junkyard cars and took them apart to get the various colors of wire he needed, a good strategy to save money on wire. I was the go-for to get additional switches, loom tubing, and shrink-tube when he needed them. 

May 2007  

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