09. May 2007

May 23, 2007

Air shocks: After several phone calls and e-mails to make sure I was getting the right size air-shocks from the Shock Shop in Newark, Ohio, the only place that seemed to have what I needed, they have arrived and I've drilled new holes in the "elephant ears" of the front suspension to tip them away from the swing arms ("turkey legs"). 

The air shock was only 3/8 inch larger diameter than the original shocks, but they would not clear the turkey legs unless I moved the top mount. 

There was not much room for tipping the top of the shock to the rear, because it would wedge against the elephant ear if I moved it too far. This is the right side. 

This is how I discovered the elephant ears were not perfectly symmetrical, left to right. I had to grind away metal to make enough clearance for the shock. If the shock wedged against the elephant ear, it would push its shaft laterally and begin to lose air pressure rapidly. That yellow object in the background is this cute, little, cheap air compressor that I mounted to the frame next to the auxiliary battery and is wired to a switch on the dashboard. 

This is the heavy-duty hexagonal lug crimper at Mac's Battery, which Dan very kindly allowed me to use at no charge, saving me the cost of renting one. Dan was enthusiastically interested in electric vehicles. 

Before this operation, I measured and cut with a limb-lopper the necessary lengths of each cable, stripped the insulation off the ends, and taped the lugs into place at the proper angles with masking tape. The grey schedule 40 conduit in the foreground is to protect the cable as it runs alongside the passenger compartment. 

After crimping, I heated the lug with a propane torch and melted solder into the connection. As I found out later, the cable would actually wick solder up into its length for an inch or two if I kept melting in more than enough solder. This was not a problem unless the cable had to make a tight radius at that point. This was true for 4 of the battery cables, but I managed to work out a solution with right-angle lugs to replace the original straight ones. 

Heat-shrink tubing is weird stuff. It not only got thicker as it shrank, it emitted an amber, tar-like sealant, and it would not catch fire, it would just bubble if the torch got too close. 

Just for comparison, two battery cables before and after heatshrink is applied. Those black twisted pieces of plastic in the middle are the terminal covers pulled back so the torch wouldn't melt them. 

This is a major milestone, to have the batteries in their boxes and still have a 6 and a half inch clearance to the ground under the frame (ride height). The air shocks are at 95 psi., and I had to take the batteries in and out three times, take the wheel off and remount it three times, to continue grinding on the elephant ear so the air shock would hold its air when under load. Most of the batteries have their cables on their terminals. 

This shows how impossible it was to connect two battery cables to a 400-Amp buss fuse between the first and second battery boxes. I thought I could do this all neatly encased in some 1-inch clear vinyl tubing. The arrow points to a kink in the cable where the solder had wicked into the cable making it solid and unbendable. My second attempt will be to replace the straight lugs on the end to the fuse with a right-angle lug, and to just encase the fuse in the vinyl tubing. 

I'm leaving the motor cables to be the last ones connected, and these are the connections to the controller in the background; the shunt for the ammeter is in the foreground. 

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