On the road!

Ok so I’m a crappy blogger.

It takes a special mindset to blog. You have to be extremely committed to routine, and that type of commitment is diametrically opposed to the variety required to finish a project as off the cuff as this one. So I haven’t posted for almost four months, but the good news is that thanks to good weather in my outdoor workshop we’ve spent the time most productively, and not only is the car close to being “done”, but it’s already racked up 100 road miles and actually drives pretty well.

Since my last post in January:

Installed fan in rear battery box (120VAC). It comes on when charger is plugged in. Below, circle is marked to cut hole for fan.

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Wiring. Went through wiring the Aspire electrical manual and chased down every circuit under the hood that might need to be connected to something and did it. Then chased down the wires that were useless (oxygen sensor?), cut them off, and threw them away. Also installed vacuum switch and vacuum pump for power brakes. When the vacuum gets too low, the switch turns on the pump and it reduces the pressure by 20 psi before it shuts off. Below the pump is just above the controller and the switch is mounted to the shock tower above that. Vacuum tubing is not yet in place.

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The battery box was installed in the rear of the car, and the polyethylene sides, which had bowed during the welding process, were glued to the frame.

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In late March and early April I entered full burn mode and only occasionally took photos. The goal was to be done for Nick’s school’s Earth Day celebration on 4/22, at which I was invited by his science teacher to display the car. Sucker that I am, I let the battery salesman talk me into the next size up (”EVERYONE uses the T-875s”) which will provide more power but also add 50 lbs of weight…cutting it pretty close to the GVWR, or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. Also during this time the wiring was completed, the 2/0 power cable was cut and crimped, and the charger and instrumentation were installed.

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I was amazed at how smoothly everything fell into place during this time. Then the rest of the car had to be put back together: putting the wheels on, the seats in, the hood on. We took it out for its first trial run on Sunday 4/20.

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Rear battery box, with batteries installed and wired

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With 882 extra pounds it’s sitting low, so we take pains to avoid streets with speed bumps, but it has good pickup and is actually fun to drive. On 4/21 I got it up to 45 mph with plenty to spare. For Earth Day Nick put together a display board with FAQs about electric cars, and I made up some cards to identify parts under the hood.

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The next step is to get new struts and springs to lift the car back up close to its original clearance. I have KYB struts and Eibach springs on order. We’ve done the math with regard to clearance, stiffness, etc but because the weight is only a rough estimate we won’t know if these parts are right until they are installed. Because the Aspire is about the last car you’d want to “soup up” there are very few aftermarket choices for suspension, so I’ve had to order parts which are not the exact dimensions I need. Fingers are crossed.

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