Friday, August 31, 2012

Beetle Conversion Project - update

Perhaps you remember the presentation of this Super Beetle conversion project at EVTV on August 17 show. Well, it is going well and Caleb Lander updated his Blog for us:


Battery Boxes and Mounted Motor

It's been a while since my last update as you can see. This is not for lack of work on the Beetle. Though I did have a short break in my focus. Over the last month I have been to Mexico and back and saw a fair number of "new" old beetles on the road in Morelia and it made me eager to get my Super EV Beetle on the road.

The last Beetles came of the line in 2003 to be sold as the 2004 model year

Now onto how the car is coming. The brakes took a little more work then expected out of a conversion kit. This seems to be a trend on this project. When kits say they are designed for bolt on application with the model vehicle that your working with. Be mindful that they don't always turn out that smoothly. For the brakes they have been converted from the original drums to a full set of EMPI disk brakes on all 4 corners. as part of the conversion I also added a new brake master cylinder to handle the additional pressure and fluid needed for the large calipers (large for a beetle anyway). the rubber hose that came with the kit was not long enough to reach the junction points so new brake line needed to be run from the T fittings out to where they could be attached. This was for both the front and the back. Additionally in the front the mount for the rubber house needed to be moved and welded into a new orientation to accomodate the new position of the hose from the caliper. Although this required additional work and time to run new lines it will be worth the added effort in the future and has allowed for a more reliable and clean installation.

Finally off the lift with EMPI brakes and wheels installed

How about some of the electric parts on the car now. So far it seems that I have been spending some time on basic automotive upgrades to get the car ready for prime time. I ordered an aluminum box to house my batteries. After careful measurements I determined that I could fit all the cells in the front of the car where the spare tire once sat. With just 30 of the 100 amp hour cells loaded in the front of the car we are looking at about 220 pounds. If we consider that the full tank of gas along with the tank itself would have weighed about 80 or 90 pounds and the spare tire as well as accompanying jack and tools would come in around 40 pounds we are really only adding about 100 pounds to the front end of the car. I have also removed the front bumper at this time which, although it doesn't weigh the extra 100 pounds I ideally would like to remove it does weigh a lot and hangs out well in front of the front axle so I don't think I will be putting it back. At least not with all that steel and chrome. You will notice that the front does look pretty low in the picture and that is a result of a lowered suspension and not the additional weight in the vehicle. I will be testing for tire rub once we are out on the road and determine if adjustment will be needed to bring it up a bit. I'll also be looking at adjusting the back end as it rides quite high even with the motor and controller mounted.

Batteries in the box nearly ready for cables to be run 

Motor mounted with accelerator (top center)

The motor was a bit of a challenge to mount up in the back. As I showed in the video it was necessary to cut the rear apron to allow clearance for the back of the motor and the shaft to clear the rear of the car. I say necessary however it really could have fit with just a trim. It was just a lot easier to run the cutting disk up the sides and give us plenty of room to work with at the time. The plate will be adjusted and welded back before we drive off too far.

For the accelerator the original cable was used but in a slightly modified fashion. A curved metal tube was welded onto the existing tube and then welded to a hole in the lower part of the firewall that does not enter the cabin The new accelerator sensor was then mounted above the upturned tube. The original cable has a bend in one end which attaches to the pedal in the cabin and a straight peg on the end that went to the engine. We used a torch to heat the straight peg and create another bent section in the back so we could hook it to the sensor. If the cable needs to be replaced in the future it will likely need to be cut to remove it and the new one will need to be bent again.

Seats are in and looking like a drivable car again

I installed the seats in the car to get it ready for it's first test run (hopefully on Sunday). The beetle specific mounts fit in nicely aside from a small adjustment to the front clamp. They had to be ground down about an inch to clear the frame on the seat mount. Once again, so much for direct fitment kits... Look for the first test drive next week. If all goes to plan I'll have my GoPro video camera hooked up to record the first test run. Until next time think electric!

Posted by Caleb Lander at 7:29 PM

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